Applying for Entry
The Department welcomes applications from highly motivated, well-rounded candidates with a strong interest in English literature, excellent interpretative and expressive skills, and a willingness to work hard. We value intellectual potential, as well as academic achievement. All applications are carefully considered by members of the academic staff of the Department; and in each case the entire application-form will be taken into account. There is no one criterion that automatically results in an offer being made.
All prospective applicants should note that in recent years the Department has been extremely successful at attracting large numbers of excellent candidates for admission. In 2008-2009, for example, a total of 2100 applications were received for just 103 places. In effect, this meant that well over 80% of applicants in this year did not receive an offer.
The Department deals with admissions for Single Honours in English Literature (Q300) and Joint Honours in English Literature and History (QV21) and English Literature and Philosophy (QV35). Some of our modules are also made available to students on the Combined Honours (QRV0) programme and in Education Studies with English Studies (X1Q3). Admissions for these programmes are considered by the Combined Honours Office (in the case of the former) and by the School of Education (in the case of the latter).
All applicants for Single Honours taking A-levels will need to be predicted to achieve (or have already achieved) at least A in English Literature or the Combined English Literature/Language A-level and one A* and one A grade in two other subjects, excluding General Studies. Applicants for joint honours English and History will need to be predicted an A in each of History and English Literature or the Combined English Literature/Language A-level and an A* grade in any other subject (excluding General Studies). Applicants for joint honours English and Philosophy will need to be predicted an A in English Literature or the Combined English Literature/Language A-level and one A* and one A grade in two other subjects, excluding General Studies. Many of our applicants now take four subjects at A-level. In addition, of those applicants who have taken GCSEs, a high proportion have achieved top marks in most subjects taken. We think it helpful for our students if they have taken a classical or a modern foreign language at least to GCSE.
Our admissions selectors will continue to consider applicants who are not necessarily predicted to meet the typical entry requirement for our programmes. If, through other evidence in their applications, such applicants show the required level of merit and potential for undergraduate studies at Durham University, our selectors may make achievable offers to them. Students taking the International Baccalaureate will need to be predicted to achieve (or have already achieved) at least 38 points overall, including 7/6/6 points in Higher Level subjects, to include English. In practice, most of our successful applicants achieve higher scores than this.
Students taking Scottish Highers will need to achieve (or have already achieved) at least AAAAA in Scottish Highers, including AA in Advanced Highers (and one of these As at Advanced Higher should be in English Literature).
In addition, we welcome applications from:
- Mature students (who do not necessarily have to meet the above requirements and should contact us for consultation and advice before making an application);
- Students with non-standard qualifications;
- Students from overseas who have a fluent command of English.
The Department considers all on-time applications - i.e. any application that is received by UCAS's annually published deadline. Applications received after this date may not be considered. The Department endeavours to make offers as quickly as possible, but it will not make all of its offers until it has received all of its on-time applications.
Durham is a collegiate University and there are thirteen undergraduate colleges on the Durham Campus. Students who successfully apply for admission to the Department of English Studies will be guaranteed a place at one of the colleges for the full three years of the programme. Unlike other collegiate universities, the colleges do not determine whether a candidate will be made an offer of entry to the university. A student applying to Durham can, if they wish, state a preference for a particular college on their UCAS form, but it is not always possible for such preferences to be accommodated.
The Department of English Studies has a quota of places at all thirteen colleges, although the quota varies from college to college. If the Department decides that it is going to make an offer, then it will forward the application to that college for its consideration. Applicants are not obliged to select a preference college. If the application is left 'open', then the Department will decide which college will receive the application. All Durham offers are then made via the colleges.
Because of the collegiate structure at Durham, applications to this institution can take longer than other Universities, although every effort is made to ensure that applications are dealt with as efficiently as possible. You can track your application at Durham through the Applicant Enquiry Service.
We no longer interview applicants, except occasionally in the case of mature students.
We are reluctant to defer entry except in cases where you have firmly arranged plans that require you to live abroad for the whole of the year after A-level. This is because we have to be careful not to fill too many of next year's places in advance. However, if you do apply for a deferred place and you are not made an offer, you are more than welcome to reapply the following year.
Students who are made an offer to read English at Durham are invited to attend a post-application Open Day in March. These invitations are sent out by your college and it provides you with an opportunity to stay in residence so that you can experience a little of college life. Furthermore you will experience a little more of what it is like to study at Durham by attending a series of mini-lectures and tutorials that are offered by the Department. It is also an opportunity to meet the members of the Department and other students.
- Will I still be considered if I don't have additional passes at AS level? Yes, if there is a good reason for this and it is made clear in your reference or personal statement (e.g., that some schools choose not to 'cash-in' the scores at AS level).
- Can I be considered for English Literature SH or JH if I'm taking English Language A-level or a combined Lit. and Lang. A-level?We would accept Eng. Lit. and Lang. as your 'English' A-level, but an A-level in English Language would only be accepted as one of your other A levels and not as the required A-level in English.
- Does the department have preferences for A level subjects? We welcome combinations of arts and humanities or arts, humanities and sciences, although General Studies is not counted as one of your main three A-levels.
- What should I aim for in my personal statement? The department prefers that the largest part of the statement should be given over to literary and reading interests, rather than extra-curricular activity. We are not looking for you to list every book that you have read, but rather we are looking for you to explain and reflect upon what you have found worthy of admiration and the kinds of qualities associated with your enjoyment of particular books. We prefer to hear about books you have read recently, rather than childhood favourites. We expect clarity and accuracy in your style and use of English and an ability to write engagingly and with insight. We regret that, because of the high numbers of applications that we receive, we cannot offer individual advice about the style and content of personal statements.
- When does the Department make its decisions? The Department endeavours to make offers as quickly as possible, but it will not make all of its offers until it has received all of its on-time applications. You can track your application at Durham through the Applicant Enquiry Service.
- Will I be disadvantaged if I apply late? Not as long as your application is received by UCAS before its published deadline (usually in mid-January). Applications received after this date may not be considered.
- Does the Department support widening participation and if so, how? Yes. In particular, we are currently developing a programme in conjunction with the University's Foundation Centre.