Q300 English Literature BA Undergraduate 2017
|Mode of study||Full Time|
|Please also check Requirements and Admissions.|
|Telephone||+44 (0)191 334 2576|
Single Honours in English Studies offers a comprehensive syllabus, which combines traditional areas of literary study with new and developing areas of the discipline. It aims to develop your conceptual abilities and analytical skills by exposing you to a variety of literary critical approaches, to promote and develop clarity and persuasiveness in argument and expression, and to enable you to develop, to a high degree of competence, a range of skills which are at once subject-specific and transferable. A Degree in English Studies will equip you for a wide variety of professions and employment, as well as for advanced postgraduate study of English and related disciplines.
There are three compulsory modules in Year 1 – Introduction to Drama, Introduction to the Novel, and Introduction to Poetry – each of which introduces you to representative works in the major literary genres. There are also four optional modules, from which Single Honours students may select one, two or three. Previously these have offered the possibility to study important influences on English literature (Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to English Literature), early literature (Romance and the Literature of Chivalry and Myth and Epic of the North) and the history of the English language (English: Language, Use and Theory).
This year will focus on advancing skills of critical analysis and argument you have already acquired at A-level, critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts, such as the awareness of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature and of the affective power of language, and on the introduction of more advanced concepts and theories relating to literature.
- Introduction to Drama
- Introduction to the Novel
- Introduction to Poetry.
Up to three of the following selected from a range which has previously included (or up to two open modules offered by other departments):
- Romance and the Literature of Chivalry
- Myth and Epic of the North
- Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to English Literature
- English: Language, Use and Theory.
Year 2 builds on the knowledge and skills developed in first year by broadening the range of literary texts and periods with which you will engage. You will study a substantial number of authors, topics and texts and gain awareness of the range and variety of approaches to literary study. The second year also develops your ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to literature, as well as your powers of critical argument and command of written English. You will develop your capacity for autonomous learning and independence of thought by, for example, exploring, selecting from, and drawing together in an appropriate way specific texts and topics chosen from a wide syllabus.
Students must take the modules Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism and Shakespeare in Year 2 and choose up to three lecture modules and a seminar module. Some lecture modules cover historical periods, such as Medieval Literature and Victorian Literature, while others focus on key literary figures, themes or language, such as Shakespeare, American Fiction, and Old English.
- Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism
Optional lecture modules (taught by weekly lectures and four one-hour tutorials) have previously included:
- Medieval Literature
- Old English
- Old Norse
- Old French
- Renaissance Literature
- Victorian Literature
- Literature of the Modern Period
- American Fiction.
Optional seminar modules (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars) have previously included:
- Modern Poetry
- Germanic Myth and Legend
- The Australian Legend
- Toni Morrison: Texts and Contexts
- John Milton
- Evelyn Waugh.
In the final year you will be able to demonstrate a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the subject, together with mature awareness of the variety of ideas relating to it. You will be able to demonstrate an ability to make connections and comparisons within your extensive range of reading. You will have developed the ability to interpret different ideas and values represented in literature, to test the ideas of others and to pursue ideas of your own. You will have acquired mature critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts, confident powers of critical argument and a developed command of written English. You will appreciate the importance of scholarly standards of presentation and of writing accurately, clearly and effectively.
The final year includes a compulsory 12,000-word Dissertation on a subject of your choice related to English literature. The Dissertation involves guided research on a self-formulated question, the gathering and processing of relevant information and materials, and results in work of sustained argumentative and analytic power.
In addition to the Dissertation, students may choose up to three lecture modules and up to two ‘Special Topics’, which develop the skills introduced in seminar modules at Level 2.
- Dissertation (40 credits).
Optional lecture modules (taught by weekly lectures and four one-hour tutorials) have previously included:
- Old English
- Old Norse
- Old French
- Restoration and 18th Century Literature
- Literature of the Romantic Period
- Post-War Fiction and Poetry
- American Fiction.
Optional Special Topics (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars) have previously included:
- Literature, Cinema and Neuroscience
- Shakespeare on Film
- Shakespeare’s Problem Plays
- US Cold War Literature and Culture
- Writing Prose Fiction
- Fictions of Terrorism
- W. B. Yeats
- Elizabeth Bishop and Twentieth Century Verse
- A Society of Equals? Literature, Culture and Equality
- Creative Writing Poetry
- Contemporary Mountain Writing
- Seamus Heaney.
The Department is part of the ERASMUS programme which encourages students to study for part of their course in a university of another EU country. Currently, we are exchanging students with the University of Reykjavik (Iceland), Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic) and Heidelberg University (Germany) in their second year of study.
The University of Reykjavik has special strengths in Old Norse and houses the world’s most important collection of Old Norse manuscripts. Charles University is one of the oldest universities in Central Europe and Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany. Both have exceptionally beautiful settings in cities renowned for their artistic and cultural heritage. Teaching is in English at all three universities.
Course Learning and Teaching
Students studying English Literature at Durham University typically receive 8 contact hours per week in the first year (lectures and tutorials), 7 in the second year, and 5 in the third year (lectures, tutorials and seminars) per week. In addition, the course requires a very considerable amount of directed independent learning: a minimum of 30 hours per week, comprised of reading primary and secondary sources, writing formative and assessed essays, and preparation of tutorial and seminar assignments. From the outset the Department cultivates an ethos of research-led teaching and the acquisition of specialist study skills, as well as transferable skills. Throughout, particular emphasis is placed on small group teaching and individual academic development. The balance of contact hours across the course reflects individual progression in research, analysis and writing.
In the first year, students take six lecture modules (three compulsory), which cover the main genres, historical periods, contexts and backgrounds to English literature. Students may take up to two external modules. Weekly lectures are supplemented by small-group tutorials (an introductory meeting plus seven tutorials per module). Specialist research, analytical and writing skills are developed in formative essays and individual feedback sessions, which play a key role in the delivery of the English degree and in academic progression. The average contact time of 8 hours per week is supported by directed reading, tutorial preparation and essay research and writing, comprising at least 30 hours per week. Of this, recommended reading for lectures will occupy at least 3 hours per module per week: a total of 18 hours per week. Preparation for each tutorial typically involves at least 4 hours of directed reading and assignments; and research and writing of formative essays typically involves at least 8 hours per week. Teaching methods are designed to support the directed learning model, for example, through the provision of reading lists, assignments, presentation briefs and online materials. Directed learning is also supported by the Durham University online learning environment (DUO). In addition to lectures and tutorials, four plenary sessions support and develop directed learning and study skills throughout the year and prepare students to make module choices for their second year.
In the second year, in keeping with the Department’s policy on academic progression, an increasing emphasis is placed on the development of critical and analytical skills. All students take the compulsory lecture modules, ‘The Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism’ and ‘Shakespeare’. Students may take up to three further lecture modules (organised for optimum historical coverage over Years 2 and 3) and a seminar module, which may be author- or theme-based, with a strong research component. Seminar modules are taught in 2-hour, fortnightly seminar sessions, which often include individual or group presentations. Seminars involve significant preparation (c. 10 hours), typically reading assigned texts and secondary material, preparing assigned topics, and researching and preparing presentations. Individual consultation sessions allow for discussion of a plan of the first assessed essay with seminar convenors. Overall, the small group ethos is maintained in second year, lecture modules typically involving four tutorials and individual meetings with tutors for essay feedback, in which individual writing and analysis are developed. The average 7 hours of weekly contact time in Year 2 requires extensive directed learning and independent research of c. 34 hours per week: typically 14 hours recommended reading for lecture modules; 10 hours reading and preparation for special topic modules; 10 hours tutorial preparation, research and essay writing.
The average contact time in the third year is 5 hours per week. Students take four taught modules in third year, in addition to a compulsory, double-weighted dissertation. Taught modules comprise lecture modules (up to three may be selected), which are delivered through weekly lectures and supported by tutorials (four per module); and research-focused Special Topics (up to two may be taken), delivered through fortnightly 2-hour seminars. The key focus of the third year is the further development of independent research, analysis and writing skills, which are emphasized in the Special Topics and find their fullest expression in the dissertation, a large research project which offers the possibility for extended creative and advanced research and literary analysis at a very high level on a topic of the student’s choice and which forms a key element in the Department’s emphasis on undergraduate research and independent learning. While the emphasis is on independent research and writing, all students receive four 30-minute sessions of individual specialist supervision, and four 1-hour plenary sessions covering choice of title, research methods and skills, structure and presentation, researching, writing and referencing the dissertation (6.5 hours of supervision in all). Individual learning is also supported by the cumulative skills acquired over the three years in literary theory and analysis, close reading, essay writing, and research methods and resources. Students are expected to spend at least 37 hours on independent directed learning per week: typically 8 hours on the dissertation, 14 hours on recommended reading for lectures, 5 hours on special topic reading and preparation, and 10 hours on tutorial preparation and researching and writing essays.
Throughout the undergraduate degree, all students are encouraged to participate in the Department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including public lectures, special guest lectures, and lectures, readings and workshops by visiting UK and overseas academics and creative writers. Postdoctoral and postgraduate students regularly offer seminars and study days. In addition, students are invited to attend regular lectures and workshops on personal development and employment prospects, organised jointly by the Department and the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre. In addition to College mentors, who offer pastoral support, academic support is available from module tutors, seminar leaders, and module conveners, in addition to an Academic Advisor, allocated to every student at the beginning of their degree.
Subject requirements, level and grade
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
- We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or from those who may have had a break in their study.
- We require Grade A in English Literature (or the combined English Literature and Language A Level)
- We require a Grade A* in any subject
- We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
- We will be reviewing our entry requirements for 2017 entry in the summer of 2016 and will publish finalised entry requirements for 2017 entry on the University’s website and at UCAS before 1 September 2016
- We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact our Admissions Secretary.
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
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Fees and Funding
Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Durham has an excellent graduate employment record. Surveys by the CVCP for the last twenty years have shown Durham consistently in the top five places of the employment league table. Our graduates have gone on to careers in the media, law, the Civil Service, teaching, higher education,research, management, publishing, and the arts. Partly because of its supportive collegiate structure and its strong departmental teaching, the Durham University is regularly among the country's top performers in graduate employment, and the Department of English Studies is very highly regarded by employers. Many of our students choose to continue their studies with our Taught MA in English Literary Studies.
Embarking on a career with the BBC after graduation I found that Durham University is held in very high esteem amongst employers. The University name provided me with an association of prestige which helped to give an edge in a competitive market.
Of those students that left in 2014:
- 89% are in employment or further study
Of those in employment:
- 82% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £22,400
(These statistics are based on the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2013/413 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found here: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/content/view/2889)
Employment development opportunities
The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works extremely closely with the English Department to ensure that current students receive information and vacancies relevant to their needs. Innovative talks take place by a Careers Adviser and external speakers to ensure that the students receive the most relevant and up to date advice about professions that English students are attracted too.
Durham is a target Univerity for KPMG because of the high calibre, high quality graduates. A degree in English from Durham is a great opportunity for students to develop their skill set to aid them in any recruitment process. To make an impact with colleagues and clients, you must be able to communicate clearly and confidently, both verbally and in writing.
Open days and visits
Pre-application open day
Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.
Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place: www.durham.ac.uk/opendays
Overseas Visit Schedule
From the Vikings to Shakespeare’s Kings; from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf. You can read it all at
English studies will appeal to people with a sensitivity to language, a love of reading and a sense of intellectual adventure. As poet Lawrence of Durham put it over 800 years ago,“Describing art in words itself takes art”. Not only does the Department of English Studies provide a thorough grounding in literary theory and the ‘great tradition’ of English literature – from Chaucer and Shakespeare through to plays, poems and novels written in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – it also offers a wide range of imaginative and carefully designed modules.
You will have the opportunity to study English-language literature in a variety of non-British contexts, including Ireland, Canada, Australia and the USA; and/or to study some of the languages used in Medieval England, such as Old Norse, Old French and Old English. English is a very popular and highly regarded subject, and the linguistic, critical and analytical skills that it teaches are highly transferable.
- 96% of our English Studies students said they were satisfied with the quality of their
course in the National Student Survey 2015 (sector-wide average 91%).
- 1st in The Complete University Guide 2016.
- 1st in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016.
- 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2016.
The Department is housed in a Grade II listed building, Hallgarth House, and in Elvet Riverside and Old Elvet. All three buildings are close to the University’s Bill Bryson Library and the special collections in the Palace Green Library. The Department has strong links with the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Seventeenth Century Studies, the Centre for Medical Humanities, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, which oversees the archive of the distinguished Northumbrian modernist poet, Basil Bunting, and the Institute of Advanced Study.
These internationally recognised institutions represent just some of the research interests and archive resources within the University. Durham students run their own English Society, which provides many opportunities for theatre visits, especially to the Royal Shakespeare Company season in Newcastle every year. There is also a strong tradition of student drama and music within the Department and the University as a whole.