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American Literature and Creative Writing

American Literature and Creative Writing

BA
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If we make you an offer for this course for 2022 entry, we guarantee to confirm your place even if one of your final A-level results is one grade below those you have received in that offer. Equivalencies and exclusions apply. Full details here.

Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: Q324

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees: £9,250

International/EU fees: £19,300

The course

American Literature and Creative Writing (BA)

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.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

Year 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 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 develop an understanding of a range of literary and cultural writing forms through reading, discussion and practice. You will look at poetry, drama and prose fiction alongside stand-up comedy, adaptation, translation, songwriting, and other forms of creative expression and articulation. You will learn how to offer clear, constructive, sensitive critical appraisals, and how to accept and appropriately value criticism of your own work.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range historical perspectives on the function, forms, and value of creative writing. You will look at the genesis of particular genres, such as the short story, the novel and the manifesto, and consider relationships between historical genres and the contemporary writer. You will interrogate your own assumptions about creative writing and critically examine the relationship between creative writing and society.

Year 2
  • 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.

You will take two of the following:

  • Playwriting
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
Year 3

You will choose one of the following modules. Each of these modules consists of a year-long independent project, working closely with a staff supervisor from the appropriate field.

  • Playwriting 2
  • Fiction 2
  • Poetry 2
  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules 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
  • All modules are core
Year 2
  • 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.

  • The principal aim of this course is to immerse second-year literature students in the world of digital tools for exploring literature. Through extensive hands-on use of online parsing tools, algorithmic methods for assessing aspects such as word co-association, various types of visualization packages and a great deal more besides, students will realise the remarkable affordances of digital tools in reading and interpreting texts.

Year 3
  • The objective of this course is to prepare literature students for work in the creative industries by developing their use of digital technologies in responding to literature. In using digital technology to respond to literature both critically and aesthetically, literature students can become adept at various practices that are of immediate, valuable use in the creative industry workplace. This course will cultivate these practices, show how they grow organically out of a love for reading and writing, and demonstrate how they are skills that are in great demand in a wide range of creative workplaces.

  • 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

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:

  • exams
  • essays
  • take-away papers
  • projects
  • marked presentations in some courses

A Levels: AAB-ABB

Required subjects:

  • A in an essay-based Arts and Humanities subject at A-Level
  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

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. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.

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 of your course.

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.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate Pathways

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, the International Study Centre offers the following pathway programmes:

International Foundation Year - for progression to the first year of an undergraduate degree.

International Year One - for progression to the second year of an undergraduate degree.

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
  • Publishing
  • Law
  • Media, PR and journalism
  • Teaching
  • 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.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £19,300

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 loansscholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2021/22, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2022/23 has not yet been confirmed.

**The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2022, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 60% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course.

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 at Royal Holloway during the 2021/22 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

2nd in the UK for creative writing

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2021 (English)

Top 25 in the UK for English

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2021 (English)

100% overall student satisfaction

Source: National Student Survey, 2020 (English and Creative Writing)

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