BA English and History

Combining English and History offers the chance to explore two stimulating and diverse subjects, which give fascinating insights into one another by allowing you to consider culture and society from different perspectives.

Within English you can study either Literature or Language, exploring literature from the medieval to the modern day or investigating the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language and its use. Both disciplines interrelate very well with your study of History, in which you will explore the societies and civilisations of the past and consider the ways in which they have shaped our world today.

At Birmingham you will benefit from internationally renowned research and teaching, as well as unparalleled resources, including our Shakespeare Institute, and cutting-edge technology for real language analysis and the University Special Collections - home to over 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items.

Ellicia Pendle

Ellicia Pendle

“English and History were always my two favourite subjects at school and, since I couldn’t choose between the two, I decided to opt for a Joint Honours degree! For me, English and History bring each other to life, as literature allows me to visit the historical eras I study and history helps me to analyse literary context. I chose Birmingham because it has an excellent reputation and I found the campus really impressive. I instantly felt at home and could picture myself studying here.”

Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development - a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries.

In History you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the medieval, early modern and near contemporary past, before specialising in the area of your choice. Whatever your interests - whether cultural, social, military, political, economic or religious history - there is someone in the Department teaching your kind of history.

Within English, you may follow pathways in Literature or Language. The Literature Pathway gives a strong foundation in all major periods and genres. You will be able to specialise in a huge range of different areas, from medieval poetry to twenty-first century digital literary culture. You will also have the opportunity to take our specialist second-year Shakespeare module and the possiblity of participating in our study residential in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Language Pathway enables you to acquire a thorough appreciation of the technical aspects of the English language and its social and political context. Choose from a wide range of different specialisms, which can prepare you for a wide range of different careers from speech therapy to journalism.

Why study this course

  • Outstanding teaching: 95% of students agreed that staff were enthusiastic about what they are teaching and that the course was intellectually stimulating, leading to 94% of last year’s graduates achieving First or Upper Second Class degrees. As a research-led University, our research guides and enriches our teaching. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), the University of Birmingham was ranked first in the country for History, while over 85% of research in English was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. This allows you to choose from a broad choice of modules, each taught by an expert in that field.
  • Fantastic employability development: Our graduates benefit from a higher than average rate of employability with 90% going into work or study within six months of graduation. See more on our employability page.
  • Exceptional resources: These include the University Special Collections which are home to over 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items, our Research and Cultural Collections which has a wide range of artefacts and our cutting-edge Corpus Linguistics Centre for real language analysis. If you are studying English Literature you will have access to from our unique provision for the study of Shakespeare: the Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship and 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.
  • Exciting Study Abroad opportunities: You will have the opportunity to enhance your degree by spending a Year Abroad, giving you the chance to discover a new culture and study exciting new modules. Some may even be specialist topics specific to the places you are studying. Your Year Abroad will take place after your second year.
  • Excellent student experience: Join BEDSoc (Birmingham English Department Society), the English Language Society, our student newspapers or one of our seven different drama and theatre societies. You can also enjoy opportunities such as working alongside members of staff on their research projects on our Undergraduate Research Scholarships, and social events such as end-of-term parties and summer balls. We also host regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers and historians. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Open day talks

Modules

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Your first year of study is split equally between your two disciplines (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have flexible options to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both of years 2 and 3, or stay with the 60/60 balance. This flexibility allows you to tailor the course throughout your degree programme, once you have had the time and experience to consider where your strengths and interests lie.  You can also write a Link Dissertation combining your two subjects in your final year.

You can see more information about the different modules and options on the links below. Within the English side of your programme you can follow either a Literature or a Language pathway.

First year

English Language : Your first year modules will introduce you to many different aspects of language and its use. You will take three compulsory modules: 'English Language: Sounds, Structures, and Words', 'Investigating Language', and 'Theories of Language'. These modules combine to create an excellent foundation for your study and research in subsequent years.

English Literature: Your first-year modules in Joint Honours English will introduce you to the key genres of English Literature across a wide historical and international span, and train you in new ways of thinking about literature. By studying compulsory 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.

History:

Compulsory modules:

  • Practising History (A): Skills in History
  • Practising History (B): Approaches to History

You then choose two out of the five survey modules below:

  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Living in the Middle Ages
  • The Making of the Modern World 1500-1815
  • The Making of the Contemporary World 1815-2000
  • War and Society

History first year detailed module descriptions

Second year

English Language : In your second year you will take two compulsory modules: 'Research Skills in English Language' and 'English Grammar'. If you take more than 40 credits in English you will also have a range of modules to choose from.

English Literature : The second year of your degree is an excellent opportunity to build on the new interests and passions that you discovered in your first-year modules. You can choose between modules in 'Histories of Literature' to deepen your knowledge and understanding of all literary periods from medieval to the present day. If you take 80 credits in English you will take the Shakespeare module - 'Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean' - as a compulsory module.

History:

Compulsory modules:

  • Group Research
  • Option B

Choose from one of the following:

  • History in Theory and Practice*
  • Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) (please note: this module must be studied if a History 40 credit dissertation is to be taken in the final year)*
  • Professional Skills (please note: places on this module are limited)*
  • Option A*

*If you wished to do 80 credits in History you would do two of the non-compulsory courses.

History second year detailed module descriptions

Final year

English Language : Your final year modules are mainly optional and you can choose from a wide range of modules. If you will take 80 credits in English, you will complete either a Dissertation or Language Investigation, the culmination of your development as an undergraduate researcher.

English Literature : Depending on whether you elect to take 80, 60 or 40 credits in English Literature, you will take a number of the Special Subject modules plus either a 12,000-word Dissertation or a 6,000-word Extended Essay on a subject of your choice, for which you will be supervised by an expert in the field.

History

Compulsory modules:

  • Special Subject A+B (20 + 20 credits)

Optional Modules:

Students can also take an Advanced Option A, an Advanced Option B or a Joint Honours History dissertation for a further 20 credits or two of these modules for a further 40 credits.

If you studied Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) in year 2 you would normally be expected to do a 40 credit dissertation in History (for 80 credits in total).

History final year detailed module descriptions

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • Overseas: £13,860

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; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

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:
See 'Additional information' below.

A Level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A

For the English Literature pathway, A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade A is required.

For the English Language pathway either English Language, English Literature and Literature or English Literature is desirable but not essential; if taken it will be required at grade A. We also consider other candidates who demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the study of language. In this case, an A level in a modern language would be an advantage.

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 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

Please note: When making your selection on UCAS please specify ‘Literature pathway’ or ‘Language pathway’ in the ‘Further details’ box.

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.
  • Transition review - You will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • 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.

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.

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.

English and History graduates have a range of skills that are highly-valued by graduate employers:

  • Strong communication skills (both in writing and orally)
  • Understanding and appreciation of the past
  • Critical thinking skills
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Forming concise and articulate arguments
  • Time management
  • Workload prioritisation.

In our most recent survey, 90% of History and English graduates progressed to further work or study.
Employers include:

  • Capita
  • Deloitte
  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital
  • Explore Learning
  • JP Morgan
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Trust
  • Teach First
  • Thames Water
  • Weightmans llp
  • Birmingham Repertory Theatre
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Daily Mail
  • Hodder & Stoughton Publishers
  • ITV
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • National Citizens Service

Roles include:

  • Charity Engagement Assistant
  • Communications Assistant
  • English Teacher
  • Human Resources Business Partner
  • Major Gifts Officer
  • Management trainee
  • PR and Media Relations Intern
  • Researcher
  • Strategy Analyst
  • Social Media & Website Officer
  • Cultural Intern
  • PR Client Executive
  • Research Assistant
  • International Sales & Digital Executive
  • Schools Co-ordinator
  • Editorial Quality Executive

Examples of further study include:

  • NCTJ in Multimedia Journalism
  • MA Magazine Journalism
  • MA Medieval Studies
  • MRes Modern History
  • PGCE (various)
  • PgDipEd Early Years
  • MA Antiquity
  • TESOL Certificate in English Language Teaching
  • MA Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies
  • MA Writing for Performance and Publication
  • MA Creative Writing
  • Graduate Diploma in Law

You will benefit from organised events in both departments whereby our graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available. Recent speakers include authors, writers and graduates that hold positions at companies such as the Guardian, Network Rail, Capital One and the National Trust.

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.