English Literature BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)




Learn how different societies have shaped, and been shaped by, English literature on our full-time English Literature degree in Cambridge. Choose to study abroad in Belgium, Spain or the US for up to one year. Become a self-reliant researcher as well as developing many critical and communication skills required in the modern workplace.

Full description


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need: they help us review what we teach and how we teach it.

As well as teaching, the most popular choice of career for our graduates, our students have gone on to find success in many different roles including journalism, television, radio, the music industry, arts administration, gallery work, fundraising, personnel work, publishing, librarianship, marketing, local authority work, publicity, social work, tourism and IT-related industries.

You might also decide to carry on to a Masters course after you graduate, such as our:

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • A History of English Literature, from the present to 1789
    This chronological approach to a history of English Literature reverses the usual format of starting with Beowulf and ending up at the present and instead starts with the familiar and ends with the earliest literature. Starting with texts from the period with which you are familiar, you will gradually work back through literary history to a time when no one alive today existed. Mainly using volume 2 of 'The Norton Anthology of English Literature', this module precedes the companion semester 2 module: 'A History of English Literature from Equiano to Chaucer', which works with volume one of 'The Norton Anthology of English Literature'. On this module you will study period, genre and form through a range of texts to include: the novel; the short story; the essay; poetry; drama; as well as other forms of texts including letters and graphic art. Authors will mainly be chosen from the Norton, however there will also be a few texts such as novels that you will need to buy. You will be given details of the texts well in advance of starting the course. You will be taught through a weekly one-hour lecture, followed by a two-hour seminar. Your assessment will consist of a presentation and a written essay.
  • Introduction to Imaginative Writing: Prose Fiction
    This module introduces Writing students to the principles of writing prose fiction. You will read sample texts each week, and work with those texts with a view to understanding how writers have managed particular aspects of their fiction such as: openings, narrative arc, characterisation, dialogue, setting and place, and point of view. The course will not only provide an environment for your creative writing, but also teach you skills such as reading as a writer, and reflection on / evaluation of creative practice.
  • Gods and Heroes
    This module will introduce you to some of the key classical and Biblical texts that underpin English Literature and that have been translated and adapted by each new generation of writers. You will gain an understanding of creation narratives, the epic, Greek tragedy and key episodes from the Bible. You will consider the different ways in which writers have depicted heroic adventures, human suffering, inner conflict and the struggles between humanity and the gods. Over the course of the module you will engage with the ways in which these pivotal stories have continued to have a shaping influence on English Literature, and with the different ways in which they have been interpreted by later readers and writers. You will be assessed through a group presentation which will develop your teamwork, communication and presentation skills, and through a written assignment to improve your close reading skills and powers of analysis.
  • Reading Literature and Theory
    This foundational module will introduce you to an exciting range of social, cultural and political theories that can be used to further your analysis of literary texts. Selected theories might include psychoanalysis, Marxism, structuralism, feminism, postcolonialism, postmodernism or queer theory. In seminars, you will apply these theories to a variety of fiction (including extracts from plays, novels, short stories and poems). This process will enable you to develop your own reading skills in more challenging directions, as well as helping you assess the benefits of differing kinds of ‘reading’. You will attend a one-hour lecture each week, and a two-hour seminar. Part-way through the semester, you will give an individual presentation, allowing you to develop both your presentation and IT skills. At the end of the semester, will be an essay, where you demonstrate your critical, literary and essay-writing skills.
  • Myth and Magic
    Myth and Magic will build on your experience of reading influential classical texts in translation in Gods and Heroes. Its focus will be tales of magic and transformation, and the ways in which such narratives have been adapted and alluded to in English literature, influencing fairy tales and science fiction as well as more canonical literary traditions. A key text for this module is Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses', one of the landmarks of Western literature and the most familiar source for many well known mythical narratives. You will learn about the different ways in which the works of Ovid and other classical authors are deployed by later writers – such as adaptation, quotation, allusion, translation and parody – and explore how and why stories mutate over time. You will also learn about the key role played by selected European writers – for example Petrarch and Perrault – in the development of English literature. In the second half of the module our focus will be on the different ways in which some of the writers you are studying in A History English Literature from Equiano to Chaucer draw on classical sources. This will help you appreciate the importance of understanding the larger literary culture within which works such as Paradise Lost were produced. Your first assessment will be an essay exploring the way in which one classical tale or tradition is transformed in later literature, and the second will be a class test in which you will demonstrate through close reading how Renaissance writers deployed classical motifs.
  • Writing Matters
    On this module you will learn how to write and how to use writing to learn. Through the study of texts from a range of periods and genres that focus on the power of literacy, libraries, reading and books – such as Rainbow Rowell’s 'Fangirl', 'If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller' by Italo Calvino, Jane Austen’s 'Northanger Abbey', and extracts from Jamaica Kincaid’s 'A Small Place' – you will develop the close reading and note-taking skills necessary to shape a good argument for your essays. Writing Matters will introduce you to the key skills of close reading, academic writing and critical analysis necessary for a degree in English Literature. The fundamental tenet of the module is that writing is a process composed of a number of stages. Each seminar will focus on a practical element of literary study such as how to undertake appropriate research, how to take notes, how to plan an essay, how to compose and structure an argument, how to write a grammatically correct sentence, and how to write a bibliography. You will undertake writing activities within each seminar to practice these skills whilst considering the role of literature and literacy in society. You will learn how to find appropriate print and digital critical material to support your ideas. During the module you will build up an archive of resources relating to writing that you will use during the rest of your degree. You will be assessed with a final portfolio consisting of 3 items such as an essay plan, a critical review of an article, a bibliography, or a redrafting of an earlier essay section.
  • A History of English Literature from Equiano to Chaucer
    This module gives you an outline of the history of English Literature from the end of the eighteenth century to the Anglo-Saxon period. It uses a selection of texts taken from volume 1 of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, supplemented by handouts, to give you examples of different literary forms belonging to every period of English literary history prior to the Romantic movement. The juxtaposition of pieces by well-known authors such as Chaucer, Marlowe, and Milton with less familiar texts is intended to encourage reflection upon what constitutes the 'canon'. You are expected to acquire a basic knowledge of the terms used in English literary history ('Medieval', 'Tudor', 'Renaissance', 'Reformation', 'Early Modern', 'Restoration', 'Augustan', ‘NeoClassical', 'Enlightenment', 'Sensibility') and are encouraged to think critically about these terms. Your first assessment will be a close-reading exercise on a passage from Milton’s Paradise Lost, taken in class during week 7 of the semester. This will develop your close-reading skills and written communication. Your second assessment will be an open exam (90mins), demonstrating your ability to read texts from the course within their historical and cultural contexts. The assessment questions will be available to you 48 hours in advance of the exam.

Year one, optional modules

  • Fundamentals of Publishing
    The literary texts you study on your English Literature and Creative Writing modules are inevitably shaped by the publishing process. This module will introduce you to publishing in the 21st century. You will explore the complex and rapidly changing role of publishing in defining what a text is and how and in what form and for what price that text will reach readers. You will use Darnton’s Communication Circuit as a model through which to examine the cycle of interdependent players in content development, distribution, and consumption. Through weekly seminars, the module will incorporate fundamental elements of theory, economics, law, and professional practice. You will interrogate the ways in which specific publishing contexts enable, or constrain, writers, editors, distributors and readers at different times. The module will serve as a foundation if you want to take History of the Book (level 5) and Publishing in Practice (level 6). Ultimately, you may continue to a career and/or graduate study in Publishing (level 7 and research degrees). Your final assessment will be a written assignment on an aspect of publishing studied on the module.
  • Introduction to Imaginative Writing: Poetry and Plays
    This module will introduce Writing students to the techniques of writing poetry and writing for the stage. You will read a selection of poetry or scenes from a play each week, and work with the texts to understand, for example, poetic form or the practicalities of writing for the stage. The module will not only provide an environment for your creative writing, but teach you skills such as reading as a writer, and reflection on/evaluation of creative practice.

Year two, core modules

  • Romantic Conflicts
    Conflict can be found in all literature. However, in the Romantic period it seems to have been the essence of the spirit of the age. Percy Shelley called the French Revolution of 1789 ‘the master theme of the epoch in which we live’, and indeed many critics and historians date the beginning of the Romantic period from then. In fact Britain was at war with France for most of this period (from 1793 to 1815) trying to undo the revolution, restore a king, and with him, the old aristocratic ruling class. Class conflict was in the air well before 1789 as William Hazlitt notes: ‘the French revolution might be described as a remote but inevitable result of the invention of the art of printing.’ What he means here is that an overwhelming public consensus had to be achieved before a revolution could occur and the only way to achieve this is through the mass dissemination of ideas – through literature. Conflict can occur in any arena: class, race, debates over animal welfare, the lecture theatre (for example the debates between Hazlitt and Coleridge) and of course in personal relationships. Therefore, the scope of this module is a large one. You will be invited to read as widely as possible in this period and not merely stick to the set texts or the subjects of lectures and seminars.
  • Postcolonial Writing
    Much of the most exciting and provocative writing of the last century has emerged from regions of the world that were formerly colonised. This module offers you a selective survey of postcolonial writing and theory, using an expansive conception of what might constitute the ‘postcolonial’. It considers the socio-historical contexts behind the emergence of postcolonial studies and asks you to think critically about the institutionalisation, and challenges, of the field. You will consider issues of colonialism, decolonisation, nationalism, neo-colonialism and globalisation, along with the accompanying themes of migration, gendered/sexual politics and the role of history. A 3000-word final essay will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the module’s central concerns and your knowledge of the primary fictional texts.
  • Modernism and the City
    In this module you will examine literary Modernism as an artistic response to the social conditions and technological advances of modernity. You will explore the ways in which the distinctive features of Modernist writing - subjectivity, the psychological, innovations in form, style and genre - are produced by urban experience. You will study a range of canonical and non-canonical texts that 'write' the city in order to explore the centrality or urban culture to modernity and to consider the connections between cultural geography, historical context and narrative form. You will study poems, novels and manifestos dating from 1900-1940 in the contexts of some of the following: the influence of the First World War; suffrage; changes in visual art (primitivism, post-modernism); cinema and photography; the movements of Imagism, Futurism and Surrealism. Ideas of exile and expatriation underlie discussion of the cultural exchanges occurring in London, Paris and New York. The texts studied provide differing reactions to the early twentieth-century city, in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, gender, nationality and class. You will be assessed by a portfolio consisting of a 1,000-word critical review of an essay from either Modernism/Modernity or Modernist Cultures (to be approved by the Module Leader) and a 2,000-word critical essay.
  • Victorian Literature and Culture
    This module is structured around three main themes: ‘The Impersonating I’, ‘Victorians and Globalization’ and ‘Sensation, Scandal and Serialization’. These themes are central to the current re-formulation of Victorian studies and, as we work through them, you will be asked to engage with new critical developments in the field. In considering ‘The Impersonating I’, you will be asked to examine uses of first-person narratives in ‘autobiographical’ bildungsroman, the incorporation of multiple first-person perspectives in fiction and the impersonation of an individual in the dramatic monologue. The second strand of the module, ‘Victorians and globalization’, will involve how different forms imagine ‘the globe’, how the practice of imperialism both shaped, and was shaped by, the works that described it. The final theme of the course will involve a careful engagement with print culture and the development of sensation fiction. Through the course of the semester, you will experience something of the practices and rhythms of serial reading as we discuss the weekly instalments of a selected novel. From the outset of the module, textual study will be embedded in an examination of key historical developments and the issues - political, social, cultural and intellectual - to which these developments gave rise and currency. Formative and summative assessments will give you the opportunity to investigate particular historical and contextual phenomenon and will stretch your abilities of close analysis.
  • The European Novel: Desire and Transgression
    This module will introduce you to a representative selection of some of the most memorable and significant European novels, ranging from ancient Greek prose narratives and Renaissance romances to contemporary fiction. You will compare the ways in which different writers have handled elements of the novel such as characterisation, dialogue and narrative voice, as well as consider different sub-genres of the novel, for example magic realism and the epistolary novel. Texts will be selected to complement the novels you have studied on other modules, giving you a fuller understanding of the origins of the genre, and of its wider European context. Desire was a key focus of the very first European proto-novels, and continues to be a preoccupation today. You will engage with some of the changes and continuities in fictional depictions of romantic and sexual relationships, examining the ways in which topics such as same-sex desire, elopement and adultery have been depicted. The first assessment element, a 1000 word critical analysis, will test both your close reading skills and your understanding of the contexts and conventions of the early novel. The second assessment element, a 2,000-word essay, will require you to demonstrate an understanding both of your knowledge of set texts and your grasp of key ideas that have informed the course.

Year two, optional modules

  • Writing Short Fiction
    On this module, you'll learn the techniques of effective short fiction writing, beginning with the literary short story and moving on to explore short fiction for younger readers and some areas of genre fiction. You'll be introduced to the scope and the conventions of short fiction in English through an analysis of a diverse range of classic and contemporary examples, examining the creative process from the collection of ideas at notebook stage to the production and editing of a finished narrative. Authors studied on the module may include Anton Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield and Edgar Allen Poe. Your writing exercises will focus on practical writing techniques for effective work, with key elements such as characterisation, setting, structure, movement in time and space, observation, point of view, opening and closing, voice, dialogue, cliché, description and dialogue. For assessment, you'll submit the best work you produce during the module, along with a critical commentary that'll include a contribution to your Personal Development Planning file.
  • Dialogue and Debate: More to Milton
    On this module you will study a range of key poetic and prose texts produced by canonical and non-canonical early modern authors. One of the characteristics of the literature of this period is its dialogic nature. The writers on this course lived in an age in which the religion of their immediate forebears was seen as heresy and, in many cases, they went through a school system in which students were trained to speak for and against the same proposition. It is not surprising that they were adept at seeing issues from more than one angle. Many texts offer the reader two or more perspectives on an issue, asking questions which often remain unanswered. In addition to these internal debates, texts (translations, adaptations, parodies, flytings, prequels and sequels) were also often in dialogue with each other. You will explore these issues in lectures and seminars, investigating the relationship between the set texts and their literary, cultural and historical contexts. These contexts include politics, religion, mythography, rhetoric, gender and sexuality. Upon successful completion of the module, you will have a greater understanding of Renaissance poetry and prose, as well as appropriate cultural, historical and theoretical contexts. You will be assessed through one 3000-word essay.
  • The History of the Book
    In this module you will explore the cultural and technological contexts of the publishing of literary works, and the history of the book in Britain, and the effects of globalization on that market. You will examine its styles, types and trajectories, and consider that history in light of the market for books, pamphlets and periodicals, and the issues (such as new technology, new infrastructure, copyright and censorship) that have affected them. You will look at the way authors and editors have exchanged their works with readers and audiences around the world. You will be able to examine and analyse trends and approaches throughout the history of British publishing, and explore the results. Assessment for this module will consist of a short essay and an independently researched portfolio to include a critical assessment of an issue identified in the seminars, accompanied by supporting evidence presented as a blog, a series of slides, an electronic scrap book, or in an alternative electronic format of the student’s own choice.
  • Black British Writing
    This module will introduce you to a diverse range of post-war black British writing. Covering poetry, drama, performance, novels and film, it will offer a sense of the key authors and debates within this growing field. You will consider what constitutes a black British canon, and the critical and creative tensions between the deceptively straightforward terms ‘black’ and ‘British’. You will discuss issues such as the colonial legacy, migration, the burden of representation, mixed-race identities and diversity, along with the intersecting concerns of gender, sexuality and class. The module will draw on writing by activists, postcolonial theorists and thinkers from the field of cultural studies, including figures such as Claudia Jones, Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy. A 600-word discussion board contribution will give you the opportunity to test out ideas and develop skills in writing for digital formats. A 2,400 word final essay will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the module’s central concerns and your knowledge of the primary fictional texts.
  • News and Feature Writing
    This intensive reading and writing module will introduce you to the techniques of print journalism, focusing on news reports and feature articles. The skills required for effective news and feature writing are a key component of writing craft in any genre of fiction or non-fiction. It's a discipline that improves the imaginative work and communicative power of those who practice it. You'll explore the significance of journalistic writing in contemporary life using examples from a range of British tabloid, broadsheet and local publications. You'll practise sourcing news reports, developing feature articles and sub-editing for style and content. In seminar workshops, you'll combine analysis of journalistic techniques with practical writing exercises, covering topics that include: researching and pitching a story; interviewing; puns and rhythm; and economical use of language. Early on, you'll produce a set of briefs that must be approved by the seminar leader, then produce copy for these briefs and, in editorial teams, giving and receiving constructive criticism.
  • Writing World War One: Trauma, Memory, Resistance
    As WWI is commemorated at its centenary, this module examines a range of texts to consider current understandings of WWI and its representations. You will begin the module by looking at the poems that have famously memorialised the experience of soldiers on the Western Front before widening your outlook to explore different forms of texts (including novels, autobiography, short stories and graphic novels) that present a more diverse range of wartime experiences on the ‘home front’ and ‘forbidden zone’. This will include experiences by ‘enemy’ authors, racial minority groups, the ‘insane’, women in war zones, and animals. Each two-hour seminar will have a (mini) lecture with a thematic focus. The (mini) lecture will be followed by close reading and discussion of related texts in the seminar group. These seminar discussions and close-reading exercises will help you to explore key ideas and concepts, such as the role of propaganda and the rise of anti-war writing (literatures of resistance); changing definition and realities of war through developing technologies; the politics of remembering and forgetting WWI; new understandings of WWI derived from global history, race and gender theories; the relationship of war to literary and visual modernism; the psychological realities of WWI on combatants and civilians. You will be assessed by a final 3000-word essay, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of what has been covered on the module including your knowledge of set texts and your grasp of key theories and ideas that have informed the course.
  • Myth and Medievalism
    On this module you will examine a range of medieval English literature, focusing on the late 14th century, and exploring the links between literature and a changing society. You will consider, through careful close reading, the complex relationship between text and context, considering greater realism in the representation of the Judaeo-Christian myth in the context of threats to the feudal system. You will study mystery plays, romances and religious literature alongside selected Tales by Chaucer, and the re-appropriations of myth in a case study that suggests the wider links between myth and ideology. You will examine extracts from each text in the original Middle English, though good recent translations by modern poets will also be available, allowing you to pursue the question of the inevitable re-inflection of myth in changing cultural contexts.
  • Special Topic 1
    On the Special Topic module, you will have the opportunity to study a topic taught by a member of staff whose particular academic interests and/or research is reflected in the area. This module will enable you to extend their knowledge and understanding of a specific subject area that you may have met earlier in your studies, and in which there is deemed to be scope for more reading, critical commentary, analysis and discussion. Alternatively, the topic may be one not found elsewhere in the existing degree provision. It could be the study of a single author, a group of connected authors, or some aspect of literary theory, for example formalist criticism or deconstruction. It might also cover a literary form or genre such as the short story; gothic literature; twentieth-century science fiction; crime fiction; or 18th Century drama. The designated topics vary from-year-to-year, and you can find out from your tutors which ones are being offered, though will be told in good time to make an informed module choice. There are no formal lectures and you will be taught in seminars, including group discussions. You will be assessed by means of a final 3000 word essay, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of what has been covered on the module, including your knowledge of set texts and your grasp of the key ideas that inform the topic.

Year three, core modules

  • Spectacle and Representation in Renaissance Drama
    You will consider a range of plays from the period 1580 to 1642 in the light of issues of stage spectacle and representation in a variety of forms, including identity, sexuality, violence, and death. You will experience one of the greatest periods of dramatic writing that English literature has known, which has subsequently continued on the English stage under the UK’s great acting companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. Primary texts will be taken from Shakespeare and his chief contemporaries, including a changing range of authors chosen from Thomas Kyd, George Chapman, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, John Webster, John Ford, Richard Brome, and James Shirley. You should check the reading list each year to determine specific plays. You will become familiar with relevant theory and criticism of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. In seminars you will be attentive to issues of performance, which can include active learning through play-reading and walking through a scene, or in independent learning through attending relevant performances or viewing film adaptations.
  • Contemporary Fiction
    In this module you will look at a range of fiction written in the last 10 years, examining formal and thematic issues and the relationships between them. You will consider narrative experimentation (the recycling of old stories and forms), the representation of history, posthumanism, globalization, technology. Since there is inevitably an absence of established critical texts on the contemporary works studied, you will consider alternative sources of critical opinion (academic journals, the internet, broadsheet and broadcast journalism); and the ways in which new novels demand and shape new criticism. Your assessment will consist of a 3000-word essay at the end of the semester.

Year three, optional modules

  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.
  • Independent Research Project (English Literature)
    This module allows you to engage in an extended piece of individual research focused on a topic relevant to your specific discipline. The independent research project will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The chosen research topic will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop hardware, software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings using a variety of media. You will receive 3 hours of individual supervision with your supervisor. Supervisions may take place by phone, email, Skype or other media, and include the supervisor’s reading time for any draft work submitted. Your assessment will normally include a substantial written element of 3000 words.
  • Theorising Children's Literature
    You will take as a starting point the need to be critical about literature written for young audiences, including early years and YA fiction. You will read children’s literature primarily as literature, instead of as a contributing factor towards childhood development. This process will demand that you engage with the primary texts through literary theory, including wider theory that is not typically applied to children’s texts, such as the work of Lacan, Bakhtin, Said, Foucault, Derrida, and others. You will consider eco-criticism, animal studies, disability, race, sexuality, and gender. You will also engage with changing historical constructs of childhood and the generic fluidity of children’s and fantasy literature. Reading will be set each for you to discuss in two-hour seminars.
  • Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontës
    This module will introduce you to the work of Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brontë sisters and to literary and cinematic adaptations of their fiction. You will begin by reading Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë alongside Lucasta Miller’s The Brontë Myth and by assessing the way in which the ‘Brontë myth’ has been sustained by different generations of readers. The second part of the module will include a detailed survey of the diverse literary outputs of Gaskell and the Brontës. Through this, there will be a focus on the ways in which the four writers engage with their cultural contexts. In addition to thinking about the issues involved in debates about religion, education, social change, gender and familial and romantic relationships, you will be asked to consider the novels through the lens of disability theory and to assess their treatment of Imperialism and Empire. The final part of the module will involve an introduction to theories of adaptation and to rewritings and cinematic adaptations of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South.
  • World Literature
    Advances in technology, powerful media conglomerates, wealthy international corporations and the extension of a neo-liberal agenda, mean that we are living in an increasingly globalised world. When a story can go ‘viral’ in a matter of minutes and popular franchises inspire devotion from fans worldwide, we are forced to ask what the role of literature is in the contemporary moment. This module therefore asks you to consider how we might understand the term ‘world literature’. It combines short theoretical readings with a select body of fiction from regions as diverse as Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia and America. This writing addresses both local conditions and global concerns, encouraging you to think about the interconnectedness, but also the inequalities of modernity. Broader debates in the arena of world literature will be addressed, along with the related fields of postcolonialism, development studies, eco-criticism and transnational feminism. The module asks: what does it mean to read texts in the ‘world-language’ of English?; how do literary forms and strategies ‘travel’?; what are the potentials and limitations of comparison across borders?; how might you think of fiction not only in relation to national traditions but also in the context of the world system?; and how can socially committed fictions challenge the overlapping oppressions of globalisation? Your assessment will consist of a 3,000-word final essay, allowing you to demonstrate your understanding of the module’s central concerns, including your knowledge of primary fictional texts and your grasp of key ideas and ideologies informing the discussion.
  • Renaissance Magic
    This module will give you the opportunity to specialise in an exciting period of literary history – the English Renaissance – and to pursue a thematic interest: the early modern literary fascination with magic. ‘Renaissance Magic’ explores the intersections between imaginative literature, science, religion and the occult, through the close study of various literary forms (from journal entries and essays, to epic poetry and drama) both canonical (including the works of Shakespeare, Jonson and Spenser) and more marginal (including seventeenth-century women’s writing, and anonymous alchemical poetry.) You will be introduced to various aspects of magic/occult culture of the early modern period: attitudes toward angelology and demonology; the learned figure of the ‘Renaissance magus’; alchemy; the fascination with and persecution of witches; and early science fiction. The variety of different texts is designed to challenge perceptions of the ‘canon’, and to broaden views of what constituted ‘literature’ in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. You will find all texts either in the Norton Anthology of English Literature, widely available for inexpensive purchase, or shared as documents on the VLE. You will be assessed through: an in-class (written) close reading exercise, worth 20% of the final mark; involving responding critically and applying some contextual knowledge to a short, unseen text; a 2000-word essay worth 80% of the mark at the end of the semester, showing your ability to read two or three texts from the course within their historical and cultural context. The choice of questions for this assessment will be available to you from the beginning of the module.
  • Modern Science Fiction
    In this module you will study the development of modern science fiction, concentrating on major texts from the postwar period. You are expected to acquire a detailed knowledge of the history of science fiction and a critical understanding of the problems of defining it in relation to other forms of literature. You are also expected to gain an understanding of the distinctive pleasures which science fiction offers its readers. The emphasis is on science fiction as a literature of ideas. In this module you will be concerned primarily with science fiction as a literary form rather than with its manifestations in other media, but the demands of adapting science fiction to other media will be considered. You will read short stories, novels, and critical essays enabling you to develop a detailed knowledge of science fiction from the 1930s to the present day, and gain an understanding of some key science fiction tropes and sub-genres.
  • Writing Poetry
    Through critical examination of modern and contemporary poems, you'll learn to explore important developments in technique and appreciate the benefits of close reading to open up possibilities for language use. You’ll develop sophisticated approaches to the relationship between form and content. You'll engage in advanced workshop treatment of your poems, moving beyond explanation of sources and meanings to explore process, form and audience. The seminar topics may include modelling, seeds and sources, working with journals, presentation of poetry on and off the page, working with sound and visual material, and redrafting. Your assessment will be a selection of poems accompanied by reflective writing that explores key issues of process.
  • Literature and Medicine
    In this module, you will explore the intimate relationship between literature and medicine throughout history, from the writings of medieval mystics to contemporary writings for theatre. You will consider how different literary forms and genres (including drama, poetry, the novel, and the autobiography) each had a significant impact on cultural and historical understandings of medical developments, cures, and experiences of illness. The module will be strongly interdisciplinary in its focus, breaking down common assumptions about the difference between ‘scientific’ and ‘literary’ writings. In week 3 there will be a field trip organised to the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, where we will examine early modern anatomical books and drawings. The module will also be team-taught, with contributors from English and Drama offering lectures on topics based on their research expertise. These topics combine attention to canonical works (John Donne; George Eliot) with introductions to lesser-known writers, medical practitioners and performers. You will be assessed through a 3000-word essay at the end of the semester, demonstrating your ability to read two or three texts from the course comparatively and according to their relevant historical and cultural contexts. The choice of questions for this assessment will be made available to you from the beginning of the module.
  • Romantic Idealism
    The Romantic period heralded not only the beginnings of the Modern world, but it also looked towards futures and ideals that humans have not yet obtained: slavery still exists, and yet it was banned in this period; Britain passed the first animal rights legislation in Law, but species are still disappearing and the human relationship with other animals remains uneasy. This was a period in which old ways were sometimes driven out and everything seemed up for grabs. Even time was altered. In revolutionary France the old 24-hour clock disappeared, making way for a new decimal clock with 100 minutes in the hour, 10 hours in the day, 10 days in the week and three weeks in the month. This module will help you to engage in fresh critical thinking about ideas that you might never have imagined.
  • Literature and Exile: Displacement, Identity, Self
    This module will introduce you to a range of C20th and C21st literary representations of exile. To be in exile is to be banished from one’s home, to be displaced and/or estranged from one’s country, family, community, and even one’s self. Exile takes many forms: it can be literal or metaphorical; it can be enforced or self-imposed. Through close readings of novels, graphic novels, poetry, autobiography and short stories, many of which were written by authors in exile, you will explore various forms of exile writing and consider various conditions and contexts of exile, including politics, race, sexuality, gender and disability. At the start of the module, you will be introduced to a range of theories of exile; you will explore these theories each week in relation to the selected literary texts and related themes of memory, home, identity, community, nostalgia, self, and language. You will be assessed by means of a final 3,000-word essay, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of what has been covered on the module including your knowledge of the set texts and grasp of the key theories and ideas that have informed the course.
  • Publishing in Practice
    On this module you will explore the practical aspects of creating content and compiling content into a published product—and anthology of student work—with a theme to be determined by the module leader. You will learn practical skills such as the basics of desk editing, web editing, and using publishing software such as InDesign. You will also learn about legal issues related to sourcing content, the theory behind text and paratext, and the basics behind cover design and typography. As a student you will be responsible for creating a written and visual component of a larger anthology; as a class you will design and create the anthology of student work which can be printed in book form. The class will consist of seminars in a computer-lab setting, allowing the group to work together toward a common goal. Final assessment includes a creative publishing project and a critical commentary analysing your work on the creative publishing project.
  • Employability for English Literature
    This is potentially the most useful module that you will ever do as it will help you earn money and understand what you might be usefully employed doing after university. You should take it if you have had employment, want employment, need a CV, or have ever wondered how to connect what you do at university with what happens in the workplace. If you have been on an International exchange, you can use that experience as the basis of this module too. English literature connects with every aspect of human activity including the workplace. This module helps you to examine those links as well as to gain credit for work that you do. The CV and covering letter you will create can be used and reused after your degree, adapting to the needs of the jobs you apply for. This module requires you to complete 35 hours of work in any field, full or part time, by the end of your degree. It is envisaged that most students will carry out their work experience in the summer vacation between years two and three (levels 5 and 6). The 35 hours do not have to be consecutive and instead might be excerpts from periods with various employers. If you have a more limited CVs, you will be encouraged to aim for work experience at prominent companies or in areas that will aid disenfranchised groups of people. Your assessment will comprise a reflective work journal and covering letter directed towards a much-wanted job, along with a full CV. Guidance on how to fulfil these written parts of the course will be provided by the module leader, the work supervisor, and other appropriate advisors identified by the University.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme module will allow you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You may choose to take two language modules in place of options on your course from the second semester of your first year, or in the second or third year. You can choose from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. In order to experience the learning of a new language, you must select one that you have not learned before.


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure (pdf).

To show your progress towards becoming a reflective and autonomous learner, you will undertake a variety of assessment methods, including: critical reflection; essays; portfolios; reviews; oral presentations; written examinations and discussion boards.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we believe in thinking critically about the past, present and future to challenge perceptions and better understand communities and people.

With expertise from gender issues to literary analysis to exploring how the past has shaped our modern world, all our staff members are active researchers. This is reflected in our teaching, allowing us to support our students with the latest theories and practices, as well as essential employability advice.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Study abroad

You can apply to study abroad for one semester in Belgium, Spain or the US, and get funding to help you cover the cost

Activities and events

You can take part in our many extra-curricular activities, our poetry and writing evenings, research symposia and conferences, as well as many student societies including the Creative Writing Society, the Poetry Society and the Harry Potter Society.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2019/20 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online