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QV35 English Literature and Philosophy BA Undergraduate  2019


UCAS code QV35
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 2576

Course Summary


Joint Honours in English and Philosophy is a cross-disciplinary course, which develops and assesses skills, knowledge, and understanding across English and Philosophy, typically including a range of major philosophical and literary texts, important concepts, questions, arguments and methods. The course also fosters understanding of the relationships between English and Philosophy (through, for example, the compulsory Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism module, as well as optional modules offered by both Departments) and to develop detailed knowledge in either English or Philosophy through the preparation of a Dissertation on a chosen topic. The syllabus is equally weighted between the two subjects, although you may take one module more in one of the subjects (and therefore one less in the other) in year three.

Year 1

You will take three modules in English literature and three modules in Philosophy. The three first-year compulsory English modules introduce you to representative works in the major literary genres (novel, drama, and poetry), including knowledge of a range of writing before 1800. In the three first-year compulsory Philosophy modules, you will encounter the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, in their own writings; some central theories and arguments in the fields of Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology, or Philosophy of Mind, broadly understood; some central theories and arguments in the fields of Moral, Political, or Social Philosophy, broadly understood.

Compulsory modules:

In the first year, you will take the following English Literature and Philosophy modules:

  • Introduction to Drama
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • Introduction to Poetry
  • Ethics and Values
  • Knowledge and Reality
  • Reading Philosophy.

Year 2

Subject to your choices of modules within the course, you will acquire and be able to demonstrate broad and detailed knowledge within the disciplines of Philosophy and English, together with an awareness of an increased variety of the ideas, concepts, and contexts relating to these disciplines.

Compulsory modules:

  • Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism
  • Moral Theory
  • One of: Philosophy of Mind
  • Language, Logic, and Reality
  • Modern Philosophy I.

Optional modules :

Another two optional modules from English Literature and one optional module from Philosophy.

Optional lecture modules in English (taught by weekly lectures and four one-hour tutorials) have previously included:

  • Chaucer
  • Old English
  • Old Norse
  • Old French
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Victorian Literature
  • Literature of the Modern Period
  • American Poetry.

Optional seminar modules in English (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars) have previously included:

  • Modern Poetry
  • Literature in England and Wales: 1066-1300
  • Germanic Myth and Legend
  • The Australian Legend
  • Toni Morrison: Texts and Contexts
  • John Milton
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Shakespeare’s History Plays
  • The Brontes (a maximum of one may be selected).

Optional modules in Philosophy previously included:

  • Biomedical Ethics Past and Present
  • Science and Religion
  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Theory, Literature and Society
  • Philosophy of Science
  • The Philosophy of Economics and Politics: Theory, Methods and Values

Year 3

Subject to their choices of modules within the course, students will acquire and be able to demonstrate comprehensive and accurately detailed knowledge within the disciplines of Philosophy and English, exploring particular areas of specialisation in depth, as well as developing an awareness of the limitations of knowledge in each subject

The final year includes a compulsory 12,000-word Dissertation. In English this will be on a subject of your choice related to English literature. In Philosophy it will be an extensive study or survey of a philosophical problem or author.

Compulsory modules:

One from:

  • Dissertation in English 
  • Dissertation in Philosophy (40 credits).

Optional lecture modules in English (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
  • Medieval Literature.

Optional Special Topics in English (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars) have previously included:

  • Literature, Cinema and Neuroscience
  • Shakespeare on Film
  • US Cold War Literature and Culture
  • Writing Prose Fiction
  • Fictions of Terrorism
  • B. Yeats
  • Keats and Shelley
  • Elizabeth Bishop and Twentieth Century Verse
  • A Society of Equals? Literature, Culture and Equality
  • Creative Writing Poetry
  • Writing Mountains in the Early Twentieth Century
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Jewish American Fiction
  • Ballads and Popular Romance.

Optional modules in Philosophy previously included:

  • Modern Philosophy II
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • Aesthetics
  • Twentieth Century European Philosophy
  • Applied Ethics
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Gender, Film and Society
  • Metaphysics
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Ethics in Business Practice
  • Formal and Philosophical Logic.

We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2019 entry from September 2018.

Study Abroad

Students may apply to study abroad for an additional year between Levels 2 and 3 (transferring from BA Hons in English Literature and Philosophy to BA Hons English Literature and Philosophy with a Year Abroad). Supported by the International Office and the Department’s International Co-ordinator, students can put themselves forward for the following study abroad options:


(i) The Overseas Exchange programme (university-wide links with institutions in North America, the Far East, Australasia, and so on). A list of the University’s current partners is available here:


(ii) The Erasmus programme (Departmental link maintained with universities in EU countries). At present, English has exchanges with the following institutions (subject to change/renewal):

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.

Phillipps Universität, Marburg, Germany.

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany.

University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland.

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland.

Jagiellonian University, Kraków , Poland.


The year abroad is designed to promote and develop the knowledge and understanding of other cultures and languages via an approved placement. It also helps to promote and develop an advanced knowledge of the national, regional and/or international frameworks in which literature is produced and categorised.


Successful year abroad applicants will take a course of study chosen in consultation with the International Co-ordinator and the host institution.  Modules relating to literary study should normally comprise a minimum of 50% of those taken. There should not be significant overlap between modules taken on the Year Abroad and modules taken in Durham.

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

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 modules, three in the Department of Philosophy and three in the Department of English Studies, which provide an induction into the disciplines of literary and philosophical study. Philosophical development is principally a matter of acquiring a range of reasoning skills, rather than familiarising oneself with a body of knowledge. Hence, from the outset, the programme places a strong emphasis on dialogical interaction. Lectures involve plenty of opportunities for questions and extended discussion, and tutorials consist mostly of structured, critical dialogue in the context of a friendly, supportive environment. 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. 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. The curriculum continues to require you to engage with a range of periods and styles of literary and philosophical study, with modules introducing new problems in a more specific framework. All students take the compulsory modules, The Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism and Moral Theory, along with two further lecture- and/or seminar-based modules in each Department. These build upon lower level modules in a coherent, progressive fashion. Seminar modules have a strong research component and are taught in 2-hour, fortnightly seminar sessions, often involving 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. The average 7 hours of weekly contact time in Year 2 requires extensive directed learning and independent research of c. 34 hours per week.

The average contact time in the third year is 5 hours per week and you will be expected to take further responsibility for managing your own time. The curriculum, while continuing to offer support and guidance, will require you to use the skills in independent study and time management you have developed in the two preceding years. This will culminate with the dissertation, a large research project undertaken in either the Philosophy or English Department, giving you the opportunity to pursue extended creative and advanced research, and either literary analysis at a very high level, or intensive critical engagement with your own philosophical position and argument, depending on the discipline.

In addition to your dissertation, during the third year you will have the opportunity to take further specialist modules in both Philosophy and English. You will also be expected to spend at least 35 hours each week in independent study.

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.

Admissions Process

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
  • Typical IB score 38 to include 666 in higher level subjects. Higher level grade 6 in English Literature is required
  • We will be reviewing our entry requirements for 2018 entry in the summer of 2017 and will publish finalised entry requirements for 2018 entry on the University’s website and at UCAS before 1 September 2017
  • We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact our Admissions Secretary.

Science A Levels

Applicants taking Science A Levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A Levels with an English examination board.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £9,250.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £19,250.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

English Studies

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 2016:

  • 90% are in employment or further study

Of those in employment:

  • 91% are in graduate level employment
  • Median salary £22,851

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2015/16 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

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 University 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.


Dr Andreas Pantazatos<br>Employability Officer

Durham Philosophy graduates possess skills in critical thinking, logical analysis and the clear communication of complex information that make them much sought after in many professional walks of life. Our research-led teaching ensures that they are not only well informed about the latest developments in Philosophy, but also competent researchers in their own right, able to think for themselves and tackle problems imaginatively. Philosophy at Durham is not an 'ivory tower' subject and students are taught to relate theory to practice and see the relevance of their studies to everyday life. Our broad programme covers all major areas of Philosophy and includes modules in moral philosophy (e.g. Applied Ethics and Biomedical Ethics), Political Philosophy, Science & Religion, History & Philosophy of Psychiatry and Theory, Literature and Society which explicitly apply philosophical techniques to real-world problems.

All students in their final year write a long dissertation that provides an excellent opportunity for them to put the final edge on their analytical, research and presentational skills. Some Durham Philosophy graduates proceed to higher-degree study and an academic career; others enter a wide range of professions including the law and civil service, management, public relations, teaching, marketing, retail and financial services. In the 2012 Complete University Guide, Durham Philosophy graduates rank joint-second in the UK for 'graduate prospects'.

Of those students that left in 2016:

- 84% are in employment or further study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

- 81% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £23,038

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2015/16 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

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in Philosophy. Many remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also at other prestigious institutions including the London School of Economics and Cambridge. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance and teaching to name but a few.

Employability development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the Philosophy Department. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. These cover career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. Q & A sessions are also available in which students can ask the adviser anything about their future career plans or ideas.

Durham University Philosophy graduates enter a wide range of career areas including publishing, retail, marketing, business and finance. Our graduates find employment with leading employers in both the public and private sectors such as British Telecom, The Royal Society of Medicine, Goldman Sachs, Government Olympic Committee, KPMG, The Royal Navy and PwC. Specific roles our graduates have progressed into include marketing graduate, trainee accountant, international financial analyst, account manager and press publishing administrator.

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:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

English Studies


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 – but 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.


  • 95% of our English Studies students said they were satisfied with the quality of their course in the National Student Survey 2017 (sector-wide average 90%)
  • 1st in The Complete University Guide 2018
  • 1st in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2018
  • 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2018.


For a current list of staff, please see the English Studies web pages.


The Department is housed in a Grade II listed building, Hallgarth House and in Elvet Riverside.  Both 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.




Philosophy studies profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life. At Durham University, we offer a distinctive, research-led Philosophy curriculum, incorporating considerable levels of variety and choice. Whatever you choose, you will be taught by
internationally renowned experts in the field.

We are one of the UK’s top philosophy departments. The exceptionally high-quality education you receive here will equip you with critical
abilities that can be put to use in all sorts of ways and which are prized by employers.


  • 95% of our Philosophy students said that the course is intellectually stimulating in the National Student Survey 2017
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2018
  • 6th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department web pages.


Durham is one of the larger Philosophy departments in the UK, with 20 permanent members of staff. We are known as a very friendly department where you will have a lot of contact with full-time academic staff. We have an excellent department library that complements the University and college libraries. There is an active Philosophical Society and a weekly research seminar which students are welcome to attend.