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English (BA)

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Course details

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, the English Department at Royal Holloway prides itself on offering both the full historical range of English literature and the latest developments in the field.

On this course you have the opportunity to discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what else is great about Renaissance literature, revel in the 18th century and unpack the Victorians. You will also uncover both Modernism and Postmodernism, explore literary criticism, pursue your own creative writing and analyse the latest developments in English literature – poetry, prose, and drama – from around the world.

Studying at one of the UK's most dynamic English departments will challenge you to develop your own critical faculties. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas before progressing to choose from subjects ranging from Medieval Dream Vision to Drama and Witchcraft to World War I Poetry to Science Fiction. Towards the end of your studies, you will have the chance to complete a dissertation on a subject of your own choice.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
UCAS code Q300
Qualification Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Duration Three years full time
Typical A-level offer ABB or equivalent including A in English Literature or English Language & Literature
Department English

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time undergraduate degrees must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Further information on making your application through UCAS is available on the Applying section of our website.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. The College runs three annual Open days which give you the chance to meet our students and teaching staff, and get a taste of what university life is really like.

Prospective students who receive an offer of a place are invited to attend a UCAS day, where they are shown around the department, given the opportunity to speak with academic members of staff and meet current students.

Entry requirements

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels ABB or equivalent including A in English Literature or English Language & Literature 
GCSE  At least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
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.
Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher Level including 6 in Higher Level English with a minimum of 32 points overall
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus grade A in A2 English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC National Diploma Distinction, Distinction in a related subject plus grade A in A2 English Literature or English Language & Literature
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Distinction in a related subject plus A2 grades AB 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 Level Core.
Scottish Advanced Highers AABBB at Higher Level plus AB at Advanced Higher Level inc A in English Literature or English Lit/Lang
Scottish Highers  
Irish Leaving Certificate AABBB at Higher Level including A in English Literature or English Lit/Lang at Higher Level
Access to Higher Education Diploma  

Other UK Qualifications

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International and EU Entry Requirements

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The specific offer that will be made will be based on the strength of the personal statement.

Applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and we accept a broad range of qualifications. Special consideration will be given to mature applicants, and we are happy to consider applicants with other qualifications, including QAA-approved Access to HE courses.

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for further information on the entry requirements from their country and English language requirements.  Royal Holloway International offers an International Foundation Programme and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their undergraduate degree.

We make decisions based on achieved or predicted grades, personal statements and references. More information on how your application will be assessed, and tips for your personal statement can be found on our Applying pages.

Why choose this course?

  • The course units are taught by nationally and internationally known scholars who are specialists in their fields.
  • 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 Conrad, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • You will have the opportunity to study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century, time in modern literature and adaptations of Shakespeare.
  • The structure gives you both a strong background and scope to choose your favourites for further study.
  • You can combine your study of English literature with drama, creative writing, philosophy or a range of other disciplines.

What you'll learn

The course is organised historically and covers literature from the medieval period to the present. In your first year you establish the foundations for your analysis of English literature by following both period and genre courses. In your second year, you build upon these foundations by choosing from units across the historical periods.

In your final year, you will have the opportunity to pursue more specialised units, some of which extend beyond literature written in Britain. You will also complete a research project, either one of a group of papers examined by long essays, or a dissertation on a subject that you select in consultation with the Department.

Throughout the course, you will:

  • learn to appreciate and criticise texts from the English literary canon
  • place works in the historical contexts of their creation and reception
  • compare different approaches to the interpretation of works
  • develop their own ideas about the ways in which texts achieve their effects and contribute to wider cultural currents
  • read and respond to original texts and secondary material and articulate their responses to texts both orally and in writing.

The Department’s website gives detailed lists of the course units taken for each different degree.

View the full course specification for English (BA) in the Programme Specification Repository

How you'll learn & be assessed

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.


Employability & career opportunities

Choosing English at Royal Holloway means a strong emphasis will be placed on your employability. The skills that you gain from our rigorous degrees, such as research, presentation, teamwork, negotiation and communication, will prepare you for a broad range of careers. We offer a range of activities and opportunities to help enhance your employability and prepare for the choices ahead. We currently run 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 very successfully entered a wide range of careers including law, journalism, publishing, finance, business, teaching, marketing and the media, as well as gone onto postgraduate study in a variety of fields. To learn more about what our graduates are doing now, please visit the department’s website.



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