BA English

Studying English will enable you to explore past and present cultures and societies through a wide range of perspectives and in a variety of different literary genres.

Learning about and applying different theoretical approaches such as post-colonialism, historicism and feminism will open your eyes to different ways of considering literary texts and wider culture.

At the University of Birmingham our internationally renowned academic staff have a huge range of literary specialisms across the full historical range to the present day. Our programme offers you an exciting core programme in English Literature, while also giving you the opportunity to explore pathways in the closely-related fields of Creative Writing, Film Studies, English Language and Drama. You will also have access to unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare through our colleagues at the Shakespeare Institute and collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including the opportunity to take part in a residential trip to Stratford-upon-Avon in your second year.

rsc-collaboration

EU referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

Robyn Townsend

Robyn Townsend

“The course at the University of Birmingham was particularly appealing to me due to the opportunities, after a varied, strong foundation first year, to hone my interests and pick from a wide range of modules. For me personally the links with the Shakespeare Institute and the expert teaching on the subject were a big attraction as they appeal to my interests a great deal.”

BA English offers a flexible, wide-ranging English Literature degree that draws upon extensive academic expertise in the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, which includes the internationally-renowned Shakespeare Institute.

Our foundational first year gives you an excellent grounding in the major historical periods and genres of literature, inviting you to engage with a variety of authors and texts, encounter new ways of thinking about literature and improve your analytical and writing skills. You will also have the opportunity to explore areas of creative practice.

In your second year you will benefit from our Shakespeare resources on our innovative Shakespeare module and have the opportunity to take part in our residential trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to work at the Institute and benefit from our connections with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

You will be able to tailor the course to suit your interests with increasing flexibility in module options in second and third years. You will also have the option of combining your literary study with one of several disciplines by choosing to take a Creative Pathway: Creative Writing, Film, Drama and English Language.

Why study this course

  • Guest lectures - you will be able to enjoy regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens, theatre director Greg Doran and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
  • Shakespeare Institute and RSC collaboration - we have a unique provision for the study of Shakespeare: the Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship. You will also benefit from our exciting five-year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), which will see the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre The Other Place. You will be able to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, as well as the expertise of RSC artists and practitioners; you will also have the opportunity to attend RSC productions and events.
  • Research excellence - over 85% of our academic research was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Research and teaching areas cover both the traditional literary canon and cutting edge areas of literary study such as postcolonial literature and twenty-first century digital literary culture.
  • Stratford residential - our very popular residential study trip to Stratford-upon-Avon includes lectures, creative workshops, theatre trips, cultural activities, offers academic and creative inspiration and the opportunity to socialise with staff and fellow students.
  • Top 50 world ranking – English Language and Literature at the University of Birmingham is ranked 41st in the QS World University Rankings 2017. 

Hear from our students

English Literature open day talk

Modules

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 1 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

First year

Our first-year modules in BA English will introduce you to key genres of English Literature across a wide historical and international span and train you in new ways of thinking about literature. 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 contemporary drama. You will also develop new understanding of how the historical and cultural contexts in which literature is produced and read can shape its meaning.

Alongside these literature-focused modules, ‘Language for Literature’, taught by expert colleagues in English Language, will develop your technical skills and understanding of how literary texts are put together and how literary language works.

Enhancing these traditional subjects, the first year is also an opportunity for you to explore more creative options, according to your interests. Two ‘Creative Practice’ modules give you the chance to sample topics in Creative Writing, Film, Language or Drama. You will have the option of focusing more closely around these subjects in the second and third years of your BA English degree. Alternatively, you can choose to take one of our ‘Comparative Literary Cultures’. 

In addition, you will also take a Widening Horizons Module in e.g. History, Psychology or Modern Languages. This is an excellent opportunity to continue a subject you enjoyed at A-Level, or to pursue a brand new interest.

Detailed description of first year modules

Second year

In your second year you will be able to either keep your main focus on Literature or combine your study of literature with another discipline on one of our Creative Pathways: Film Studies; Language; Drama; and Creative Writing.

You will take our core Shakespeare module 'Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean'.

You will also choose ‘Histories of Literature’ modules to deepen your knowledge and understanding of different literary periods. 

You will take one ‘Themes in Literature’ option module. 

If you have chosen to take a Creative Practice pathway, you will replace two of your Histories of Literature modules with two of your Special Subject Modules in this area

Detailed description of second year modules

Year abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year then you will be invited to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. Find out more.

Final Year

In your final year, you will write a 12,000-word Dissertation on a topic of your choice, guided and supported by a supervisor who is an expert in your area of interest.

You will also be able to choose four modules from a very wide range of Special Subjects, working closely with specialists in each field on modules such as:

If you have chosen to take a Creative Practice pathway, you will take two of your Special Subject Modules in this area.

Detailed description of final year modules

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £15,570

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB
Required subjects and grades:
A level English Literature grade A (English Language and Literature A level also accepted).
General Studies:
Not accepted.

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are considered on a case by case basis when offered in combination with required A level - contact us for further guidance.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Joint Honours combinations

You can also combine the study of English Literature with other disciplines on other Single Honours programmes we offer, or on the English Literature pathway of our Joint Honours programmes:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Taster lecture

Dr Deborah Longworth delivered this mini-lecture at a March 2017 Applicant Visit Day to give applicants a taste of a typical undergraduate literature lecture.

Contact hours

Throughout your English degree you can expect around 10 contact hours per week. This will be made up of a combination of lectures and seminars in your first and second years. In your final year this will also include 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer who will support you as you conduct independent research.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

The principal means of assessment for English are coursework essays and written exams.

Studying for an English BA at Birmingham is an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with a diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression.

These skills last a lifetime and qualify you for many possible careers. You will also be encouraged to acquire practical skills that you will find just as useful in your future career, including oral presentation, professional documentation, group work and the use of information technology.

English graduates from the University of Birmingham have a high rate of employability for the subject. 92% of our students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).

Our graduates have started careers with employers including the BBC, Headline Publishing Group, Mirror Group Newspapers and Oxford University Press, in roles such as account executive, editorial assistant, marketing assistant and sales and events coordinator. Many English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

Alumni profiles

Quote by Alumna Henrietta Brealey

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.