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BA (Hons) English

Discover a world of literature at York

Year of entry: 2020

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

A*AB-AAA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fees

£17,890 per year (2020/21)

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English and Related Literature at York is unlike any other English degree. We have a unique approach to what literature is and does, how we read it, how we write about it and even how we make it. 

At York, you will be at the forefront of literary study. Our modules are designed and taught by world experts working at the cutting-edge of literary study.

We offer a breathtaking choice of modules with an unsurpassed geographical and linguistic range, giving you the freedom to tailor your degree to your interests with the support of friendly and accessible tutors. With period coverage extending from Greek and Latin classics to literature being published right now, there’s something for everyone, including creative writing, drama, film, and the chance to get your hands dirty in our printing studio.

No discipline equips its students better to understand and interpret a wide range of texts or to form articulate and persuasive responses to a range of challenges. Our graduates go on to careers in all sorts of fields, even areas that traditionally haven’t recruited among Arts and Humanities graduates.

An English graduate’s creativity, passion, and ability to adapt – along with outstanding presentation, language, and reasoning skills – are what employers look for. Join us at York to discover a world of literature.

Highly ranked

2nd in the UK for English
Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

5th in the UK for English
Complete University Guide 2020

8th in the UK for English
Guardian University Guide 2020

English at York is fantastic! I have had the opportunity to cover a broad range of modules that have introduced me to literature of different periods and exciting theoretical debates. I have particularly valued the flexibility of the course; an array of special modules are available, and I have been able to tailor each term with options to suit my developing interests.
Loretta, BA English

Course content

York’s English degree offers exceptional flexibility and choice. We provide a comprehensive overview of literary history and criticism while also encouraging you to explore the subjects that you are most passionate about.

You will get the chance to examine literature from the ancient classics to the present, and from the United Kingdom and beyond. You’ll also study non-English texts, in the original language or in translation.

Writing is embedded in each year’s curriculum, helping you to discover and refine your own critical and creative voice. We have a strong commitment to the Creative Industries, offering option modules on creative writing and writing in the marketplace.

In total, you’ll take 18 modules from a long list of possible choices, and you’ll write a dissertation in your third year.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

Year 1

Core modules

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:

Get a feel for the shape of literary history by studying works from the medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic, and modern periods in these interlinked modules.

These cross-period modules explore a range of responses to ancient literary texts and literature from around the world in these interlinked 20-credit modules.

This year-long foundation module provides you with important critical and methodological contexts for the study of literature. You will develop strategies for essay writing, engaging with criticism and critical theory, and revising work to improve its fluency and persuasiveness, as part of the Department’s innovative Writing at York provision.

Option modules

Choose two of these exciting, hands-on, tightly focused modules that act as an important pivot point between the research skills developed throughout the year and practical skills that will make you more employable after your degree.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

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:

Core module

A year-long intermediate module that explores the history and theory of literary criticism. Building on the skills you acquired in first year, assignments on different media and in different forms (eg book reviews, magazine articles, scene analyses) will prepare you for advanced-level modules in Year 3.

Option modules

Choose two from:

and a further one from:

You'll also choose one World Literature module and one Topic module.

Choose one of a range of modules introducing you to another literature and culture, either in the original language or in translation. The choice is yours, and will be governed by your experience and interests.

Choose another one of our highly interactive Topic Modules as in Year 1.

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.

Option modules

Choose four modules 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 creative writing, drama, fiction, film, and poetry. Here, you can shape your final year based on your own interests—whether honing in on the work of a single writer or exploring a new field of study. You can typically expect to choose from around 25 options.


The degree culminates in the dissertation (40 credits); an in-depth exploration of 7,000-8,000 words on a topic of your choice. Research lectures and writing labs support the one-to-one supervision you will receive from a member of staff. This year-long capstone project is a wonderful opportunity to display your skills in detailed research, elegant writing, and rigorous argument.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Read diverse texts closely and critically, and interpret them with reference to the period and tradition in which they were produced. 
  • Analyse the affective power of language and narrative, and their cultural and political impact, and use this awareness to better understand the world and influence others. 
  • Operate in complex multicultural contexts and display an informed awareness of cultural diversity, gained through situating English literature in relation to different varieties of English and/or texts written in other European and world languages. 
  • Exercise independent thought and judgement and develop well-structured, evidence-based arguments by interrogating their own assumptions and those of others, through self-reflection, peer review, and advice and feedback. 
  • Initiate, manage, and complete original projects of their own, producing both individually formulated essay topics and a dissertation, as well as researching materials from a range of sources, primary and secondary, archival and digital. 
  • Write clearly, accurately, and persuasively to a deadline and to a professional standard, conveying complex ideas in an accessible way to expert and lay audiences. 
  • Engage in critical discussion and debate and demonstrate advanced oral communication skills, developed in small-group seminars and collaborative group projects.

Lively intellectual culture

We partner with the York Festival of Ideas, the annual York Literature Festival, and the biennial York International Shakespeare Festival. Our hugely successful Writers at York series brings in a stellar cast of world-famous contemporary writers throughout the year and we host a Writer-in-Residence every Summer term.

Excellent employment prospects

88% of York English graduates were in graduate-level work or further study within six months of graduation, the highest percentage of any English department in the Russell Group.

Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2016/17 (HESA) (Full-time UK students)

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,890

Additional costs

You'll need copies of the texts set for each module. Where possible, the Department works to arrange digital copies via the University Library. Where this is not practical, you'll be instructed in advance of the start of each term about the texts and editions you'll need to purchase (whether new or second-hand).

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2020/21 throughout the year.

The Department of English and Related Literature offers a number of scholarships and bursaries for Home/EU and International students:

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

At York we engage with and argue with (and against!) academics who are considered the experts in their own field. This all sounds very intellectually grandiose but what I most appreciate is how incredibly nice they are – as teachers (in seminars), as colleagues (on the Board of Studies), and as people (in pubs!).
Gan, BA English
Teaching Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

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 typically expect eight contact hours per week - and sometimes more. There are also many opportunities for informal contact.

  • Our cutting-edge research informs all our teaching activities.
  • Our friendly, approachable, and accessible staff are world-leading experts in their fields. They are each available to meet individually with you during two weekly open office hours.
  • Our unique writing provision, designed and taught by specialist tutors, forms a practical spine for the degree, preparing you to communicate clearly and confidently on a rich variety of topics and to any audience.
  • We organise many guest lectures, readings, and workshops by well-known literary figures.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars233.5 hours225.5 hours120.5 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2017/18.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent in independent study. This will include guided preparation for seminars and lectures. We recommend that students spend at least six hours in preparation for a two-hour seminar and at least two hours in preparation for a one-hour lecture, as well as at least one further hour of revision and consolidation after each teaching session. You will also devote time to wider reading; complete ‘formative’ assessments (practice essays and short exercises); write essays and revise for exams; and take advantage of opportunities for informal contact, including one-to- one consultations, workshops, guest lectures, and readings.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1,200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of English and Related Literature, on Campus West.

Your contact hours will be divided between Derwent College, the Spring Lane Teaching Building and other locations nearby on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

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 you to meet with staff to discuss your written work.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams17%21%0%
Practical exams17%8%0%

The figures above are based on data from 2017/18.

A 19th-century Columbian iron press in our very own York Print Studio.

Careers and skills

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. The Department has a dedicated Careers Officer, which means you will get specialised advice and support throughout the three years of your degree.

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
  • Capacity to write clearly and fluently for a variety of audiences
  • 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, BA English
Head of International Bureaux, BBC News

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

AAA/A*AB including an A in English (English Language and Literature is also acceptable)

Access to Higher Education Diploma 39 credits at Distinction, including at least 9 credits in Literature-related units, and 6 credits at Merit or higher
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, D3 including English.
European Baccalaureate 85 overall, with 85 in English.
International Baccalaureate 36 points, with 6 in all Higher level subjects, including English.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 51 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 162 each component
TOEFL 87 overall, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking, 17 in Writing
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

We look for intellectual and literary curiosity, open-mindedness, and analytical ability.

We encourage mature students to email the Admissions Tutor for consultation and advice.

At the University of York, we are committed to providing the support our students need to achieve their full potential and have an exceptional, transformational experience. The York Access Scheme offers help to those faced with social, personal or educational challenges which have affected their performance in education. We also offer support for care leavers.

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