A degree in English Literature and American Studies will help you grow from passionate reader into a critical thinker and literary scholar, while transforming your understanding of the world’s most powerful and influential nation, the United States.
In both disciplines, you’ll be taught by research-active academics who bring fresh thinking to our accessible, engaging courses. This means you’ll study literature written in English by writers from all parts of the globe, whose voices are relevant and important in our modern world. Our American Studies modules will teach you to approach the study of America from multiple perspectives, to make connections between American history, politics, literature and popular culture in ways you have never considered before.
On your literature courses, we’ll introduce you to writers who will open doors to contemporary worlds and cultures remote from your own, and also help you explore more familiar literature in ways that challenge your preconceptions.
Whatever your taste in literature, there will be something to interest and provoke you. From The Tiger Who Came to Tea to Jane Eyre, from Paradise Lost to Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, we’ll broaden your literary horizons and hone your critical thinking.
A core Literature module in your first year will equip you to read and interpret both traditional and contemporary literary texts critically as a scholar of English literature. Alongside this you can choose to revisit Shakespeare and consider his cultural relevance today through fictional, cinematic and TV adaptations; or to deepen your understanding of Gothic writing by tracing its origins back to the Romantic era.
In American Studies, you will take two core modules which explore American society through literature, historical documents, music, film and television. These will help you to understand America in different ways: by exploring regional differences between areas such as the South and the West and considering the cultural significance of the city in American life; and by focusing on a variety of key themes which have shaped American life, such as revolution, the environment, war, protest and race. Optional modules allow you to establish a firm foundational knowledge of American literature, and to analyse the forging of the nation’s social and culture identity by studying twentieth-century music, sports and entertainment.
In your second year you’ll focus on period-based literature from the Renaissance onwards and gain an understanding of literary history, from Elizabethan verse and drama, via Augustan poetry and the emergence of the novel in the 18 th century, to the radical transformations of the Victorian age, and the emergence of modernity in the twentieth century. You’ll also have the opportunity to consider ways of reading that go beyond textual analysis or historical context, such as understanding literature through the political or ideological lens of Marxism, feminism and post-colonial theory.
Besides this, you’ll study American Literature from the colonial period to the end of the twentieth century, a century of American history from the end of the American Civil War through to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and US cinema of the last forty years, from the end of the old studio system through to the current digital era.
As a student of American Studies, you will have the unique opportunity of spending a semester abroad in the second half of your second year, studying at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. After this, you would return to UH to complete your degree in three years.
You’ll have the chance to specialise in your final year, tailoring your literary study to reflect your own interests. Themed options include children’s literature, young adult fiction, Renaissance tragedy, European crime fiction, literary adaptations and the culture of print in the 18 th century. Alongside this, you’ll explore how the US has changed since the turn of the century by reading twenty-first century American literature; examine the dark underside of American society in American Nightmares on Film; develop new perspectives on contemporary race relations by reading African-American Literature; and gain a new geographical and historical perspective on North America by navigating its “Pacific Rim”.
We give you:
Employability is central to everything we do. Our courses equip you with transferable, intellectual and personal skills and experiences that are valued by employers in a wide range of industries. Past students have gone on to careers in teaching, publishing and the media, journalism and marketing. Many of our graduates go on to higher levels of study, engaging in research in their chosen fields.
You can choose a work experience module, Literature at Work, which explores English in the classroom and aspects of the literary heritage industry. The module is centred around a six-week work placement where you’ll gain valuable transferable skills. Our students have worked as school classroom assistants, in publishing houses or attractions such as London’s Charles Dickens Museum and Dr Johnson’s House.
A natural step from studying global literature alongside American culture is to spend times experience it for real. We encourage our English Literature students to take a year’s study abroad at one of our many partner institutions across the world. If you’re reading African American literature and choose to study in the American South you’ll see the legacy of slavery or the birthplace of the civil rights movement at first hand. Your year will broaden your horizons and enhance your understanding of the literature of other cultures – it may even inspire your dissertation subject.
*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.
The University of Hertfordshire offers a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.
72 - 168 UCAS points
IB – 72 points from a minimum of 2 HL subjects at H4 or above. Find out more about international application requirements.
GCSE Maths grade 4 (D) and English Language grade 4 (C) or above.
The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.
If you do not have the required IELTS or equivalent for direct entry on to your degree programme, our Pre-sessional English and International Foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.
For country specific qualifications, please visit our Your Country page.