English BA


Fact file - 2018 entry

English | BA Hons
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
A in English literature or language (or combined) at A level; plus a GCSE at 7 (A) or above, in English
IB score
36-34; 6 in English at Higher Level
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


Breadth of opportunity and depth of engagement are the defining features of English at Nottingham.
Read full overview

Our BA English degree is one of the widest ranging degree courses in the country. It aims to introduce you to the exciting variety of disciplines within English, offering you the opportunity to:

  • expand your understanding of 'English' through encounters with prose, poetry and drama from the medieval period to the present;
  • explore the workings of language in literature and society;
  • develop your own creative writing if you wish. 

Regardless of whether you have studied English language or literature, or both, at A level, we find that our students really thrive on the opportunity to explore these diverse areas of English, and to develop their own combination of interests and specialisms as they progress through their degree.

  • Are you interested in language and literature, but perhaps also other areas of English that you might not have encountered so far?
  • Do you like going to the theatre as well as sitting at home with a book?
  • Are you interested in analysing a staged performance, as well as reading the play?
  • Would you like to know how to read a medieval manuscript, or discover why Chaucer is described as the 'father of English literature'?
  • Have you seen Beowulf, and wonder what Anglo-Saxon culture was really like, or watched Robin Hood and asked yourself why Friar Tuck is played by a black actor?

If you've answered 'yes' to any of these questions, you may want to opt for this English BA.

Year one 

Your first year is designed to excite you, open up different possibilities for study and give you firm foundations which will allow you to develop your particular interests as you move through the course.

You are introduced to the full breadth of 'Nottingham English', studying four core modules in the areas of English language, prose, poetry and drama from earliest times to the present day. While some of these areas may be familiar to you, others may be quite new, and our aim is to support you as much as possible as you encounter fresh ways of approaching and thinking about the study of English.

Alongside these modules, you will take the Academic Community module, taught in small tutorial groups, to introduce key issues to English and to develop your study skills as you make the transition from school or college to university.

You also have module options in creative writing or in subsidiary modules, offered both by the School and by other departments in the Arts Faculty and across the University. See the modules tab for further details.

Year two

Year two enables you to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and critical approaches across the areas of literature, language and drama that most interest you, depending on your preferred areas of study.  

You will have the opportunity to continue studying the full range of approaches to English that you encountered in year one, or to begin to develop your particular interests in English by covering three out of four areas of study. Either way, you will be able to choose from a comprehensive range of options which will prepare you for the specialist options open to you in your final year. See the modules tab for further details.

Final year

Your final year gives you the opportunity to specialise in areas for which you have developed genuine aptitude and passion during your undergraduate career. You will be able to study a range of authors, genres, linguistic approaches and textual forms and contexts in both national and international contexts, thinking about English in the broadest possible terms.  

All the different strands of your teaching and learning experience culminate in the final year with the opportunity to demonstrate and apply all the skills you have acquired in research, analysis and independent study.

All final year modules give you the chance to study in smaller groups with an internationally known expert in the field and you will be encouraged to develop your own thinking to a high level.

You also have the opportunity to develop an individual research project of your own choice with the one-to-one support of an expert member of staff.


Entry requirements

A levels: AAA-AAB, including A in English literature or language (or combined) at A level; plus four GCSEs at 7 (A) or above, including English

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

We recognize that applicants follow a variety of pathways into higher education, and accordingly we might accept applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate). These can include:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

Students with queries about the applicability of their qualification are encouraged to contact us.

For more information see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


Typical year one modules


Academic Community
This module will provide you with an introduction to key issues and skills for those transitioning to studying English at Nottingham. This module emphasises points of intersection between the diverse disciplines of English and will help to develop a toolkit of study, research and communication skills which can be transferred to other modules. You’ll be taught in small groups with a combination of lectures and seminars. 
Beginnings of English

You will be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study texts from the Old and Middle English texts. In this module you’ll familiarise yourself with the knowledge needed for reading and understanding medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of medieval grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you’ll have two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour seminar per week.

Drama, Theatre, Performance
This module, taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, and lectures, considers key concepts in the study of dramatic texts, theatre history and performance. The module frames these concepts, taking into consideration questions about who performs, where, to whom, why and how, through explorations of key moments in the Western theatrical tradition.
Language and Context

This module considers the main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and explores how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You’ll look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you will have a one hour lecture and a one-hour seminar per week.

Studying Literature

This module will introduce some of the core skills necessary for studying literary studies through focusing on specific poetry and prose texts. You’ll  address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument and handling critical material. For this module you’ll have a combination of lectures and seminars.


Plus, you will choose at least one module listed below:


Creative Writing Practice
The first-year module, Creative Writing Practice, acts as a foundation, focusing on the process of writing fiction, drama and poetry, through various forms of reading, writing and performance practice. You will be encouraged to experiment with techniques and strategies, such as character, dialogue and imagery, to create new work. You will also develop the capacity to reflect on this work in a disciplined and rigorous fashion – an essential skill in creative writing. Creative Writing Practice puts special emphasis on the real-life processes of published writers, including research, collaboration, publication and performance, and how it feels to be interviewed about your writing.
Regional Writers

In this module you’ll look at the work of selected regional writers, including Nottingham writers such as D.H Lawrence, considering how their work engages in regional landscapes, the literary heritage of the area, and other distinctive cultural elements such as dialect. You will have a 90 minute lecture each week.

Shakespeare's Histories: Critical Approach

In this module you’ll explore in detail a sequence of four plays: Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II1 and 2, and Henry V. You’ll consider key themes, including kingship, power and authority, national and regional identities, sexual politics, war, and ideas of community. In addition, you’ll use these plays as a lens in which to examine Shakespeare's engagement with the linguistic, performative, and socio-political contexts of his time. For this module, you’ll have one 90-minute lecture per week plus five 3-hour workshops throughout the semester.

The Viking World

This interdisciplinary module introduces you to the impact of the Viking Age and of the Viking expansion. You will be made familiar with concepts such as diasporic settlements and identity, as well as being introduced to the various ways of evaluating sources from the Viking Age (such as historical sources, material culture etc.). You will also learn about the myths and the language, as well as the culture of the Viking Age and beyond. You’ll have an hour-long weekly lecture plus five seminars throughout the semester.


Alternatively, you may prefer to start or continue learning a language, or choose other modules from across the Arts faculty and the University, such as in American Studies, Philosophy, History, Art History  or Classics.


Typical year two modules

You will choose six modules to cover at least three areas of English, from the wide range of possible options below:

English literature 1500 to the present
Each of these modules will offer a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.  

From Talking Horses to Romantic Revolutionaries: literature 1700-1830

This module introduces you to a range of literature written between 1700-1830. This was a dramatic and turbulent period in literary history where anything was possible and many roles were reversed. Writers produced texts about contemporary issues such as class, poverty, sexuality, slavery, and the city, but also had their eyes firmly on the past. They took every available opportunity to promote their own agendas and to savage and ridicule those of their political and literary opponents. You’ll examine a wide-range of literature considering the political, social and cultural contexts of the period. You’ll have three hours of contact time through lectures and seminars each week. 

Literature and Popular Culture
This module will give you an understanding of the relationship between literature and popular culture, as you explore works from across a range of genres and mediums such as prose fiction, poetry, comics, graphic novels, music, television and film. In addition to exploring topics such as aesthetics and adaptation, material will be situated within cultural, political and historical contexts allowing for the distinction between the literary and the popular. You’ll have two hours of lectures and an hour-long seminar each week
Modern and Contemporary Literature

This module will familiarise you with relevant aesthetic, generic, and literary-historical strategies for tracing formal and thematic transformations in twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Moving between genres, the module will unfold chronologically from modernism, through the inter-war years, and into the ‘contemporary scene’ up to the present day. You will have two hours of lectures and an hour-long seminar each week.

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Page
This module focuses on material written between 1580 and 1630 to provide you with an introduction to methods of reading early modern texts. Shakespeare’s poetry will be among the core texts; other canonical writers will include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney and John Donne. You’ll explore the practice of historicised readings of early modern texts and you’ll consider the related challenges and limitations.  You’ll have one hour of lectures and two hours of seminars each week.
Victorian and Fin de Siècle Literature: 1830-1910
You will explore a wide variety of Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, with examples from fiction, critical writing, poetry and drama. It will examine changes in literary forms and genres over this period, as well as looking at the contested transition between Victorianism and Modernism. The module is organised around a number of interrelated themes, to include empire and race, class and crime, identity and social mobility, gender and sexuality, and literature and consumerism. You’ll have a two-hour lecture along with an hour-long seminar each week.

English language and applied linguistics
Building on the study of language undertaken in Year one, these modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.

English Through Time

This module offers students an introduction to the history of the English language from the mid-fifth to the end of the twentieth century. There are two strands to this introduction: the first is linguistic, providing an introductory account of the history of the language, covering the broad outlines of language change and development; the other is stylistic, enabling students to apply linguistic knowledge to their readings of literary and other texts.

Particular attention is given to the history of writing from runes to printing; the effects of language contact, exemplified by that between Anglo-Saxons, Britons, Celts and Scandinavians, by the Norman Conquest, and by other instances of political contact; the origins of the huge lexical variety of English; and the origins, developments and implications of concepts of ‘standard’ English. Students will have opportunities to consider stylistically works by Chaucer, Shakespeare and others. Assessment will address both strands.

Language Development

You’ll explore how English is learnt from making sounds as an infant through to adulthood. Topics relating to early speech development include: the biological foundations of language development, the stages of language acquisition and the influence of environment on development. Further topics which take into account later stages of development include humour and joke telling abilities, story-telling and conversational skills and bilingualism. You’ll have three hours of contact time per week through a mix of workshops, practicals and lecture

Language in Society
This module provides a broad introduction to sociolinguistic theory. You will investigate:
  • the role that language has to play in constructing and reflecting cultural identities
  • theories of language variation across and within communities
  • the role of the English language in the world
  • the specific role of Standard English within British contexts
You will be introduced to both qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of sociolinguistics, combining theoretical linguistics and practical methodological investigation. You’ll have a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week.
Literary Linguistics

Bridging the study of literature and language, this module offers training in the discipline of literary linguistics, also known as ‘stylistics’. There is a focus on the analysis of linguistic and narratological aspects of literary texts in order to show their linguistic patterns. You’ll also consider the effects of texts on the reader, including their significance, meaning and value. The module offers an opportunity for specialisation in preparation for Year three modules in modern English language, particularly in the areas of stylistics, cognitive poetics and narratology. 

Text Across Time

This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.

The Psychology of Bilingualism and Language Learning

This module will introduce you to theories and practice of second language learning, enabling you to develop an in-depth understanding of the process in various settings.  Topics that are covered include: zone of proximal development, classroom interaction, collaborative learning, learning styles, and classroom methodology.  You will spend around three hours in a workshop each week.


Medieval languages and literatures
You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in Year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases, you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.

Chaucer and his Contemporaries: c.1380-c.1420

In this module you’ll be introduced to the exceptionally rich period of writing in English at the end of the fourteenth and turn of the fifteenth century. It will focus on the so-called ‘Ricardian’ poets, Chaucer (selected Canterbury Tales, Parliament of Fowls, Legend of Good Women), Langland (excerpts from Piers Plowman), Gower (excerpts from Confessio Amantis) and the Gawain-poet (Patience). You’ll also discuss Thomas Hoccleve’s early poems, and the prose works of the female mystics Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. You’ll have an hour-long lecture and two one-hour seminars weekly for this module.

English Through Time

This module offers students an introduction to the history of the English language from the mid-fifth to the end of the twentieth century. There are two strands to this introduction: the first is linguistic, providing an introductory account of the history of the language, covering the broad outlines of language change and development; the other is stylistic, enabling students to apply linguistic knowledge to their readings of literary and other texts.

Particular attention is given to the history of writing from runes to printing; the effects of language contact, exemplified by that between Anglo-Saxons, Britons, Celts and Scandinavians, by the Norman Conquest, and by other instances of political contact; the origins of the huge lexical variety of English; and the origins, developments and implications of concepts of ‘standard’ English. Students will have opportunities to consider stylistically works by Chaucer, Shakespeare and others. Assessment will address both strands.

Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North

In this module you will study and analyse the key texts of old Norse myth and legend from which popular stories come, along with pictorial versions in wood and stone from throughout the Viking world. You’ll explore the development of Norse myth and legend from the Viking Age, through medieval Christian Iceland, and into more recent times. You’ll have a one-hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week. 

Names and Identities

The module explores the origin of the names given to people, forenames, surnames, and nicknames, and examines the contribution that the study of them can make to linguistics, social and cultural history. The emphasis is on names used in England from the medieval period to the earlier twentieth century.

Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action.  You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.

Drama and performance
These modules gives you the opportunity to develop approaches from year one by studying twentieth and twenty-first century theatre: by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation's theatre. 

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage

This module offers an in-depth exploration of the historical and theatrical contexts of early modern drama. This module invites students to explore the stagecraft of innovative and provocative works by Shakespeare and key contemporaries, such as Middleton, Johnson, and Ford (amongst others). Students will explore how practical performance elements such as staging, props, costume and music shape meaning. You’ll have one hour-long lecture and one two-hour long seminar each week, with occasional screenings.

Stanislavski to Stelarc: Performance Practice and Theory
This module helps you develop your understanding of the theory and practice of theatre and performance from the beginnings of the twentieth century through to the present day. Building on the work encountered in Introduction to Drama, you will move forward from naturalism to consider the work of influential theorists and practitioners such as Stanislavski, Brecht, Meyerhold, Barba, Schechner, Boal, Artaud, Berkoff, Grotowski, Jarry and the futurists, whose work has had a major impact on theatre and performance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries . You’ll have a mix of lectures and workshops totalling three hours per week for this module.
Twentieth Century Plays
This module aims to provide you with an overview of key plays and performances from the 1890s to the present, placing those texts in their original political, social, and cultural contexts and considering their subsequent reception and afterlife. You’ll focus on the textual and performance effects created in those key texts, by writers such as Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee, and will be encouraged to situate those texts alongside the work of relevant theorists and practitioners. You’ll have an hour-long lecture and one two-hour seminar every week.

Creative writing
Students who choose Creative Writing Practice in year one as an option may take the following module: 

Fiction: Forms and Conventions

This module expands on the work done in the first year by undertaking a sustained analysis of technique and craft related to fiction writing, including narrative voice, point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, and setting. You will be introduced to a wide and diverse range of writers and techniques as well as exploring the publishing industry as it relates to fiction. You will develop your own creative work as well as your critical and reflective skills.

Poetry: Forms and Conventions

This module expands on the work done in the first year by undertaking a sustained analysis of technique and craft related to writing poetry, including poetic line, stanza, rhyme and related techniques, and imagery, along with a number of traditional forms such as the sonnet or haiku. You will be introduced to a wide and diverse range of writers and techniques as well as exploring the publishing industry as it relates to poetry. You will develop your own creative work as well as your critical and reflective skills.


Typical year three modules

The modules we offer in final year are inspired by the research interests of our staff. You will be able to choose modules based on the indicative topics below.

English literature 1500 to the present

  • D.H. Lawrence / Virginia Woolf
  • Eighteenth-century writers
  • Gothic literature
  • James Joyce / Oscar Wilde
  • Modern British Fiction
  • Post-colonial literature
  • Romanticism
  • Slavery and black writers
  • Twentieth-century dystopias
  • Victorian literature                            

English language and applied linguistics

  • Cognitive poetics
  • Creativity and language
  • English language teaching
  • Health communication
  • Language and the mind
  • Reading and writing in global English
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Stylistics
  • Texts in a digital world                          

Medieval languages and literatures

  • Anglo-Saxon literature
  • Arthurian literature
  • Chaucer and his legacy
  • English place names
  • Icelandic medieval literature
  • Poetry in the Middle Ages
  • Vikings in Britain

Drama and performance

  • Contemporary performance
  • Language and performance
  • Shakespeare on screen
  • Theatre industry and art
  • Theatre-making
  • British drama since 1990 

Creative writing
(Only available to students who have taken Creative Writing Practice in year one)

  • Advanced writing practice
  • Writing for performance

Individual research project

Students have the option of writing an individual research project in their final year. This will give you the chance to work on a one-to-one basis with a supervisor on an agreed area of study to produce a detailed and sustained piece of writing. This can be on a topic of language, literature or performance, or there is the option of undertaking a project-based dissertation, which will suit those students interested in applied or 'hands on' aspects of English as a discipline. The topics available build on the School’s engagement with local theatres and literacy projects. 


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.



By studying for a degree in English at Nottingham, you will gain many vital transferable skills identified as essential for high-level graduate employment and postgraduate study: communication and professional practice; creativity, initiative and problem-solving.

You will learn to plan your work, and develop the qualities of self-discipline, self-motivation and initiative that are essential to any form of graduate employment. We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way.

In addition to these skills, you will also have the opportunity to develop your employability profile further through innovative, bespoke placement and volunteering opportunities which create a bridge between your academic interests and the professional world of work. There are opportunities to accredit your extracurricular activities through the University’s Nottingham Advantage Award and in your final year, you may also have chance to complete a project-based dissertation.

For more information, please visit: www.nottingham.ac.uk/english/careers

Graduate career destinations

Graduates in English, as with many arts graduates, find themselves faced with many choices when it comes to selecting a career. No matter what your initial choice may be, you will find that the skills and knowledge that you have developed during your degree will have equipped you for the demanding and often highly changeable nature of the 21st-century workplace. Careers of our recent graduates have included:

  • accountancy, banking and finance
  • acting, television, film editing and related creative industries
  • business, consultancy and management
  • civil service and local government administration
  • events/exhibition management
  • human resource management
  • insurance
  • journalism - periodicals and broadcasting
  • law
  • librarianship, museum and archive and collection work
  • marketing, advertising and public relations 
  • management in the charitable sector
  • politics
  • primary and secondary school teaching
  • public relations
  • publishing and editorial work
  • social work
  • teaching English as a foreign language
  • tourism and heritage
  • writing  - as authors, poets, playwrights
  • university administration
  • university lecturing

Some students may decide that another year (or more) of study may give them an edge when it comes to seeking out a career and may, for example, choose to undertake postgraduate study or teacher training.

Careers Support and Advice

We have a Careers and Employability Service on campus, with dedicated  School of English support. The service works with students individually and in groups to deliver an extensive range of services such as:

  • careers advice
  • CV reviews
  • drop-in sessions
  • graduate job fairs
  • help finding the latest vacancies listings.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 94% of first-degree graduates in the School of English who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £19,809 with the highest being £30,000.* 

*Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2014/15.


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

Time in lectures, seminars and similar

The figure given for teaching in lectures, seminars and similar activities is an overall average calculated across the three years of the degree. We guarantee a minimum of 12 hours a week contact time in year 1 (26%), 10 hours in year 2 (17%) and 8 hours in year 3 (13%), with the increasing proportion of independent study time reflecting the enhanced research management and project development skills which our students gain during the course of their study with us.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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