Our Joint Honours degree programme allows you to combine Philosophy with one of two English pathways, either Literature or Language.
In your Philosophy studies, you will explore the great minds of history and the present day, both learning what they thought and engaging with them critically. You will focus on the fundamentals of western philosophy, including its history and contemporary concerns, with modules covering topics such as History of Philosophy, Moral and Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Science. We also provide you with training in reasoning and logic.
If you take the Literature pathway, you will be given a strong foundation in all major periods and genres and will be able to specialise in areas ranging 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 residential trip in Stratford-upon-Avon.
If you choose the Language pathway, you will gain a thorough appreciation of the technical aspects of the English language and its social and political context. We have a wide range of different specialisms to pursue which can prepare you for a wide range of different careers from speech therapy to journalism.
Our Joint Honours Philosophy and English programme offers you the opportunity to combine Philosophy with one of two English pathways, either Literature or Language.
Your first year of study is split equally between Philosophy and English (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.
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 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.
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English Language: your first year modules will introduce you to many different aspects of language and its use. These will provide you with a good grounding in the technical and conceptual analysis of language, social and political issues of language, and the ways in which language is taught and learned. Another core first year module introduces you to key skills in carrying out language research, with a theoretical and practical introduction to its objectives and methodologies. These modules combine to create an excellent foundation for your study and research in subsequent years.
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Philosophy: First year modules include Knowledge and Reality, History of Philosophy and The Individual and Society.
There are also two seminar-only modules: Philosophical Texts I, where you learn how to analyse and criticise some texts on a variety of topics, and Independent Study I, where you learn essay-writing and research skills and apply them by writing an essay on a philosophical topic of your choice.
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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.
You will have the opportunity to encounter Shakespeare’s work through two exciting modules taught in collaboration with Birmingham’s world-leading Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and working closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company. You will also have the option of exploring our ‘Themes in Literature’, from ‘The Gothic’ to ‘Tragedy’.
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English Language: In your second year you have a range of modules to choose from. You could develop your technical linguistic skills with core modules in ‘Phonology and Morphology’ and ‘Grammar’, or you could build on your interests in ‘Language acquisition and Literacy’, ‘Sociolinguistics’, or the ‘History of the English Language’.
You could also do a year-long module on analysing texts in different contexts. A core module in this second year is the research skills module in which you will investigate and present projects of your own choosing.
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Philosophy: In the second year, all students are given some freedom of choice, so you can pursue the topics and questions that interest and inspire you. Second year modules currently on offer include Thought and Language, Topics in the History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind and Meta-ethics.
There is also Philosophical Texts II, where you focus on a single classic book by a particular author from a range of available texts, and Independent Study II, which gives you the opportunity to further hone your essay-writing skills by writing an essay on a question of your own devising.
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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 below 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. You will also have the possibility of combining your study of English and Classics in one ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.
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English Language: In your final year you will complete a Dissertation or Language Investigation, the culmination of your development as an undergraduate researcher. Apart from this, your final year modules are entirely optional and you can choose from a wide range of modules – ‘Language, Gender and Identity’, ‘Ordinary Creativity’, ‘English Language Teaching’, ‘Language and the Mind’, ‘Words’, and many more.
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Philosophy: In the final year there is even more choice of modules. Some areas, like ethics and metaphysics, will be familiar to you, but will be studied at a more advanced level. Others modules, like the philosophy of Schopenhauer, will be new to you.
Another option is the Philosophical Project module, for which you research and write a dissertation with the help of a supervisor who advises you and generally guides you through the process.
Read more about third year Philosophy 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.
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