BA English and Philosophy

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This course is in clearing

This course is in international clearing

This multidisciplinary degree is for those interested in philosophical debate, as well as the written word. You will be given the opportunity to study the full range of literature and language in English, alongside a variety of complementary perspectives informed by western philosophy. This combination will help you develop skills of clear thinking, use of the imagination, and precise and persuasive expression.

At the University of Birmingham, you will have access to world-class talent in philosophical fields as diverse as metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of language and mind, ethics and ethical theory. You can also choose either a Literature or Language pathway, which allows you to focus your studies on how literary culture has shaped society, or the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language.

Course fact file

UCAS code: QV3M

Duration: 3 Years

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

Start date: September

Details

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. 

Why study this course

  • Well-respected departments - We also have one of the largest concentrations of Literature and Language expertise in the UK, with over 85% of our academic research judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Similarly, our Philosophy Department was ranked second among all Philosophy departments in the UK.
  • Vibrant and inspiring environment - You will benefit from plenty of extra-curricular opportunities, from working alongside members of staff on their research projects on our Undergraduate Research Scholarships to regular social events such as end-of-term parties and summer balls. You will also be able to enjoy regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens, theatre director Greg Doran and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
  • Study aboard – You will have the opportunity to experience student life in a new environment. Our programme allows you to spend the third year of your degree studying Philosophy at an overseas university.
  • Shakespeare Institute and RSC collaboration - we have a unique provision for the study of Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship. You will 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.
  • Excellent employability – 90% of our Philosophy graduates and 92% of our English graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation. 

Open day talks

Four full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

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.

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.

First year

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.

Read more about first year English Literature modules

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.

Read more about first year English Language modules

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.

Read more about first year Philosophy modules

Second year

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’.

Read more about second year English Literature modules

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.

Read more about second year English Language modules

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.

Read more about second year Philosophy module

Third year

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.

Read more about third year English Literature modules

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.

Read more about third year English Language modules

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

Year Abroad

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.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: See 'Additional information' below

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.

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

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.

Learning and teaching

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 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.

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.

Employability

By studying an English and Philosophy degree at the University of Birmingham, you will acquire skills highly sought after by employers within the graduate job market:

  • Understanding complex information
  • Intellectual Analysis
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Building a case to critically assess a particular point of view
  • Respect the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Generally thinking for yourself

You will also be encouraged to acquire practical skills that you will find useful in your future career, including oral presentation, professional documentation, time management, teamwork and the uses of information technology.

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 4th in the UK for graduate prospects in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015. Our Philosophy graduates have excellent employment prospects with 90% of graduates entering work or full-time study. The equivalent figure for English graduates is 92%.

English and Philosophy graduates go on to pursue highly successful careers in professions such as:

  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Management consultancy
  • Local government
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Advertising
  • Charity

Therefore, a degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Birmingham opens doors to a wide range of careers. Some graduates even choose to progress to further study, not just in English and Philosophy but in Law, Education, Politics, International Development, Sociology and other areas.

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.