English Literature BA (Hons)

Overview

Portsmouth is the perfect place to study literature. Charles Dickens was born here, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called these streets home, and Rudyard Kipling’s work was inspired by his early years in the city.

On this BA (Hons) English Literature degree course, you’ll examine literature from classics to the contemporary, and become an expert in reading, analysing and discussing the written works that inspire you.

You’ll emerge with a skill set that’s sought after for careers in the arts, publishing and media. The critical thinking, reading and analytical abilities you'll develop will also set you up for postgraduate study or roles in areas like teaching and politics.

What you'll experience:

  • Build your knowledge of literature, from Shakespeare to the present day, and across genres from crime writing to magical realism
  • Learn from staff who are undertaking research in this field, ensuring you keep abreast of the latest developments
  • Tailor your studies to the areas of literature that excite you the most, choosing modules that match your interests
  • Develop analytical reading, presentation and team-work skills that’ll serve you in your future career
  • Get plenty of one-on-one sessions with your personal tutor

You can also:

  • Meet high-profile figures in the literary world and attend a reception at our annual Literary Prizes and Public Acclaim event
  • Develop personal and professional contacts locally and further afield through our work-related modules

Work experience and career planning

To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.

We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your portfolio.

What you'll study:

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.

Year 1

Core modules

Body Politics – 40 credits- On this module you'll look at how ideas of the body are used to understand society and critically interrogate notions of the body as 'natural' by examining its cultural construction in terms of gender, race and sexuality.

English Literature: Academic Enrichment Programme – 0 credits- This academic enrichment programme (AEP) sits alongside your timetabled classes and consists of workshops, seminars, employability events and other activities on various topics.

Global Identities – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll assess literature across cultures in the context of globalisation, looking at the transcultural and transnational implications this has for understanding our own cultures, environments and identities.

Popular Culture: Spies, Dragons, Time Machines – 20 credits- This module introduces you to theories and critical thinking about popular culture, in particular in contrast to what is perceived as ‘high’ culture or literature belonging to the canon.

The Short Story: Murder, Madness and Experimentation – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll focus on a series of short stories. 

Unpacking Texts: Introducing Critical Theory – 20 credits- This module introduces you to a variety of critical approaches, movements and concepts to enhance your literary studies.

Year 2

Core modules

English Literature: Academic Enrichment Programme – 0 credits- This academic enrichment programme (AEP) sits alongside your timetabled classes and consists of workshops, seminars, employability events and other activities on various topics.

Literary Prizes and Public Acclaim – 20 credits- On this module you'll engage with a range of literary prizes and examine the ways in which they can influence the development of literary taste. You'll also engage in a professional project to run your own literary prize. 

Research in Practice – 20 credits- This module introduces you to the processes of research, through case studies showing a variety of approaches (such as interdisciplinary, archival, etc.) and exercises building towards your dissertation.

Optional modules

Bloody Shakespeare: Shakespeare's History Plays – 20 credits- This module examines some of Shakespeare's most fascinating plays: Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V.

Crime Writing – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll focus on popular representations of crime and criminality from the early nineteenth century to the interwar period.

Danger! Censorship, Power and the People – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll explore the history of censorship and state power in Britain from 1850–2000, probing issues surrounding power, control and resistance.

Dystopian and Apocalyptic Environments: Ecocrisis in the Literary Imagination – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll study ecocritical (the interdisciplinary study of literature and the environment) perspectives on British and North American dystopian and apocalyptic literature from the late-nineteenth century to the present.

Gender and the Media – 20 credits- On this module you'll look historically, politically and critically at theories concerning gender.

Imagined Communities: Ethnicity and National Identity – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll explore the construction of national and ethnic identities by examining a number of national and chronological case studies.

Modern Foreign Language (IWLP) - 20 credits- In this module, you'll study 1 of 8 modern languages on the University's free Institution-Wide Language Programme.

Learning from Experience – 20 credits- On this module you can gain credits from paid or unpaid work, volunteering, research placements, internships and other work-related learning including self-employment.

Mortals and Immortals: Man, God and the Devil in Early Modern Literature – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll look at how early modern texts negotiate the relationship between man, God and the devil; how they represent and/or foster earthly, heavenly and demonic spaces and communities; and how they signal the mediation between the earthly and the spiritual through themes and acts of translation.

Neo-Historical Fiction – 20 credits- On this module you'll consider the genre of neo-historical fiction and focus on how twentieth-century and contemporary authors have developed this genre to respond to the needs of the postmodern and contemporary era.

Propaganda – 20 credits- On this module you'll explore historical and current functions of propaganda in society.

Puritans to Postmodernists: American Literature – 20 credits- This module focuses on American literature from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Research in Practice – 20 credits- This module introduces you to the processes of research, through case studies showing a variety of approaches (such as interdisciplinary, archival, etc.) and exercises building towards your dissertation.

Screen Media – 20 credits- On this module you'll develop your knowledge of screen media in society and entertainment.

Slavery and Antislavery in the Atlantic World – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll examine key areas in the history of slavery in the Atlantic world and look at key themes, such as slavery and gender, slave resistance and punishment, and the development of anti-slavery perspectives and abolition.

Space, Place and Being – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll study the importance of place in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature, and its relation to gendered identity.

Study Abroad – 60 credits- On this module you'll take part in a study abroad programme in a sandwich year with an agreed partner of the University.

Transmedia Narratives and Strategies - 20 credits- This module introduces you to the movement towards cross-platform multi-media content through transmedia world building strategies and storytelling narrative structures.

Underworlds: Crime, Deviance and Punishment in Britain, 1500-1900 – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll explore the control of crime and deviant behaviour in Britain between 1500 and 1900 and examine the legal framework for control, prosecution and punishment, what was considered a crime at this period, the observed patterns in criminal behaviour, and current perceptions of crime in the media.

Women's Writing in the Americas – 20 credits- On this module you'll study women’s writing from across the Americas. You'll read literature from historical moments such as slavery, post-colonialism, suffrage, second wave feminism and post-feminism. 

Optional sandwich year

Work Placement Year - 120 credits- With support, you'll identify and arrange a placement opportunity with an appropriate company or organisation.

Year 3

Core modules

English Literature: Academic Enrichment Programme – 0 credits- This academic enrichment programme (AEP) sits alongside your timetabled classes and consists of workshops, seminars, employability events and other activities on various topics.

Dissertation/Major Project (English Literature) – 40 credits- On this module, you'll design and complete an extended piece of academic research with clear and specific aims. You'll base your research on your own interests, research, original thought, and personal learning about a specialised topic of study. Your research can take different forms depending on the aims and focus of your dissertation.

Optional modules

Consuming Fictions: Food and Appetite in Victorian Culture – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll explore representations of food, appetite and the body in a range of Victorian literary and non-literary texts including novels, poems, children's stories and cookery books.

Dangerous Desires: Renaissance Revenge Drama – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll approach revenge drama of the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline periods through a variety of potentially dangerous desires including desire for revenge itself, for wealth and status, and for socially unsuitable sexual partners.

Enlightenment: Literature, Culture and Modernity – 20 credits- In this module, you’ll examine the literature of the European Enlightenment.

Holocaust Literatures – 20 credits- On this module you'll familiarise yourself with literary presentations of the Holocaust.

Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits- The module will introduce you to the role and expectations of a teacher.

Learning from Experience – 20 credits- On this module you can gain credits from paid or unpaid work, volunteering, research placements, internships and other work-related learning including self-employment.

Magical Realism – 20 credits- On this module you'll consider and compare a variety of definitions of magical realism.

News, War and Peace – 20 credits- This module gives you an understanding of the news media's role in conflict and peace.

Professional Development: Recruiters and Candidates – 20 credits- On this module you'll develop your understanding of the job application process from the perspective of recruiters and candidates.

Representing Science in the Media – 20 credits- In this module, you'll examine representations of science and technology.

Special Subject: Group Project 1 – 20 credits- This module encompasses a variety of topics, from which you’ll make your choice, each based around the research specialism of a topic tutor.

Special Subject: Individual Research 2 – 20 credits- In this module you'll choose a special subject from a range of topics, each based around the research specialism of your tutor.  

Studying Comedy – 20 credits- On this module, you’ll examine key historical and theoretical ideas in the study of comedy. 

Time, Temporality, Contemporary Fiction – 20 credits- On this module you'll analyse concepts of time and temporality in contemporary literature and theory.

TV Drama and Society – 20 credits- This module examines how TV drama reflects and influences social, political and ideological landscapes.

US Masculinities – 20 credits- On this module you'll study the representation of masculinity in US literature and film.

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • textual analysis
  • presentations
  • a dissertation
  • real-world projects
  • creative assignments

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year 1 students: 100% by coursework
  • Year 2 students: 100% by coursework
  • Year 3 students: 100% by coursework

Careers and opportunities

A degree in English literature is a great foundation for a career in the arts. Graduate employers also value the sophisticated analytical and presentational skills you'll develop on this course.

What can you do with an English Literature degree?

After the course, you could work in areas such as:

  • advertising
  • journalism
  • arts and media
  • public relations
  • copywriting
  • teaching
  • research

You could also study at postgraduate level.

Our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job or course that puts your skills to work. After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.

BA (Hons), BA (Hons) Award
September Start
Full-time, Sandwich Study Mode
3 years Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

96-112 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, to include English.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

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