BA English Literature and History of Art

The Sun Rising Through Vapour by William Turner

This course is in clearing

This course is in international clearing

Explore the way in which the visual and literary arts have represented and engaged with society over time, and the ways in which they are evolving and influencing our world.

Examine the tradition of European and North American art and visual culture, from the Renaissance to the present. You will also study the written word from medieval to modern times, investigating issues ranging from the literary culture of Chaucer to the interrelation of literature and digital technology.

Studying sources first hand is particularly important: you will access original works in the Barber Institute of Fine Art and in our special collections which are home to over 60,000 rare and early printed books and over 2 million manuscript and archive items.

Course fact file

UCAS code: QV3H

Duration: 3 Years

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

Start date: September

Details

This programme is 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. The programme is also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress.

History of Art at Birmingham is an exciting and stimulating Department, with a diverse curriculum and wide application to modern life. Much of our teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by further resources across the University and Birmingham.

Within English Literature, you will have the opportunity to explore a range of approaches to the study of literature, gaining a good grounding in all genres and periods of literature. Complement this by taking a module in an area of creative practice such as Creative Writing, Film or Drama.  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.

This programme also offers the opportunity to spend a year abroad at one of our carefully selected partner universities, where we have close personal ties with academic staff.

Why study this course

  • Outstanding teaching: 95% of English and 100% of History of Art students agreed that staff were enthusiastic about what they are teaching and that the course was intellectually stimulating. Great teaching helps our students develop to their full academic potential: 94% and 100% of last year’s graduates achieving First or Upper Second Class degrees.
  • Fantastic employability development: Our graduates benefit from a higher than average rate of employability with 90% of English and 96.8% of History of Art students going into work or study within six months of graduation. In fact, in the 2015 Complete University Guide, the University of Birmingham was ranked first for History of Art and fourth for English for graduate prospects. Read more about the skills that you will develop, the industries our graduates enter and how we support you on our employability page.
  • Exceptional resources: You will have access to 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. You will also be able to access the on-campus 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.
  • Extensive cultural resources: You will have access to original works, an extensive library and collection of resources in our on-campus Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Here you will find works by such major artists as Botticelli, Picasso, Gainsborough, Monet, Degas, Gwen John, Vigée-LeBrun and Rodin. In addition, the city of Birmingham is home to a wide range of cultural venues to visit, volunteer or work with, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which houses the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite artwork in the world and the Ikon Gallery which is one of the leading British galleries of contemporary art.
  • Excellent student experience: Join BEDSoc (Birmingham English Department Society) and the Barber Association; write for The Golovine or our student newspapers or take part in a huge array of extracurricular activities. Work alongside members of staff on their research projects on our Undergraduate Research Scholarships and enjoy social events such as end-of-term parties and summer balls. We also host regular guest speakers and readings from visiting writers, art historians and those working in these areas. 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

Three 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.

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. 

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.    

History of Art: This is your foundation year and you will take modules which introduce you to concepts, categories and approaches to studying art and artists, as well as modules which examine the techniques and materials used in the production of artworks. Other modules will give you an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art, such as the Renaissance and Modernism.

History of Art first year modules may include:

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’.

History of Art: The second year in History of Art 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. If you are taking 80 or 60 credits of 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.

History of Art second year modules may include:

  • Research Techniques in the History of Art
  • Art History in the Field – Overseas Study Trip
  • Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands 1400-1460
  • Art, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
  • Power, Society, Politics: Religious art in Northern Europe
  • Inside the Gallery. Histories, Theories and Practices of Museums and Galleries
  • Impressionism and after: Art and Society in the Nineteenth-Century France
  • Arts and the Industrial Revolution
  • History of Art Second Year Module descriptions

Final 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 also have the option of writing a ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.

History of Art: In the final year of History of Art you opt to focus on several History of Art special subjects, which you study in depth and detail. If you are taking 80 or 60 credits of History of Art you have the opportunity to develop your research skills in a Dissertation, a piece of writing on a topic of your own choice. You may also study for a linked Dissertation, focusing on a topic of relevance to History and History of Art.

History of Art final year modules include:

  • The Dissertation
  • Women and Artistic Culture 1400-1600
  • Paris Moderne 1850-1930: Image, Concept, Femininity
  • Prague, Budapest, Cracow: Art and the Politics of Identity in Central Europe, 1867-1918
  • Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933
  • Architecture and Decoration in Sixteenth-Century Venice
  • The Destruction of Images
  • Representing War: British Art, Design and the First World War
  • Contemporary Art: New Practices, New Worlds
  • History of Art Final Year Module descriptions

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: ABB

Required subjects and grades: A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade A

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

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.

Study trips play an important part in the teaching on the programme. These include visits to galleries and museums in Birmingham and the West Midlands, as well as overseas group trips that are funded by the University. Recent destinations have included Rome, Berlin and Paris, and provide you with the opportunity to examine works of art and architecture in situ.

One-to-one tutorials become increasingly important as you progress through your course. This is particularly the case in your final year, when a major part of your programme will be a dissertation on a topic of your choice. Tutorials enable you to discuss your research with your project supervisor in depth.

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.

Employability

In the 2015 Complete University Guide, the University of Birmingham was ranked first for History of Art and fourth for English for graduate prospects and the Sunday Times Good University Guide. We have graduate employability rates above the national average - 96.8% of History of Art and 93% of English graduates were in employment and / or further study six months after graduation.

You will develop skills including visual and textual analysis and interpretation. You will also acquire skills that are highly prized by employers in many sectors such as:

  • Strong communication skills;
  • An awareness and appreciation of other cultures;
  • The ability to identify and target key audiences;
  • Researching, analysing and interpreting information;
  • Handling complex information;
  • The ability to critically analyse information and form concise, articulate arguments;
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload.

Throughout your degree you will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in museums and galleries, both on and off campus.

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 work at the Guardian, Network Rail, Capital One and the National Trust. Graduates that returned to speak at our biennial Art History Careers Fair hold positions at the Wallace Collection, BMAG, Sotheby’s Institute, Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre and the White Cube Gallery.

Other employers that our graduates work for include:

  • Kettle’s Yard,
  • the BBC,
  • Headline Publishing Group,
  • the Bodleian Library,
  • Cath Kidston,
  • Historic Royal Palaces,
  • The National Portrait Gallery,
  • Oxford University Press,
  • Christie’s,
  • Mirror Group Newspapers,
  • National Museum of Wales,
  • the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Their roles include:

  • Archivist,
  • Curator,
  • Gallery Coordinator,
  • Events Officer,
  • Account executive,
  • Sales and events coordinator,
  • Exhibitions Assistant,
  • Learning and Access Officer,
  • Programme Coordinator,
  • Editorial assistant,
  • Marketing assistant,
  • Researcher.

Other English and History of Art graduates choose to forge a career outside the Arts sector. Recent graduates have obtained graduate positions in sectors such as teaching, media, law, sales, local / central government, management, accounting, horse-racing, real estate and business or entered post-graduate education in a variety of 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.