By combining the study of American Literature and Creative Writing, you'll become an informed and critical reader of the American literary tradition, as well as a confident and expressive writer - whether specialising as a poet, playwright, or author of fiction.
Studying at one of the UK's most dynamic English departments will challenge you to develop your own critical faculties. Learning to write creatively and critically analyse in tandem, you'll be exposed to a huge variety of literature while you develop your own writing practice.
You'll also examine a variety of areas in American literature, including the literature of the first encounter, nineteenth-century and African-American writing, satire, New York School poetry, drama, the urban novel and writing about music and the novella. You will have the chance to take courses in other departments, studying American history or film, to broaden your understanding of America.
Learn how to create, criticise and shape an artistic work: a valuable life skill with uses beyond writing poetry, plays or novels. From journalism and website creation to advertising and academic publishing – you'll be able to use the skills you pick up in character, voice, ambiguity, style and cultural context. You will be taught by internationally known scholars, authors, playwrights and poets who are specialists in their fields, producing ground-breaking written work and appearing at literary festivals around the world, including practicing American novelists Ben Markovits and Douglas Cowie.
- Critique texts considering literary devices such as form, genre and periodisation.
- A range of literature modules from poetry to novels.
- You can specialise as a poet, playwright or author of fiction.
- Be taught by world-renowned American authors.
- The chance to spend a year at a university in the USA.
Core ModulesYear 1
This module will introduce you to American Literature to 1900, and to issues, concepts and key contexts for the study of American Literature more broadly.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to think, read and write as a critic. You will look at the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to the ‘disciplinary consciousness’ of English Literature, considering periodisation, form, genre, canon, intention, narrative, framing and identity.
In this module you will develop an understanding of Shakespeare’s dramatic and literary craft. You will look at the historical context of the plays and the relevance of the plays today. You will examine a range of Shakespeare’s work from the Elizabethan Comedies and Histories, including 'Twelfth Night', 'Henry V', 'Hamlet'. 'King Lear' and 'The Tempest'. You will analyse key critical approaches to Shakespeare and consider the performance history of the plays.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form. You will look at a range of contemporary, eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels and learn to use concepts in narrative theory and criticism. You will consider literary history and make formal and thematic connections between texts and their varying socio-cultural contexts. You will examine novels such as 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe and 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, analysing their cultural and intellectual contexts.
In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of major poems in English. You will look at key poems from the Renaissance to the present day. You will engage with historical issues surrounding the poems and make critical judgements, considering stylistic elements such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, diction and imagery. You will examine poems from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath and analyse topics such as sound, the stanza and the use of poetic language.
In this module you will explore American Literature in the twentieth century, looking at a selection of key topics and movements as American literature moves from realism to modernism and post-modernism. Topics covered may include race, gender, genre and the impact of specific historical events like the Great Depression and the Cold War.
- Literary Adaptations: American Dystopias
- All modules are optional
Optional ModulesYear 1
- All modules are core
An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.
This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.
Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.
- Modernist Fiction: James, Conrad, Ford
- Special Topic: The Great American Novella
Investigate a variety of literature produced about Chicago by writers who lived and worked in the city. Although the module will focus on novels, it will also include some poetry and nonfiction prose. You will develop knowledge of the historical development of Chicago in the 20th century, as seen through its writers, from 'muckrakers' such as Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, through the boosterism of Carl Sandburg, the ‘urban naturalism’ of James T. Farrell, Richard Wright and Nelson Algren, to the later interpretations of Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Stuart Dybek and Gwendolyn Brooks.
- African-American Literature
- Of Circumference: Emily Dickinson
- Writing Migrant Identities
Teaching & assessment
You will take the equivalent of four units each year.
Teaching is mostly by seminars and lectures, with an additional small tutorial group in year one. These methods are backed up by individual consultations for feedback on essays throughout the degree, and dissertation supervision in year three.
All students will also belong to study groups and undertake co-operative work for some courses, and take training courses run by the Library.
Assessment is via a combination of:
- take-away papers
- marked presentations in some courses
A Levels: AAB
A level Grade A in English Literature or English Literature and Language.
At least five GCSE passes at grades A* to C or 9-4 including Maths and English.
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.
Other UK Qualifications
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 7.0 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 69 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here. 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.
Your future career
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 that you will develop a variety of transferrable skills.
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
- Media, PR and journalism
- Theatre and arts
We currently run a structured work placement scheme, placing students with organisations such as 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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
International students tuition fee per year**: £16500
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
*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. The UK Government has confirmed that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.
**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.