School of English
A bird flies over the lake at the University of Nottingham, the Trent Building is visible in the background.

Our Courses

English at Nottingham is a little bit different from others. We're proud of the broad expertise available in our School and want to give you the opportunity to experience all of it. All our courses start with a broad focus, and then give you the opportunity to create the course that works for you in your second and third years.

BA English gives you the broadest foundation, and BA English Language and Literature allows you to focus a bit more. BA English with Creative Writing builds in a substantial route of your own writing and our Joint Honours degrees combine English with another subject from across the Arts.
Course structure
 Courses Year One Year Two Year Three
 English BA Five core modules and one optional module Any six modules covering at least three areas of study Any six modules covering at least three areas of study OR any five modules covering at least three areas of study and a dissertation 

English Language and Literature BA

Five core modules and one optional module Literary Linguistics and Texts Across Time plus four optional modules Any six modules covering at least three areas of study OR any five modules covering at least three areas of study and a dissertation
English with Creative Writing Six core modules Poetry: Conventions and Forms and Fiction: Conventions and Forms plus four optional modules Advanced Writing Practice: Poetry, Advanced Writing Practice: Fiction and Creative Writing Dissertation plus three optional modules.

Joint Honours

Choice of three out of four core modules

Three optional modules covering at least two areas of study Three optional modules covering at least two areas of study OR two optional modules and a dissertation

Find out More

Areas of study

The School of English is split into five areas of study: Creative Writing, Drama and Performance, Language and Linguistics, Literature, and Medieval Studies. We have a broad range of experts in these areas studying everything from D. H. Lawrence to fictional language creation to misogyny in society.


Drama and Performance

Learn more about Dr Chris Collins.


English Literature

Learn more about Dr Matthew Green.

Medieval Studies

Learn more about Dr Jo Martin and Professor Judith Jesch.


Core modules

In the first year all students take a number of core modules to explore the different areas of study available to them. In the second and third year students then have the opportunity to follow their interests through their course. We've put together some example student journeys to show you just how you can build different experiences from our module options. Find our journeys here.


Studying Literature

Core Module for: English BA, English Language and Literature BA, English with Creative Writing, Joint Honours


This module introduces the core skills for literary studies, including skills in reading, writing, researching and presentation. Topics covered include:

  • close reading
  • constructing an argument
  • handling critical material
  • introducing you to key critical questions about literary form, production and reception

You will put these new skills into practice through reading specific literary texts. These are focused on poetry and prose selected from the full range of the modern literary period (1500 to the present).

Across the year, you will learn about different interpretive approaches and concepts, and will examine literary-historical movements and transitions.


Studying Language

Core Module for: English BA, English Language and Literature BA, English with Creative Writing, Joint Honours


On this module you will learn about the nature of language, and how to analyse it for a broad range of purposes. It aims to prepare you for conducting your own language research across your degree.

The accompanying weekly workshops will explore levels of language analysis and description – from the sounds and structure of language, through to meaning and discourse. These can be applied to all areas of English study, and will prepare you for your future modules.

In your lectures, you will see how our staff put these skills of analysis and description to use in their own research. This covers the study of language in relation to the mind, literature, culture, society, and more. Your seminars then give you a chance to think about and discuss these topics further.


Beginnings of English

Core Module for: English BA, English Language and Literature BA, English with Creative Writing, Joint Honours


What was the earliest literature in English like? Where does English come from? What does ‘English’ really mean, anyway?

On this module, we’ll explore a range of English and Scandinavian literature from the medieval period. You'll also meet themes and characters who are at once familiar and strange: heroes and heroines, monster-slayers, saints, exiles, tricksters, lovers, a bear, and more.

From Tolkien to Marvel, the medieval past has been an inspiration for fantasy fiction and modern myth. As well as introducing you to stories and poetry which is exciting, inspiring and sometimes plain weird, we’ll also be looking at some of the challenges of the modern world.

Thinking about the past, means thinking about how it is used in the present day. The idea of a 'beginning' of English language and literature often gets incorporated into modern beliefs about national, ethnic and racial identity. On this module, we’ll begin the necessary work of challenging these ideas and building a better understanding of the medieval past and why it still matters.


Drama, Theatre and Performance

Core Module for: English BA, English Language and Literature BA, English with Creative Writing, Joint Honours


Who makes theatre? Where does performance happen, and who is in the audience? How is society represented on stage? These questions are at the heart of this module, and we will explore the extraordinary variety of drama in the Western dramatic tradition. You will examine dramatic texts in relation to their historical context, spanning:

  • ancient Greek tragedy
  • medieval English drama
  • Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • the Restoration stage
  • 19th century naturalism
  • political theatre of Brecht
  • drama and performance, for example the West End hit Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (2018), a celebration of women’s voices and history, inspired by the life of the trailblazing 17th century poet and feminist Emilia Bassano

Alongside texts, you'll also consider the extra-textual features of drama, including the performance styles of actors, the significance of performance space and place, and the composition of various audiences.

You will study selected plays in workshops, seminars and lectures, where we will explore adaptation and interpretation of the texts through different media resources. You can also take part in practical theatre-making, exploring extracts from the selected play-texts in short, student-directed scenes in response to key questions about performance.


Creative Writing

Core Module for: English with Creative Writing


You'll gain a broad perspective on creative writing, exploring essential techniques and examining the contexts in which writers create their work.

We will cover:

  • techniques in poetry (imagery, stanza and poetic form), and fiction (character, narrative and point of view)
  • ways of developing your creativity
  • creative and analytical responses to texts, by a wide range of contemporary and classic writers
You are taught by published poets and novelists, who'll share their insights and work closely with you to support your development. We also invite guest lecturers, so you can benefit from a professional perspective on the realities of writing and publication.

Academic Community

Core Module for: English BA, English Language and Literature BA, English with Creative Writing


This module introduces the key issues and skills in English, for transitioning to university-level study. It explores areas of overlap between the different areas of English at Nottingham.

You will be taught in small groups by your personal tutor, and encouraged to explore – both critically and reflectively – what it means to be a student of English.

We support you to develop study, research and communication skills, which will be useful across all your modules. This includes building effective skills for reflective writing and oral presentation.




A dissertation is an individual research project students have the option of completing in their final year. This can be on a topic of language, literature or performance. Students will work on a one-to-one basis with a supervisor, producing a detailed and sustained piece of writing. 

A dissertation can be a full year project or just taken in the Spring term.

Creative Writing Dissertation

A creative writing dissertation is an independent project involving both creative and critical work. The creative component consists of an original work of either fiction, poetry, or drama, or a combination of two of these genres, to be agreed with your dissertation supervisor. The critical component addresses the main issues involved in the process of developing and revising your creative work.

Practice Based Dissertation

A project based dissertation allows students to complete a project in a industry and then write their dissertation on the basis of that work. As with a dissertation students will work one-to-one with a supervisor to complete their work. 

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School of English

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900