English Literature with Shakespeare Studies first year modules

Compulsory modules 

Discovering Shakespeare

This module introduces students to the legacy and role of Shakespeare in twentieth and twenty-first century culture. It is divided into four main study blocks, focused on Shakespeare in the theatre and Shakespeare in education, Shakespeare in society and Shakespeare in heritage culture. Students will explore a number of Shakespeare’s plays as they have been and are used and interpreted within these contexts. The module includes opportunities for formative presentation and involves two study days at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.

English in the World 

This module encourages students to understand the role of English Literatureas it might be applied in the world. You will be encouraged to explore the ways in which literature teaches us to understand ourselves and others, and our past, present and future, and to recognise how telling stories makes meaning in the world. You will learn the importance of being able to evaluate and rethink these stories, and how reading and rereading literature is important for understanding and making a difference in the world. Lectures and seminars will focus on topics such as ‘Literature and Human Rights’, ‘Literature, Science & the Environment’, ‘Stories of Nations and the World’, ‘Literature, Medicine & Health’, and ‘Literature and an Inclusive Heritage’.


The key aim of the module will be to develop skills in close reading, informed by a sampled knowledge of the historical and geographical varieties of verse written in English. Each week’s work will be structured around a key text, or group of texts, which will form the basis of that week’s lectures; in seminars, these key texts will be related to, or contrasted with, a variety of extension texts, some suggested by the module convenor in the form of ‘flat pack’ teaching plans, and others by the seminar leaders’ own interests and enthusiasms. The key texts will be grouped by three themes, each of which will form the basis of three weeks’ work: Love, Loss and Location, allowing the students to shape arguments about change and variety in English verse around an idea of shared attention to related topics. Detailed attention to and development of the skills in close reading, and the conversations between poems that these enable, will be the chief outcome (and pleasure) of the module; its key technical and historical vocabulary will provided by a critical course book such as John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook, 2nd edn (Oxford, 2005), and its primary texts will be drawn from a commercial anthology.


This module introduces students to a range of styles and stylistic devices that constitute writing in prose. They will explore how a variety of authors across a wide historical and geographical spectrum think about prose as a literary medium distinct from, but interacting with, other forms of writing, such as poetry. Time will be spent analysing how prose works and the different grammatical and rhetorical devices it employs as well as thinking about the modes of writing with which it has become associated (e.g. the novel and short story, essay writing, confessional memoir and prose-poem). Students will be introduced to a diverse field of critical approaches and will practice writing clear and thoughtful sentences and paragraphs of their own in order to develop their academic prose style.

Reading English 

This module supports students’ transition to university, and aims to help you develop basic skills in ways of reading and approaching literature, using the library, research, working with criticism, planning and writing assessments of different kinds (including close reading, essays, posters, presentations), and making the most of lectures and seminars. You will be encouraged to understand the practices and principles of studying English Literature, key disciplinary debates, and the purposes and pleasures of reading. You will also be introduced to the diverse range of literature study at university, and guided in how to approach and work with areas of study that might be new to you, including transnational literature, digital texts and popular fiction.

Optional modules (may include)

English Literature Options (students choose 2) 

  • American Literature and Culture
  • Dystopia
  • Plays and Performance
  • Theory for English Literature 
  • Women’s Writing