BA English Literature and Music

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A Joint Honours degree programme involves the study of two subjects to Honours degree level. If you study a subject in a Joint Honours programme, you work at exactly the same level and to the same academic standard as students taking that subject in a Single Honours programme. Joint Honours students are simply required to choose fewer topics from the range of options available in each half of the programme.

Course fact file

UCAS code: QW3H

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

Contact

Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511

Email: english-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Details

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in English Literature and half in Music (60 credits).

First year

English Literature: The first-year literature foundation modules introduce students to a range of kinds and periods of literature, using a lively variety of critical and theoretical approaches. Modules include:

  • Literary Aesthetics after 1800 (20 credits) introduces some key notions of form, style and genre in literary texts written after 1800. You will study three major focal texts (or groups of shorter texts) of different genres, and will develop skills in the close analysis of passages and in discursive essay writing.
  • Literary Aesthetics before 1800 (20 credits) introduces key notions of form, style and genre in texts written before 1800. You will study three major focal texts (or groups of shorter texts) of different genres, for example, Malory, Morte D’Arthur; revenge tragedies of the 16th and 17th centuries; selected verse satire of the 18th century.
  • The Critical Practice module (10+10 credits) focuses on key knowledge and skills central to critical practice in English Studies. You will be introduced to strategies for engaging with primary and secondary sources for literary study and methodologies in literary criticism. This module is closely related to Literary Aesthetics after 1800 and Literary Aesthetics before 1800.

Music: You study Historical Musicology, Instrumental/Vocal Performance and Composition (both paper and studio) as foundation courses. Everyone participates in ensemble performance, and students also take one module outside the main discipline.

Second year

English Literature: In this year, you take modules that address topics in three major periods of English literature, and which are informed by theoretical as well as textual and historical approaches. You will study:

  • One Option module in Medieval/Early Modern literature (20 credits) chosen from a list of options.
  • One Option module in Modern literature (20 credits) chosen from a list of options. Examples might include Writing and the World in the Nineteenth Century or Victorian and Decadent Literature: The Modern, the Aesthetic, and the Gothic or Making it New: Modernism and Literary Innovation in the Early Twentieth Century or Literature in Britain Since 1945.
  • One Transhistorical Literature Option (10 + 10 credits). Examples may include Satire or Colonial and Postcolonial Literature or Hacking the Book.

Music: In this year you have a very wide choice of optional modules, ranging from aspects of western art music, through to modules such as Sound Recording, Classical and Romantic Performance Practice, Film Music, and Analysis. There are optional modules in Individual Performance (including fully funded instrumental lessons) and Music History.

Year Abroad

On this programme there is the option to spend a year abroad. This four year route offers you the additional educational benefit of a year of study in an approved University in Europe or in an English speaking country.  There is a wide variety of universities across the world to choose from.  The decision on whether or not to take the year abroad pathway is made in your second year.

Final year

English Literature: The final year is the culmination of your programme, in which you choose two from a number of special option modules, taught by experts in those specialisms, and also undertake a dissertation in which you demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the issues in literature that you have been studying over the last two years. You study:

  • Literature Dissertation (10 + 10 credits). You will write a 5,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice.
  • One choice from Literature Options (all 20 credits; see below)
  • Either Shakespeare: Works, Time and Impact (10+10 credits) This course, running through the whole of your final year, allows you the opportunity to think widely across all Shakespeare’s texts in their historical, cultural and theatrical contexts; it is taught, in the main, by staff from the University’s Shakespeare Institute, and students are encouraged to draw on the resources of the Shakespeare Institute Library.
  • Or a further Literature Option (20 credits)

Literature Options available to final-year students have recently included: Ben Jonson; Chaucer: Pre-modern Writing and Post-modern Reading; Contemporary Irish Writing; Decadence and Aestheticism; English Reformed; ExtraOrdinary Bodies: Difference and Normalcy in Contemporary Literatures; Fantasy and Fandom; Gossip, Scandal, and Celebrity; Hardy and Wilde; Henry James; Literary Modernism; Literature and Politics in the 1930s; Literature, Sexuality, and the Body; Lyrical Ballads; Medieval Manuscripts; The Novels of Virginia Woolf; Paradise Lost: Text and Context; Viragos, Coquettes and Prudes; Voicing Women; Victoria’s Secrets: Literature and Secrecy in the Nineteenth Century; The Works of T. S. Eliot; Utopia and its Discontents.

Not all third-year options run at all times: this information is offered for general guidance only. It may be necessary from time to time to vary timing, content and availability.

Music: While taking more of the optional modules, you can specialise in solo performance by giving a recital, in composition by preparing a portfolio, or in musicology by writing a dissertation, or in any two of these. 

Why study this course

In English you have an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with the materials of a broad and diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression. We believe that we are partners in learning with our students, and our programme is designed to ensure that you are a fully supported and an active learner.

  • All English Literature students 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.
  • The Birmingham Visiting Writers' Programme hosts annual lectures giving students the opportunity to meet eminent writers.
  • English literature graduates from the University of Birmingham have a higher than average rate for employability for the subject and are ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for graduate employability.

English at undergraduate level

English Literature open day talk

Dr Kate Rumbold delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying English Literature at the University of Birmingham.

If you come to Birmingham to study music you will be taught musicology (music as an academic discipline), performance and composition. You will have access to outstanding facilities and benefit from a rich tradition of music-making.

Our facilities include practice rooms, electro-acoustic music studios, early instruments, computer workstations and the Barber Institute Concert Hall and Library. Our musical traditions include the University Music Society's choirs, orchestras (including two symphony orchestras) and jazz, wind and brass bands; the Barber operas and international concert series; the students' own summer festival; our New Music Ensemble; and the annual Birmingham Early Music Festival.

Our links with the city and its rich musical culture include instrumental lessons for all our students at the Birmingham Conservatoire; the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group as ensemble in association; University concerts held in the internationally acclaimed Symphony Hall; and access to open rehearsals from the likes of Thomas Ad?s, Sakari Oramo and Sir Simon Rattle. Instrumental and vocal lessons may also be taken through the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research.

  • The appointment of Sir Edward Elgar as the University of Birmingham's first Professor of Music led to the creation of one of the country's leading music departments.
  • The University has invested £16 million in an impressive new Bramall Music Building which is located in the centre of the University campus. You will benefit from some of the most versatile and technologically advanced facilities in the UK. The building is centred around the state-of-the-art Elgar Concert Hall which can seat 450 people. The building also contains purpose built facilities including a large rehearsal room, a suite dedicated to study a performance of early modern music and five electroacoustic studios.
  • Music is joint second out of all the UK's music departments in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise.
  • We currently rank 6th overall in the Guardian University League Table for Music.
  • The Barber Music Library is one of the best in the country, with Special Collections centred on 20th-century English music (including Elgar - diaries, manuscript scores and early editions) and Baroque music.
  • All undergraduates receive a scholarship for lessons on two instruments. We enjoy close relations with the Birmingham Conservatoire, where many University students receive their practical tuition.
  • The University has two symphony orchestras, a jazz orchestra, new music ensemble, choirs and many other ensembles, run by the Department and the University Music Society.

Music open day talk

Joint honours open day talk

Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university.

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: A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade A. A level Music Grade A. Pass in ABRSM grade 7 Theory exam is acceptable in lieu of A Level Music grade A. This would be in addition to 3 A Levels or equivalent qualification.

Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry 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.

Contact

Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511

Email: english-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Seminars, workshops and studio work are interactive sessions that develop subject-specific skills such as harmony, counterpoint, composition, analysis and historical understanding, as well as generic skills such as communication and essay writing.

Instrumental and vocal lessons are one-to-one and usually take place at the Birmingham Conservatoire. All our students receive a scholarship for lessons on two instruments.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

The principal means of assessment for English are coursework essays and written exams.

To test your knowledge and develop your core skills we use a range of different assessment methods, including essays, compositions (on paper and in electronic files), teacher reports, instrumental/vocal recitals, end-of-year examinations, listening tests, critical reports on concerts and programme notes

Contact

Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511

Email: english-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Employability

English Literature

[Video above - Dr Kate Rumbold discusses careers and employability during the English Literature open day presentation]

Studying for an English BA at Birmingham is an unparalleled opportunity, not only to engage with a diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, but also to develop skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression – skills that last a lifetime and qualify you for many possible careers. You will also be encouraged to acquire practical skills that you will find just as useful in your future career, including oral presentation, professional documentation, group work and the uses of information technology.

50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and English graduates enter a wide range of careers including advertising, journalism and media, government, law, publishing and teaching at every level. About 25% of English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

English graduates from Birmingham have a high rate for employability for the subject, and we are ranked in the top ten universities nationally for graduate employability. 92% of our English graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. Our graduates have started careers with employers including the BBC, Headline Publishing Group, Mirror Group Newspapers and Oxford University Press, in roles such as account executive, editorial assistant, marketing assistant and sales and events coordinator.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. Our ‘Creative careers’ series is always popular with our students, and features events with employers and professionals from areas such as advertising, PR and communications, careers in journalism, publishing and writing, and careers in the theatre.

English alumni profiles

Careers events

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities; we’re developing links with local arts organisations to create some amazing opportunities for students; and you can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for placements in those career fields where they are often unpaid.

Music

Our Music graduates have a range of general skills that are highly prized by graduate employers. The study of musical performance and musicology develops analytical skills, lateral thinking and your creative imagination. The process of performing itself helps to develop skills in personal organisation, event management, teamwork and entrepreneurship to succeed in a competitive field. You will have the opportunity to take a practical module in Arts Management which has a strong focus on employability. Subjects covered include marketing, project management, fundraising and finance, programming and contracts. Guest lecturers are invited including previous music graduates and professionals from the University Cultural Partnerships.

Music graduates often go on to pursue highly successful careers with employers including: City of London Sinfonia, CBSO, Purcell School, the Royal Academy of Music, local government, schools, colleges and universities. Many have taken management jobs in orchestras, music venues and other arts and performance organisations, with specific job titles including Accompanist Composer, International Events Manager, Lecturer Music Teacher, Orchestra Administrator, Trainee Orchestra Manager, Performance Music Assistant, Piano Teacher and Professional Musician. Some also decide to pursue graduate study in music and other fields.

The University of Birmingham's music graduates are very successful after graduation. 95% of our Music graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. This is well above the national average.

Famous former Music students of University of Birmingham include:

  • Natasha Marsh, BA Music and Drama, 1996 - highly regarded and well-known operatic soprano
  • Gabriel Prokofiev, BMus Music, 1997 - well-known composer and DJ with works performed at the Proms (Sergei was his grandfather)
  • David Murray, BMus Music, 1975 and 2012 Honorary Graduate - Director of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates, and access to internships (including some at summer music festivals) and job vacancies.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Contact

Admissions Tutors: Dr Kate Rumbold and Dr Luke Kennard

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator: Sophia Robertshaw

Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 5511

Email: english-ug-admissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk