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Overview Discover a World of Literature at York

UCAS code


Typical offer

AAA or A*AB with a minimum A in English (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

A BA in English at York will give you a real sense of the distinctiveness of English literature, all the while revealing how it relates to other literatures and cultures. You will be taught in small groups by experts in their field, and encounter literature from every period of history and from across the globe. You will get the chance to follow your own literary passions and to discover new ones. You will graduate with skills highly prized by employers across a wide range of industries.

Our varied and flexible degree combines historical depth with geographical breadth. There are plenty of options to tailor a course to suit your own literary interests. We offer modules on literature from every era and in all the major literary genres, including prose, poetry, drama, and film. Join us at York to discover a world of literature.

You can discover more about the Department of English and Related Literature’s exciting degree programmes by watching our video.

York's English degree promised to be comprehensive yet flexible. My experience here has not let me down. The modules always have a central focus, yet retain an impressive diversity which intersect at the unlikeliest of angles.
BA English student

Course content What you’ll study


York’s English degree offers exceptional flexibility and choice. Our academic progression model provides a comprehensive overview of literary history and criticism while also encouraging you to explore the subjects that most interest you. You will get the chance to examine literature from the present and the past, and from the United Kingdom and beyond. You’ll also study non-English texts, in the original language or in translation. In total, you’ll take eighteen modules from a long list of possible choices, and you’ll write a dissertation in your third year.

NB: This information reflects the current course content and structure, which may be revised from year to year.

Year 1

We’ll introduce you to a range of different texts and critical approaches in your first year to lay the foundation for your degree. Through carefully linked modules, you will be introduced to the historical and theoretical study of literature. These modules will be supplemented by additional skills-based and topic-based modules:

  • Approaches to Literature I and II – Get a feel for the shape of literary history by studying works from the medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic, and modern periods.
  • A World of Literature I and II - These cross-period modules explore a range of responses to ancient literary texts and literature from around the English-speaking world.
  • Two Topic Modules — Choose two of these highly interactive modules from a diverse list.
  • Key Concepts – A year-long foundation module that provides you with important critical and methodological contexts for the study of literature.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.

Year 2

You’ll further your understanding of period-specific literary topics as well as focus on a World Literature subject. In the second year, you’ll choose:

  • Three Intermediate Option Modules: Choose from modules covering Medieval*, Renaissance*, and Eighteenth-Century and Romantic* literature, as well as a selection of Modern Literature modules, taking at least two of the three asterisked (*) module choices.
  • One from a choice of World Literature Modules – introducing you to another literature and culture, either in the original language or in translation.
  • One from a choice of our highly interactive Topic Modules. 
  • Critical Questions – A year-long intermediate module that explores the history and theory of literary criticism.

Year 3

You’ll have the opportunity to explore further the areas you’ve developed an interest in over the course of your studies through the diverse range of module choices available to our third-year students. In addition, the subject of your English dissertation is entirely up to you, which means that there is an exciting opportunity for you to shape the trajectory of your final year. In the third year, you’ll choose:

  • Four Advanced Option Modules: Choose from a diverse range of innovative options, covering all periods of literature from the classical era up to the twenty-first century, and exploring a wide variety of genres including poetry, fiction, drama, and film. Advanced Option Modules reflect the wide-ranging research expertise of the Department.
  • The degree culminates in the dissertation, an in-depth exploration of 7,000-8,000 words on a topic of your choice. This year-long advanced module offers you the chance to use all the research and writing skills you will have developed at York.

Study abroad

We are proud of our international outlook. If you’re also interested in studying abroad, there are a number of options both in the English-speaking world and in Europe. 

The Department of English and Related Literature is ranked first in the UK for world-leading research and second overall (REF 2014).

The Department of English and Related Literature is part of our Faculty of Arts and Humanities, which is ranked in the top 25 in the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

QS also ranks the Department of English and Related Literature among the best in the world. See for yourself: QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 - English Language & Literature.

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

York’s English degree is renowned for its flexible and innovative approach. We emphasize small-group teaching, which means you’ll mainly be taught in seminars of up to fifteen people. You’ll also take part in workshops, attend lectures, and consult staff on a one-to-one basis. You can expect around seven hours of contact time a week – and sometimes more.

  • Our cutting-edge research informs all our teaching activities.
  • Our staff are world-leading experts, but are friendly, approachable, and accessible – they all have two open office hours a week.
  • We organize many guest lectures and readings by well-known literary figures.


We employ a variety of assessment methods, including group presentations and closed exams, but with a strong emphasis on essay writing. Your main mode of assessment will be essays, which will range from short exploratory exercises to more detailed discussions on a topic of your choice, to the 7,000-8,000-word dissertation in your final year. We offer high levels of feedback and ample opportunities for students to meet with staff to discuss their written work.

"Staff are always very approachable, whether in their office hours, after seminars, or by email. They're really keen to help your literary understanding and imagination."
BA English student

Careers Where you’ll go from here

No discipline equips its students better to understand and interpret a wide range of texts – whether literary, historical, political, or social – or to form articulate and persuasive responses to a range of challenges and questions.

You’ll learn presentation, language, and reasoning skills during your English degree, and gain expertise in complex analysis and research. These skills suit a wide range of careers, from law and teaching to national and local government and the creative industries.

Our English alumni

Career opportunities

  • Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Arts Administration
  • Civil and Diplomatic Services
  • Film, Radio, Social Media, Television, and Theatre
  • Journalism and Broadcasting
  • Law
  • Librarianship
  • Member of Parliament
  • Postgraduate study
  • Publishing
  • Teaching

Transferable skills

  • Ability to analyse and compare complex texts
  • Communication and teamwork skills
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Data interpretation
  • Experience of researching and debating challenging topics
  • Independent study skills
  • Logic and rhetoric
  • Proficiency in presenting findings cogently and persuasively using information technology
"While at York I learned to read fast while absorbing key details and to express myself clearly. I learned to listen and to be generous when sharing ideas. I gained confidence and developed a more independent way of thinking."
Sarah Ward-Lilley
Head of International Bureaux, BBC News

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

All applications must be made through UCAS.

Normally, only mature candidates and those with special circumstances and/or qualifications will have an interview. Interviews will usually be a half-hour conversation about your literary interests. We’ll also ask you to bring along some of your recent essays.

A-levels and GCSEs

  • AAA or A*AB with a minimum A in English.
  • We’ll ask for an A grade in English Literature (English Language and Literature is also acceptable).
  • We won’t accept General Studies or Critical Thinking.

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

  • AAAAA at Higher level.
  • AA at Advanced Higher level, including A in English.

Cambridge Pre-U
D3, D3, D3, including D3 in English.

Access to HE

  • 30 credits from units awarded Distinction.
  • 15 from units awarded Merit or higher.

International options

International Baccalaureate
36 points, with 6 in all Higher level subjects, including English.

Irish Leaving Certificate
H1 (English) H2, H2, H2, H2, H3

European Baccalaureate
85 overall, with 85 in English.

English language

Our English language requirements for international applicants can be found on our Entry Requirements page.

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions