Philosophy and English Literature BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)



Please note: we welcome applications for the 4-year with foundation version of this course in September 2020. Other versions of the course are open for September 2021 applications only.


Take on the biggest questions facing humanity and explore how different societies have shaped, and been shaped by, English literature on our full-time Philosophy and English Literature degree in Cambridge. Become a self-reliant researcher with critical and analytical skills suited to many careers, from journalism to local government.

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. 

The problem-solving, critical and creative skills you’ll develop on this course will be particularly useful for a range of careers in areas such as teaching, journalism, local government, publishing, charity administration and management, librarianship, and digital and media roles.

They are also transferrable to others, including business-based areas such as project management, PR and marketing, start-ups and online companies.

When you graduate, you might also decide to move onto our PhD / MPhil Philosophy research degree or one of our related Masters courses:

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Humanities, English, Media, Social Sciences and Education
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in courses related to the humanities, social sciences, English, media and education. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including thinking critically, researching, and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate numeracy and ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. In addition to these fundamental study skills, Students will be given an introduction to a broad range of disciplines whose skills and theories are widely applicable. Students will study a variety of writing styles in order to recognise, deconstruct and replicate various forms of persuasive, analytical, and informative writing. Students will learn the basics of intercultural studies and how these theories can be applied to real-world problems. Students will consider social perceptions held across western cultures, and the difference between social and self-perception, participating in structured discussion and argument. Students will be introduced to the core principles of psychology and will explore various current applications of psychological theory. Students will also be introduced to ethics and will learn about some of the key theories and thinkers in the development of current ethical considerations in a range of scenarios. This module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Critical Thinking; Intercultural Studies; Psychology; Composition and Style; Ethics; Social Perceptions.

Year one, core 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.
  • Reason and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophy
    This module will introduce you to the study of Philosophy at degree level, and encourage you to explore some of the ‘big’ questions: the existence of God; the nature of Knowledge; the nature of Time; the nature of the Self; Free Will; the Mind, and the nature of ethical deliberation. You be actively involved in discussing and debating some of the key arguments about these questions through the study of contemporary philosophical work in this area. You will also develop some key degree-level skills. These skills include: a) Learning about the structure and ‘logic’ of argumentation (Critical Thinking); b) Learning about how to engage in independent and reliable research (Working in the Knowledge Economy) and c) Learning how to structure and prepare essays and assignments (Content Curation). You will attend corresponding interactive workshops to help structure and develop your skills in these areas. You will get the opportunity to develop your writing and presentational skills, as well as gaining knowledge and understanding of the foundational issues in contemporary philosophy. This module will help you to become adaptable, flexible and analytical in your thinking, and to strengthen skills in developing creative approaches to problems.
  • 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
  • World Philosophies
    This module takes a global and world-historical view of belief systems and values, in order to illuminate our own contemporary ideas about life and death, justice, and morality, in new ways. We begin with philosophy in Ancient China, before turning to Indian philosophy, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. Next we examine Judaism, before examining Christianity and Islam, the other two monotheistic world religions. Throughout we will be comparing and contrasting the moral and metaphysical systems in East and West and, along the way, reflecting on the importance, value and nature of comparative philosophy within an interconnected world. You will develop a sound understanding of the development of religion and philosophy in the Far East, as well of the essential features of Judaic, Christian and Islamic medieval philosophy. Linked workshops will allow for further exploration of ideas and questions concerning the meanings of life, inspired by the main module themes, and will also form the basis for a practical project management assessment which will take place at Level 5. The workshops will also allow us to examine the history of these key ideas through material objects. We will visit local museums to enhance our understanding of the link between beliefs and values and practical everyday life concerns (field trip free of charge). This module emphasizes the development of cultural and intercultural awareness, together with strong communication and presentation skills. Group homework questions and class debates will enhance your capacity for teamwork. The comparative approach will build your capacity to be open, empathic, global citizens and the knowledge base of world philosophies is an advantage for possible future careers in teaching, for example.

Year two, core modules

  • Ethics in Theory and Practice
    This module offers complementary approaches to the topic of ethics, one theoretical and one practical. In the theoretical part, we will explore normative and metaethics, including Kant's ethics and utilitarianism. Questions raised will be about the role of the emotions within moral decision-making, and particularly the importance of empathy and compassion for moral awareness. We will also be reflecting on the relationship between religion and morality and whether animals can be said to have moral value or, indeed, be themselves capable of moral behaviour. In the practical part, you will have the opportunity to reflect on the way such theoretical discussions can have real-world application. Topics covered may include animal rights, environmental ethics, or the ethics of body and identity (including topics such as the beginning and end of life, reproductive technologies, or sexualities). There will be an opportunity to develop skills in project management, to plan and run an interactive workshop with an invited speaker, to focus on one of the practical topics discussed, linking the module to real-world problems and solutions. Group-work and class debates will also enhance teamworking skills. Presentations will help you development your communication skills, and a peer-led question and answer session after each presentation will help to develop your ability to seek and act on constructive criticism by incorporating the feedback into your written report. The module as a whole will help your development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • 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 of 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, postimpressionism); cinema and photography; the movements of Imagism, Futurism and Surrealism. Ideas of exile and expatriation will underlie discussion of the cultural exchanges occurring in London, Paris and New York.
  • 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.
  • Philosophy of Art and Image
    We are surrounded by complex imagery all the time, but many people feel confused by contemporary art and what it is ‘supposed to be about’. In this module we’ll address some key themes and questions that arise in the modern art scene, but that have their roots in philosophical problems of aesthetics. We will begin by co-curating our own on-line art gallery and observing the key features of a range of works of art. As part of the module we will also visit a local art gallery (free of charge). The key themes that we will study include questions about the social usefulness or relevance of art; what (if anything) separates public artworks and graffiti; how the mass reproduction of imagery might change the way we think of the ‘value’ of a work of art, how the idea of the portrait and the self-portrait has changed historically; issues concerning the judgement of beauty and the question of objectivity in art, and the politics of the art gallery and the choices that curators make. We will also look at the case of music as an art form ‘without’ imagery. The module is designed to be highly interactive, encourages creative and imaginative responses to art works, supports independent thinking, and develops cultural and intercultural awareness. In studying this module, you will be encouraged to co-create content, undertake projects that put you in the position of real-life curators, and think about issues of identity, from the history of portraits to the modern ‘selfie’.

Year two, optional modules

  • AI and Philosophies of the Future
    Machine technology has fundamentally changed our lives over recent decades. There is no reason to think that this rate of change will slow down, and every reason to think it will continue, perhaps at an exponential rate. We are reaching a point where machine intelligence is becoming a part of our everyday lives, from search engines to personal assistants (like Alexa); from driverless cars to health care. How will these developments impact upon our lives in the short, medium and long term? Will AI become autonomous, or even ‘intelligent’? What sorts of ethical principles could or should guide development, and should AI have ethical rights? How will AI affect the future of law, social relations, work, the economy, education, health-care, sex, war and our understanding of ourselves? We will explore these questions in relation to the latest thinking about technology and projected future scenarios. In taking this module, you will strengthen your skills of critical thinking, careful analysis, creative problem solving and real-world scenarios. You will look at the ways in which theoretical ideas can be applied to practical areas of our lives, and consider a range of outcomes, which will help you to become flexible and adaptable in your approach. You will also further develop your team-working and professional presentation skills.
  • Descartes and the Rationalists
    This module introduces you to the philosophies of the three major figures of the Rationalist movement: Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, as well as looking at how those ideas interacted with the less well-known work of women philosophers in the 17th Century (Margaret Cavendish, Elisabeth of Bohemia, and Anne Conway). The module will look at some of the fundamental philosophical questions that arise in the early modern era, and continue to be of relevance today: the nature and scope of human knowledge; the relation between matter and mind; the nature of God; and the possibility of freedom of the will and ethical responsibility in the face of an apparently mechanistic universe. Together with the companion module Kant and The Empiricists, this module will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the key figures and ideas in Early Modern Philosophy, one of the most vibrant and important periods in the history of philosophy, which lays the groundwork for much of the science, philosophy and intellectual thought of today. This module has been designed to further support you in developing skills in understanding and critically analysing complex ideas, clearly presenting those ideas and analyses in both oral discussion and writing, and providing creative solutions to complex problems. The module will allow you to further develop skills of scholarly research and working to a deadline. Introducing the work of women philosophers who are less well-known in traditional philosophical circles will also develop your historical and cultural awareness and broaden the context of debates of this period.
  • 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.
  • Reading Beyond Britain
    This module engages actively with widespread calls to decolonise the curriculum of English literature by considering some of the best writing from beyond Britain. You will consider applied theories that enable you to think deeply about issues of colonialism, postcolonialism, race, gender, empire, and canon. It is a sweeping module, covering not just 150 years but also oceans and continents, equipping you with the critical tools needed to participate knowingly in today’s trans-global economies of thought, culture, and labour. This module deliberately turns on its head new political and social movements towards nationalism and localism to think through diverse voices and non-UK perspectives. It seeks to tear down literary and cultural walls to develop empathetic critical reading practices and encourage reading beyond ‘identification’ and towards activism.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Contemporary Issues in Stylistics
    In this module, you will look at different types of written and spoken texts, or genres, and how they are structured linguistically. You will learn to use different analytic tools and approaches to explore how different text types work, and how they interact with their ‘users’ in particular contexts. You will look at how language is used to convey not only overt but also hidden meanings, such as ideologies, and how such hidden meanings can be systematically analysed. For this, you will learn to use a variety of both traditional and modern digital techniques. The module will develop your understanding of key concepts such as concordance, collocation and semantic fields to help us to answer questions such as ‘What do texts of a particular genre have in common?’ You will also reflect on the effectiveness of digital tools and know-how with regard to the analysis of textual data.
  • Working with Philosophy
    This module will encourage you to develop awareness of your own strengths and skills, apply theoretical knowledge and insights gained through your studies on your degree, and investigate possible careers for which a degree in Philosophy would be relevant. Philosophy already fosters many skills and aptitudes that have relevance to the world of work, and studying Philosophy also encourages a reflective approach to many aspects of human organisation and practice, including those of the workplace. The module may help you to obtain credit for work that you already do, or help you to think about the work you might do after graduation, or to offer reflections on theoretical issues in practice or the relationship between theory and practice itself. The module requires that you undertake 35 hours of work in any field, full or part-time, paid or unpaid. You will arrange this work yourself, with help and support from the Employability Service and/or the SU Volunteering programme. ARU is one of the biggest employers in the region, so the work may also consist of employment within ARU. Alternatively you may choose to undertake a research project about philosophy in practice, exploring the practical features or implications of philosophy in an area of work or policy in the real world. In this case the 35 hours would be embedded in a research project relevant to the objectives of this module. Examples of workplaces might include charities, eg Mind, Headway, Age Concern, Citizen’s Advice Bureau etc, a school, a small business, an art gallery or museum, a local government organisation or political group, or a university (such as ARU). You might reflect on the sorts of activities that are typical of such organisations or types of work, and how your skills are relevant to work in such organisations. If you choose to undertake a research project, this might consist of, for example: an analysis of certain features of Philosophy degrees in the UK, an analysis of an aspect of philosophy in the media, a report on specific areas of policy and practice in HE, or a review of policy relevant to philosophy in areas such as medical ethics or political decision-making.
  • Kant and the Empiricists
    Complementing 'Descartes and the Rationalists', this module continues the history of philosophy strand in the curriculum. The module begins with the philosophy of Locke, continues through Berkeley and Hume, and ends with an evaluation of Kant’s ground-breaking “transcendental idealism”, which marks the beginning of the modern period in philosophy. The focus of the module is epistemology. We will examine important questions about the extent of human knowledge, and whether we can truly understand what reality is like. Along the way, we will address issues in moral philosophy and the philosophy of religion that arise from our epistemological reflections. Questions addressed include: How does religion arise? Does God exist? What is the foundation of morality? What motivates us to act morally? Sessions will be adapted to suit the topics, including lecture/seminar split format, interactive, text-based workshop or student-led presentations. Some sessions will be structured around more general questions, designed to invite your own reflections on lines of inquiry. On some occasions, we will have class debates in which you will be divided into two opposing groups, and you may be asked to defend position you do not necessarily agree with. As well as providing you with a firm knowledge base of the post-rationalist phase of the early modern period in philosophy, you will be encouraged to develop flexible and adaptable approaches to problem solving and debate, critical thinking and scholarly research skills.
  • 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 trimester, you will experience something of the practices and rhythms of serial reading as we discuss the weekly instalments of a selected novel.
  • 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.
  • History of English
    This module will introduce you to aspects of the spelling, phonology, syntax and morphology of English from its earliest attested form, tracing how they have changed over time and why. You will begin by investigating the origins of language and the Indo-European language family of which English is a member. You will then learn about the history of the language, including the arrival of the Germanic tribes, the Viking and Norman invasions and the arrival of the printing press, as well as how these events map onto the various stages of the history of English. The remainder of the module will focus on analysing aspects of English grammar which have undergone significant changes through the language’s history, including: word order, pronouns, auxiliary, modal and lexical verbs and negation. The assessment for the module is an open-book exam in which you will be asked to answer questions on the history of English and write an essay in relation to (previously seen) texts from different historical periods. Discussions in seminars will focus on how to analyse historical data, applying skills and knowledge that you have acquired in other course modules and using a diverse range of resources.
  • Writing Short Fiction
    In this module you’ll learn the tools 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 will understand the scope and the conventions of short fiction in English through analysis of a diverse range of classic and contemporary examples. You’ll look at the creative process from the collection of ideas at the notebook stage to the production and editing of a finished narrative, and you will engage in this process by maintaining a reading journal and writer's notebook where responses to literature that is read, and created, are recorded.
  • Making A Difference
    Making a difference in the world begins with the belief that you can do something that doesn’t just benefit yourself. The easiest way to think about making a difference in the world is to inspire one person first. It’s a simple, measurable and an achievable goal that will show you what’s possible. However, in order to make a difference in the world, you will be required to demonstrate that you have the credentials to defend your ideas and your goals. In ‘Making a Difference’ you will learn about how to combine key aspects of entrepreneurialism with research methods in order to present an airtight and thoroughly evaluated plan or pitch through which you will be able to demonstrate how you can make a difference in the world. You will study four short stand-alone options within one module, through which you will become equipped to consider, research, pitch and evaluate an idea that could potentially make a positive contribution to society. The module will be taught in four-week blocks, comprising a blend of class-based and online delivery. Each option will be assessed separately at the end of each four-week block. Researching Social Sciences (Trimester 1, 2nd block) and Project Prep (Trimester 2, 1st block) are compulsory elements. In addition, you will choose one other option to study each trimester through which you will apply your research methods in preparation for your major project.

Year three, core modules

  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The individual final Major Project module allows you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific discipline. Normally the topic will be agreed in consultation with academic staff and an appropriate supervisor will be appointed to supervise you in your chosen topic. The topic may also be drawn from a variety of sources including: Anglia Ruskin research groups, previous or current work experience, the company in which you are currently employed, or a professional subject of specific interest (if suitable supervision is available). The project topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The chosen topic will require you to identify and formulate problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your findings. Regular meetings with the project supervisor and or/group workshops should take place, so that the project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction. The assessment will normally include a substantial written report, including a bibliography.
  • 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.
  • Concepts of Good and Evil
    What role, if any, does the concept of evil play in our moral vocabulary? Is it a narrowly theological notion or does it usefully describe certain kinds of act and/or character? On this module, you'll examine contemporary accounts of evil, as well as looking at the concept of evil in the history of philosophy from Leibniz to the present. In addition to considering theoretical discussions of evil, you'll also consider phenomena such as war and terrorism and ask whether the concept of evil helps us to understand them.

Year three, optional modules

  • Experiencing God
    Building on the module 'Kant and the Empiricists', 'Experiencing God' will introduce you to key thinkers in nineteenth century European philosophy, as well as to contemporary issues within the philosophy of religion. The module begins with Hegel, the philosopher who is credited with demonstrating the importance of world history to a truly philosophical understanding of human consciousness. After Hegel, you will examine a number of key European philosophers, including Marx, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Where relevant the module will connect topics on the module to themes in contemporary philosophy of religion, especially issues concerning the relationship between science, atheism and religion. You will be taught in a variety of ways depending on the topic, either in a traditional lecture/seminar split format, as an interactive, text-based workshop or via student-led presentations. Seminars will be structured, when applicable, around more general questions, allowing you to reflect on lines of inquiry not fully addressed in class. Finally, on some occasions, we will have class debates in which the module leader will divide students into two opposing groups, and you will need to defend a position you do not necessarily agree with. This module will provide you with a firm knowledge base of modern European philosophy. The extended research element of will give you with an opportunity to demonstrate skills in written communication as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Writing Poetry
    In this module you’ll gain the technical skills required in the writing of poetry by facilitating a flexible use of traditional forms and rhythms. You’ll look at contemporary and modern poetry and explore important developments in technique and learn to appreciate the benefits of close reading to open up possibilities for language use. Seminar workshops focus on reading poetry and on creative exercises, aimed at helping to develop sophisticated approaches to the relationship between form and content.
  • 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. We will also look in detail at 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.
  • Renaissance Magic
    In this module you’ll 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.
  • Politics and Social Media
    New media, and particularly online social media, have become a fixture in today’s socio-political context. The ubiquity of online social media like Twitter and Facebook, among other platforms, have given them not only a social dimension but also one that facilitates political activism, exchange and perhaps control. On this module, you will explore the role of social media in political practices, and the production of political knowledge as well as power. You will be introduced to the many facets of social media in political theory and practice, before considering real world impact areas of social media today in a range of issue areas. You will focus on how social media impacts on activism and protest, and political campaigning, but will also explore the darker side of social media freedom. The module is structured in two parts, beginning with an engagement of theoretical aspects relevant to politics and social media. In this part you will explore and contrast the virtual with the real, examining how they relate to one another in current socio-political contexts. The second part engages with concrete cases in which social media have played an active role for social and political impact. As part of the module, you will be encouraged to participate actively with social media on a political topic of your choice, assessing the value and role of the online social media platform. You will be taught by lectures and seminars, and assessed by an essay and an on-line blog and twitter feed exercise.
  • Knowledge, Truth and Doubt
    This module will help you understand and compare different philosophical approaches to the problem of knowledge (how can we be sure that we know anything) by looking at how they deal with the foundational philosophical topic of Scepticism. You will see how Scepticism arises throughout the history of thought, from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, and how it shapes whole philosophical systems and world-views, often taking hold at times of great philosophical and political change. Beginning with scepticism in ancient philosophy, and then in its rediscovery in the 16th/17th Centuries we look at how different philosophical schools of thought attempted to answer the problem of scepticism. We will discuss scepticism in relation to empiricism; common sense; scientific naturalism; Wittgenstein’s therapeutic method of philosophy; the philosophy of mind; and the philosophy of language. We will also consider the re-emergence of the challenge of scepticism in relation to contemporary media, ‘fake’ news’ and conspiracy theories. This module is part of a core strand of the Philosophy curriculum at Anglia Ruskin, which looks at issues of relevance to contemporary Anglo-American Philosophy. It will build on topics discussed in Mind and World and Introduction to Philosophy, as well as allowing you to understand how the philosophers and ideas discussed in Ancient Philosophy, The Rationalists and Kant and the Empiricists relate to contemporary research in this area. This module will support you in further developing key transferable skills of critical analysis and complex problem solving as well as the high-level ability to undertake scholarly research and complete a project to a deadline. The presentation will enable you to further develop skills of public speaking, creating professional public presentations, and teamwork.
  • Working with English
    You should take this Employability module if you have had employment, want employment, need a CV, or have ever wondered how to connect what you do at university with what you have done in the workplace. If you have been on an international exchange, you can use that experience for this module too. English literature connects with every aspect of human activity, including the workplace. In addition to being a subject that provides you with a great range of transferable skills, it also engages in deepening a person’s social and cultural capital. Literature is about every part of the human experience and this makes it one of the most valuable degrees to possess - it help shapes your identity, as a broad range of ideas are examined through a thousand years of English Literature. Literature necessary engages with the world of paid work and this module helps you examine those links as well as gain credit for any 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. The 35 hours worked do not have to be consecutive and might be excerpts from periods with various employers. Students with more limited CVs are encouraged to aim for work experience in areas that will aid disenfranchised people or are at prominent companies. Doing well in this module will be achieved through ambition; evidence of analysis in your work journal and having a tight and interesting covering letter and CV. This is potentially the most useful module that you will take as it will help you earn money and to apply for employment after university.
  • Language, Flesh, Philosophy
    In this module you will focus on language as a symbolic system and practice where meaning is produced and reproduced under specific cultural conditions and is characterised by fragmentation and conflict as much as by cohesion and consensus. You will relate the study of language to issues concerning, for example, identity, cultural power and domination, representation, and real life, examining the social corpus, the individual body and the radical/transgressive body. You will explore post-structuralist critiques of linguistics, which may include theories of language as a means by which identity is produced through the interconnectedness of language and ideology. In addition, you will encounter the physical body not as ‘natural’ but as a linguistic phenomenon: where the body is a text to be read. Challenging binaries such as mind/body and biological/textual, you will query the role of language in creating bodies and the ways in which the flesh has been historically created through discourse. You will also look at the ways the body has transgressed these discourses. In examining the relationships between language, power and bodies, you will explore the links between language, power, knowledge, ‘truth’ and identity, especially in reference to difference (gender, race, sexuality, ability) and extend these links to ecological concerns and the connectedness of the human to the nonhuman and nature. You will learn to question how truth and knowledge are challenged in post-structuralist/ deconstructionist projects, and how this challenge can lead to what is known as posthuman ethics and the ecological revolution: currently known in linguistic philosophy as ‘ecosophy’.
  • Heidegger and Phenomenology
    This module will introduce you to phenomenology, the careful study of different types of experience. What does it mean to perceive the world? How is perceiving different from imagining? How is our private experience of time different from the way time is conceived in scientific theories? How is my experience of my body different from my experience of the bodies of other people? What does it mean to say that experience is embodied? Throughout the module, we will address fundamental issues in the philosophy of mind, emotion and ethics. Phenomenology will provide you with a key to unlocking many puzzling aspects of the world and our place in it. The module will provide you with a firm knowledge base in Heidegger’s philosophy, including phenomenology. It is designed to be research-led, offering you the opportunity to learn concurrently about current research by drawing on the research specialism of the module leader. The module is also research-orientated in that you will be introduced, via a workshop, to inquiry-related techniques and resources to develop your information literacy and prepare you for possible postgraduate study after graduation. By providing formative feedback throughout the trimester, the module will provide frequent opportunities for you to check and confirm your progress, encouraging skills of self-reflection and personal planning. You will be encouraged to actively pursue your own independent and autonomous lines of research when preparing assignments, with the opportunity to negotiate assignment titles, but you will also be supported with bespoke research tutoring advice.
  • 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 a full range of contemporary literary and wider theory, which might include eco-criticism, animal studies, disability, race, sexuality, and gender. Primary texts will be selected from the ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature in the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries and form more contemporary works. You will engage with changing historical constructs of childhood and the generic fluidity of children’s and fantasy literature. Primary and secondary reading will be set each for you to discuss in two-hour seminars.
  • Romantic Ideals
    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 as well as your position within society. Ideals examined include: Human perfectibility; Veganism; Animal Rights; Women’s rights; Children’s rights; Slavery; Human stratification; Disenfranchisement; the Natural Environment; the purpose of life; jealousy; the Imagination.
  • 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.

Optional modules available in years two and three

  • 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.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

You’ll show your progress through a combination of exams, essays, portfolios, presentations, reviews and reports, as well as your final-year Major Project.

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

Additional study information

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 Philosophy Society, the Poetry Society and the Harry Potter Society.

Study abroad opportunities

You can apply to study abroad for one semester, and apply for funding to help you cover the cost.


All your classes will take place in our modern and well-equipped classrooms. You’ll also have full access to our well-stocked campus library, with computer rooms and quiet zones, as well as many online resources.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

UK students (and EU students in the 2020/21 academic year) 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

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees


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 international students

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

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

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. 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 September 2020.

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 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.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, 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.

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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