Your first year of study is split equally between English Literature and History of Art (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.
History of Art: The First Year serves as a foundation for the subject. The modules ‘Historical Concepts’ and ‘Debates and Methods’ to the History of Art introduce the methods and concepts employed in the study of art history. Other modules provide an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art such as Romanticism, Realism, the Renaissance, Modernism or the Enlightenment. Lectures and seminars are supported with study trips to galleries and current exhibitions in London or elsewhere. The first-year modules include: Historical Concepts in the History of Art; Debates and Methods; Object and Medium; Ideas of the Renaissance; Concepts of Modernism in the History of Art; Enlightenment and its Discontents; The Real Realism; and Romanticism and the Idea of Romantic Art.
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’.
History of Art: The Second Year is structured to allow you to acquire greater depth by focusing a number of more specific subjects. You will have the opportunity to choose from a number of optional modules on themes or periods in the history of art. These are supported by a module on research techniques in the history of art as well as a study trip to a major artistic and cultural centre overseas, where you will have the opportunity to access works of art and architecture unavailable in Britain and to study them in situ. The second-year modules include: Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands 1400-1460; Art, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna; Real and Ideal: Art and Society in Mid Nineteenth-Century France; Prague, Cracow, Budapest. Art, Architecture and Politics in Central Europe, 1867-1918; Inside the Gallery. Histories, Theories and Practices of Museums and Galleries; Research Techniques in the History of Art; and Art History in the Field – Overseas Study Trip
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 also have the option of writing a ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.
History of Art: In the Third Year you focus on a series of short 20-credit special subjects, which you study in depth and detail. In addition you have the opportunity to develop your research skills in a short Dissertation, a 6,000 word piece of writing on a History of Art topic of your own choice, if you have not chosen to complete a ‘link’ dissertation. Recent Final year Special Subjects have included: Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Visual Culture 1850-1940; Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933; Women and Artistic Culture 1400-1600; Michelangelo; Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Visual Culture, 1840-1940; Contemporary Visual Art and Postcolonialism
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.
On this programme you have an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with the materials of broad and diverse cultural and textual disciplines but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression. The programme allows you to bring two disciplines into an exciting and rewarding dialogue, with a huge amount of flexibility allowing you to tailor your course to suit your own interests. Below is a little more information about the Departments of English Literature and Art History, Film and Visual Studies:
The internationally renowned staff in the Department of English Literature research, publish and teach across the full chronological range of English Literature from Old English to contemporary British and American fiction and poetry, with a commitment to a rich diversity of theoretical, historical and intellectual approaches to their subjects. Research and teaching areas cover both the traditional literary canon and non-traditional areas of literary study such as postcolonial literature, early modern women?s writing, and the interrelation of literary and digital culture.
English Literature students can take a year-long Shakespeare course, drawing on the unique resources of our internationally-renowned Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.
BEDSOC (Birmingham English Department Society) is very active in organising social events, for example trips to the theatre and theme nights out such as Hawaii night. We also have a thriving Creative Writing Society, Writers? Bloc, which is open to all students.
Students at Birmingham will also benefit from frequent lectures and readings from award-winning writers and industry professionals. Speakers in recent years have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens and theatre director Greg Doran.
We have signed an exciting new collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company for a pioneering project that will bring benefits to our students.
English Literature open day talk
[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore delivers the 2014 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham]
Art History, Film and Visual Studies
The Joint Honours programme in History of Art provides an opportunity to study in depth European and North American art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the present. You will examine them in their social, cultural and political contexts, employing a wide range of approaches; particular importance is given to the study of works of art at first hand, in order to provide a critical appreciation of them as material objects, and also to help you develop your skills of visual analysis. Much of the teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by the rich resources available elsewhere in Birmingham, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, one of the major regional British art museums, and the IKON gallery, one of the leading galleries of contemporary art.
The Department is located in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, one of the world's finest small art galleries giving you access to internally important collections of paintings, sculptures and rare coins.
Students are eligible to participate in The Barber's Institute of Education Programmes. This scheme involves the assisting of teaching of local school groups.
The Barber Fine Art Library contacts is the largest resource of it's kind in the region with over 60,000 volumes on art historical subjects.
There is the opportunity to be selected for one of the Barber Bursaries for six months of funded training in curatorial, education and marketing aspects of gallery work.
The second year includes a study trip abroad to a major art historical centre such as Berlin, Paris, Rome or Venice.
History of Art open day talk
Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying History of Art at the University of Birmingham.
Joint honours open day talk
[Video above - Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the University]
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