BA English

As an English undergraduate on our prestigious BA course, you will develop expertise in analysing literary texts across the whole range of English literature, from medieval to modern. You will learn about manuscripts and book history, supported by the superb Special Collections in the University library, and you will explore a wide range of theoretical approaches; from historicism to psychoanalysis and postcolonialism.

The Department of English at Birmingham has a strong and innovative research culture, with 60% of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). As a student you will benefit from the wide range of specialisms within the Department, which span from the literature of the Anglo-Saxon period to literature in the digital age. There is also a unique provision for Shakespeare study with the privilege of a final year module overseen by our colleagues at the world-renowned Shakespeare Institute in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon. This will give you access to unparalleled resources and thinking on the Bard and his times.

From your first to your final year, we will support you to become a confident and accomplished reader, researcher and writer with excellent career prospects, whatever field you choose to go into. The wide range of posts our graduates have secured includes roles in journalism, law, marketing, publishing and teaching at every level. 

Course fact file

UCAS code: Q300

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 102

Applications in 2011: 564

Typical Offer: AAB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September


Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511




First-year modules cover a broad span and are designed to introduce you to ways of studying literature at university. By the third year, your modules will focus on specific writers or themes and reflect the research expertise of the Department’s academic staff. The structure of the course ensures that you study a well-rounded programme, with good coverage of different periods and genres, whilst also allowing you to pick from a wide range of optional modules. The BA English focuses mainly on English Literature with a small component of English Language. Our aim throughout your degree course is to guide and support you in your progress, helping you to gain confidence as a reader, researcher and writer, and assisting you to prepare for life beyond your undergraduate studies.

First year

In your first year, the emphasis is on acquiring the foundational skills and knowledge which will form the basis of your studies throughout the rest of your degree. In your core modules you will work on a wide variety of authors and genres, including texts from the medieval period through to the present day, and will spend a small proportion of your time studying English Language. You will be encouraged to develop your skills in literary analysis and essay-writing, and will also be introduced to the major library and electronic resources relevant to the university-level study of English literature. In your optional modules there is the opportunity either to explore writing from the local region or to study landmark texts from other parts of Europe. There is also the opportunity to take a module from outside your main discipline (MOMD) or to take a module from a different area within your discipline (for example a Creative Writing module such as ‘Story-telling for Page and Screen’).

Second year

In your second year you will continue your studies in all major literary periods, choosing optional modules within these periods, thereby having the opportunity to tailor your studies to your interests and to work more closely on the key literary issues and genres of your choice. You will be expected to take one module from each of four periods: Medieval, Early Modern, Romantic and Victorian, and post-1900. There is also a choice of different options for your second-year language module and for your sixth module you may choose to take either another Module Outside Main Discipline (MOMD) or take a Transhistorical Literature Option. Options may include: From Plato to Postmodernism, Shakespeare’s Sisters and Writing the Region.

Third year

A distinctive feature of the third year of the course at Birmingham is the Shakespeare module, for which you will have the advantage of being taught by our world-leading colleagues from the prestigious Shakespeare Institute in Stratford. Apart from this, you will have a free choice of modules from a wide range of Literature Options, having opportunities to focus upon your main areas of interest within the discipline. These modules are research-led, meaning that you will be taught by a leading specialist in the field. You may also choose to continue your language studies with a Language Option module.

There is a compulsory independent research element to your final year, allowing you to engage with your particular interests as well as developing your research skills to a high standard. This may either be in the form of a short dissertation of approximately 5,000 words or a 10,000 word research project; whichever option you choose you will have one-to-one supervision to support you in your research and writing. If you opt for the short dissertation, you may take either a Module Outside Main Discipline or another Literature Option.

Why study this course

Ashley Kirk quote

Consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings, The Department of English at Birmingham is widely respected and attracts a high calibre of undergraduate talent. We offer exciting opportunities, first-class facilities and a commitment to excellence in teaching.

Study here and you will have the privilege of learning from academics at the forefront of research. We also boast enviable research resources available to students, including the substantial holdings of the University library, as well as the collections in the new Library of Birmingham, including its world-ranking Shakespeare collection.

Our affiliation with the Shakespeare Institute in nearby Stratford, which contributes to your year-long, third-year Shakespeare module, means that you will have access to unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare and his times. The Institute is an internationally renowned research institution established in 1951 to push the boundaries of knowledge about Shakespeare studies and Renaissance drama. 

Students at Birmingham will also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from published authors and industry professionals, including  talks  as part of the School’s new Writers and Artists Distinguished Speaker Series. The predecessor to this series, the Birmingham Visiting Writers’ Programme, featured readings and lectures from the poet and writer Jackie Kay, novelist David Lodge, TV and film screenwriter Stewart Harcourt and the acclaimed author Catherine O’Flynn, whose novel What Was Lost won the 2007 Costa First Novel Award.

At Birmingham, you will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies. The Department of English works hard to ensure that you are a fully supported and active learner. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice.

English Literature open day talk

Dr Kate Rumbold delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham.

Do our 2013 graduates recommend the course?

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding

Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature grade A

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 35 points to include English at higher level with a minimum of 6 points

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements 

International students:

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

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

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.


Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511



Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

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


Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511



Related staff


[Video above - Dr Kate Rumbold discusses careers and employability during the English Literature open day presentation]

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 – skills that 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 uses of information technology.

50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and English graduates enter a wide range of careers including advertising, journalism and media, government, law, publishing and teaching at every level. About 25% of English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

English graduates from Birmingham have a high rate for employability for the subject, and we are ranked in the top ten universities nationally for graduate employability. 92% of our English graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. 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.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. Our ‘Creative careers’ series is always popular with our students, and features events with employers and professionals from areas such as advertising, PR and communications, careers in journalism, publishing and writing, and careers in the theatre.

English alumni profiles

Careers events

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities; we’re developing links with local arts organisations to create some amazing opportunities for students; and you can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for placements in those career fields where they are often unpaid.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.


Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511