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Undergraduate Course

English Literature BA (Hons)

Books can change the world. Discover the power of the written word on our English Literature degree.

Student reading in the library

Words matter. That’s our philosophy. We believe that reading literature from times, places and lives that are different from our own provides a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. On this degree you will explore texts themselves and their place in the societies and cultures they are part of.

97% of English Literature students were satisfied with their course. (National Student Survey 2020)

97% of English Literature students felt they were guided well on the course. (National Student Survey 2020)

York campus

  • UCAS Code – Q300
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

Go beyond the traditional canon of literature to study texts from many different genres and contexts. You will have opportunities to engage with classic texts by writers like Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen, but may also find yourself reading:

  • Native American writing
  • Prison narratives
  • Radical poetry
  • Avant-garde writing
  • Speculative fiction
  • LGBT rights literature,
  • Experimental writing
  • Literature of the Caribbean.

There is a lot of flexibility to tailor the course to your interests, with lots of optional modules to choose from and opportunities to specialise in specific themes or eras.

As you progress through the degree you will become an increasingly skilled reader, writer and critic. A degree in English Literature will also help you build personal and professional skills that can lead to many exciting careers. You will build your confidence in:

  • Analysing
  • Writing
  • Researching
  • Forming arguments
  • Working collaboratively
  • Communicating ideas.

We are committed to helping our students gain professional skills and experience, which is why this course includes a dedicated employability module. This allows you to gain professional experience in a setting relevant to your own career goals.

You will have the opportunity to take part in workshops, writing sessions and readings with prominent literary figures through the York Literature Festival. This event runs every year in partnership with the university. In recent years the Festival has attracted authors including Margaret Atwood, Will Self, Polly Toynbee, Ian McMillan and Michel Faber. You can also join our field trips, which take us to places like London, Whitby and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. How many modules you take each semester will depend on whether you are st­udying full time or part time.

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 1
  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will help you to become more confident in working with literature at degree level. You will engage with a range of texts written before the 19th century. This includes prose, drama, poetry, speeches, letters and articles. Through this you will start to think about how literature and history can be brought together, and why the study of English Literature remains a popular and important subject.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will learn the basics of academic writing and research at university level. Drawing on a range of classic and contemporary short stories and poems, you will develop skills such as:

  • Using the library catalogue
  • Choosing secondary sources
  • Planning essays
  • Developing arguments
  • Close reading texts.

These will allow you to write about and discuss the works that inspire you with confidence and flair.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to some of the most important theories, debates and narrative practices. We will question how narratives work by exploring a range of narrative styles and forms. Through the analysis of various texts you will consider issues such as modes of storytelling, the relationship between different forms of narrative, and the connections between story and interpretation.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will examine some well known classic texts alongside more unusual selections. These texts will help you to question the social, political, cultural and historical values through which we approach literature. This includes an exciting range of texts across different media and forms, from 19th century poetry to early cinema and 1930s nonfiction. Along the way we will consider questions of gender, class, war, empire, form, genre and much more.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

The critic Michel Foucault once wrote that ‘power is everywhere’. On this module we will uncover how economic, social and cultural power is portrayed and exerted through the written word. We will explore who has power in a literary text, and we as readers can identify this. We will discuss these issues as they relate to identity politics and the intersections between class, gender, race, sexuality, ability, nation, and age in selected literary works.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to 2 key concepts that will recur throughout your academic study: the idea of literary value and the concept of the canon. This will provide a context for you to reflect on what you study at university and why. We will question how assumptions about what is and isn't great literature can influence our reading and writing choices, potentially restricting us from exploring beyond the classics.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 3 optional modules in semester 1
  • 1 compulsory module and 2 optional modules in semester 2.

Some module options are available from the Creative Writing, Film and Media courses, but you may only choose one of these.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will encourage you to think about your career options after graduation, and how the skills you are developing can help you to achieve these goals. We will focus on team work and project management skills, as you work in groups to develop, plan and execute a project. Alternatively, you could gain some industry experience with an external workplace placement. Guest speakers will share their experiences and introduce you to a variety of graduate career pathways, potentially including publishing, research, teaching, marketing and journalism.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will consider whether we can meaningfully approach literary texts outside of their historical contexts. We will question whether a text can mean anything to anybody, or if are there more objective ways of understanding them. This module engages with some of the most fundamental questions in literary studies. It will equip you with the theoretical background and skills to offer insightful readings of any text, irrespective of when and where it was published.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The English Civil War, the Commonwealth, the ‘Glorious Revolution’, and the Restoration of the Crown led to a period of great literary production – as well as suspicion from those in power towards writers and publishers. On this module we will discuss how literature challenged and negotiated what it meant to be ‘civil’ in this period. You will consider how new voices contributed to the conversation, including:

  • The working class
  • Women
  • Writers of colour
  • Dissenting writers

You will learn about the new kinds of literature which emerged to make sense of events, and the community that was created through reading.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will explore the different ways books and films tell stories, and what happens to literature and literary characters when they are translated onto the screen. We will introduce you to the theory, methods and conventions behind the process of adaptation. In addition to examining specific examples of film adaptation, you can choose to experiment creatively on an adaptation project of your own, using what you have learnt.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Science Fiction has a history of encouraging readers and viewers to reflect on their post industrial choices, and consider how they have affected the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants. On this module we will draw on a range of critical perspectives around utopianism to approach landmark texts in the history of science fiction. You will have the opportunity to get involved with our ongoing science fiction writing project Terra Two: An Ark for Off-World Survival

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will consider the relationship between American literature and the physical and symbolic spaces of its settings. In American culture concepts of space and setting have a particular relevance that dates back to events such as the Declaration of Independence, the founding of civic spaces, and the Californian Gold Rush. You will be challenged to think creatively, critically, and innovatively about physical space and literature. We will explore the relationship between American socio-economic history and the development of a specifically American literary tradition.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will encounter varied and interesting texts produced within and written about major conflicts of the 20th and early 21st centuries. We will start with depictions of the mechanised horror of the Western Front and progress through representations of:

  • The Second World War
  • The Spanish Civil War
  • Vietnam
  • The Troubles in Northern Ireland
  • 9/11 and the War on Terror.

We will read texts by writers as diverse as Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut and examine the complex relationship between language, experience and memory.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore the idea of revolution, considering how the literature of this time agitated for and responded to political upheavals and changes. In this era writers took advantage of an increasingly literate population to put forward their views through plays, poetry, novels, treatises, periodical, and newspapers. This gives us an exciting range of texts to draw upon. We will consider:

  • The impact of ‘revolutions’ in literary tastes and production
  • Gender roles and expectations
  • The role of literature
  • The relationship between individuals and society.

Credits: 20

Optional module

From Obama to Beyoncé to the Black Lives Matter movement, the African American experience is a major influence on our contemporary political, cultural, and social landscape. Starting with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s and continuing through to the present day, we will discuss key African American novels, plays, and poems. We will consider these alongside music, film, art, and political writings to understand how black writers have responded to and shaped American culture and history.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will consider how diseases are represented in novels from the late 18th century to the present day. You will investigate what disease can represent in literary texts, what associations come with different diseases and what anxieties about society diseases allow the author to explore. You will broaden your research skills by engaging with non literary texts such as medical handbooks and advertisements alongside literary works.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This is an exciting module that will explore Shakespeare’s plays in their early modern contexts, while also considering their creative potential for performance. We will look at contemporary stagings of his plays. This may include debates around colour/gender-blind casting, and exploring the implications of casting on the way we read the texts. Through this module you will engage with a range of theoretical approaches, from new historicism, cultural materialism and postcolonialism to feminist and queer readings.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • A dissertation module studied across semesters 1 and 2
  • 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 2 optional module in semester 2.

1 of your optional modules can be a Creative Writing module.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

As you progress towards your final year you will become increasingly independent in your learning. You will write a dissertation (an extended project which runs for the whole of the academic year) on a topic of your choice, and with the support of an academic supervisor. For many students this is one of the most enjoyable parts of their degree, as it gives you the opportunity to specialise in something you are passionate about and explore it in great depth.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will investigate how the novel form was developed, challenged, and experimented with in the Victorian period. You will consider how the novel engages with and represents social issues in the period, but also how the novel form itself adapted and transformed as a vehicle of expression. You will discover how novels transformed from realist texts which set out to depict believable and probable events and characters to varied and experimental genres, including:

  • Science fiction
  • The sensation novel
  • Romance
  • Mystery and adventure.

Credits: 20

Optional module

By the beginning of the 20th century many of the religious, philosophical and cultural assumptions of the West had been overturned, and new aesthetic movements emerged whose radical call was to ‘make it new’. On this module we will introduce you to these restless modernists and the consequences of their work in 20th century culture. You will examine how the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, and queer subcultures used emerging ideas and experimental aesthetics as tools in their politically radical activism.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module examines the origins of Gothic literature and conventions, exploring how the Gothic persists and adapts to different historical and cultural contexts. We will be reading poetry and prose, drama and non-fiction throughout the module, as well as considering other media such as art, film, and sound and critical theories of the Gothic.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will investigate the theatrical experimentation that took place over the last century, and consider its impact on the contemporary stage. You will consider the major movements and perspectives of the period against the background of wider intellectual, cultural and aesthetic debates. Through this we will explore the creative dynamics between:

  • Tradition and innovation
  • Word and image
  • Writing and performance
  • Reading and spectatorship.

Credits: 20 each

Optional module

This is an opportunity to get involved with a current staff research project. The topics on offer in any particular year will reflect the research being carried out by your tutors. This is a great way to be part of the research culture within the department and add to the creation of new knowledge. You will build further on the research skills you have already developed, which will help you with your own independent dissertation.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module will examine a selection of texts from 20th century American literature, and relate these works to their cultural, social and political backgrounds. We will focus on texts that demonstrate formal innovation and experimentation, and the selection will reflect the variety of twentieth century American experience. You will read Native American, African American and Chinese-American texts alongside literature produced in the wake of radical social change such as Beat writing, Vietnam narratives, and responses to 9/11.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will examine texts from the English speaking and Creole Caribbean, a region that has produced2 Nobel Prize winners in Literature. We will introduce you to a range of writing from and about the Caribbean, allowing you to appreciate the longstanding global impact of this writing and how it is currently being marked and remembered. We will particularly focus on the close connections of the past and present between Britain and the Caribbean.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine texts from a variety of locations, including Europe and the USA, Africa and the Asian subcontinent. Using these texts we will debate the contradictions of contemporary global society. You will consider:

  • Whether local traditions or global culture has more impact in the modern world
  • What those in one part of the world do or do not owe to those living in another
  • Whether the popularity of literary texts which aim to represent and understand ‘the other’ is something to celebrate, or simply another form of exoticism.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module we will explore issues surrounding gender and sexuality. We will debate whether various elements of gender are natural or cultural, as well as how different genders and sexualities are presented in film and literature. We will investigate how do different cultural groups use popular culture and literature to reinforce, challenge, transgress or disrupt traditional gender expectations. This module challenges you to draw on all of the skills, theories and approaches encountered throughout your degree to interrogate the representation of gender roles and sexuality in popular culture.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

Discussions and debate is central to your learning on this course. We want do not want you to be a passive learner, but expect you to be actively engaged in every aspect of the course. You will take part in:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Events
  • Field trips

You will typically study 3 modules each semester. Each module will normally have 3 hours of contact time each week, so you will have a minimum of 9 hours each week of teaching.

Alongside your timetabled contact time, you will need to study independently. You will need to spend time reading around the topics we cover and preparing for your taught sessions. This will ensure that you get the most out of your degree, as well as building valuable time management skills.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.

Assessment

There are no exams on this course. The assessments you complete will be entirely made up of coursework. This includes essays, but also other forms of assessment which will help you develop new skills and prepare for your career. This includes portfolios, close reading exercises and reflective writing.

You will receive feedback on your work throughout each module. This will help you to improve your work for your graded assessments.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in English Literature

English Literature is a versatile subject that can lead to a variety of exciting career paths. This is a great choice if you want to keep your options open. You will gain valuable skills in writing, analytical thinking, time management, problem solving, public speaking and more.

This degree could be the first step toward your career in:

  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Public services
  • Editing and copywriting
  • Journalism
  • Marketing or PR.

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

Contemporary Literature MA

Publishing MA

Creative Writing MA

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice.

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

This course is available with a foundation year

If you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto this degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education, this is a great option for you. Passing a foundation year guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Liberal Arts foundation year

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and Funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry onto this course is

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time.

These prices apply to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

ASPIRE CARD

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