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 modules and 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, with specialist modules in subjects ranging from ‘Fantasy and Fandom’ to ‘Last Year’s Novels’ and ‘Imagining the Digital’. 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.
Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.
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’ modules and develop your knowledge of European literature in translation, trans-Atlantic literary relations or medieval literary contexts.
In addition, you will also take a Module Outside the Main Discipline (MOMD) 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
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 modules ‘Elizabethan Shakespeare’ and ‘Jacobean Shakespeare’.
You will also choose ‘Histories of Literature’modules to deepen your knowledge and understanding of different literary periods. If you are on the Literature pathway you will choose one from each period (A, B, C and D) or, if you are taking a Creative Pathway you will choose one from the Medieval or Early Modern periods (A or B) and one from the Romantic/Victorian or the Modern/Contemporary periods (C or D) and will take two options in your chosen area.
Histories of Literature will include modules such as:
- Chaucer and his Legacies; Popular Fiction before the Novel; Songs and Sonnets
- Epic Ambitions; Stories of the Novel; Writing the Restoration
- Romantics and Romanticisms; Victorian Literature; The Fin-de-Siècle
- Making it New; Literature after 1945; Twenty-First Century Literature
You will also either take another Module Outside Main Discipline or choose one ‘Themes in Literature’ option module from a selection such as:
- The Gothic
- From Plato to Postmodernism
- Shakespeare’s Sisters
- Writing Fiction
- Modern Drama
- North American Cinemas
- The Language Poets Use
- Transatlantic Literary Relations
- Colonial/ Postcolonial
Detailed description of second year modules
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:
• Chaucer: Pre-Modern Writing and Post-Modern Reading
• Contemporary North American Writing
• Fantasy and Fandom; Gossip, Scandal and Celebrity
• Imagining the Digital; Last Year’s Novels
• Literature and the Law
• The Modernist Novel
• Paradise Lost: Texts and Contexts
• Postcolonial Poetry and Poetics
• Postmodern Historical Fictions
• Remembering World War One
• Shakespeare’s Afterlives
• The Work of T. S. Eliot
• Victorian Literature and Science
• Bringing Out the Bodies: Technology, Transhumans and Skin
• Utopia and Its Discontents
• The Pre-Raphaelite Circle
• Hardy and Lawrence
• Politics and Terror in the Age of Revolutions
• Senses of the Past: Nineteenth-Century Literature and History
• Henry James and Edith Wharton
• Religion and Literature in Renaissance England
• Nation and Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
• World Comics
If you have chosen to take a Creative Practice pathway, you will take two of your Special Subject Modules in this area e.g. ‘Writing screenplays’ (Creative Writing), ‘Cold War Film’ (Film), ‘Voices in Fiction’ (Language) or ‘Victorian Drama’ (Drama).
Detailed description of final year modules
You will have the option to take a year abroad between your second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world.
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
International baccalaureate update
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma 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.
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