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BA (Hons) English

Discover a world of literature at York

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

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

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£16,620 per year (2018/19)

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A BA in English at York will give you a vivid understanding of the richness of English literature and its relationship to other literatures and cultures.

You will be taught in small groups by experts in their field, encountering 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.

QS ranks the Department of English and Related Literature in the top 25 in the world. QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 - English Language & Literature.

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

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.

Writing is embedded in each year’s curriculum, helping you to discover and refine your own critical and creative voice.

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.

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. 

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: Writing Modernity (Autumn)
Approaches to Literature II: Other Worlds (Spring)

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: Classics and Cultural Translations (Autumn)
A World of Literature II: Empire and Aftermaths (Spring)

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

Topic Modules

Choose two of these highly interactive modules from a diverse list.

Key Concepts: An Introduction to Genre, Theory, and Writing

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.

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:

Intermediate Option Modules

Choose three from:

  • The Shock of the New: Medieval Literature*
  • The Renaissance*
  • Inventing Britain, 1700-1830*
  • Victorians: British Literature, 1837-1901
  • Age of Extremes: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
  • American Literature: From the First World War to the End of Empire

*You must take at least two of the three asterisked modules.

World Literature Modules

Choose one of a range of modules introducing you to another literature and culture, either in the original language or in translation.

Topic Modules

Choose one of our highly interactive Topic Modules.

Critical Practice

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 analysis) will prepare you for advanced-level modules in Year 3.

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.

Advanced 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 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.

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.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £16,620

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 offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

The Department offers an Annual Overseas Bursary of £1,000. 

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

“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 work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. 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.
  • We organise many guest lectures and readings by well-known literary figures.
  • 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.

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 1200 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.

Course location

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.

"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 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.

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
Head of International Bureaux, BBC News

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
A levels
  • 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.
Access to Higher Education Diploma 39 credits from units awarded Distinction. 6 credits from units awarded Merit or higher.
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, D3, including D3 in English.
European Baccalaureate 85 overall, with 85 in English.
International Baccalaureate 36 points, with 6 in all Higher level subjects, including English.
Irish leaving Certificate H1 (English) H2, H2, H2, H2, H3
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AAAAA at Higher level. AA at Advanced Higher level, including A in English.
Other qualifications




English language

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


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

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.

Next steps

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Department of English and Related Literature

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