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English and History BA

UCAS code QV31
Year of entry 2017
View 2018 entry »
Course Length
3 years full time
Department English »
History »


This exciting and challenging course offers the opportunity to combine the study of English with the study of History, allowing you to explore and reflect upon the relationships between literary texts and their historical contexts.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

  • You will gain a solid knowledge of the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • Study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

Studying History is exciting and rewarding; it encourages you to appreciate the human experience in other places and at other times. Exploring what people have felt, thought and done in the past expands our self-awareness. It will help to satisfy your curiosity about the past, acquire understanding of specific periods and problems, and make discoveries.

Our internationally renowned academics are developing the very latest thinking on historical problems; this cutting edge knowledge informs the curriculum and will enhance your learning experience. By studying History at one of the largest and most influential departments in the country you will be able to choose from an exceptionally broad range of subjects, enabling you to spread your studies across the medieval and modern worlds, from Ancient Rome through to modern China, from Saladin through to Margaret Thatcher.

  • 96% say that our teaching makes the subject interesting and 94% find the course intellectually stimulating (National Student Survey 2016).
  • World-leading and internationally excellent research which is ranked joint first for its impact on greater society (Research Excellence Framework 2014, 4* and 3* research).

Core modules

Year 1

English: Introduction to Medieval Literature

This module introduces you to the earliest literary writings in English, covering a span of eight hundred years, from 700 to 1500. You will cover an extensive range of genres and texts - from Beowulf to Arthurian romance, and dream vision to religious drama, and think about issues of vital concern and interest to medieval writers and audiences: religion, love, violence, the supernatural, and kingship and society.

English: Shakespeare

This module facilitates a deeper - as well as a more pleasurable and rewarding - understanding of the range of Shakespeare’s work. You will be encouraged to think about the plays as theatre as well as printed literature, although a main feature of the course will be its close attention to the extraordinary fertility and force of Shakespeare’s dramatic language. While paying close attention to Shakespeare’s very different historical context in the Renaissance, the module will be equally concerned with the question of whether the plays are still relevant to us today.

History: History and Meanings

This module examines the development of historical writing and debates around the meaning of history. Overall, the framework is chronological, taking you on a journey from Herodotus and other historians of the ancient world, through to the development of history as a professional discipline in the nineteenth century, and finally on to more recent debates about ‘postmodernism’. Both western and non-western history-writing traditions are discussed for comparative purposes. On the way, in both lectures and in small tutorial groups, you will need to think about the nature of historical ‘truth’ and objectivity, and will be asked to reflect upon your own status and practice as historians.

History: Public History

History has never been so popular. This course explores the development in recent years of ‘public history’, or the ways in which the past is used and written about by academic and popular historians, the heritage industry, journalists, the state, and the wider public. The module examines the nature of ‘public history’ through a series of case-studies, including topics such as how history is presented on the television and in film; history in museums and heritage sites; community and oral history; the memory of the Holocaust; debates in European societies about ‘making amends’ for slavery and the colonial past; and the uses of history in contemporary South Asia. You will be given the opportunity to make your own contribution to the field through your own ‘public history’ project.

Year 2

History: Independent Essay

This module allows yous to undertake a small research project of your own. You will sign up for one of approximately twenty-five advertised thematic ‘workshops’ run by academics within the department, and through a series of seminars will explore key themes and debates that allow you to identify a project of your own choosing. The course also includes training in research and writing skills, and is excellent preparation for your final-year dissertation.

History: Research Skills

This module will ensure that you have a cogent, practicable and interesting research topic to write your independent essay, and that you are equipped with the appropriate skills and a timetable for undertaking and producing research and writing in a timely manner. You will be encouraged to consult with the module leader and your supervisors to develop your research topic.

Year 3

All modules are optional

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

History: Gods, Men and Power - An Introduction to the Ancient World from Homer to Mohammed

History: Republics, Kings and People - The Foundations of European Political Though from Plato to Rousseau

History: The Rich Tapestry of Life - Early Modern England, Europe and the Wider World, 1453 to 1789

History: Conflict and Identity in Modern Europe, 1770 to 2000

History: Mao to Mandela - Tentieth Century Leaders of the Non-Western World

History: Rome to Renaissance - An Introduction to the Middle Ages

Year 2

English: Middle English Poetry

English: Medieval Drama

English: Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism

English: Medieval Dream and Vision

English: Medieval Epic and Romance

English: The Gawain-Poet

English: Myths of Origin in Old English Literature

English: Old English Riddles

English: Love, Honour, Obey' - Literature, 1525 to 1670

English: Intensive Shakespeare - Comedy, History, Tragedy

English: Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642

English: Theatre and The City, 1590 to 1625

English: Early Modern Bodies

English: Paradise in Early Modern Literature

English: Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century

English: Eighteenth Century Bodies

English: The Age of Oppositions - Literature, 1660 to 1780

English: Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel

English: Fictions of Sensation

English: Victoria Literature

English: Romanticisms

English: Creative Writing - Structure and Style

English: Writing Migrant Identities

English: Enivornmental Literatures

English: Four National Poets: Gillian Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead and Paula Meehan

English: Literature of The Fin de Siècle

English: British Drama from Shaw to Priestly

English: Dark Reform - Scandal and Satire in American Culture

English: Contemporary Debates in Literary and Critical Theory

English: Modernist Literature

History: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic

History: The Persuit of Power - Europe, 1000 to 1250

History: The Flowering of the Middle Ages - Politics, Pestilence and War, 1300 to 1500

History: The European Crucible, 1914 to 1947 - Politics, Culture and Society

History: New World, Lost World - The Tudor Monarchy 1485 to 1603

History: The Georginas - Politics, Society, and Culture 1688 to 1832

History: Nineteenth-Century Europe - Society and Culture, 1789 to 1905

History: Twentieth-Century World History - The Middle East, Africa and Latin America

History: Medicine from Antiquity to the Medieval Near East

History: The Victorians - British History, 1837 to 1901

History: History of the USA, 1787 to 1877

History: Spain, 1898 to 1939

History: Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy, 1939 to 1989

History: Awakening China - From the Opium Wars to the Present Day

History: Science in Greek and Roman Antiquity

History: Mutiny to Modi - the Indian Subcontinent from the 19th Century to the Present

Year 3

English: A Marriage of Minds?

English: Special Author Project - Joseph Conrad

English: Special Author Project - Virginia Woolf

English: Special Author Project - Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales

English: Special Author Project - The Brontes

English: Special Author Project - John Donne

English: Special Author Project - Charles Dickens

English: Special Author Project - Thomas Hardy

English: Special Author Project - J.M. Coetzee

English: Special Author Project - Samuel Beckett

English: Special Author Project - Christopher Marlowe

English: Special Author Project - Oscar Wilde

English: Of Circumference - Reading Emily Dickinson

English: Rewriting Mythologies in 20th Century Literature

English: Character - Literary Persons, Selfhood and Interiority in Early Modern Literature

English: Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture

English: Special Topic - The Girl in the Book

English: The Post-Colonial Novel - the Art of Resistance

English: The Pre-Raphaelite Movement in Art and Literature

English: Byron, Modernity and Europe, 1780 to 1830

English: Sex, Death and Celebrity - Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama

English: African-American Literature

English: Science Fiction

English: The Literature of Chicago

English: Theatre and the City - 1590 to 1730

English: Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century

English: The New York Schools - Poetry, Painting and Music in the 1950s

English: The Nineteen Thirties, Fiction and the Road to War

English: Vernacular Writing

English: Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism

English: Old English Riddles

English: Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642

English: Paradise in Early Modern English Literature

English: Middle English Poetry

English: Medieval Epic and Romance

English: Beowulf and The Critics

English: Literature and Philosophy

English: Fictions of Sensation

English: Writing Migrant Identities

English: Advanced Romanticism - The 18teens

English: Children's Literature

English: The Art of Noise

English: A Year in the Life of Victorian Fiction - 1855

English: The Lives of Writing

English: Ethics and Aesthetics in the novels of J.M. Coetzee

English: Reading Beowulf

English: Medieval Drama

English: Old English Literature

English: Advanced Shakespeare - The Problem Plays

English: Early Modern Bodies

English: Medieval Dream and Vision

English: Painting / Writing

English: Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century

English: Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel

English: Everyday Literature

English: Queer Histories - Contemporary Gay and Lesbian British and Irish Fiction

English: Odysseus' Scar - Time in Modern Literature and Film

English: Pastoral

English: Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century

English: The Great American Novella

English: Exploring James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

English: Tragedy

English: Literatures of Genocide and Atrocity

English: Shakespeare in Stages - Shakespearen Adaptation across Four Centuries

English: Shakespearean Echoes, Off shoots and Responses

English: Special Topic: Ideas in Contemporary Fiction

English: Poetic Practice

English: The Brontës

English: Reading The Waste Land

History: Faith and Fire - Religious Culture in England, 1375 to 1525

History: The Origins and Impact of the Second Crusade, 1145 to 1149

History: Modernity and the Victorians - The Intellectual Response

History: Berlin - A European Metropolis from Kaiser to Kohl

History: The History and Historiography of the Holocaust

History: The Clash of Powers and Cultures - Sino-American Relations during the Cold War

History: Christians and Pagans  - From Constantine to Augustine

History: Victorian Babylon - Life, Work and People in London, 1840 to 1890

History: Comparing Religious Fundamentalisms in the 19th and 20th Centuries

History: Migration, Identity and Citizenship in Modern Britain

History: The Age of Terror - Terrorism from 1945 to Present

History: Talking Cures and Troubles: The Oral History of Health and Medicine in Britain, 1948 to 2000

History: Drawing the Line - Independence, Partition, and the Making of India and Pakistan

History: Progress and its Discontents - European Culture, 1890 to 1914

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take a total of twelve course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice. 

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, large and small seminar groups and occasionally in one-to-one tutorials. Outside classes you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle, which provides a wide range of supporting materials. A Personal Tutor will guide and support throughout your degree and you will be supervised by a member of staff when preparing your second-year independent research essay and your final-year dissertation. 

We use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. 

Typical offers

Typical offers


The offer given will take into consideration:

  • subjects taken at A level
  • the educational context in which academic achievements have been gained
  • whether the Extended Project Qualification is being taken
Required/preferred subjects

Required subjects:  A Level Grade A in English Literature or English Language  & Literature and at least five GCSEs graded A*- C to include English and Maths.

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate

6,5,5 at Higher Level including 6 in Higher Level English Literature with a minimum of 32 points overall.

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus Grade A in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC National Diploma Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus Grade A in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma

Distinction plus A Levels Grades A,B including A in English Literature or English Language & Literature

Welsh Baccalaureate

Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate

Scottish Advanced Highers

AB at Advanced Higher Level inc A in English Literature or English Literature & Language plus Higher Level requirements

Scottish Highers

AABBB plus Advanced Higher Level requirements

Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level including H2 in English Literature or English Lit/Lang at Higher Level
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass with at least 30 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit and Distinction in all Level 3 English studies units. Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education.

Other UK qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below

Please select a qualification

Please select a qualification

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language
IELTS 7.0 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in each remaining subscore. For equivalencies please see here.

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Choosing English and History at Royal Holloway will give you the skills and qualities that employers are looking for.; it demonstrates that you enjoy being challenged and are able to understand complex issues.  You will be well-informed, culturally-informed and alert, with strong skills in problem-solving, organisation and planning, research, critical and analytical skills and the ability to craft an argument.  

  • 92% of the recent English graduates and 86% of history graduates were in employment or enhancing their skills with further study six months after graduation (Unistats 2015).
  • The English department runs work placement schemes with The Daily Telegraph, the BBC’s Newsnight and publishing companies. During your second year, you will meet with your personal tutor group to work on personal development planning.
  • Our recent graduates have entered a wide range of careers including: as curators (Imperial War Museum, Museum of London), in information management (British Museum), teaching, finance, law (a barrister in the Lord Chancellor's office), broadcasting (Director of the BBC), marketing/PR ,national defence (Royal Navy), or the performing arts.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year 2017/18**: £14,000

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year. This amount is subject to the UK Parliament approving a change to fee and loan regulations that has been proposed by the UK Government. In the future, should the proposed changes to fee and loan regulations allow it, Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for UK and EU nationals annually. If relevant UK legislation continues to permit it, Royal Holloway will maintain parity between the tuition fees charged to UK and EU students for the duration of their degree studies.

**Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for international fee paying students annually. Tuition fees are unlikely to rise more than 5 per cent each year. For further information on tuition fees please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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