Triangle Triangle

Course overview

Do you love nothing more than a good book? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to know how language works, or how it changes over time?

If you love literature and are interested in the inner workings of your favourite texts, this is the course for you. We'll study English literature throughout history and learn how the language developed over time. This includes thinking about the uses and the themes, principles, techniques, values and significance of literary works in their contexts.

There’s also chance to develop your creative writing, learning from expert staff who are published poets and authors themselves. Our huge choice of optional modules in everything from Vikings to drama means you can discover new passions, explore what you already love, and tailor your degree to what interests you the most.

Why choose this course?

Get workplace-ready

Explore a particular career path with a bespoke work placement

Give something back

Volunteer and share your skills, from delivering Viking workshops at local primary schools, to reading to residents in care homes

Get creative

Put your skills into practice and get involved with Impact Magazine, the Creative Writing Society, or the Words on Words blog

For literature lovers

Unleash your creativity in a UNESCO City of Literature, with opportunities both on campus and in the city

Get inspired

Meet established and emerging writers at our ‘Off The Page’ creative writing event series


Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAA
Required subjects

A in English literature or language (or combined) at A level; plus a GCSE at level 4 (grade C) or above in English

IB score 36; 6 in English at Higher Level

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

You can also access this course through a  Foundation Year. This may be suitable if you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

When you begin studying at University, you will probably find that you cover material much more quickly than you did while studying for your A-levels. The key to success is preparing well for classes and then taking the ideas you encounter further in your own time.

Lectures – provide an overview of what you are studying, using a variety of audio and visual materials to support your learning.

Seminars and workshops – give you the chance to explore and interact with the material presented in lectures in a friendly and informal environment. You will be taught in a smaller group of students, with discussion focusing on a text or topic you've previously prepared.

Workshops are more practical, perhaps through exploring dramatic texts, working with digital materials, or developing presentations.

Tutorials – individual and small-group tutorials let you explore your work with your module tutor, perhaps discussing plans for an essay or presentation, or following up on an area of a module which has interested you.

eLearning – our virtual-learning system, Moodle, offers 24-hour access to teaching materials and resources.

Peer mentoring

All new undergraduate students can opt into our peer mentoring scheme. Your peer mentor will help you settle into life at Nottingham, provide advice on the transition to university-level study and help you access support if needed.

Find out more about peer mentoring

"Going to university is a daunting prospect. Lots of people will be moving away from home and living independently for the first time. It is so important to have people you can speak with about your concerns and queries, and that is why the peer mentor scheme is so brilliant. I used the scheme in my first year and learnt some valuable information into the academic and social side of university life."

- Emily Hall, third-year BA English student

Teaching quality

32 of our academics have received Advance HE recognition for their contribution to education, becoming Teaching Fellows.

Teaching methods

  • Field trips
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Our courses are modular, with mainly full-year modules in the first year and mainly semester-long modules in the second and final years. Assessment for most modules takes place at two points, around the middle and end of the module.

Assessment methods – this is based on a combination of coursework, including essays, close-reading exercises, research projects and dissertation, oral and performance presentations, and formal examinations. The precise assessments vary from one module to another and across the years of your degree.

Project-based dissertation – on this course you can choose to do a project-based dissertation, for a more hands-on approach to your research.

More about the project-based dissertation

Feedback – the opportunity to discuss ideas and coursework with your tutor is an integral part of your studies at Nottingham. Whether by giving feedback on an essay plan or discussing the results of an assessment, we help you work to the best of your ability. There are appointed days in each semester to get feedback from tutors, as well as other opportunities to discuss pieces of work.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least the following hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and workshops, tutorials and supervisions.

  • Year one: minimum of 13 hours
  • Year two: minimum of 10 hours
  • Final year: minimum of 8 hours

Your tutors will also be available outside these times to discuss issues and develop your understanding.

We reduce your contact hours as you work your way through the course. As you progress, we expect you to assume greater responsibility for your studies and work more independently.

Your tutors will all be qualified academics. The largest first year lectures are typically attended by up to 300 students, whereas the corresponding seminars are of 16 students. In years two and three, lectures may include up to 170 students, and seminar groups may range from 12 to 24.

As well as scheduled teaching, you’ll carry out extensive self-study such as:

  • Reading books and journal articles
  • Doing preparation work for seminars
  • Researching your assignments in the library
  • Collaborating with fellow students

As a guide, 20 credits (a typical module) is approximately 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Study abroad

  • Apply to spend a semester abroad as part of your degree
  • Explore the world, experience different cultures and gain valuable life skills by studying abroad
  • Language support is available through our Language Centre where required
  • Boost your CV for prospective employers

See our study abroad pages for full information

Placements

Work experience gives you the skills and experience that will allow you to stand out to potential employers and is a crucial part of becoming 'workplace-ready'.

You will have access to a range of bespoke placement opportunities applicable to the skills you acquire as an English student. We work closely with you to find placements to accommodate your interests. In addition, you will be able to participate in volunteering and employability schemes, including the Nottingham Advantage Award.

"I really enjoyed my placement and learnt lots. I was impressed with the amount of responsibility I was given as it allowed me to really use my initiative. I’d highly recommend that students apply for the work placements; they are a fantastic way of enhancing existing skills and perfect for learning new ones that can be proudly displayed on a CV."

- Maria Panteli, completed a placement with Marketing, Communications and Recruitment 

Many of our students also choose to take part in volunteering schemes, including:

  • Vikings and Anglo-Saxons for Schools – Design and lead workshops on Viking and Anglo-Saxon culture and society for local primary schools.
  • The Literacy Support Project – Help to raise literacy standards in primary and secondary schools in the local area.
  • Peer mentoring – Act as a mentor to new students, sharing your experience of living and studying in Nottingham.
  • Dementia Reading Group – Become a Reading Group Facilitator and get involved in group reading and one-on-one reading with residents in a local care home.

This is English at Nottingham

Our optional modules in everything from Vikings to drama means you can discover new passions, explore what you already love, and tailor your degree to what interests you the most.

Modules

Our first-year core modules are designed as an introduction. This means that we will build everyone's knowledge to the same level, so you can progress through to year two.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Core modules (100 credits) – you will take five core modules. Four of these cover the areas of English language, prose, poetry and drama, from the medieval period to the present day. The fifth core module, Academic Community, enables you to explore key issues in English and develop important study skills
  • Optional module (20 credits) – choose one optional module from a range

You’ll have at least 13 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year one, but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Beginnings of English

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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Drama, Theatre, Performance

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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Studying Language

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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Studying Literature

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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Academic Community

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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules

Creative Writing Practice

Taking a creative approach to language is a big part of what all writers do. In this module, we introduce the process of writing drama, poetry and fiction.

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), drama (scene, character and dialogue) 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, novelists and playwrights, 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.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Regional Writers

This module introduces you to the work of selected regional writers, including Nottinghamshire writers (e.g. DH Lawrence), considering how their work engages with regional landscapes, the literary and industrial heritage of their area, and other distinctive cultural elements such as dialect.

The module will allow you to reflect on recent theoretical developments in the field of literary geography, while also equipping you to read and appreciate literary works through a focus on their tangible social and historical contexts.

Learning objectives:

  • To provide you with knowledge of a range of literary works by notable regional writers.
  • To provide an introduction to the study of literary geography, place and space in literary works.
Shakespeare's Histories: Critical Approaches

What is 'England'? Should we have a choice in who rules us? And can we ever really believe the news?

Shakespeare's history plays are less known to modern readers than his comedies and tragedies, but the question they ask are startlingly visionary. Through his sequence covering the monarchs from Richard II to Henry V, Shakespeare used the resources of the commercial theatre to explore a nation in crisis. These wildly successful plays have also been the inspiration for some of the most political Shakespeare productions of later centuries, as the plays continue to be applied to modern contexts of war and regime change.

Through close reading, performance analysis, and critical writing, this module explores how Shakespeare reshaped history to dramatic effect, and how later theatre- and filmmakers have reinterpreted them in light of current events.

Key issues include:

  • Kingship and authority
  • Gender politics and marginalised voices
  • Race and nation
  • War and trauma
  • Class and power

Through exploring these plays, you will gain a grounding in the analysis of theatre and film – drawing on a wide range of mainstream and fringe productions – and in the performative, linguistic, and thematic contexts that shaped Shakespeare's writing.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Essentials of English

Why is it important to study language and understand how it works? How is language involved in shaping the world we live in: from individual speakers’ everyday interactions to media discourses to the highly crafted language of literature? How is language learned and processed?

On this module you will be given an opportunity to explore these questions and learn more about some of the key issues in contemporary English linguistics. The module will allow you to explore language forms and functions using a wide variety of different real-world contexts. It will provide you with an understanding of the relationship between language and individual speakers, language and the social and political factors involved in its production, language and literature, as well as language and the mind. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 21 July 2021.

Year two allows you to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and critical approaches across the areas of English literature and language.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Core modules (40 credits) – you will take two core modules
  • Optional modules (80 credits) – choose four optional modules from at least three of the areas of English listed below

You’ll have at least 10 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year two, which counts 33% towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Literary Linguistics

All literature is written in language, so understanding how language and the mind work will make us better readers and critics of literary works.

This module brings together the literary and linguistic parts of your degree. It gives you the power to explore any text from any period by any author.

You will study how:

  • Literature can feel rich, or pacy, or suspenseful, or beautiful
  • Texts can make you laugh, cry, feel afraid, excited, or nostalgic
  • Fictional people like characters can be imagined
  • We can get inside the thoughts, feelings, and hear the speech of characters, narrators and authors
  • Imagined worlds are built, and how their atmosphere is brought to life
  • You as a reader are manipulated or connect actively with literary worlds and people

This module is worth 20 credits.

Texts Across Time
This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.

Optional modules – Literature, 1500 to the Present

Chaucer and his Contemporaries

Chaucer dominates our conception of late Middle English literature, but he was one among several exceptional writers of his time.

This module focuses on 40 years of writing, to consider whether Chaucer’s concerns with identity and authority, comedy and tragedy, and wit and wisdom are uniquely his, or shared with other writers.

We will cover a wide range, including:

  • romance
  • dream vision (both mystic and secular)
  • love poetry
  • lyric

You will read works by the so-called Ricardians: Chaucer, Gower, the Gawain-poet, and Langland, but also the mystic writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and some poetry by Thomas Hoccleve.

By the end of the module, you will have gained confidence in reading and discussing Middle English texts, and be aware of key issues around form, language, and authority and influence.

This module is worth 20 credits.

From Talking Horses to Romantic Revolutionaries: Literature 1700-1830

This module introduces different kinds of literature, written between 1700-1830. This was a dramatic time in literary history, resulting in the Romantic period. It involved many areas of great contemporary relevance, such as class, poverty, sexuality, and slavery.

We will examine:

  • utopian literature (through Gulliver’s Travels)
  • the developing novel (such as Moll Flanders and Pride and Prejudice)
  • how irony works
  • what is self-expression
  • how the emergent genre of autobiography can be either manipulated, or used as part of a larger cause

As part of this module, you will explore novels, poems, and prose works that bring to life the intellectual, social and cultural contexts of the period.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literature and Popular Culture

This module investigates the relationship between literature and popular culture. You will explore works from across a range of genres and mediums, including:

  • prose fiction
  • poetry
  • comics
  • graphic novels
  • music
  • television
  • film

As well as exploring topics such as aesthetics and adaptation, material will be situated within cultural, political and historical contexts allowing for the distinction between the literary and the popular.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

This module charts the dramatic transformations and innovations of literature in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Moving between genres, the module unfolds chronologically from modernism, through the inter-war years, and into postmodernism and the contemporary scene.

We explore some of the huge artistic shifts of this long and turbulent period. You will examine how modern and contemporary literature connects to the cultural revolutions, intellectual debates, political and social upheavals, and ethical complexities of its times.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action. You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.
Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Page
This module focuses on material written between 1580 and 1630 to provide you with an introduction to methods of reading early modern texts. Shakespeare’s poetry will be among the core texts; other canonical writers will include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney and John Donne. You’ll explore the practice of historicised readings of early modern texts and you’ll consider the related challenges and limitations. You’ll have one hour of lectures and two hours of seminars each week.
Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North

Odin, Thor and Loki: almost everyone has heard about them, but where do their stories come from?

In this module, we will learn about the origins of their myths from various sources: images on stone and wood in the Viking Age, as well as the written texts of the Middle Ages.

We will learn about giants, dwarves, valkyries and rumour-spreading squirrels, as well as the cosmology and religion which are embedded in Old Norse mythology. We will talk about heroes and villains, from dragon-slayers to queens who kill to avenge their brothers.

The stories of Old Norse mythology have influenced writers throughout history. from Tolkien to the Marvel Universe, they are still part of our culture. This module will take you back to the beginnings and show that there are so many more marvellous myths to explore.

The module is with 20 credits.

Victorian and Fin de Siècle Literature: 1830-1910

Explore a wide variety of Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, with examples taken from fiction, critical writing and poetry.

You will examine works by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, HG Wells and Joseph Conrad.

We will focus on understanding changes in literary forms and genres over this period, and how these relate to broader developments in Victorian social, economic and political culture.

The module is organised around the following interrelated themes:

  • Empire and race
  • Class and crime
  • Identity and social mobility
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Literature and consumerism

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules – English Language and Applied Linguistics

Language Development

You’ll explore how English is learnt from making sounds as an infant through to adulthood. Topics relating to early speech development include: the biological foundations of language development, the stages of language acquisition and the influence of environment on development. Further topics which take into account later stages of development include humour and joke telling abilities, story-telling and conversational skills and bilingualism.

Language in Society

When we study language, we learn about how society works. Why do some people have more noticeable accents than others? Why are some people taken seriously when they talk, while others aren’t? How do those with power use language to manipulate us into thinking a certain way?

On this module, these are the sorts of questions you’ll be thinking about. We focus on how people use language, how language varies between different speakers, and how language is used to represent different social groups. We consider:

  • The way that language is used by people online to create communities
  • How the mainstream media uses language to represent particular groups, such as immigrants or gay people
  • The ways that language is used in particular contexts, such as the workplace
  • How advertisers use language to persuade us that we need their products
  • The relationship between language, gender and sexuality
  • How language can be used to signal a person’s race or ethnicity

You’ll learn how to conduct a sociolinguistic study which explores topics such as these. You will also spend time each week analysing original language data.

The module is worth 20 credits.

Names and Identities

What can given names, surnames and nicknames tell us about people in the past? What determines the choice of a name for a child? Where does our hereditary surname system come from? How have place, class and gender impacted upon naming through time? This module will help you answer all these questions and more. Interactive lectures and seminars, and a project based on primary material tailored to each participant, will introduce you to the many and varied, fascinating and extraordinary types of personal name and their origins.

Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action. You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.
The Psychology of Bilingualism and Language Learning

Are you interested in languages and the multilingual world? Have you ever wondered how our brains process learning a second language? Would you like to teach English overseas one day? If so, this module could be for you.

Drawing on current theories of second language acquisition, we will consider:

  • How globalisation has increased bilingualism in the world
  • How languages are learnt
  • How students differ from each other in their mastery of languages
  • How the psychology of the classroom environment impacts the effectiveness of learning
  • How to motivate students and create good learner groups

You will spend three hours per week on this module, split equally between a lecture and follow-up seminar.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules – Drama and Performance

You will also choose one optional module from the area of Drama and Performance, listed below.

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage
This module offers an in-depth exploration of the historical and theatrical contexts of early modern drama. This module invites students to explore the stagecraft of innovative and provocative works by Shakespeare and key contemporaries, such as Middleton, Johnson, and Ford (amongst others). Students will explore how practical performance elements such as staging, props, costume and music shape meaning. You’ll have one hour-long lecture and one two-hour long seminar each week, with occasional screenings.
Stanislavski to Stelarc: Performance Practice and Theory
This module helps you develop your understanding of the theory and practice of theatre and performance from the beginnings of the twentieth century through to the present day. Building on the work encountered in Introduction to Drama, you will move forward from naturalism to consider the work of influential theorists and practitioners such as Stanislavski, Brecht, Meyerhold, Barba, Schechner, Boal, Artaud, Berkoff, Grotowski, Jarry and the futurists, whose work has had a major impact on theatre and performance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries . You’ll have a mix of lectures and workshops totalling three hours per week for this module.
Twentieth-Century Plays

Theatre makers in the long 20th century have been dealing with a series of pressing artistic and social issues, many of which still concern us today.

These issues include:

  • What makes a play worth watching?
  • Why do audiences enjoy watching bad things happening?
  • How are minority groups represented on the stage?
  • How might the stage advance the cause of gender or sexual equality?
  • What role does social class or nationality play in the workings of theatrical culture?
  • How can we talk accurately about an art form like performed theatre, that is so fleeting and transitory?

In order to answer such questions, this module gives an overview of key plays and performances from the 1890s to the present. You will study these key texts in their original political, social, and cultural contexts. You will also:

  • consider their reception and afterlife
  • focus on the textual and performance effects created
  • place the texts alongside the work of relevant theorists and practitioners

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules – Creative Writing

Students who took Creative Writing Practice in year one can also choose one of the Creative Writing modules, below:

Fiction: Forms and Conventions

This module expands on the work done in the first year by undertaking a sustained analysis of technique and craft related to fiction writing, including narrative voice, point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, and setting. You will be introduced to a wide and diverse range of writers and techniques as well as exploring the publishing industry as it relates to fiction. You will develop your own creative work as well as your critical and reflective skills.

Poetry: Forms and Conventions

This module expands on the work done in the first year by undertaking a sustained analysis of technique and craft related to writing poetry, including poetic line, stanza, rhyme and related techniques, and imagery, along with a number of traditional forms such as the sonnet or haiku. You will be introduced to a wide and diverse range of writers and techniques as well as exploring the publishing industry as it relates to poetry. You will develop your own creative work as well as your critical and reflective skills.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Optional modules (120 credits) – choose six modules, to cover at least three of the areas listed below. You will also have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a subject of your choosing

You’ll have at least 8 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year three, which counts 67% towards your final degree classification.

Dissertation

English Dissertation: Full Year

You have the option of writing an individual research project in your final year. This can be on a topic of language, literature or performance.

You will work on a one-to-one basis with a supervisor, producing a detailed and sustained piece of writing.

There is also the option of completing a project-based dissertation. This is useful if you are interested in applied or practical aspects of English.

Recent dissertation titles include:

  • 'From Diamonds to Dust: An Ecocritical Comparison Between Modernist Literature and Contemporary Environmental Fiction'
  • 'The Representation of Racial Injustices in Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric'
  • 'Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett in Relation to British Imperialism'
  • 'Ethical Criticism and Zadie Smith'

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules – Literature, 1500 to the Present

Old English Heroic Poetry
This module gives an opportunity to those who already have a basic knowledge of Old English language and literature to explore some of the astonishing range of texts from the earliest stages of English literature. The texts studied are heroic and Christian. Themes include Germanic myth and legend, heroic endeavour, Christian passion. A study of the epic poem Beowulf — its characters, its themes, its ‘meaning’ — is essential to the module. Texts are read in Old English (with plenty of help given).
Dreaming the Middle Ages: Visionary Poetry in Scotland and England

The genre of dream-vision inspired work by all the major poets of the Middle Ages, including William Langland, the Pearl-Poet, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The course will aim to give you a detailed knowledge of a number of canonical texts in this genre, as well as ranging widely into the alliterative revival, and chronologically into the work of John Skelton in the early sixteenth century. The course will depend upon close, detailed reading of medieval literary texts, as well as focusing on the variety and urgency of issues with which dream poetry is concerned: literary, intellectual, social, religious and political.

The Self and the World: Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century

The years from 1660 to 1830 are enormously important, especially in terms of the representation of the self in literature: Milton promoted the idea of the poet inspired by God; Pope and Swift mocked the possibility of anyone truly knowing their self; Wordsworth used poetry to explore his own life; and Byron and Austen provided ironic commentaries on the self-obsessions of their peers. This period also saw the rise of the novel (a form that relies upon telling the story of lives), a flourishing trade in biography, and the emergence of new genre, autobiography. This module will look at some of the most significant works of the period with particular reference to the relationship between writers and their worlds. Topics might include: the emergence, importance and limitations of life-writing; self- fashioning; the construction – and deconstruction - of the ‘Romantic’ author’; transmission and revision; translation and imitation; ideas of the self and gender; intertextuality, adaptation, and rewriting; creating and destroying the past; and writing revolution. Texts studied will range across poems, novels and prose.

Contemporary Fiction

Explore the novel from the late twentieth century onwards, in Britain and beyond.

We will concentrate on the formal operations and innovations of selected novelists, considering how the contemporary socio-historical context influences these questions of form. Topics considered include:

  • an interrogation of the ‘post-consensus novel’
  • an exploration of postcolonial texts which represent the transatlantic slave trade
  • the cultural politics of late twentieth-century and twenty-first century Scottish literature

Contemporary fiction is focused on writing emerging from Britain and closely-related contexts in the post-war period. This module offers strands structured around a number of political, social and cultural frameworks in Britain. These include:

  • formal analysis and literary innovations in Britain
  • temporalities and the representation of time
  • issues of gender, race and class
  • histories of colonialism and slavery
  • national traditions and politics of state
  • the country and the city
  • postmodernism

This module particularly explores the network of relationships between context, content and form, supported by related literary and cultural theory and philosophy.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Making Something Happen: Twentieth Century Poetry and Politics

This module introduces participants to key modern and contemporary poets, equipping them with a detailed understanding of how various poetic forms manifest themselves in particular historical moments. Unifying the module is an attention to poets’ responses to the political and ideological upheavals of the twentieth century.

Beginning with Yeats and Eliot, the module will include such (primarily) British and Irish poets as W.B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Wislawa Szymborska, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Adrienne Rich, Geoffrey Hill, Jo Shapcott, Patience Agbabi and Alice Oswald. Some of the forms examined will include: the elegy, the pastoral (and anti-pastoral), the ode, the sonnet (and sonnet sequence), the ekphrastic poem, the version or retelling, the villanelle, the parable and the sestina.

In order to develop a more complete perspective on each poet’s engagement with twentieth-century formal and political problems, we will also examine these figures’ writings in other modes – critical essays, manifestos, speeches and, where permitted, primary archival materials such as letters and manuscript drafts. Grounding each week will be readings on poetry and the category of the ‘political’ from an international group of critics, including such thinkers as Theodor Adorno, Charles Bernstein, Claudia Rankine, Peter McDonald, Angela Leighton, Christopher Ricks and Marjorie Perloff. 

Single-Author Study

This stranded module provides students with a detailed introduction to the major works of a single author (e.g. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence). Students will select one author to study from a range on offer. They will then have the opportunity to consider in detail important thematic and stylistic aspects of their chosen author’s work, taking account of the chronological development of his/her writing practice (if relevant), and his/her relationship to key historical and literary contexts.

The Gothic Tradition

This module focuses on the connections between literary texts, politics, and relevant historical/cultural contexts in gothic texts. You may cover:

  • poetry
  • novels
  • graphic novels
  • films

Examples include The Haunting of Hill House (both Shirley Jackson’s novel and the Netflix adaptation), The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez, and Saga of the Swamp Thing by Moore, Bissette and Totleben, and The Visions of the Daughters of Albion by William Blake.

You will explore various critical and theoretical approaches to literature, film, comics, adaptation, and popular culture. The module also seeks to decolonise Gothic Studies, including work by creators from a wide range of backgrounds who identify with a diverse range of subject positions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Viking Mind

Our images of Vikings come largely from the Icelandic sagas. These present a Viking Age of daring exploits, global exploration and bloody feuds, as carried out by valiant warriors and feisty women. But how accurate are the sagas when it comes to understanding what really happened in the Viking Age? Can they provide an insight into the Viking mind?

This module explores Norse and Viking cultural history, using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the study of texts. 

Topics covered include:

  • The Viking Age and Viking society
  • Exploration and diaspora
  • Gender, marriage and family
  • Religion and belief
  • Outlaws
  • Poetry
  • The supernatural

Your one-hour lectures will provide the evidence base for discussion in the two-hour, student-led seminars. The seminars also include some language work.

Assessment for this module is by a one-hour exam of comment and analysis, and a 3000-word project on a topic of your choice in consultation with a tutor.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Island and Empire

While the vexed questions of British identity and its relationship to empire have been at the forefront of political debate in the last decade, they have also been integral to literary production for many centuries. This module interrogates English and British representations of colonisation and empire, within Great Britain and Ireland and with particular reference to India. Well known writers such as Edmund Spenser, Jonathan Swift, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Salman Rushdie, will be set against less familiar voices, to consider the ways in which dominant narratives come about and can be challenged.

Oscar Wilde and Henry James: British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture

Henry James and Oscar Wilde had a passionate dislike of each other, as well as very different values. Even so, they moved in similar circles. Both men found themselves at the centre of British cultural and intellectual life, experimenting within the same set of literary, critical and theatrical modes.

This module uses the writings of Oscar Wilde and Henry James, alongside some of their contemporaries, to examine changes in literary culture and the practices of literary composition in the late 19th century.

We will explore:

  • The role of new technology in literary creativity
  • The growth of mass and 'celebrity' culture
  • The development of consumerism and resulting commodification of literary art
  • The changing relationship of art to politics
  • Anxieties about artistic originality and plagiarism
  • Attempts (via censorship) to police literary expressivity

You will study a range of texts by Wilde and James, including drama, fiction and criticism. These will be compared with pieces by a number of their contemporaries (including Walter Pater and William Morris), in order to assess both the modernity and radicalism of their writings.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

This module will consider Irish literature and drama produced in the twentieth century. Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point we will consider authors in their Irish and European context: W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, Seán O'Casey, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Marina Carr. The focus throughout will be upon reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts, tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

Songs and Sonnets: Lyric poetry from Medieval Manuscript to Shakespeare and Donne

Through the exploration of lyric poetry, this module examines cultural and literary change from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. It will consider the rise of ‘named poet’, the interaction of print and manuscript culture, the representation of love, and the use of the female voice. It will develop further students’ confidence in handling formal poetic terminology and reading poetry from this period. It will also enable students to think pragmatically about the transmission of lyric in modern editions, and about how best to represent the form.

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

One and Unequal: World Literatures in English

This module examines the late twentieth and early twenty-first century globe through its correlates in fiction. The primary materials for the module will be post-war Anglophone works drawn from a wide geographical range across the world. After introducing the history of the idea of world literature, these works will be situated within a series of theoretical ‘worlds’: world literary systems; post-colonial criticism; cosmopolitanism; world ecologies; resource culture; literary translation theory. The module will also attend to critiques of 'world literature’ as a concept.

Optional modules – English Language and Applied Linguistics

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

The module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the process of English Language Teaching (ELT) and of the theoretical underpinnings of this practice. In this module students will learn the principles behind the learning and teaching of key aspects and skills of English, including:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening
  • intercultural communicative skills

Students will also learn how to apply these theoretical principles to the development of teaching materials. This module will therefore be of interest to students who want to pursue a teaching career, and in particular to those interested in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

English Place-Names

The module uses the study of place-names to show the various languages – British, Latin, French, Norse and English – that have been spoken in England over the last 2000 years.

You will learn how place-name evidence can be used as a source for the history of English, including:

  • its interaction with the other languages
  • its regional and dialectal patterns
  • its changing vocabulary

We also consider the interdisciplinary contribution that place-names offer to historians and geographers.

For this module's assessment, you can choose a geographical area of particular interest.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Old English Heroic Poetry
This module gives an opportunity to those who already have a basic knowledge of Old English language and literature to explore some of the astonishing range of texts from the earliest stages of English literature. The texts studied are heroic and Christian. Themes include Germanic myth and legend, heroic endeavour, Christian passion. A study of the epic poem Beowulf — its characters, its themes, its ‘meaning’ — is essential to the module. Texts are read in Old English (with plenty of help given).
Advanced Stylistics

This module offers an advanced study of the language of literary texts and how it impacts reading and interpretation. It bridges the gap between the literary and linguistics aspects of our BA degrees. It also equips you with skills that will be useful in the teaching of English, or for a career in publishing.

You will study:

  • literary style and technique
  • the style of poetry and narrative
  • the representation of characters' voices and consciousness
  • the style of difficult texts, such as surrealism
  • the history of literary style

You will learn to explain how style contributes to meaning and interpretation, and why texts affect you in different ways.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Viking Mind

Our images of Vikings come largely from the Icelandic sagas. These present a Viking Age of daring exploits, global exploration and bloody feuds, as carried out by valiant warriors and feisty women. But how accurate are the sagas when it comes to understanding what really happened in the Viking Age? Can they provide an insight into the Viking mind?

This module explores Norse and Viking cultural history, using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the study of texts. 

Topics covered include:

  • The Viking Age and Viking society
  • Exploration and diaspora
  • Gender, marriage and family
  • Religion and belief
  • Outlaws
  • Poetry
  • The supernatural

Your one-hour lectures will provide the evidence base for discussion in the two-hour, student-led seminars. The seminars also include some language work.

Assessment for this module is by a one-hour exam of comment and analysis, and a 3000-word project on a topic of your choice in consultation with a tutor.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Discourses of Health and Work

This module explores the vital role that discourse plays in various communicative domains in healthcare and workplace settings. Students will explore these domains through a variety of contemporary frameworks for examining discourse and communication, including critical discourse analysis, multi-modal discourse analysis, and interactional sociolinguistics.The module offers the opportunity to analyse and reflect on the discourses of healthcare and the workplace, as two crucially important domains of social and professional life. To this end, professional and healthcare discourses will be investigated through a range of genres and communicative modes, including face-to face communication advertising, media discourse and digital interactions. The module offers a rich resource for discourse-based studies of language in professional and social life and enables students to examine the strategic uses of communicative strategies in specific social settings.

Language and Feminism

This module provides comprehensive knowledge of feminist theory, as applied to a series of language and linguistic contexts.

You will explore a range of analytical approaches to language, including conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, and interactional sociolinguistics. You will also respond to, and critically engage with, contemporary real-world problems associated with gender and sexuality, through the consideration of discourse-based texts.

Topics covered include:

  • gender and sexual identity construction in a range of interactive contexts
  • sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and heteronormative representations in texts
  • feminist theory from the 1970s to the present, with particular focus on contemporary approaches to gender theory

This module is worth 20 credits.

Language and the Mind

Speaking, listening, reading, and writing are a complex set of behaviours that are a fundamental part of our daily lives. And yet they remain difficult to fully explain.

When you hear ‘FIRE’, you immediately look for an exit and start moving. Yet all that a speaker has done is produce a string of sounds. Your mind distinguishes these from the murmuring of other voices, feet clomping on the floor, and any background music. Your mind matches the sounds f-i-r-e with a word, retrieves the meaning, and relates them to the current circumstances and responds accordingly.

How does the mind do this? And what makes our minds so special that we can do this? On this module, we begin to address these questions.

You will consider:

  • Is there a language gene?
  • What makes human language different from animal communication?
  • What is the relationship between thought and language?
  • Does everyone talk to themselves? What purpose does our inner voice serve?
  • How do we learn language? And does cognition underpin our ability to learn language?
  • What do language deficits tell us about language and the brain?
  • How do we understand and produce speech, words, and sentences?
  • What is the best way to teach children to read?
  • How is sign language similar to/different from spoken language?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules – Drama and Performance

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

Changing Stages: Theatre Industry and Theatre Art

Peter Pan, Les Misérables, Hamilton... just a few of the iconic productions that started life in London’s West End, or on Broadway in New York. But why and how did they become so successful?

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen major changes in the way theatre is financed, produced and presented, both on stage and on screen. This module explores the fascinating world of theatre production, covering:

  • the development of long-running, commercial productions
  • the role of the theatre producer in making theatre
  • subsidised theatre
  • touring and national theatre companies
  • reviewing cultures
  • relationship between the theatre and film industries
  • the advent of the mega-musical

Examining the mainstream and the fringes, we apply case studies including Shakespeare in production, new plays, revivals, and international hits like the ones listed above, illustrating how theatre responds to changing contexts and audiences.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

This module will consider Irish literature and drama produced in the twentieth century. Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point we will consider authors in their Irish and European context: W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, Seán O'Casey, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Marina Carr. The focus throughout will be upon reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts, tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

Performing the Nation: British Theatre since 1980

This module introduces a range of new plays and performances staged in the British Isles between 1980 and the present day, with a particular focus on the ways in which the theatre of the period has engaged with questions of nation and identity in the period which saw the fall of Thatcher and the rise of New Labour, the peace process in Northern Ireland, increasing devolution in Wales and Scotland, and the London 7/7 attacks as well as the celebrations of the 2012 London Olympics. Most recently of all the UK's EU referendum of 2016 has prompted reflection on our national, regional and local identities across and within the UK, and we finish the module by looking at how theatre makers and practitioners have begun to respond to these challenges.

Optional modules – Creative Writing

Creative Writing modules in year three are available exclusively to students who took Creative Writing Practice in year one.

Advanced Writing Practice: Fiction

This module builds on the creative writing modules taught in years 1 and 2. It is delivered through a three hour workshop in which the critique of student writing is a central element. You will get to read key writers within specific forms and genres as well as relevant secondary texts. Topics covered will include narrative voice and technique, point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, and setting. By the end of the module you will have been given opportunity to develop and extend your skills and expertise through workshop exercises and the constructive feedback received during the workshop.

Advanced Writing Practice: Poetry

This module builds on the creative writing modules taught in years 1 and 2. It is delivered through a three hour workshop in which the critique of student writing is a central element. You will get to read key writers within specific forms and conventions as well as relevant secondary texts. Topics covered will include literary influence, writing process, and collaboration, as well as a more detailed re-examination of some of the techniques and conventions covered in previous modules. By the end of the module you will have been given opportunity to develop and extend your skills and expertise through workshop exercises and the constructive feedback received during the workshop.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (e.g. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements e.g. work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Optional field trips

Field trips allow you to engage with source materials on a personal level and to develop different perspectives. They are optional and costs to you vary according to the trip; some require you to arrange your own travel, refreshments and entry fees, while some are some are wholly subsidised.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

As an English graduate, you will have gained the following key transferable skills:

  • Strong communication, both oral and written
  • presenting ideas and information, including collaboratively
  • text analysis
  • planning and researching written work
  • creativity
  • writing for different audiences

Read our graduate profiles and find out about the range of careers which our graduates go into.

Average starting salary and career progression

89.3% of undergraduates from the School of English secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22, 441.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" Academically, essay writing and reading critically are the main skills I've gained. But I feel like, sort of more importantly, there’s confidence. It’s definitely made me more confident and taught me how to articulate my ideas. "
Nina Slater, second-year English Language and Literature

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.