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.
“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 modules and participate 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.
- 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
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.
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- 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 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.
Please note: When making your selection on UCAS please specify ‘Literature pathway’ or ‘Language pathway’ in the ‘Further details’ box.
Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com.
Learn more about applying.
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:
- small group tutorials
- independent study
- and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates
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 welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
- 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.
Central to Learning and Teaching in the School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham is critical enquiry, debate and self-motivation, summed up by the term Enquiry Based Learning.
What does this mean for you?
Enquiry-based learning describes an environment in which learning is driven by the shared enquiry of students and tutors. Depending upon the level and the discipline, it can encompass problem-based learning, evidence-based learning, small scale investigations, field work, projects and research.
Enquiry-based learning places you at the centre of your own learning process so that you learn through involvement and ownership and not simply by being a passive recipient of information thrown at you. You will spend time developing comprehension and note-taking skills. History is a subtle and complex subject and the literature you need to master can be demanding and complex. To ‘get’ it, you need plenty of thinking time. Reading, thinking and analysing for yourself are the most important parts of your degree experience. This approach will enable you to take control of your own learning as you progress through your degree. Moreover, it will encourage you to acquire essential skills that are highly valued by employers: creativity, independence, team-working, goal-setting and problem-solving.
The overall approach we adopt is one of more heavily weighted contact hours in Year 1, but tapering off over years 2 and 3, as you begin to acquire greater confidence in discussion and writing. We are strongly committed to small-group seminar teaching, particularly in the final two years of your degree: you will find that most of your teaching happens not in large, anonymous lectures but in smaller groups of students where you can actively participate in discussion and have the benefit of personal contact with academic staff. In your final year, you will also have individual tuition to help you work on your dissertation. As you progress through the syllabus, you are offered an increasingly wide range of particular subject choices.
Year 1 is highly directed – much of it lies in helping you to acquire a general overview of the medieval, early modern and near contemporary past. The ‘Practising History’ module introduces you to the key skills needed to study History at degree level and enables you to study select historical episodes. All this will help you make more informed decisions about subject choices in Years 2 and 3. These topics are increasingly specialised and enable you to get to grips with them in real depth. During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.
In Year 2, in each term, you have a choice of around 15 Options to study. You will start doing preparatory work for your final-year dissertation, selecting a topic, assessing its feasibility and engaging in preliminary discussions with potential supervisors. The module History in Theory and Practice provides an overview of the evolution of history writing and an introduction to key issues confronting historians today: you will find this helps you reflect on your own historical research. A notable feature of Year 2 is Group Research: about a dozen specialised historical topics for you to research, not, however, as individuals, but on a collective basis. You are divided into groups of 5-6 students, to work as a team, and to produce both individual essays and a group presentation on what you have researched. The capacity to work as part of a team, to know what it is like to have to accommodate yourself to the way others work, is a valuable asset for future employment.
In Year 3, there are some 20 Special Subjects for you to choose from, ranging from the early medieval period almost up to the present day, and covering a wide range of British, European and non-European areas. You approach the particular subject not only through reading but also by intensive study of original documents. In addition, there are around a further 14 Final Year Options to choose from in each of the autumn and spring terms. The real centre-piece of the Final Year, however, for most students is their dissertation – a piece of extended writing on a subject of your choice and which requires significant use of archival and other primary source materials. You will have done extensive preparatory work for this in Year 2. In Year 3, you will have a calibrated set of one-to-one consultation sessions with an academic supervisor, who will comment and advise on your drafts. This will be real academic writing and the results are often impressive.
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.
- 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
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- National Citizens Service
- Charity Engagement Assistant
- Communications Assistant
- English Teacher
- Human Resources Business Partner
- Major Gifts Officer
- Management trainee
- PR and Media Relations Intern
- 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.
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.
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.