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English 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 »

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, BA 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.

On this course 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. 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.

Studying at one of the UK's most dynamic English departments will challenge you to develop your own critical and expressive faculties. 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: Medieval Romance, Drama and Witchcraft, Sensation Fiction, World War I Poetry, Science Fiction, Children's Literature, African-American Literature, the Literature of Migration, Queer History and many more. In your third year you can write a dissertation on a specialist subject of your own choice.

Course units are taught by nationally and internationally known scholars who write prize-winning books, talk or write in the national media, or advise the Globe Theatre.  This means the course covers the most up-to-date ideas, whether in creative writing, Victorian literature, Shakespearean studies or contemporary literature.

  • 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.

Core modules

Year 1

Introduction to Medieval Literature
Thinking as a Critic
Re-Orienting the Novel
Introducing English Poetry

Year 2

All modules are optional

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

Only core modules are taken

Year 2

Year 3

You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, and participate in study groups, essay consultations and guided independent study. In your first year, you will also work in small groups of just four or five students focusing on study skills such as close reading, essay writing and presentation and self-editing. As you progress through your degree, these tutorials focus on your own personal development, for instance working on your CV. 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. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

All undergraduate degree courses at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system. This system provides an effective and flexible approach to study, while ensuring that our degrees have a coherent and developmental structure.

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 16% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 84% 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 13% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 87% in guided independent study.


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

Year 1

Written exams account for 55% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 45% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 23% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 77% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Coursework accounts for 100% of the total assessment for this year of study.

Typical offers

Typical offers

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: English Literature or English Literature & Language at A Level Grade B

At least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C or 9-4 including Maths and English

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 a relevant subject plus grade B in A Level English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC National Extended Certificate Distinction  plus A Level grades B,B including B 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

ABB including  English Literature or English Lit/Lang

Scottish Highers AABBB including  English Literature or English Lit/Lang
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 24 level 3 credits at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit. All level 3 English studies units must be passed with Distinction. The Access to Higher Education Diploma is only acceptable if you've 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 minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. 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.

Taking a degree in English sets you up with great prospects for future employability.  On the course itself we place a strong emphasis on your future employability, meaning the skills that you gain won’t just be applicable to the study of English.

Although many of our students go on to further study in literature and other fields, skills such as research, presentation, teamwork, negotiation and communication will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities.  Recent graduate have gone on to careers in:

  • Accountancy and banking
  • Publishing
  • Law
  • Media, PR and journalism
  • Teaching
  • Theatre and arts

We currently run a structured work placement scheme, placing students with The Daily Telegraph, the Press Association, BBC Newsnight, publishers, literary agencies and media companies in London.  By taking part in the scheme and you will boost your employability, build your CV, and develop real skills to help you choose and prepare for a career.

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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