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English and History BA

Please note that information shown below may be subject to change.

UCAS code
Year of entry
View 2018 entry »
Course length
3 years full time
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

The core modules in English Literature are:

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.


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.

The core modules in History are:

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.

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

The core modules in History are:

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.

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

Optional modules in History include:

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


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


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


Conflict and Identity in Modern Europe, 1770 to 2000


Mao to Mandela - Twentieth Century Leaders of the Non-Western World


Rome to Renaissance - An Introduction to the Middle Ages


Year 2

Optional modules in English Literature include:

Middle English Poetry


Medieval Drama


Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism


Medieval Dream and Vision


Medieval Epic and Romance


The Gawain-Poet


Myths of Origin in Old English Literature


Old English Riddles


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


Intensive Shakespeare - Comedy, History, Tragedy


Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642


Theatre and The City, 1590 to 1625


Early Modern Bodies


Paradise in Early Modern Literature


Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century


Eighteenth Century Bodies


The Age of Oppositions - Literature, 1660 to 1780


Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel


Fictions of Sensation


Victoria Literature




Creative Writing - Structure and Style


Writing Migrant Identities


Enivornmental Literatures


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


Literature of The Fin de Siècle


British Drama from Shaw to Priestly


Dark Reform - Scandal and Satire in American Culture


Contemporary Debates in Literary and Critical Theory


Modernist Literature


Optional modules in History include:

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic


The Persuit of Power - Europe, 1000 to 1250


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


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


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


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


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


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


Medicine from Antiquity to the Medieval Near East


The Victorians - British History, 1837 to 1901


History of the USA, 1787 to 1877


Spain, 1898 to 1939


Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy, 1939 to 1989


Awakening China - From the Opium Wars to the Present Day


Science in Greek and Roman Antiquity


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


Year 3

Optional modules in English Literature include:

A Marriage of Minds?


Special Author Project - Joseph Conrad


Special Author Project - Virginia Woolf


Special Author Project - Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales


Special Author Project - The Brontes


Special Author Project - John Donne


Special Author Project - Charles Dickens


Special Author Project - Thomas Hardy


Special Author Project - J.M. Coetzee


Special Author Project - Samuel Beckett


Special Author Project - Christopher Marlowe


Special Author Project - Oscar Wilde


Of Circumference - Reading Emily Dickinson


Rewriting Mythologies in 20th Century Literature


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


Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture


Special Topic - The Girl in the Book


The Post-Colonial Novel - the Art of Resistance


The Pre-Raphaelite Movement in Art and Literature


Byron, Modernity and Europe, 1780 to 1830


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


African-American Literature


Science Fiction


The Literature of Chicago


Theatre and the City - 1590 to 1730


Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century


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


The Nineteen Thirties, Fiction and the Road to War


Vernacular Writing


Tolkien's Roots - Old English Poetry and Modern Medievalism


Old English Riddles


Witchcraft and Drama, 1576 to 1642


Paradise in Early Modern English Literature


Middle English Poetry


Medieval Epic and Romance


Beowulf and The Critics


Literature and Philosophy


Fictions of Sensation


Writing Migrant Identities


Advanced Romanticism - The 18teens


Children's Literature


The Art of Noise


A Year in the Life of Victorian Fiction - 1855


The Lives of Writing


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


Reading Beowulf


Medieval Drama


Old English Literature


Advanced Shakespeare - The Problem Plays


Early Modern Bodies


Medieval Dream and Vision


Painting / Writing


Gender and Writing in the Eighteenth Century


Tristram Shandy and the Experimental Novel


Everyday Literature


Queer Histories - Contemporary Gay and Lesbian British and Irish Fiction


Odysseus' Scar - Time in Modern Literature and Film




Visual and Verbal in the Long Nineteenth Century


The Great American Novella


Exploring James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake




Literatures of Genocide and Atrocity


Shakespeare in Stages - Shakespearen Adaptation across Four Centuries


Shakespearean Echoes, Off shoots and Responses


Special Topic: Ideas in Contemporary Fiction


Poetic Practice


The Brontës


Reading The Waste Land


Optional modules in History include:

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


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


Modernity and the Victorians - The Intellectual Response


Berlin - A European Metropolis from Kaiser to Kohl


The History and Historiography of the Holocaust


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


Christians and Pagans  - From Constantine to Augustine


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


Comparing Religious Fundamentalisms in the 19th and 20th Centuries


Migration, Identity and Citizenship in Modern Britain


The Age of Terror - Terrorism from 1945 to Present


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


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


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.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 17% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 83% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 17% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 83% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 11% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 89% in guided independent study.


Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 43% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 57% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 25% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 75% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 29% of the total assessment for this year of study, 1% will be assessed through practical exams, and 70% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers

AAB - ABB including B in English
How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.
  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required/preferred subjects

Required subjects:  A Level Grade B in English Literature or English Language  & Literature and at least five GCSEs graded A*- C or 9-4 including English and Maths.

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate

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

BTEC National Extended Diploma Distinction*, Distinction, Distinction in relevant subject including distinction in all essay units plus Grade A in GCSE English Literature
Distinction, Distinction in relevant subject plus Grade A in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus A Level Grades A,B including  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

AAB-ABB including English Literature or English Literature & Language

Scottish Highers

AAABB including English Literature or English Literature & Language

Irish Leaving Certificate H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 at Higher Level including 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 the remaining level 3 credits at Merit. All level 3 English studies units must be passed with Distinction. 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*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year**: £16,500

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 about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations, and for students starting a degree in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates has not yet been confirmed for students starting a degree in the academic year 2019/20.

**Fees for international students starting a degree at Royal Holloway in the academic year 2019/20 have not yet been set, and those for 2018/19 are shown for reference purposes only. Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and 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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