English Literature BA (Hons)

Full-time, part-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years)

University Centre Peterborough



This course will bring the great authors and works to life, from Anglo-Saxon times to the present, on an imaginatively taught course that will prepare you for a range of careers.

Full description


Our graduates go on to careers in teaching, journalism, TV and radio, the music industry, arts administration, gallery work, fundraising, HR, publishing, library management, marketing and PR, public services, tourism and IT.

We work with many cultural organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the John Clare Trust. There’ll be work experience and special placement opportunities with some of these, as well as the chance to network with future employers.

Modules & assessment

Level 4 modules

  • Introduction to English Literature 1
    This module gives students an outline knowledge of the history of English Literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the end of the eighteenth century. It uses a selection of texts taken from volume 1 of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, supplemented by handouts, to give students 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, Milton and Swift with less familiar texts is intended to encourage reflection upon what constitutes the 'canon'. Students 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. During the course of this module (and its sister module in semester 2) we want students to acquire a sense of literary history and an outline knowledge of the main literary periods but also hope they will engage in a direct and pleasurable way with a variety of extremely interesting texts.The module complements Ways of Reading by offering a broad overview rather than focusing on specific critical approaches but we hope that some of the close reading skills acquired while taking Ways of Reading can also be put into practice on this module. The core book for the module and an essential purchase is Greenblatt, S. et al, eds (2006) The Norton Anthology of English Literature (8th edition), vol. 1, New York and London: W.W. Norton.
  • Introduction to English Literature 2
    The core book for the module and an essential purchase is Greenblatt, S. et al, eds (2006) The Norton Anthology of English Literature (8th edition), vol. 2, New York and London: W.W. Norton. All the texts listed below which will be taught in the second semester are available in the second volume of the Norton anthology except Austen, Northanger Abbey; Ibsen, A Doll?s House; Woolf, Orlando; and Vonnegut, Slaughter-House Five which will need to be purchased separately. William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience; Samuel T. Coleridge, 'The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner'; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey; Victorian Poetry (the Brownings, Tennyson, Christina Rossetti); Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House; Modernist Poetry (Yeats, Eliot, H.D.); Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe, 'An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness'; Kafka, The Trial; Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughter-House Five; Alice Munro, selected short stories
  • Introduction to Literary Criticism
    This module will introduce you to studying English Literature at University, and allow you to develop skills such as reading critically and communicating clearly. In the first semester you'll get an overview of the degree structure and examine some key critical terms, problems and approaches for students of English. These include, for example: the literary canon and value; narrative theory; realism and representation; genre; the production of meaning; relationships between literature, history and the world; selected approaches to literature, (including formalist, new historicist, feminist, psychoanalytical and postcolonial criticism) and relationships between literature and identity. You'll explore these topics through a selection of critical texts and short extracts from plays, novels, short stories and poems (extracts provided). You'll attend a one-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar each week, including a library induction session.
  • Tragedy
    This module will introduce you to the diverse ways in which tragedy has been produced and theorised, from Ancient Greece to the present day. You’ll begin by considering staging conventions and cultural contexts of tragic plays produced in Ancient Greece, as well as Aristotle’s ideas about tragedy. You’ll then consider how tragedy has been produced in other times and cultures, with an emphasis on the dramatic output of Renaissance England and the production of tragedy in the modern period. Possible areas of investigation include the potentially subversive nature of tragedy, its relationship with justice or its impact on love, gender and sexuality. Through wide-ranging investigations of ‘the tragic’, you will gain knowledge of a variety of tragic plays, develop an understanding of theatre history, conventions and theory, and consider how these materials relate to wider social, cultural and historical issues.

Level 5 modules

  • Romantic Conflicts
    This module will develop your knowledge of the Romantic Period, which usually covers literature produced between 1770 and 1832. In this course you will develop your analytical skills as well as your abilities in communicating the research and analysis that you will apply to literature of the period. Working with other students in class you will develop your social and critical skills in whole and small group discussions. You will realise the broader cultural capital of the course as you engage with themes that transcend the literature of the period. 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 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. Therefore, this module will help you consider your own individual identity, as well as your attitude and adaptability to ideas on a diverse range of subjects. Notions of class, race, debates over work, the individual in society, women’s rights, slavery, protest and land ownership all feature in this module and require engagement with you as a person who has to examine many still current ideas from the Romantic period. Therefore, the scope of this module is a large one.
  • The Victorian Experience: Texts and Contexts
    On this year-long module, you'll engage with Victorian texts and their various contexts in both breadth and depth. You'll examine texts in relation to key historical developments and the issues to which these developments gave rise and currency. In the first semester, your main literary focus will be on poetry (such as Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning), interspersed with a consideration of relevant contextual topics and debates (such as industrialisation and gender issues). In the first half of the second semester, your work will be devoted to mid-Victorian fiction. You'll compare novels by, for example, Dickens and Gaskell, which offer different models of realism and different versions of a search for identity, with reference to the contextual issues introduced in the first semester. For the rest of the module time, you'll explore literary and contextual developments in the late Victorian period, assessing generic innovations (the 'new' drama of Wilde and Shaw, short stories by Kipling, Vernon Lee and Olive Schreiner) in relation to contextual novelties, such as the new woman, the new imperialism, socialism and aestheticism.
  • Postcolonialism
    On this module you'll explore the meanings that were once attached to the British Empire and how some 19th and early 20th century writers expressed their often contradictory and ambivalent attitudes to the imperial project and the responsibilities of running an empire. These writers may include Rudyard Kipling, E.M. Forster, Flora Annie Steele, and George Orwell. You'll then read and analyse selected texts by writers from nations which have won their independence from Britain (for example Derek Walcott and Ama Ata Aidoo), comparing them with texts written from European perspectives. You'll also be introduced to the ideas of post-colonial theorists such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Babha, and discuss influential critical concepts such as orientalism, the subaltern and mimicry. At the end of the module you'll examine the significance of multicultural ideas and examples of writing produced by both first- and second-generation immigrants to Britain, possibly including some film or television material. Your assessment will take the form of a 3000-word essay.
  • 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.

Level 6 modules

  • Undergraduate Major Project
    In this module you’ll undertake a substantial piece of law research or a legal practice related project (which could be based on your experience of a specific organisation), focused on a topic relevant to your studies and career aspirations. You’ll identify and formulate problems and issues, conduct bibliographical research (and any other research methods appropriate to your project), determine solutions and engage in critical evaluation, including formulating proposals for reform of the law or procedure where appropriate. Your findings could be presented in a range of ways for example a report containing recommendations for your chosen organisation as part of your work based project.
  • 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 and the recycling of old stories and forms; the representation of and return to history; posthumanism and the limits of the human; globalization and technology. The module will invite you to consider the power and role of literature in contemporary society and the impact of literary prize culture on publishing and publicity.
  • Science Fiction
    In this module you will study the development of science fiction as a genre, concentrating on major texts from the postwar period. You are expected to acquire an understanding of the history of science fiction and an awareness of debates around its origins, as well as a critical understanding of the problems of defining it in relation to other forms of literature. The emphasis is on science fiction as a literature of ideas, and you will have the opportunity to explore and compare examples of several key science fiction tropes. These would typically include alien invasion, posthuman identity, utopias and dystopias, alternate history, time travel and post-apocalyptic science fiction. You would also be invited to consider changes in the representation of issues such as race, class and gender in science fiction. The main focus will be on science fiction as a literary form; however there will be opportunities to consider science fiction in other media – film, comics, TV and computer games – as well as engage with aspects of the history of science fiction publishing, such as book cover design and marketing.
  • Working in English and Media
    This module, with a focus on work experience, will help prepare you for targeted entry into the world of multimedia, film, television, cinema, radio, video, teaching, publishing, arts administration and related creative and cultural industries. You'll identify, negotiate and carry out a work placement, or produce a commissioned product, in a chosen area, with guidance from the relevant Course Leader and Module Leader, who will provide ongoing consultation, supervision and support in association with the University's Careers Service. You'll develop a portfolio and write a critical essay, both of which you'll submit at the end of the semester. Your portfolio should include: your CV; copies of a range of academic work (including a DVD showreel, where appropriate); evidence of extra-curricular activities; evidence of work experience. Presentation is crucial to your portfolio, and you should make use of all available multi-media when refining your work. This module will form part of your ongoing programme of Personal Development Planning.


We’ll assess your progress through essays, exams, professional development portfolios, individual and group projects, and your dissertation.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

In the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, we use our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond to nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking, and encourage critical thinking, in order to educate, entertain, inspire and understand, as well as to improve people’s lives.

Where can I study?

University Centre Peterborough
University Centre Peterborough

University Centre Peterborough (or UCP) is our modern campus in the heart of an historic city.

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Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)*


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you’re studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity, or 60 credits per year). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period, or for more credits. All fees are for guidance purposes only. Your offer letter will contain full details of credits and fees, or you can contact us if you'd like more information.

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

UK students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or 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

Funding for UK students

Most new UK undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This also applies to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who have citizens' rights following Brexit.

Government funding 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 range of ARU scholarships, which can provide extra financial support while you’re at university.

Entry requirements

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88 UCAS tariff points. Required subject(s): A level English, English Language or English Language/Literature at grade C, or a full Access Certificate in a related subject GCSEs required: 3 GCSEs at grade C or above in English, Mathematics and Science.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2021, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2021-22.

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@aru.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.

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