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English Literature with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

Our BA (Hons) English Literature degree course with a foundation year will support you in developing your critical faculties, instilling in you the power and responsibility of informed reading and analysis, whilst deepening your appreciation for literature. You will develop your writing, close-reading and research skills and learn to express your arguments coherently and persuasively....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  


Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

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


Our BA (Hons) English Literature degree course with a foundation year will support you in developing your critical faculties, instilling in you the power and responsibility of informed reading and analysis, whilst deepening your appreciation for literature.

You will develop your writing, close-reading and research skills and learn to express your arguments coherently and persuasively. In the School of English, you will be taught by respected academics and practitioners offering a diverse range of modules. 

You will study literature from all of the major periods, movements and genres. You will also have the opportunity to study cinema, art and philosophy. Your degree will allow you to tailor your studies to your individual interests and career aspirations with both a local and global outlook. 

About Foundation Courses

This diverse and creative course incorporating a Foundation Year is a must for anyone passionate about English, whether that be language, literature, drama or creative writing. 

As part of the foundation year you will develop essential skills and knowledge which will help you succeed in your future degree level studies and which will be transferable to your future career. 

You will study a variety of subjects, including language and literature, drama and creative writing, and will learn how these different aspects of English study interact with one another. 

Alongside this you will develop core skills in research, critical analysis, planning and evaluation, creativity and effective communication. Understanding how English is studied in context, developing that knowledge and applying it through a range of assignments and assessments, will provide you with a strong foundation upon which to progress to degree-level study at the School of English.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

English as a discipline continues to be relevant to the lives we lead and is central to a wide range of contemporary and social contexts. It is this basis on which the School has built its philosophy and approach to English as a subject, which has interdisciplinary reach beyond its own boundaries. 

Understanding how language works in practice, engaging with multiple forms of communication, examining how language and literature engage with societies and cultures past and present, and the place of English in a global context, are all vital aspects in understanding how the discipline connects with the wider world, enabling you to focus on the production, interpretation and negotiation of meaning and to understand the world from a variety of perspectives. 

You will benefit from student-focused and research-informed teaching in a friendly and supportive learning environment where you will be taught by respected academics and expert practitioners who encourage a community of experimentation, innovation and inclusivity. 

Our graduates are characterised by their extensive subject knowledge, critical thinking and intellectual curiosity, reflected in the skills and abilities that enables them to adapt to a wide range of career paths and employment opportunities. 

The School contributes to the cultural life of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands by: working closely with partner colleges and schools; maintaining close links with cultural institutions such as the Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI) and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG); and working with agencies such as Writing West Midlands. The aim is to provide opportunities for the community to engage with the discipline and the University.

Why Choose Us?

  • 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 will not only have the opportunity to contextualise English in this way as part of the taught programme but also to take advantage of the study abroad semester offered through the Erasmus scheme in your second year.

BA English Literature Overview

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

80 UCAS tariff points.

  • GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above
  • Equivalent level 2 qualifications can be accepted, e.g Functional Skills Level 2 in English, City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Adult Literacy or Key Skills Level 2 in Communication
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment

Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level)

See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details

Scottish National 5

  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment


Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • CDD / 80 UCAS points
  • Must include English Language or Literature A-Level
  • In lieu of English Language or Literature A Level, subjects that include an element of essay writing will be considered as an alternative, i.e History, Religious Education, The Sciences, Philosophy, Film Studies, Communication Studies & Creative Writing all include a component of this. Applicants will be required to submit a satisfactory essay set by the department.
  • For the English and Drama course we will consider A Level in Performing Arts, Drama or Theatre Studies in lieu of English. Applicants will be required to submit a satisfactory essay set by the department.
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.


  • Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 80 pts
  • Must include English Language or Literature A-Level
  • In lieu of English Language or Literature A Level, subjects that include an element of essay writing will be considered as an alternative, i.e History, Religious Education, The Sciences, Philosophy, Film Studies, Communication Studies & Creative Writing all include a component of this. Applicants will be required to submit a satisfactory essay set by the department.
  • For the English and Drama course we will consider A Level in Performing Arts, Drama or Theatre Studies in lieu of English. Applicants will be required to submit a satisfactory essay set by the department.
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.

Access to HE Diploma

  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3 in an English related area.
  • Language, Literature and Culture subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • Applicants may be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English.
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
  • MMP
  • Applicants will be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English unless you are already holding or are working towards an A-Level in English.

IBO Certificate in Higher Level

  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 11 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects, must include English Language or Literature at Higher Level
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 80 UCAS Tariff Points
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • Applicants may be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall, must include English Language or Literature at Higher Level
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • Applicants may be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English.

Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)

Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language taken at Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) and Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma

  • MMP
  • Applicants will be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English unless you are already holding or are working towards an A-Level in English.

Scottish Advanced Higher

  • Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).
  • Must include English Language or Literature or combined Language and Literature subject
  • Applicants may be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English.


  • Merit overall
  • Applicants may be requested to complete an essay set by the department if subject doesn't contain any English.
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
Additional information for EU/International students

Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.

In addition to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.

EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements

Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.

If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.


Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 4 years
  • £13,500 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

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.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

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
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Portfolio Guidance

You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.

Course in Depth

Foundation year

During your foundation year you will be taught in small classes where active participation is part of the teaching methodology.

Your study will involve reading and analysis, discussion and debate, and practical activities which allow you to test and implement your skills and knowledge. In addition to attending classes you will be required to complete preparation and follow-up tasks and activities to support your learning.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

This module builds upon the knowledge gained in the Language and Texts module. In Language and Creativity you will use your knowledge of linguistic theory to produce your own texts across a range of forms and genres. You will consider topics including persuasive language, metaphor and parody, as well as humour, puns and other wordplay. You will also explore language change over time: how new words are formed and how existing words develop new meanings. You will study and create literary texts as well as non-literary texts, such as advertisements, political speeches, newspaper headlines, comedy sketches, song lyrics, graffiti and memes.

This module is designed as a gentle introduction to English Language study. Instead of looking at abstract theories about language rules, you will learn through the close analysis of real texts. These will include literary texts such as novels and non-literary texts such as newspaper articles, advertising and social media. We adopt a broad definition of ‘text’ which also includes multimedia texts like videos and memes. You will examine these texts in terms of their structure, the words used within them, and their impact on the reader (introducing you to the linguistic concepts of lexis, semantics, syntax, grammar and pragmatics). In doing this you will develop core skills in data collection and analysis, and in summarising and evaluating key findings.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to identify and discuss examples of literature which are drawn from different cultural contexts. You will study a range of texts which will provide you with a broad knowledge of the relationship between literature and culture and you will identify and discuss the ways in which literary form has been adapted and appropriated to accommodate different cultural contexts and the retelling of canonical tales. You will do this by studying a range of paired texts which offer contrasting and often competing viewpoints and which reflect upon both literature’s place within the world and its power to shape the world.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to identify and discuss specific examples of literature as part of major literary movements within a specific historical context. You will study a range of texts which will provide you with a broad knowledge of how they respond to their own time period and to literary movements specific to that age. As you will study literature from different time periods you will also be able to draw connections between different literary movements and discuss their relationship to one another. You will also focus on different literary genres, for example plays, novels, poems and nonfiction, and be able to identify their specific formal features and discuss their creative use.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to identify appropriate research methods and material for the study of English. You will learn how to select research material, discriminate between sources, evaluate their relevance and summarise and explain key ideas. You will do this by developing skills which are integral to the study of English at university-level, such as close reading, critical analysis and data compilation and evaluation.

This module will develop the research skills acquired in the semester 1 module ‘Researching in English’ by focusing on the practical application of your knowledge and ideas through the production of a series of formative pieces of academic writing, which will culminate in the submission of a longer length piece of written work. You will develop core subject skills in the effective communication of ideas and will progress from writing about concrete objects to discussing abstract ideas. To do this you will focus on integral steps such as planning and ordering ideas, prioritising points, developing ideas, relating points to evidence and formulating and communicating clear arguments. You will also develop your knowledge of scholarly conventions and matters of presentation.

Year one

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

This module introduces you to various aspects of literature and drama. We will examine a range of important concepts to the study of literature and drama, including authorship, form, genre, intertextuality, as well as various historical contexts. To develop skills in analysing drama, we will study the principles of dramaturgy and engage in practical explorations of a range of plays.

This module will introduce you to some of the key topics in contemporary linguistics and language studies, such as pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics. You will learn to apply linguistic concepts and terminology to real-life examples of spoken and written language in use. You will study a wide range of analytical frameworks which will deepen your understanding of the structural characteristics of English, and will be introduced to the role language plays in other areas of English studies and the humanities. The module will help you develop your skills in critical thinking, in analysing different forms of data, in identifying and synthesising information from a variety of sources, and in presenting your findings in a coherent and well-organised way

In this module, you will develop a rigorous and inventive writing practice by experimenting with different ways of gathering source material and generating new writing, and then with shaping and crafting that writing in prose and in poetry. You will also develop strategies for building a sustainable writing practice, reflecting on what helps and hinders you in regularly making new work. You will explore the tenet that creative writing does not emerge solely from abstract ideas and the blank page, but from a regular writing practice that engages imaginatively and playfully with stimuli and constraint.

This module seeks to engage you with a focused analysis of poetry, drama, the novella and the novel as specific forms and to equip you with the scholarly tools used to investigate them. We will examine a range of genres and periods, exploring the concept of conflict from war and revolution to social class and gender, as well as at a psychological level. Conflict creates dramatic interest in narrative, but many forms of criticism assume that conflict should ideally be resolved. We will query this and consider how more overtly ideological criticism might explore the contradictions within a text and disclose what the text itself cannot say. This may lead to questioning of conflict, resolution and even how a historical understanding of conflict is important in our contemporary world.

This module will introduce you to how theoretical texts and literary criticism can improve the tools with which we carry out close reading. Each week we will read a theoretical text that covers a different concept and learn how to apply that knowledge to literary writing. You will develop the skills to close read and analyse both primary texts (literature) and secondary texts (criticism and theory). This module will help you to critically reflect on both types of text, as well as on what we bring to a text when we read it, and to pay careful attention to literary form, style, and genre.

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

This module will introduce you to a number of advanced topics in contemporary linguistics and language studies, such as phonetics, grammar, and corpus linguistics. You will expand your knowledge of linguistic concepts and terminology and develop your ability to apply this knowledge in the analysis of real-life examples of spoken and written language in use. You will be introduced to the phonetic and grammatical characteristics of English and you will analyse these phenomena in context. The module will help you develop your skills in critical thinking, in analysing different forms of data, in identifying and synthesising information from a variety of sources, and in presenting your findings in a coherent and well-organised way.

In this module, you will explore key elements of effective writing, such as character, setting, action and dialogue, and the techniques used to create and control style on the page, such as showing and telling, detail and description, imagery and viewpoint. You will examine each element or technique in a given text and then apply what you have learned in your own writing. Each lecture and workshop will inform a different element of your writing technique, feeding into three new pieces of writing to be submitted for assessment at the end of the semester. This module provides a strong foundation for further study and practice in creative writing in years 2 and 3.

This module focuses on a period of theatre history characterised by formal innovation and revolutionary ideas. You will learn about the intersection between notions of ‘modernity’ and dramaturgical styles associated with ‘modernism’. You will engage with the artistic movements that developed in Europe from the late nineteenth century and identify key playwrights and practitioners that brought significant changes to the stage, on the continent and in Britain. You will examine seminal works from this era, both as written texts and in performance, concluding the process with your own practical interpretation of a chosen play, which will be informed by historical and critical research.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year two

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

This module examines different forms of writing that engage critically and creatively with ‘nature’ and the ‘environment’. This module will enhance your understanding of reading and writing as practices through which people develop and debate their understanding of the world, and the place of people within it.

This module introduces you to some of the principal works of one of the most dynamic and exhilarating periods in English literature, the cultural legacy of which has influenced the creative arts and the history of ideas ever since. The texts studied on this module raise profound and lasting questions, and you should approach them in a spirit of adventure and enquiry. Can literature act as an agent of revolution? What is the creative imagination? What is liberty? How should we conceive of the natural world? What is the significance of feeling and empathy? What is the relationship between language, society and authority? What do we mean by ‘Romanticism’? Of what is humankind capable? As such, the module also requires you to think about the relationship between literature and history, and how literary texts in any era respond both to the present and the past. Authors and their works are examined in their social, political and economic context, as well as the intellectual, religious and spiritual traditions in which they participate.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 60 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.

The ability to work collaboratively in a team is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries. This module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create a group project with students from complementary disciplines.

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.

This module explores two concepts central to our understanding of what makes us ‘modern’: gender and sexuality. We will challenge ‘common sense’ understandings of gender and sexuality by interrogating cultural identities, such as queer, heterosexual, homosexual, gay, lesbian, straight and trans. It will introduce you to gender studies and sexuality studies as theoretical, social, cultural, political and historical fields of investigation. There will be a broadly chronological approach to texts and theoretical approaches, moving between examples of twentieth-century fiction, popular culture and theory. You will be given an introduction to literature, culture, and theory as a dynamic field in which issues of gender and sexuality are debated and explored. We will begin by considering where studies of gender and sexuality stood at the start of the twentieth century, and then consider how a number of literary and theoretical texts explore and investigate gender and sexuality. Through these texts we will consider topics such as desire, identity, sexual classification, repression and liberation, the body, transgression, and normality and deviance.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate the representation and function of the child and childhood in both literature for the child and that for an adult audience. You will study a range of texts which will provide you with a broad historical knowledge of the changing role and function of the child in literature and which you will read alongside sociological, philosophical or educational treatise on childhood. In doing so you will gain a broad historical knowledge of the development of ‘theories of childhood’ from the eighteenth century to the present day and examine how these are engaged with in the literature of the day. You will be able to identify and evaluate how literature has conversely figured childhood as a space of discipline, regulation, play, innocence, higher moral purity, and lived social experience. You will be able to apply these ideas to theoretically informed, critically evaluative readings of a range of texts.

This module covers the poetry and prose of the Victorian period, through which you will learn about the formal properties and trends of literature of the period and the innovations which arose, as well as the historical context including social change, gender roles and religion. You will be encouraged to read widely, and to look backwards and forwards through literary history to enable you to situate the literature of the period in context. There will be a strong emphasis on the close reading of texts and on the importance of research and reading relevant works of criticism; you will be encouraged to develop your research and writing skills and to work independently, which will support your work across this and other modules. We'll also think about Victorian culture and how this remains an important determining factor within modern society.

Multicultural Writing focuses on the history of British multiculturalism in literature and criticism from the 1950s up to the present day. Exploring a range of Black, Asian and other multicultural writing, you will develop a critical awareness of how literature and criticism deal with questions of racism, stereotyping, colonial discourse, cultural hybridity, migration and asylum. The overall aim of the module is to develop your aesthetic, critical and historical awareness that will inform your critical thinking about, and imaginative responses to, contemporary multiculturalism. The module spans a diverse set of literary texts (poems, short stories, novels) produced primarily by ‘minority’ writers in Britain since the post-war era (e.g. Black, Asian and other groups who belong to the less established immigrant groups in Britain today). You will study these texts alongside relevant histories of migration, theories of representation, and critical debates about multiculturalism.

This module will provide you with knowledge of key social, political, religious and theatrical contexts relating to literature from the Early Modern period. You will combine this knowledge with key critical and textual analysis tools that will give you the skills to examine several historical, dramatic and poetic texts from the late fifteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. You will focus on the vital role of the early modern period in the formation and transformation of an English literary canon, and discuss key concepts such as materiality, versionality, collaboration and authorship. To do so, you will develop an ability to read closely and analyse textually the language and the literary techniques and devices of this key period, as well as formative skills in archive management.

This module will introduce you to the different intersections of language and society and outline the ways in which language can vary according to class, gender, and age. You will develop your understanding of how to collect, analyse and present language data and results in an ethically responsible and methodologically sound way. You will also examine how language is used to construct social identities, the role of language in wider contemporary society and how sociolinguistic research can be utilised in a non-academic context. You will develop your skills of visual communication, data analysis and data presentation, alongside a careful understanding of the body of research literature within sociolinguistics and how it informs your own work. This module will ultimately allow you to critically evaluate different approaches to the study of linguistic variation and apply your knowledge in designing a research project to investigate language in society.

This module will teach you the essential skills of, and principles behind, the writing of short films. Although these principles apply primarily to screenwriting for film and television, this module will instead be concerned with the writing of short films. You will study a number of freely available short guides to screenplay layout and formatting and be trained in the practical application of screenplay formatting software. You will write three short scripts, given as fortnightly writing exercises, and receive detailed formative feedback on one of the scripts, which you can use to improve and develop your work for your final portfolio. You will focus on visual storytelling, layout conventions, and the issue of writing to scale (budget). You will also be encouraged to analyse, but also critique, dramatic construction in terms of character function, motivation and genre.

This module introduces writing contemporary poetry. You will learn from the work of a diverse range of contemporary poets, explore the distinctive characteristics of the form, and experiment with techniques involved in writing both set forms and free verse. You will identify, practise and apply elements of craft such as metaphor, imagery, lexical choice, metre and rhyme and be introduced to editing and rewriting. You will share your work-in-progress with other students for constructive criticism, and explore ways of giving effective feedback, as well as reflecting on how to improve your own work. As contemporary poetry is a means of social communication, we will read poems aloud and use Twitter as an educational tool for the publishing of short poems and for engaging with poetry social networks.

The United Kingdom commissions, produces and broadcasts more audio drama – i.e. online, on digital and on radio – than any other country in the world. In this diverse and dynamic medium, writers are able to tell human stories set anywhere in time and space, at a fraction of the cost of television and film production. What’s more – as an old industry saying goes – ‘you see it better on radio’. In this module you will learn how to write compelling audio drama scripts, and engage practically and theoretically with the key principles and techniques involved. You will also be introduced to editorial collaboration, the pitching of projects, and appropriate methods of presentation. Through your workshops, you will learn how to communicate ideas clearly, accurately and effectively both orally and in writing. In devising, developing and writing your own audio drama scripts, you will initiate, manage and complete an independent creative project.

This module will provide you with knowledge and critical understanding of one of the most enduring forms of socially engaged performance: documentary drama. You will study different styles of factbased drama for stage and television, both historical and contemporary, and will be able to identify associated traditions such as ‘tribunal’, ‘verbatim’ and ‘testimonial’ plays; ‘dramadoc’ and ‘docudrama’. You will discuss the balance between fact and fiction in documentary work, the ethical dilemmas and responsibilities involved in creating drama from real-life stories, and the political and artistic value of this type of performance. You will apply this knowledge to the development of your own documentary project, derived from factual material to be compiled, shaped and delivered as a stage performance.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year three

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

This module examines the literature of the long twentieth century, from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Focusing on modernism – the defining artistic movement of the twentieth century – we will analyse a range of literary texts that students will find challenging and rewarding. Central modernist writers who are considered key formal innovators will be discussed, including Joseph Conrad, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence. We will explore how later writers, such as Samuel Beckett, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, J. M. Coetzee, and Tom McCarthy, handle the legacies of the modernist movement, and whether they can be considered postmodern. Students will be encouraged to engage closely with issues of form and style in modernist and postmodern texts. At the same time, we will situate these texts in their historical contexts, considering key themes and categories such as tradition, identity, subjectivity, industrialisation, culture, gender, time, colonialism, imperialism, and technology.

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.

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

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to critically analyse linguistic data and apply the results of the analysis to legal settings, focusing mainly on legal discourse, courtroom discourse, police interviewing, authorship analysis, and plagiarism detection. You will study a wide range of topics which will provide you with a broad understanding of different sub-disciplines of forensic linguistics and language and the law, each with its own methodological approach. You will develop skills necessary for interdisciplinary research at the intersection of linguistics, forensic sciences, legal studies and psychology. You will focus on how to ensure your data is representative, to develop robust methodological approach, and to present your results in a logical way meeting the requirements set by relevant bodies in a range of legal contexts.

This module will introduce you to the main critical debates, concepts, and research approaches in the field of language and gender. You will discuss a variety of key theoretical areas, supported by relevant scholarly research, and you will learn to critically evaluate the role that language plays in gender relations and gender stereotypes. You will carry out independent fieldwork on a topic of your own choice related to language and gender, and you will develop your skills in data collection, analysis, and evaluation. The module makes use of a variety of data sources, including electronic corpora, written, visual and spoken media, questionnaires, and you will learn to apply your knowledge of language and linguistics to investigate and analyse such data. Over the course of the module, you will also acquire a range of skills which will support your long-term personal and professional development, including self direction in problem solving, communication skills (written and verbal), independent critical thought, and effective time management.

The module is based on experimental and experiential techniques allowing you to encounter TEFL teaching methods, as well as improve your knowledge of phonetics and phonology, grammar and vocabulary, syntax and punctuation. The module will equip you with a solid understanding of TEFL approaches alongside a practical skill set for planning lessons and courses, assessing language proficiency, facilitating the learning process, and managing classroom dynamics. The module will help you utilise skills and linguistic knowledge gained during your first two years of study in the applied settings of teaching English as a second/foreign language. You will also draw on literature, drama and creative writing strands of the programme due to the emphasis on the inherent value of cultural and literary experiences in the foreign language acquisition process. You will focus on developing engaging teaching materials for potential learners and practise completing tasks similar to those required as part of the interview selection process for TEFL jobs. Throughout the module, special emphasis will be placed on continuous professional development as well as identifying career options in the UK and abroad. You will be provided with several voluntary opportunities, including providing language support for international students, teaching English classes for international students within the Faculty, or observing commercial classes in Birmingham.

This module introduces you to writing creative nonfiction. You will investigate the nature of creative nonfiction, exploring the distinctive issues it raises for writers in recent published works and in the original writing you produce during the module; these issues include the ethical considerations involved in drawing from real-life subjects as source material, the nature of truth, the role of research, and the interplay between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’.

This module will enable you to build upon your current reading and writing of short films, and to develop your range, technique and sophistication as a contemporary screenwriter, applying your knowledge to the writing of a short film script of 10 minutes in length. You will study a guide to writing short films and build on your practical application of screenplay formatting software. You will write one ‘Academy’ short screenplay of 10 pages, on which you will receive detailed formative feedback, enabling you to rewrite towards your portfolio assessment. You will focus on visual storytelling, layout conventions, the issue of writing to scale (budget) and will work collaboratively on writing, planning, shooting and editing a short film of 3-minutes’ length. While a group mark will be given for the collaborative component of the assessment, your moderator reserves the right to mark individually if it is apparent that individuals have contributed more or less than others.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to create focussed observational writing based on personal interaction with the natural world. You will develop the skills to compose poetry and creative non-fiction based on your own research and observations. You will learn how to make precise scientifically-informed and researched description, creating a balance between observation and evaluation and between the presence of the author-narrator as a character in the text and the otherness of what you are describing. Finding an appropriate language for describing the non-human is often a central concern of contemporary nature writing. At the end of this module, you will be able to situate your own practice as a writer of poetry and prose within contemporary nature writing.

This module is concerned with philosophical aesthetics that is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions about the nature of art and beauty. We will take a historical view of aesthetic theory, beginning with Plato and Aristotle and moving through to twentieth-century thinkers such as Collingwood via Kant and the Romantics. Major forms of aesthetic theory – from the mimetic to the mystical – will be considered with reference to individual works of art. The bias is towards literature, but we will also study painting, sculpture and other visual arts. The first part of the module covers a broad history of ideas (indicated above); the second part focuses on notably ‘philosophical’ works of literature by Shakespeare and Shelley. The idea is to study some works of literature in depth to understand how the various theories might be applied to individual works, and also to think about the limitations of this process.

This module focuses on literature in the gothic tradition from its inception through to the present day. During the module, the development of the gothic form will be traced from its origins through to recent manifestations of the genre. Gothic literature often reflects social and cultural trends as well as providing a space to manifest cultural anxieties, expressing a society’s suppressed desires and fears in an acceptable literary form. Such texts can therefore be read not only as escapist, but as serious texts which seek to express often radical, socially unacceptable or psychologically-submerged ideas. The module will enable you to identify these undercurrents as well as to explore the major themes and aesthetics of the genre. You will be encouraged to interrogate texts with an eye to these issues, including those of gender, race and class, and to contextualise the texts in order to analyse and understand the changing concept of Gothic.

The module explores the relationship between literature and the development of psychological thought in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before the advent of laboratory-based experimental work. Ideas about character formation which inform the literary examination of character in nineteenthcentury poetry and prose will be placed in the context of philosophical and scientific descriptions of mental development during the period. The connections between nineteenth-century psychology and "pseudo-scientific" discourses such as phrenology and mesmerism will also come under scrutiny, as will the close relationship between psychology and Victorian medical discourse.

What if a book was discovered that revealed an advanced alien civilisation? What if humans could merge with machines? What if the world were slowly crystallising around us? What if humanity had all but destroyed itself? The ‘what if’ in these questions signals a moment of hesitation, a gap that opens up between what is and what could be. This is speculation. Speculation is something we all do. It allows us to reimagine the past, recontextualise the present and consider new futures. It can be a liberating but also a destabilising activity because it asks us to question the ways in which we make sense of who we are and the world around us. In this module you will consider how literature can be a vehicle for speculation. You will be able to identify the formal literary techniques and devices used to enable speculation and then apply them to a series of texts from the late twentieth century and twenty-first century to consider how these can help us think about new pasts, new societies, new identities and new futures.

This module will consider a range of primary and critical texts relating to Shakespeare’s canon. In general, you will consider the reasons for Shakespeare’s prominent position in the English canon and in wider popular culture and society. You will focus some attention on Shakespeare’s social context, early modern theatrical settings and conventions, and the language of Shakespeare’s works. You will also consider how Shakespeare’s works operate in performance and film. To do the above, you will examine in detail a selection of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, histories and poems, considering textual aspects meticulously, while relating the texts to wider issues of reception and impact. Emphasis will be placed on using a range of critical interpretative methods when approaching the plays, as well as on utilising digital literacy (such as online archives) in order to develop a knowledge of key research skills required by early modern literary scholars as well as basic archival skills.

With the study of ethics at its heart, this module draws on the wide range of intellectual disciplines which are used to understand and critique both longstanding and current issues with moral and political dimensions. It seeks to foster the capacity for independent thought, critical awareness of other perspectives, and an ability to think through the wider picture. In doing so the module assists in articulating the value of the humanities in a democracy as well as developing an appreciation of the values of citizenship, especially in terms of the challenges and opportunities which globalisation gives rise to. The module will enable you to write about contemporary moral and political issues for an educated general readership in a way that is both serious and engaging. As such, it forms a crucial link between the experience of academic study and its application to a range of graduate careers.

This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate one of the most important works in English literature: Milton’s major epic poem, Paradise Lost. This module focuses extensively on this poem and its various contexts. You will read the entire epic thoroughly in order to enable you to analyse the themes, characters, settings and language of the work. You will develop an understanding of Milton’s political, religious and literary ambitions in relation to his key works. You will also read and discuss some of his non-epic works.

This module allows you to apply your knowledge of existing formal, narratological and historical concepts to the medium of film, and to develop further conceptual frameworks derived from or unique to film. The module will be concerned with the structural and cultural features which can be seen to determine readings of film narrative. Generally, though not exclusively, the module will find its location in the area of popular film. It will take as a starting point the model derived from what David Bordwell calls ‘The Classical Hollywood Cinema’. This will enable you to begin to theorise issues such as Genre and Auteurism as well as the semiotics of film, so that the general formations can be analysed with reference to their subversion by counter-cultural formations. Particular reference will be made to three generic sets: Film Noir, Melodrama and Horror. By referring to these case-studies, you will be encouraged to develop critical/theoretical analyses of films of your choice.

World Literature explores global dimensions of literature and introduces key debates in Comparative and World Literature. You will widen and deepen your knowledge and understanding of literary movements you have studied on previous modules, especially modules focusing on the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. World Literature will provide new insights into how certain literary trends in Britain were pioneered, paralleled or developed overseas whilst also offering you the opportunity to join up major lines of development in global literary history. Exploring a variety of novels from different parts of the world, the module emphasises what is distinct about literatures from specific geographical areas. You will look at how novels considered as part of ‘World Literature’ have developed in formal terms, from nineteenth-century realism to the contemporary cosmopolitan novel. You will develop a global outlook on literature by tracing how realism as a form has been challenged by and renewed in successive ‘moments’ or ‘turns’ of literary history. You will explore the major debates and theories of World Literature through international literary history, comparative literary analysis, looking at themes, and tracing the recurrence of images and motifs.

This module explores ‘The New Phenomenology’ which deals with experiences of the self. We will read Freud’s classic essay on ‘The Uncanny’ and associated materials bringing contemporary philosophy to bear on some literary and film texts. Place and displacement, anxiety, melancholia and unease feature in this work.

This course will provide a practical introduction to Corpus Linguistics (CL) – a field of linguistics that uses computers to investigate and analyse large collections (corpora) of electronically-encoded language data. The course is conducted in a workshop setting and emphasises practical learning, experience and application of important theory, methods, and tools in CL using appropriate software tools. Your assessment will be equally as applied and will require practical application of your learning to suitable language data.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Course Structure

The programme combines traditional teaching and learning approaches with innovative, multi-platform learning support, grounded in a student-partnership model which will encourage engagement beyond the scope of the course and ensure that students develop key transferable skills to enhance their employment.The modules you study will involve critical analysis, investigative skills and imaginative thinking.

In Year one, you will focus on developing core knowledge, including theory and practice-based elements, across English Studies. In the second half of Year one, you will be able to specialise further in your chosen area of study, and expand that in your Year two and Year three modules.

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. 

77 per cent of research undertaken by lecturers from the School of English, classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.
The Research Excellence Framework (REF2014)


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

All Saints House (Asylum)

In October 2015 group of third year students visited All Saints House - the former Birmingham lunatic asylum - as part of their Literature and Psychology module. In this module they were learning about the emergence of psychology as a science, medical discourse in literature and the treatment of mental health patients. The students had a guided tour of the building and had the pleasure of former student, Jessica Smith, discussing her recent Master's dissertation on lunatic asylums.

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. 

95 per cent of our English graduates are in work or continuing their studies.
(2015/16 DLHE statistics)


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.

Our Graduates

Rebecca Lovell profile

Rebecca Lovell, graduated in 2016

“I chose the BA (Hons) English Literature course because of the variety of modules, the enthusiasm of the staff and the option to study the course part time. It gave me the flexibility to study a subject I am passionate about, as well as gain voluntary experience alongside it.

The opportunities offered by the School, such as speaking at a student undergraduate conference and working as a student ambassador gave me experience of interacting with others and of public speaking. These skills have been incredibly useful during my placement at Gladstone’s Library, a placement I was made aware of through discussing career options with my tutors, and I am confident that they will continue to be of use as I pursue a career in Library and Information studies."


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

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.

International Students

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 and Staff

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

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 £340 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

Lucy Fraser


Lucy Fraser has taught at Birmingham City University since 2002, where she teaches a range of modules within the School of English. She has taught modules on poetry, various fiction, film, critical methods, cultural studies and narratives. Lucy holds degrees from Coventry University, the University of Birmingham and has a PGCE from the University of Worcester. She has taught in secondary school, she has been an examiner for the AQA and Edexcel, and is a Curriculum Area Moderator for the OCNWMR.

Lucy has taught at the University of Worcester and on postgraduate courses at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), also part of Birmingham City University. Her current research interests are in narratives and film. She has recently submitted her doctoral thesis to the University of Birmingham.

More about Lucy

Dr Sarah Wood

Head of Birmingham Institute of Media and English

Sarah Wood holds degrees from JMU, the University of Liverpool, and Birmingham City University, where she gained her PhD. Her research interests are in feminism and science fiction.

She has an article on Octavia Butler forthcoming in FEMSPEC and is working on further studies of Butler as well as of Nalo Hopkinson and slave narrative.

More about Sarah

Dr Andrew Kehoe

Associate Professor / Director of Research

Andrew Kehoe is Director of Research in English and Director of the Research and Development Unit for English Studies (RDUES). He studied at the University of Liverpool, gaining qualifications in both English and Computer Science. He researches in the field of Corpus Linguistics: the creation and study of a collection of texts (or corpus) in order to extract new knowledge about language in use. Andrew’s particular emphasis is on the use of the web as a source of natural language data and on the development of software tools to facilitate this.

More about Andrew

Dr Joseph Anderton

Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Joseph Anderton is the author of Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure after the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016), which considers conceptions of the ‘creature’ and ‘creaturely life’ as they appear in Samuel Beckett’s literature and drama. Joe is currently working on his second book, Writing Homelessness: Rough Sleeping in Contemporary British Fiction.

Joseph is the Course Director for BA English Courses. Before joining BCU in 2017, he taught at the universities of Nottingham, Lincoln, and Leicester.

More about Joseph

Dr Soudabeh Ananisarab

Lecturer in Drama

Dr Soudabeh Ananisarab studied at the University of Nottingham where she completed an MA in English Literature (Distinction) and a PhD in English. Her Doctoral thesis explored the development of the Malvern Theatre Festival during the interwar years and its connections with the playwright, George Bernard Shaw. Soudabeh has previously taught at the University of Nottingham before joining Birmingham City University. She currently teaches on a range of modules, exploring drama both in theory and practice. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Working Group Coordinator on the Executive Committee of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)

Soudabeh’s research interests are in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century British and Irish theatre. In addition to Shaw, Soudabeh has published on the dramatic writings of D.H. Lawrence and John Millington Synge. Soudabeh is also a theatre historian with a particular interest in regional theatre histories. She is working on her first monograph exploring Shaw’s relationships with the British regional repertory movement. She was recently awarded a Research Award by the Society for Theatre Research to support her work on Shaw’s collaborations with the Manchester Gaiety theatre as part of this project. Soudabeh has also been involved in major outreach initiatives in the past, working with performance venues in Nottingham. Alongside her monograph, Soudabeh is currently preparing chapters on the legacies of Shaw’s involvement with regional theatres, and festival cultures in twentieth-century British theatre. Soudabeh welcomes PhD supervision enquiries in any aspect of modern theatre or theatre history.

More about Soudabeh

Dave Harte

Deputy Head of School and Associate Professor in Journalism and Media Studies

Dave Harte is Associate Professor in Journalism and Media Studies. He researches the emerging trend of local community ‘hyperlocal’ news websites and has published widely on the subject. Within the School of Media he leads on teaching and learning initiatives and teaches modules on Journalism Studies, Social Media, and Alternative and Community Media. He supervises PhDs in the areas of journalism and community media.

More about Dave

Ross Hawkes

Ross leads the journalism pathway. He was previously a sports writer, sub-editor, page designer, news reporter, web editor, features writer and editor, before leading Trinity Mirror's digital programme in the Midlands. He also founded and currently runs award-winning hyperlocal website, LichfieldLive, which has been used an example of excellence in the hyperlocal scene.

More about Ross