We use cookies on our website to provide you with the best possible user experience. Disabling these cookies may prevent our site from working efficiently. To find out more about our cookies read our privacy policy.

About English Literature

English Literature

We are bombarded with words and surrounded by stories – stories told to inform us, to entertain us, to unnerve us, to make us cry, to make us laugh, to make us buy things. Understanding how stories work – and how they appeal to us, persuade us and affect us – is part of understanding the world we live in.

“Here students are known by name – not by numbers”

Studying English Literature at York St John University is about more than the study of great books. You will study great books, but you can also take modules in exciting areas such as children’s literature, creative writing, or horror fiction. You will find Shakespeare here as well as the Romantic poets, and classic nineteenth-century writing. But you will also find contemporary writing, including Caribbean texts, Australian writing and books by black British writers as well as Gothic science fiction, comedy and film as narrative.




At York St John you will be taught by enthusiastic and experienced staff who are active as scholars and researchers in their specialist areas. We have published work on topics ranging from renaissance women dramatists, the English novel, Irish literature, to women’s writing and history and contemporary British and American fiction.

You will encounter practicing writers on our campus, like Jackie Kay and Joe Dunthorne (writer of the recent hit film Submarine) talking about their approach to writing and giving students an opportunity to ask them questions about their work. Your fellow students will come from many parts of the world, and will be of all ages. But one thing they will have in common is a passion for books.

“One of the things we try and encourage is the pleasure of reading and how to form critical responses to that pleasure.”

We want students to be informed, engaged and arguments to be substantiated.

We are looking for a creative response to the texts – which doesn’t have to be an essay. It can be a painting of a piece of creative writing. At YSJ we recognise that reading is itself a creative process.

We also believe in taking the course out of the classroom. Thus if you are interested in the world of the 18th century we encourage students to organise an 18th century ball or immerse themselves  in the life of the 16th century.

We help students with placements - giving them the opportunity to “work with words”. Many of our students subsequently go into careers involving communication skills, including sales and marketing, research and in newspapers and magazines.