In this programme, you will study half of your modules (60 credits) in English Language and half in English Literature (60 credits).
First-year language modules cover the essentials of English Language for undergraduate study. These will provide you with a good grounding in the technical and conceptual analysis of language, social and political issues of language, and the ways in which language is taught and learned. Another core first year module introduces you to key skills in carrying out language research, with a theoretical and practical introduction to its objectives and methodologies. These modules combine to create an excellent foundation for your study and research in subsequent years.
The first-year literature modules introduce you to a range of genres and periods. By studying core modules on 'Poetry', 'Prose' and 'Plays and Performance', you will develop the close reading skills needed to analyse all kinds of texts, from medieval plays and early modern poetry to nineteenth-century novels and contemporary drama.
As a key feature of the first year, you will have the opportunity of combining the study of English Language and English Literature in the module ‘Language for Literature’. This module will enable you to appreciate how these disciplines enrich each other.
On the Language side, you could develop your technical linguistic skills with modules in 'Phonology and Morphology' and 'Grammar', or you could build on your interests in 'Language Acquisition and Literacy', 'Sociolinguistics', or the 'History of the English Language'. A core module in this second year is the research skills module in which you will investigate and present projects of your own choosing.
On the Literature side of your course you will be able to choose between modules in ‘Histories of Literature’ to deepen your knowledge and understanding of all literary periods from medieval to the present day.
You will also have the opportunity to engage with Shakespeare’s work in two exciting modules taught in collaboration with Birmingham’s world-leading Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and working closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Alternatively, you will have the option of exploring one of our 'Themes in Literature' modules, from 'Gothic Fiction' to 'Theatre of the Absurd' or ‘North American Cinema’.
In your final year you will undertake independent research which will be the culmination of your development as an undergraduate researcher. This can either be a 20-credit Language Investigation and a 20- credit Literature Extended Essay, or you can choose to complete a 40- credit Dissertation in one discipline.
Apart from this, your final year modules are entirely optional and you can choose from a wide range of modules, e.g. ‘Language, Gender and Identity’, ‘Ordinary Creativity’, ‘English Language Teaching’, ‘Language and the Mind’, ‘Words’, and many more. Literature module topics range from ‘Chaucer: Pre-Modern Writing and Post-Modern Reading’, to studies of contemporary American fiction.
You will have the option to take a year abroad as part of your course, a decision which you can make in your first or second year on the Study Abroad page.
Why study this course
Consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings and ranked 39th in the world in the QS World Rankings, the Department of English at Birmingham is widely respected and attracts a high calibre of undergraduate talent. Part of the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, the department offers exciting opportunities, first-class facilities and a commitment to excellence in teaching. Birmingham is one of very few universities in the UK that offer large concentrations of expertise in both English Language and English Literature.
The English Language side of the programme is rooted in the University of Birmingham’s long tradition of English Language teaching and research. English Language has been a core element of the Birmingham English BA since 1965 and students have been following Joint Honours combinations in English Language since 1998.
Our distinguished language specialists today are part of a long line of Birmingham linguists who have changed the discipline – John Sinclair, Malcolm Coulthard, David Brazil and Michael Hoey, to name but a few. We are known for our leading work in corpus linguistics and have a dedicated centre for corpus research. The Collins Cobuild English language textbooks, which are internationally recognised as high quality English language training materials, were designed here. We also currently contribute internationally to research in corpus linguistics, discourse studies and English language teaching.
The English Literature side of the programme draws on the expertise of a team of academics whose research expertise ranges from Old English and medieval literature to contemporary literature and theory. Furthermore, our affiliation with the Shakespeare Institute, which oversees the year-long, third-year Shakespeare module, means that our students have access to unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare and his times. The Institute, based in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, is an internationally renowned research institution established in 1951 to push the boundaries of knowledge about Shakespeare studies and Renaissance drama.
Our students have the privilege of learning from academics at the forefront of research, and benefit from enviable research resources, including the substantial manuscript, print, and electronic holdings of the University library, as well as the collections in the Library of Birmingham, with its world-ranking Shakespeare collection.
Students at Birmingham will also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from award-winning writers and industry professionals. Speakers in recent years have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and theatre director Greg Doran.
English Literature open day talk
Dr Daniel Moore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham.
English Language open day talk
Dr Jeannette Littlemore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Language at the University of Birmingham.
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAB
Required subjects and grades: Grade A in A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature is required.
General Studies: not accepted
Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements
We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
How to apply
Joint Honours combinations
You can also study English in combination with other disciplines on our Joint Honours degree programmes. Within the English side of your course you can choose either the Language or Literature pathway.
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