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English Literature - BA (Hons)

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Our BA(Hons) English Literature course guides you on an adventure through many of the most important works of literature in English, from ancient classics and Shakespeare’s plays, to Romantic poetry, Gothic tales and Victorian novels, to modern and contemporary writing....

  • Level Undergraduate
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of English
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

This course is:

Available with Professional Placement year

Open to International Students


[00:00:01] Speaker 1 My name is Tia Cullis and I'm a third year English Literature student. If you're thinking of studying English, BCU is the place for you, and that's why my story starts here. English literature was always the thing I was going to choose to do at uni. At the open day of the talks that we had, the information that we got given really made me understand that this was what I wanted to do. My highlight has probably been the modules that I got to take and how they have really influenced and shaped who I am as a person. I took a module that was about work placements, so I got to go the Black Country Living Museum and from there in that placement, it stemmed this kind of love in me for the marketing and from the it's made me realise that that's what I want to do as a career.

[00:00:46] Speaker 2 I'm Ian Taylor, I'm in my first year of my Creative Writing degree. I sort of went from the rural countryside to Birmingham, just this massive new place. I want to tell stories that make sure that the reader knows that they're allowed to love themselves, even if they feel no one else does. And I think a creative writing degree is just going to help that. I believe in the concept of having your own sort of people, and I think by coming to BCU, I've definitely found that I've met so many people that also like reading, that also like doing the things I like doing. You can't get really much better than that when it comes to making connections.

[00:01:22] Speaker 3 My name is Kseniia Yakutina, I'm doing Foundation Year and I'm studying English and Journalism. Before in Ukraine, I lived in a small town and because Birmingham is big, there's lots to see and do, lots of opportunities, lots of new and interesting people. After the invasion of Russia in 2014, there was a programme they opened to give some opportunities for children and I won a scholarship to come to England. And from there my English journey started. I really wanted to have the skill and know what am I doing, how to write and how to do it professionally. I really liked how the programme is built because they do really relevant modules. They have like literature, linguistics and also some of journalism. And it's, it's super interesting for me.

Our BA(Hons) English Literature course guides you on an adventure through many of the most important works of literature in English, from ancient classics and Shakespeare’s plays, to Romantic poetry, Gothic tales and Victorian novels, to modern and contemporary writing. The course offers both breadth and depth through survey modules that introduce you to the changes in literature over different periods, and themed modules that dive into how authors handle environments, gender, sexuality, and race. You will study the making and meanings of interesting narratives and poetics, and learn how to develop and express your own informed views. We embrace a range of perspectives available to literary studies, including history, philosophy, film, sociology, cultural studies, and psychology, to enrich our students’ insights and abilities.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

At the heart of our English courses is a shared interest in words and stories, and an appreciation of the real difference they make in the world. Taught by world-leading academics in a friendly, supportive learning community, you will explore the power of language and literature in ways that matter today and to you.

Alongside core modules in literature, flexibility and diversity of choice are built into our inclusive course for you to shape your degree according to your interests, strengths, and career goals. You can study and practice a range of forms, genres, and modes of communication from different historical contexts and theoretical perspectives, across literature, language, creative writing, and drama. Our courses include opportunities for work experience or peer collaboration as standard and culminate in a major project, which allows you to research and write about ideas and questions of your choosing.

English at BCU is a top-20 research department for English Studies and research excellence is central to our taught courses. We focus on the practice and application of subject knowledge and skills to develop graduate readers, thinkers, and writers that excel in criticality, creativity, and communication. As a perceptive critical thinker, you will interpret and assess complex information and situations to form intelligent judgements and solutions. As a creative individual, you will produce new and imaginative texts, and devise interesting, challenging ideas. And, as a proficient, versatile communicator, you will be trained in clear and accurate spoken and written English to professional standards.

Our graduates are characterised by their extensive knowledge and skills in English, and transferrable qualities that are sought-after by employers. These subject-specific and professional skills and attributes are embedded in the course to open a wide range of career paths and employment opportunities, including (but not limited to) education; writing, editing and publishing; advertising and marketing; public relations; and digital content creation.

Professional Placement Year

This course offers an optional professional placement year. This allows you to spend a whole year with an employer, following successful completion of your second year, and is a great way to find out more about your chosen career. Some students even return to the same employers after completing their studies.

If you choose to pursue a placement year, you will need to find a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will be able to draw on the University’s extensive network of local, regional, and national employers, and the support of our Careers teams. If you are able to secure a placement, you can request to be transferred to the placement version of the course.

Please note that fees are payable during your placement year, equivalent to 20% of the total full-time course fee for that year.

The English Literature course is designed in a way that as you progress through each module, the tasks gradually become more and more independent so you don’t even really notice. It has taught me that university should be a place to try out new things and not be afraid to do so. I know for sure that I would not have had the confidence to challenge myself before joining BCU.

Joshua Morgan

Why Choose Us?

  • Top 10 for English graduate prospects (Complete University Guide 2024).
  • You will be taught by world-leading academics and expert practitioners who encourage a community of experimentation, innovation and inclusivity and create an environment in which your learning can flourish.
  • The programme offers multiple opportunities for you to collaborate across disciplines in order to gain new perspectives on the relevance of your study in the wider world.
  • English is a subject highly-prized by employers for the range of transferable skills it develops. Equipped with a strong subject knowledge, you will develop the ability to work as an independent researcher, to communicate effectively in spoken and written forms, to critically evaluate the work of others, and to respond imaginatively to original briefs.
  • English is a global language; its culture has an international reach. Understanding the effects of this and how English has been shaped and reshaped by its engagement with the world at large is a key principle of the programme. You not only have the opportunity to contextualise English in this way as part of the taught programme, but can also apply to undertake part of your studies abroad at one of our exchange partner universities.
  • Our teaching staff are also expert researchers in English Language and Literature. 94% of research in English at BCU was judged to be either world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) in REF2021.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. In the week before the event, we’ll post you an event programme to plan your day and find your way.

Next Open Day: 29 June 2024

Book Now

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2025/26.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

Essential requirements

112 UCAS tariff points

Please note: If you qualify for our BCU Accelerate scheme, you could receive an offer that is two grades below our normal entry requirements. Find out more about BCU Accelerate.

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Personal stationery and study materials (optional)

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £30 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UK students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

Guidance for International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

  • Course choice - Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
  • Career plans - If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
  • Work experience - Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
  • School or college experience - Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
  • Non-accredited skills or achievement - eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Worried about Personal Statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

First Year

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

Second Year

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete 20 credits from the following indicative list of CORE Faculty modules.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Professional Placement Year (optional)

In order to qualify for the Professional Placement Year, a student must successfully complete the following Level 5 module:

Final Year

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 80 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Download course specification

Download now

How you will learn

Your learning will be through a mixture of lectures, practical workshops and seminars. Your course also provides an opportunity to undertake work-based learning through a placement. We embed flexible opportunities for you to access your curriculum including recorded lectures, blended learning, on-campus delivery and intensive delivery of some modules. We recognise that students progress to higher education from a variety of educational experiences and that university is a completely new educational environment for most of you. For that reason, you will find that in your first year with us there is a focus on supporting your transition which places an emphasis on developing both the confidence and the competencies required for being successful at your university assignments. Where appropriate, we will bring in external speakers or arrange visits relevant to your specialism. These may be from industry or be focused on a particular specialist academic interest. We have excellent links with industry, community and scholarly partners which we draw on to enhance your learning experience.

How you will be assessed

All our assessments are designed to ensure that you meet the learning outcomes of your modules and thus of the course overall. Assessment types may include written research reports, essays, case studies, practical work, portfolios and presentations. There is one exam, taken online, in an optional module in the second year of your course. You will be assessed as an individual but there may be times when you will be asked to work within teams and submit assessments as groups. All modules offer chances for formative assessment, that is, informal assessments that are used to assess your understanding before the final submission of your work. Formative assessments also help inform the teaching strategy within a module, identifying areas where we can offer extra help and guidance. We will offer tutorials and a chance for you to discuss your draft assessments before you submit them. Once marked, we will give formal feedback and ‘feed forward’ on all work submitted, aimed at helping you improve future submissions.

Teaching and learning activities

Teaching and learning activities may include lectures, seminars, workshops, field trips and guided independent study. You will also have access to a wide range of extracurricular opportunities, including seminars by prestigious guest speakers and published authors and a programme of scholarly and creative events. Online facilities, such as the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle, are used to guide, support and enhance your learning experience.

You will benefit from tutorial support and spoken or written feedback on your learning and preliminary work to help you in preparing for and reflecting on your assignments. A wide range of assessment methods are used in the programme, including essays, presentations, exhibitions, conferences and creative portfolios, giving you the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills.

Example - Philip K Dick Day

The conference in April featured four panels with topics including Philip K Dick and psychology, visual media, creative constructions and recitations, as well as a discussion on The Man in the High Castle, chaired by Professor John Goodridge and students from the School’s Science Fiction module.

The keynote speaker was Italian scholar Umberto Rossi who delivered a paper entitled ‘Vinyl and Tapes: P.K. Dick and the Reproduction of Sound’. This one-day conference explored evolving conceptions of culture and the countercultural through the lens of the life and works of Philip K Dick, a countercultural figure who appears to be in danger of recuperation into the mainstream. 


The School maintains close links with cultural institutions such as the Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI) and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) and works with agencies such as Writing West Midlands.

Trips and Visits

Our BA (Hons) English Literature students enhance their learning through a series of trips and visits. In recent years, students on this course have visited the Birmingham and Midland Institute to explore the city’s Victorian heritage and Horace Walpole’s 18th century Gothic Strawberry Hill House and Gardens in West London.

Learn from industry experts

The school regularly organises talks and visits that will provide you with the chance to learn from industry experts with guest masterclasses and visiting authors.

Novelist Jim Crace delivered a series of workshops with students, giving feedback on their work and an insight into the world of professional writing and the publishing industry. Student Nabiyah Saddique said: "It was beneficial to students like me who want to write and be an author by career, to see how his experiences have shaped him and how he has created such beautiful pieces of work from these experiences."

Jim also enjoyed the chance to work with the students: "Everybody tried their hands at pitching an idea, writing the opening paragraphs of a novel, and line editing. It was testing and daunting but nobody fell short. The level of commitment and ability was astounding. London publishers should be beating a path to the School of English; it houses writing talent in abundance."

View more examples of student work


Enhancing Employability skills

Employability is embedded across our programme, from sector- and industry-specific skills in creative writing, drama, linguistics and literature, through to transferable skills that hold real value regardless of your employment direction, including literacy and numeracy, time management and organisation, oral and written communication, team work, initiative and enterprise, creative and analytical thinking, self-direction and discipline, independence, information gathering and interpersonal skills.

You will have multiple opportunities to engage in problem solving and problem-based learning, particularly through individual assessments and collaborative practice modules, and to reflect on your own career development needs through participating in the Graduate+ scheme and other employability schemes over the course of your degree. 


The School is committed to developing strong links with employers in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Several language and Creative Writing modules have explicit employer and industry engagement, where you work in collaboration with employer and external partners over the course of the semester and are encouraged to adopt industry-standard practices to facilitate connections and links independently with external partners.

In the case of the Work Placement module, you will have the opportunity to develop skills and abilities in a sector-specific context, while ensuring that academic aims and objectives are met as part of your wider learning journey.

Links to Industry

We regularly seek out opportunities to build further links with partner organisations in the region, including Creative Black Country, Birmingham Literary Festival, Birmingham Museums Trust (including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery), Black Country Museum Trust, Arvon Creative Writing Foundation, Flatpack Film Festival, West Midlands Screenwriters' Forum, and other Schools within the University, in addition to publishers, charities, third sector organisations, and more, in Birmingham and beyond.


Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities & Staff

Curzon with Millennium Point and Parkside

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of over £400 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

You will study at both the home of the School of English in Millennium Point, and at our £63 million development the Curzon Building, located on our City Centre campus in the vibrant second city that is Birmingham.

Discover your bright and open learning spaces, your 24 hour (during term time) library, drama, media and radio studios, along with state of the art lecture theatres, and a variety of sociable break-out areas, all adding to your unique learning experience.

Our staff

Dr Joseph Anderton

Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature

Joseph Anderton writes and teaches on modern and contemporary literature, particularly in relation to dehumanisation; animals and the environment; homelessness; and literary ethics. He is author of Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure after the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016), which considers conceptions of the ‘creature’ and ‘creaturely life’ as...

More about Joseph

Professor Islam Issa

Professor of Literature and History

Islam Issa is a multi-award-winning author, broadcaster, and curator. A literary critic and historian, his work focuses on the reception of early modern English literature in global contexts, particularly Shakespeare and Milton, and the cultural history of the Middle East. Islam teaches across all periods and genres of...

More about Islam

Dr Gemma Moss

Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Before joining BCU, Gemma taught at the University of Salford and the University of Manchester, where she completed an MA in Postcolonial Literature and an AHRC-funded PhD. Gemma is author of Modernism, Music and the Politics of Aesthetics (Edinburgh University Press, 2021). She is currently editing E. M. Forster’s first novel, Where Angels Fear to...

More about Gemma

Dr Serena Trowbridge

Reader in Victorian Literature

Dr Serena Trowbridge read English and Art History at King's College London, followed by an MA in textual studies at the University of Birmingham. Her PhD, entitled 'Christina Rossetti's Fractured Gothic', was completed at Birmingham City University in 2010, supervised by Professor Fiona Robertson. Her monograph Christina...

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Dr Anthony Howe

Reader in English Literature and MA English Literature Course Director

Dr Anthony Howe is Reader in English Literature and Associate Director of Research in the School of English at Birmingham City University. Originally from the North East of England, he studied at Liverpool (BA; MA) before taking a PhD at Cambridge. Prior to his current post he taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. He is a Senior...

More about Anthony