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Undergraduate course

English Literature and History BA (Hons)

Student at the minster library

The pairing of English Literature and History develops skills in critical thinking and analysis in response to a range of different types of texts. History is beneficial as mode of engagement and inquiry in relation to literary texts, and literature can help historians to analyse the past. You might find yourself referring to historical sources as part of your literary studies, as well as reading literary works as a way of developing your understanding of history. Studied together, these subjects allow students to gain a detailed understanding of the written word in all its forms, from historical sources and documents, to contemporary literary texts.

92% of History students felt that feedback on their work had been timely. (National Student Survey 2020)

York campus

  • UCAS Code – QV31
  • 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

English Literature

In English Literature, our philosophy is simple: words matter. Words shape the world we live in (books can and have changed the world) and the connections between the written page and the concerns of the ‘real’ world are a crucial part of the programme. Overall, the degree will enable you to develop your expertise as a reader and critic of a range of literary materials, whilst also supporting you in the development of a portfolio of professional skills which will aid you in the wider job market. As you become adept at independent learning, you will become a more sophisticated reader of texts, and you will find that your confidence as a writer and as a critic will increase as your degree progresses. 

English Literature is a rich and vibrant area of study. At York St John University, we are a dynamic, engaged, and research-active team who are committed to providing our students with a cutting-edge education. By studying English Literature, you will have the opportunity to learn about a range of different genres, historical periods, and literary forms.


On the History programme you will experience a wide range of teaching methods and techniques. From lectures and interactive workshops to seminars with other students, we encourage both independent and collaborative learning. In class contact time, you will examine arguments made by historians and the key debates between them. You will interrogate primary sources in print and in other media. You will learn how to advance your own arguments and think critically about the past. There are also opportunities to go on field trips within the historic city of York and beyond, to uncover the past in fantastic archives and the built environment all around us.

The History programme at York St John University offers a diverse range of modules, from medieval to modern history, with global scope. Studying history is not simply to understand the events of the past. Our team actively encourages your critical thinking and analytical skills to develop your abilities as an independent historian.

Course structure

Level 1

The programme is specifically designed so that you will have a foundational Level 1 year that introduces you to the skills required for University-level Literature and History. All our introductory Literature modules seek to equip students with an understanding of historical developments in the form of the written word. These modules provide you with a basic grounding in key texts, major historical moments, and important critical terms that will be applicable across the rest of your degree. 

Our introductory history modules allow you to explore different historical methods and perspectives on the past. You will learn key skills important for future years on the degree, including close primary source analysis and critical approaches to historiography.

Introduction to Literary Studies I
In this module you will have the chance to build your confidence in working with literature at degree level. You will engage with a range of texts written prior to the nineteenth century that includes prose, drama, poetry, speeches, letters and articles. Together, we will start to think about some of the ways that literature and history can be brought together and why the study of English Literature remains a popular and important discipline.

 Writing, Research and Literature
On this module you will learn the basics of academic writing and research at University level. Drawing upon a range of classic and contemporary short stories and poems as your starting point, you will develop a range of skills such as, using the library catalogue, choosing secondary sources, planning essays, developing arguments, and close reading texts, so that you can write and discuss the works that inspire you with confidence and flair.

Introduction to Literary Studies II
On this module we’ll examine some well-known classics alongside more unusual selections that help us to question the social, political, cultural and historical values by which we approach literature. This includes an exciting range of texts across different media and forms, from nineteenth century poetry to early cinema and 1930s nonfiction. Along the way we’ll be thinking about gender, class, war, empire, form, genre, and much more besides.

Theorising Literature: Power and Identity
The critic Michel Foucault once wrote that ‘power is everywhere’; on this module we seek to uncover the ways that economic, social, and cultural power is portrayed and exerted through the written word. Who has the power in a literary text? And how do we as readers discern 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.

This module prepares students to reflect on the study of Literature at undergraduate level by introducing them to two key, overarching concepts: the idea of literary value and the canon. The module is designed to complement semester 1 modules in which issues of literary value and the canon are raised, albeit in less detail, and to provide a meta-context for students to learn and reflect on why they study what they study at university as well as, more precisely, how canonical assumptions can influence their reading and writing. 

Researching and Presenting the Past
This module is designed to provide students with a foundation for the study of history at university. The course will focus on the key skills of researching and writing for essays and exams as well as aiming to enhance students' ability to analyse and evaluate primary and secondary sources. The module familiarises students with a range of historical sources and with the techniques required for their interpretation and evaluation. The course also provides a grounding in the development of history as a discipline, for instance through a focus on the early origins of history in antiquity to the modern day. 

War and Society
This module focuses on the nature and significance of war in society. Students will develop the skills of comparative analysis, by examining wars of different types in distinct periods and exploring contemporary historical debates about the relationship between war and society. 

Contemporary Crisis
The aim of this module is to introduce students to a series of significant domestic and international crises that can be regarded as marking a critical threshold in the history of the contemporary world. Study of these crises individually builds an understanding of the structures, mechanisms and character of the post-1945 world. The module promotes verbal and written communication skills appropriate to level 1 and prepares students for specialist modules at levels 2 and 3. 

The Making of Britain
This survey module offers a broad history of the British Isles, from domestic and international perspectives. While the course will focus on British history, students will also learn about the broader history of the world, and the influence this history had on the development of Britain. This approach will ensure students are introduced to the history of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and their relationship and importance to the history of an emerging Britain in the world. The broad themes of ‘power’, ‘identity’ and the ‘global’ will be run throughout the module. 

This module is designed to enable students to understand the experience of imperialism by comparing empires from diverse geographical and chronological contexts. It will allow for an understanding of the term ‘Empire’, and the importance of imperial powers throughout history. It will encourage comparative skills and source analysis. 

The Visible Past
This module will introduce participants to the study of historic buildings and to their appreciation as sources for the social, economic, political, military, religious and cultural history of England. The focus is on the ways in which history is expressed in the built environment and through material culture. The module uses the buildings, spaces and resources in and around the city of York to explore this aspect of the study of history, and places a particular emphasis on York’s medieval inheritance, focusing on the growth and development of monasteries and castles in Yorkshire. 

Popular Protest
The module examines the causes, dynamics and impact of popular protest in a variety of historical contexts, using the study of popular protest as an example of ‘history from below’ and as an introduction to the analytical and methodological approaches involved in the study of social history. 

America’s Century
The international history of the 20th Century was marked by the rise to global pre-eminence of a single super-power, the United States of America, displacing the former hegemony of Britain and the nations of Western Europe. The rise of American power had a profound impact upon the international community, whether her European allies, her communist enemies or the emergent nations of the developing world.

Level 2

At Level 2 you have the chance to follow your own writing and research interests, and select the modules that most appeal to you. As a joint honours student, you will take an employability module with either English Literature or History. Both of these modules encourage students to consider their professional and transferable skills, and how they might utilise them in the working world, as well as allowing students to undertake work-related projects and have the opportunity to meet professionals from industries including publishing, journalism, and teaching. This innovative approach to employability has been extremely popular with our students over the past few years. 

Modules include:

Literary Theory
Is it proper to remove literary texts from their historical contexts, or is historical awareness essential to any understanding of the text? Is it really the case that a text can mean anything to anybody, or are there more objective ways of understanding what texts are and how they work? What is actually happening when we read literature? And what is ‘literature’ anyway? This module will engage with the fundamental questions lying behind the discipline of literary studies. 

Mapping America
This module introduces students to the relationship between American literature and physical and mythical/symbolic spaces, and explores the ways in which this space is imagined and represented in a range of texts. The rationale behind this module is to ask students to think creatively, critically, and innovatively about physical space and literature, and explore the relationship between American socio-economic history, and the development of a specifically American literary tradition.

Science Fiction for Survival
Drawing on a range of theoretical and critical concepts around utopianism, the module will consider landmarks in the history of science fiction in order to develop students’ understanding of key concerns relevant to the genre. The title ‘Science Fiction for Survival’ aims to highlight the way in which science fiction, through its attention to both technology and ideology, encourages readers/viewers to consider the way in which humanity’s post-industrial choices have impacted directly on the well-being of the planet and its diverse human and non-human inhabitants.  

Conflicting Words
This module provides an opportunity to read texts produced by and written about major conflicts of the twentieth and early twenty first centuries. We will start with the mechanised horror of the Western Front and work our way through the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War, Vietnam, the Troubles, 9/11 and the War on Terror. We read texts by writers as diverse as Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut and examine the complex relationship between language, experience and memory.

Sick Novels: Literature and Disease
On this module we’ll be looking at the ways in which diseases are represented in novels from several different periods. What sorts of things can disease suggest in the literary text, and what kinds of associations come with different diseases? Why do some diseases seem to appear in many novels (tuberculosis and cancer, for example) and why are some less often written about? What kinds of anxieties about society do diseases embody or allow the author to explore?

Shakespeare: Perspectives
This is an exciting module which will explore Shakespeare’s plays in their early modern contexts but also understand them as written for performance. We will also explore them as modern/post-modern texts in reception. The module engages with a range of theoretical approaches, from new historicist to feminist and queer readings. 

From Harlem to Hip-Hop: African American Literature and Culture
Without doubt, 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 alongside music (including jazz, soul, blues, and hip-hop), film, art, and political writings in order to better understand the ways that black writers respond to and shape American culture and history.

Civil War to Civil Society: British Literature, 1640-1740
The English Civil War and execution of Charles I, 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. This module will engage with the ways in which literature challenged and negotiated what it meant to be ‘civil’ in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

We look at the different ways books and films tell stories, and what happens to literature and literary characters when they get ‘translated’ onto the screen. In addition to examining specific examples of film adaptation, students can choose to experiment creatively on a project of their own.

Literature at Work
This module will enable English Literature students to engage in discussions about a range of career trajectories relevant to their degree on both a practical and ideological level. Crucially, the module will facilitate reflective thinking about skillsets and their relationship to students’ career aims. Team work and project management are integral features, with students working in groups to develop, plan, and execute a project or alternatively, to engage in work-place learning through an external placement. Guest speakers will introduce a variety of graduate career pathways, potentially including publishing, research, teaching, marketing, and journalism.

Revolution and Response: British Literature, 1740-1840
Beginning with the ‘rise of sensibility’, this module will explore the idea of ‘revolution’ and the myriad ways in which the literature published in these decades agitated for and responded to political upheavals and changes as well as ‘revolutions’ in literary tastes and production, gender roles and expectations, the role of literature, and the relationship between individuals and society. This module will engage with the idea of ‘revolution’ through a wide range of topics and texts, including poetry, prose, and drama. 

The World After Rome
This module looks at those nations and states which emerged in the vacuum created by the fall of the Roman Empire. We cover the period 500 – 1000, and look in some depth at a number of different polities. This is the period of Bede, Alcuin, Charlemagne, Gregory the Great and Louis the Pious. It is a period of dramatic social, political and economic change. It is the period where our nations are born. It will tackle the notion that the period after Rome was a dark age, bereft of learning, literature and law. 

The Age of Revolution, c. 1780-1830
The module aims to explore an important period in modern European history, the era of the French and industrial revolutions. The main events of the period are studied from a variety of social, political, intellectual and cultural perspectives and students are given the opportunity to pursue individual avenues of interest and research. 

The Flowering of the Middle Ages
The aim of the module is to introduce students to the structures of medieval society in western Christendom and to the processes of change as well as adaptation brought about by conquest, settlement and travel. The course explores the material conditions, social organisation, political structures and world perceptions of western Christendom in the high middle ages and examines the historiographical and conceptual debates on the significance of the period.

Reds! The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Communism
This module examines the history of the Soviet Union from political, social, cultural, economic and military standpoints. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 set in train a process by which the world would become divided into two diametrically opposed ideological camps throughout much of the twentieth century. The Revolution is, therefore, a seminal event in our understanding the international history of the last century.

History, Film and Television
This module studies the value of a variety of film and televisual evidence, including documentary, feature film, television film, propaganda film, newsreels and television news film, as a historical sources. The module explores the role which such media have played, and continue to play, in shaping historical development. It promotes research into relevant primary visual material, as well as engagement with secondary sources and critical scholarship concerning the relationship between film and history. 

The Making of Modern America
The module aims to examine the political, social, economic, religious and cultural response of a rural nation undergoing rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and immigration. It will do so by evaluating, through the use of relevant sources, the historiographical debates surrounding the key themes of the period, as well as a range of literary, filmic, musical, artistic and popular cultural sources of the period as responses to their time.

International Organisations in the 20th century
This module seeks to give students an understanding of the function, impact and practices of international organisations during the twentieth century in the maintenance of international peace and security; on the global economy; and on international society. It will highlight and explain the origins and formation of a number of international organisations including the League of Nations, the United Nations, NATO, the IMF and World Bank, and the European Union.

History: Community and Culture
The key aim of this module is to offer students work-related learning. The module will allow students to explore career opportunities in areas that will be of value and relevance in their future working lives. It will engage them with thinking about how the skills they have acquired during their history degree can be utilised within those careers. As a part of this module, students will EITHER: 1. undertake a placement of a minimum of ten days. Students will seek out their own placement, with advice on how to do so that will be embedded in specific classes held during the module. OR: 2. undertake a work-related project, approved by the tutor, involving practical elements, broadly defined. 

Plague, Piety and Power
This module introduces students to the history of late medieval and early modern Europe, focusing on the themes of social, political, cultural and economic development during the period. The course examines the shift from medieval to renaissance through study of the development of political institutions, national and individual identities, language, literature and culture, and social constructs. The module also engages with debates on the impact of particular moments of historical significance, such as the devastation of plague and the discovery of the New World. 

From Slavery to Freedom
This module examines the major historical interpretations and cultural developments concerning the experience of African Americans under slavery and freedom. It explains the forces underlying the origins, development and abolition of the institution of slavery in the United States, and assesses the nature and significance of the American slave system and the responses of African Americans (through slave narratives) and white Americans to the institution of slavery, their inter-relationship after the demise of slavery and the emergence of cultural expression among African Americans. 

The Age of Anxiety: Culture and Society in the USA, 1929-60
Arguably the period from the Great Crash of 1929 to the departure of President Eisenhower from the White House in 1961 was one of continual anxiety for Americans. Although the period was bookended by unprecedented affluence, first in the 1920s, and then in the post-Second World War era, it was also a peculiarly traumatic period in American domestic life. In this module we seek to analyse and assess the nature and impact of the major upheavals in American life that characterise the period. 

The Sleeping Dragon: China 1911-1997
In the 1980s the People’s Republic of China began to emerge from the slumbers of communist isolation to take its place as a significant regional, and an increasingly important global, power. Even before this commentators had begun to describe the People's Republic of China as a new ‘superpower’ and the contemporary view is that China may be destined to surpass even the USA in terms of strategic and economic ‘clout’. Yet historically China has consistently failed to realise its national potential. This module examines the history of China’s efforts to shake off the shackles of its semi-colonial past and realise its full potential during the critical period from the 1911 Revolution to the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping. 

Europe in the Age of Nationalism, 1848-1914
The module examines the history of the European ‘Great Powers’ and the relations between them in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with particular reference to the growth of nationalism and its impact on Europe in that period. It explores the relationship between ideology and society in a specific historical context, building on the conceptual approaches introduced at level 1, and providing a foundation for more specialist study of modern European, British and international history at level 3. 

The Power of the Past in Early Modern Britain
Early Modern Britain had a rich historical culture, which supported social and political hierarchies, and claims to power and the legitimacy of the monarchy, the church and governmental institutions. Surveying some of the most important phases of British History from the perspective of how the past was interpreted, memorialised, contested, the course aims to provide students with fresh ways of understanding the course and impact of political, religious and intellectual change during the period.

Level 3

In your final year you will be ready to take on a bigger role in the management of your learning. You might find yourself leading a class discussion, or giving a non-assessed presentation in a seminar. You will write a dissertation (an extended project that runs for the whole academic year) on the subject of your choice, and with the support of an academic supervisor. In many ways, this is in the intellectual culmination of your degree, as you become an independent researcher and are required to manage your own academic project. Many of our students note that this is one of the most enjoyable sections of their degree, as they are specialising in a literary topic that they are passionate about, and are putting into practice the skills they have accrued during their time at York St John University. 

Modules include: 

English Literature Dissertation
In your final year, you will be ready to take on a bigger role in the management of your learning. Students write a dissertation (an extended project that runs for the whole academic year) on the subject of their choice, and with the support of an academic supervisor. In many ways, this is in the intellectual culmination of the degree, as students become independent researchers and are required to manage their own academic project. Many of our students note that this is one of the most enjoyable sections of their degree, as they are specialising in a literary topic that they are passionate about, and are putting into practice the skills they have accrued during their time at York St John. 

The Victorian Novel: Realism, Sensation, Naturalism
On this module we’ll focus on the ways in which the novel as a form was developed, challenged, and experimented with in the Victorian period. We’ll consider how the novel engages with and represents social issues in the period, but we’ll also look at the ways in which the novel form itself adapted and transformed as a vehicle of expression: from realist texts which set out to depict believable and probable events and characters, to science fiction, the sensation novel, romance, mystery, and adventure.

The Experimental Century
By the beginning of the twentieth century, many of the religious, philosophical and cultural assumptions of the Western hemisphere had been smashed into pieces. In this pessimistic moment flourished a range of aesthetic movements whose radical call was to ‘make it new’. This module will introduce students to these restless modernists, and explore the consequences of their work in twentieth century culture. Along the way it will examine how the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, and queer subcultures turned experimental aesthetics to new, politically radical ends. 

Gothic Origins
‘The Gothic’, according to David Punter, ‘arises on the sites of vanished cultural territories’ (2000). The point of ‘vanishing’ conceals and reveals the origin of this ‘contested, maligned, and misunderstood’ (Carol M. Davison, 2009) mode of writing. This module will provide an opportunity for students to engage with the ‘origins’ of Gothic literature and conventions, exploring the ways in which 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 (art, film, sound) and critical theories of the Gothic. 

The Making of Modern Drama
This module examines aspects of theatrical experimentation over the last century, and its impact on the contemporary stage. In addition to comparing the aims and achievements of different theatrical movements, students may undertake a creative project (e.g. writing a script or designing a stage-production) in response to what they have learned. 

Research Now I and II 
This module recognizes the interest students have in the research culture and open environment that we have cultivated at YSJU. It allows final year students to respond to current and ongoing research projects within the lecturing team, building on their research skills and supporting the specific skills demanded of final-year work and dissertation modules.

American Radicals: Outside the Canon
This module will examine a selection of texts from twentieth century American literature and relate the works to their cultural, social and political backgrounds. The module will focus on texts that demonstrate formal innovation and experimentation, and will reflect the plurality of twentieth century American experience. Students might read Native American, African American, Chicana, Chinese-American texts alongside literature produced in the wake of radical social change such as Beat writing, Vietnam narratives, and responses to 9/11. 

Writing the Caribbean
This module will examine a range of texts from the Anglophone and Anglocreole Caribbean, a region that has produced two Nobel Prize winners in Literature (Derek Walcott & V.S. Naipaul). The aim is to introduce students to a range of writing from and about the Caribbean which reveal the longstanding global dimensions of this writing and the ways in which this is currently being marked and remembered. The close connections between Britain and the Caribbean will be a particular focus, both in a historical and contemporary context. 

Cultures of the Now: Contemporary Writing
This module encourages students to consolidate their understanding of the history of literature by examining a range of texts from a variety of locations – Europe and the USA, but also Africa and the Asian subcontinent – in order to get a grip on the strange paradoxes of our own global moment. Is the world a fragmented assortment of local traditions, or a conformist monoculture? What do those in one part of the world owe to those living in another? And is the popularity of literary texts which seek to represent and understand ‘the other’ something to celebrate, or simply another manifestation of consumerism? 

Gender and Sexualities
When it comes to issues of gender and sexuality, what is natural and what is cultural? How have gender debates informed popular culture and critical theory? And how do different cultural groups use popular culture and literature to reinforce, challenge, transgress or disrupt traditional gender expectations? Coming in the final semester of third year, this module challenges students to draw on all of the skills, theories and approaches they have rehearsed throughout the degree to confront, explore and interrogate the representation of gender roles and sexuality in popular culture. 

History: Special Study
The design, research and presentation of an extended independent research project in History. You will address a specific topic in depth, using relevant primary and secondary sources and demonstrate an advanced critical understanding of theoretical and/or historiographical approaches as appropriate. The dissertation will demonstrate advanced written academic skills and the capacity to construct a sustained independent argument in relation to the chosen topic.

Early Victorian England
The module explores aspects of the impact of the industrial revolution on England in the first half of the nineteenth century. Concentrating mainly on the period from the 1830s to the 1850s, it analyses the consequences of the industrial revolution for economic, social and political life, and examines the ways in which the early Victorians responded to the changes that were transforming their world. 

US Conflict on the East Asian Mainland
Forty years after its conclusion the Vietnam War remains one of the most controversial conflicts of modern times. While efforts have continually been made to learn the ‘lessons’ of Vietnam it has been argued that the very occurrence of the war was the result of a failure to learn the lessons of the Korean conflict that preceded it, and with which it shares some obvious characteristics, though there are also some very marked differences. This module offers students an opportunity to explore the rich historical debates surrounding both the Vietnam War and the somewhat less well-known conflict on the Korean peninsula. 

The Wars of the Roses
This module explores in detail one of the most politically volatile periods of English history, encompassing deposition, regicide, civil war and enduring controversy. Students will be introduced to the key events of the Wars of the Roses and current scholarly debates, including examination of specified primary sources. The course focuses on the years 1450-85, analysing the reasons for the instability and the nature of political society as well as the influence of war and political turmoil on social and cultural change.

The Empire Strikes Back: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the Soviet Union
The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought a dramatic end to a Soviet empire that had been crumbling for decades. It also marked a definitive end to the Cold War and for a short time seemed to vindicate commentators who had viewed Soviet decline as the ‘end of history’; the end of ideological conflict in the world. In light of this complex legacy, this module will explore the dramatic events of the final years of the Cold War and will place the collapse of the USSR in its proper domestic and international contexts. 

The English Revolution
The English Revolution was a seminal period in British history, encompassing civil wars, regicide, and the transformation of political authority and practice that were to have profound long-term effects. Alongside the events and personalities involved in the English Revolution, students will learn about the institutions of the early modern English state, including the church, the courts, local county committees and offices, and parliament, and how they all understood and engaged with threats to the political order. 

The Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century
The aim of the module is to examine aspects of the history and historiography of the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century. The main focus will be on developments and interactions within the British Atlantic world, but the broader American, European and African contexts will be taken into account in the consideration of specific themes and events as well as in the discussion of the historiographical issues raised by the concept of ‘Atlantic history’. 

The Nation Divided: The Civil War Era in American Life
This module will examine the history of the American Civil War. It will confront and evaluate the historical debates surrounding the American Civil War and examine the social and political forces which have shaped subsequent historical and popular cultural portrayals of the conflict. It will provide opportunities for students to contemplate the significance of historical memory, and will enable students to apply a range of advanced analytical and critical tools to the study of the history and memory of the American Civil War.

The Great Society: America in the 1960s
The period that falls approximately between the election of John F. Kennedy as president of the United States in 1960 and the departure of Richard M. Nixon from that office was an incredibly tumultuous time for the USA: the country was convulsed by domestic upheaval; it embarked on a period of intense domestic reform in an effort to create what President Lyndon Johnson called the ‘Great Society’; and it became bogged down in a seemingly endless war in Vietnam. This module provides an opportunity for students to study the major themes and developments in the USA’s domestic and foreign affairs during this seminal period.

The Origins of the Second World War
The module examines the challenge to international order presented during the 1930s by Germany, Italy and Japan; it also analyses the response of Britain, France, Russia and the USA, and the reasons why tensions between these nations escalated into the Second World War. In doing so, the module assesses the historiographical debates concerning international relations in the 1930s.

Late Anglo-Saxon England
This module looks very closely at the Anglo-Saxon world. Although it will present students with a good narrative awareness of Anglo-Saxon history from its beginnings, through Alfred the Great, Bede and Edgar, with a greater focus placed on the reign of Æthelred and the ultimate conquest of the nation by Cnut. Students will engage with a wide variety of different source materials: the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, Poetry, political tracts, Hagiographical works as well as the law codes produced by the state. Students will also consider the use of archaeology and material culture in elucidating such a distant and foreign past. 

Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain
The module examines key themes in the social and political history of Britain in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, building on the work of introductory modules at level 1 and broader period surveys at level 2. It combines the advanced study of historiography with the examination of primary source material and is intended to enable students to demonstrate and develop their critical, analytical and communication skills at a level appropriate to the final year of an undergraduate degree programme.

Teaching & Assessment

The aims of all our teaching is to help you to become a better writer and literary critic, to challenge you to consider new ideas and concepts, and to support you in understanding the complex connections between literature and contemporary society. Literature is a dialogic discipline: that is, informed discussions and debates are a crucial part of the learning process. We do not want students to be passive learners, but instead expect you all to be actively engaged and involved with your degree subject.

On the History programme, we encourage students to find their own voice as historians and become independent researchers in their own right. To do this, we thoroughly examine the past from differing perspectives and engage critically with key arguments and debates among historians. We think carefully about the limitations of historical evidence and the contested nature of History as a discipline.

The English Literature & History programme is delivered using a wide variety of methods. This includes lectures and seminars (small groups of students with a tutor), tutorials (one-to-one meetings with a tutor), fieldwork, ICT workshops, independent study outside of formal teaching sessions, collaborative learning (working with your fellow students) and using online resources through the university’s Virtual Learning Environment. Teaching sessions include discussions, problem-solving exercises, group work, debates and data analysis exercises. Throughout your degree you are encouragedto take an active part in teaching sessions, rather than just being a passive receiver of information. Sometimes students are even asked to take the lead in sessions. There are opportunities to go on field trips and archives in the local area and we encourage the use of online materials in our modules for flexibility in learning.

In your first year, you would typically study three modules each semester. Each module will normally have three hours of contact time each week, so you’ll have a minimum of 9 hours each week in University, and 36 hours of contact time for each of your modules. This is just the starting point, as we also expect that you’ll be engaging in the field trips, visiting speaker sessions, and writing workshops that will also be part of your University experience. The rest of the time, we expect you to be reading (and remember that you will be doing a lot of reading for your Literature modules!) and preparing for class. Class contact time is supported by open learning strategies, ranging from interaction with the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to independent and group study. 

A wide range of assessment methods are used throughout the History section of your degree. Some modules are assessed by writing essays and by taking exams; others have one single point of assessment, such as a coursework portfolio completed throughout a module. You will always receive individual feedback on your assessments, which you can use to further develop your work.

There are no exams for the English Literature modules, which will all be assessed through coursework. As well as writing essays and portfolios, however, there are other assessment opportunities designed to help you develop new skills and prepare for graduate employment. You will encounter a wide range of assessment, including close-reading exercises, presentations and opportunities for reflective writing. Some modules are assessed by one piece of coursework (usually a portfolio) and you will have the chance to work on this throughout the semester. The feedback you will receive focuses on how you can improve your work for future assessment, and we encourage all students to keep a feedback folder to help keep track of their academic development.


Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

104 UCAS Tariff points

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

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 your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Foundation Year

This course is available with a foundation year. This option is ideal if you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto a degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education. A foundation year prepares you for degree level study, giving you the confidence and skills needed to make the most of your course. Passing it guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Foundation courses

Essential criteria

As well as a strong standard of written English, we also look for the ability to demonstrate knowledge and commitment to the subject. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example:

  • Through previous study (including qualifications in theology, classics and history)
  • Through general interest e.g.:
  • Wider reading
  • Volunteering
  • Visits to historical sites

Valued criteria

Candidates can demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. Examples of this include:

  • Further study
  • Career plans
  • Demonstrating the ability to think critically by discussing a range of literature genres and/or your own writing
  • Attending lectures/readings/performances outside of your school/college
  • Demonstration of initiative and research skills
  • Visits to museums and/or sites of historical importance outside of academic courses
  • An interest in relevant documentaries
  • Other extra-curricular activities could include conference/lecture attendance, being a member of appropriate societies (e.g. film), subscribing to relevant journals/magazines, and involvement in overseas exchanges/summer camps

Strong candidates will also demonstrate transferrable skills such as time management and research ability.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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.

This price applies 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.

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

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

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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