BA (Hons) English Literature and Creative Writing

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

Combine passion for reading with first-rate skills for your career
Combine passion for reading with first-rate skills for your career
Understand writing from the inside out: Research, analyse and create
Understand writing from the inside out: Research, analyse and create
Be taught by award-winning poets, fiction and non-fiction writers
Be taught by award-winning poets, fiction and non-fiction writers

This course includes the sandwich year options of:

Work Placement*

Study abroad*

*No fees are charged for this year

Why choose this course?

We give you: 

  • An exciting and creative environment where you are taught by published writers
  • The opportunity to hone your craft through supportive feedback from tutors and peers
  • Modules which enhance your critical insight and enable you to put principle into practice
  • A platform for publishing your work and a springboard for your future life as a published author
  • An inspiring programme of visiting writers, workshops, readings and masterclasses

What's the course about?

Do you have a story to tell, or have you always wanted to be a writer? Perhaps you want to learn how to be a critical reader or gain a greater understanding of the craft of writing.

Studying English Literature and Creative Writing with us will help you find your voice, whether as a poet, playwright, novelist or scholar of literature.

This joint course combines the study of literature with the practice of creative writing. Studying literature will give you a greater understanding of how literary texts work, while this improved critical insight will help you put principles into practice in your own creative writing.

We offer a stimulating and supportive place in which to explore your ideas, hone your craft and understand literary texts. Our creative writing modules are taught by lecturers who are themselves award-winning practitioners and who bridge the gap between creative and academic approaches to literature. They include our poetry lecturer Wayne Holloway-Smith, winner of the Poetry Society’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and Seamus Heaney Prize nominee.

Over the three years you can choose specialist creative writing modules in poetry, creative non-fiction, drama, short story writing and prose fiction. Those specialisms are reflected in our English Literature modules, which range from children’s and young adult literature to film adaptations and work written in English from all over the world.

By the time you graduate, you will have a polished piece of work which has the potential for publication. Recent successes for our students include short stories published in Bandit and AnotherLenz magazines and poetry published in Rising and international magazine Poetry London.

In your first year, an underpinning core module, Becoming a Writer, will introduce you to genres and forms and examine the universalities of dialogue, plot and language. A second core module, Identity and Contemporary Writing, introduces you to some of the most exciting new writing as a model for your own work, while an optional module enables you to specialise in writing for the screen.

The practicalities of getting published or working in literary publishing are explored in a creative writing module in your second year taught by a former editor of Granta, the renowned magazine of new writing. For your final year your particular creative interest can be channelled into a long piece of writing, which can be poetry, prose or drama.

Your main campus is de Havilland

You’ll share this campus with students from business, law, education, and humanities subjects. The student housing is close to our Sports Village which includes a gym, swimming pool and climbing wall. You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner in our on-campus restaurant on days you don’t feel like cooking. You can also use the common room to play pool, video games or just to hang out with friends. Want to pop over to the other campus? You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.   

What will I study?

Creative Writing is a practice-based discipline, with the opportunity to experiment by working in different forms. You’ll be taught in small groups in workshop spaces and will receive feedback from your tutors and your peers as you share your ideas, learn to edit and refine your work and develop your presentation and performance skills.

Our two resident poetry research fellows, Mark Waldron and Rachel Long, offer masterclasses, workshops and give regular readings, adding to the vibrant and creative environment in which you’ll be working.

Student Blogs

Jade - Week at a glance

My uni week at a glance

I usually have classes three to four days a week, each semester is different but I always start my week by doing the reading for my earlier classes. Being an English literature student, I spend the majority of my week reading, I make my notes in the books as I go along. Any additional articles that I’m required to read are done alongside the main reading, I make separate notes for any pre-reading I do. Generally, if PowerPoints are being used, they are put up the day before so I will take notes from these so I know what to expect in my upcoming lectures.

When in classes I make my notes as I go, after classes I go to the library and type-up my notes from prior to class and in-class to combine everything. I also make use of the library whilst there, and do wider reading around my previous class so that I clear up any confusion and help inform the module as a whole. This step also helps when it comes to assessments, any wider reading I do around that text is potentially something I can use in my assessments or exams. I also meet with friends from my course a few times a week to talk about our classes, this also helps if you haven’t quite grasped a concept, as they can help!

A few weeks into each module, the assessments start to come out, so my week starts to be built around assessment research, planning and writing. This is where the wider reading I do during the module at the beginning can start to come into play. Once I know what question(s) I’ll be answering I can refer back to reading I have already done and made notes on. Quite often this will save me time researching as I’ve already done a portion of it in advance!

Once I’ve started writing my assessments, I go to the centre for academic writing, with sections of my essay, this is a great help and has helped to improve the quality of my essays massively. They’re open to any student new or returning so I do recommend seeing them! This isn’t a weekly thing but definitely becomes part of my routine once the semester is underway!

I also make sure that that I leave plenty of time for relaxing and socialising, this is such a major aspect of my week. I go to the gym, meet up with my friends and watch my favourite TV shows and films. It is all about balance!

Student Blogs

Jade - Things you should know

Things you need to know before studying English Literature at university

Hi! Here’s what I think you should know before studying English Literature!

Reading, Reading and More Reading 📚

As you can imagine, an English literature degree revolves around reading, but the course content is amazing so it isn’t boring! Taking regular breaks can help to make the load easier. I often switch between modules whenever reading just to change it up! If you love reading this is definitely the course for you! If not, don’t worry this course could even help you learn to love to read! 📖

Assessments 📝

Studying literature is not just written essays and exams. Although this does make up a large portion of how you will be assessed, English literature will have you presenting, leading sections of a class or working on group projects. Of course, each module is different, so all assessments will be made clear at the beginning of the module by the lecturer, as well as module choice days to give you a little insight before you start the course. 🔍

Class Types 📕📗

Each of the modules run differently. Most will include lectures, generally, they will consist of your lecturer presenting you with information regarding the topic that week. These tend to be followed by a seminar, where you will discuss that week’s reading with classmates and lecturers - each of these tends to be 50 minutes long. 🕐

The other option is participating in workshops, these generally run for two hours, they are a bit more interactive that lectures and seminars and involve more group work 👭👫👬

All the different class types have their benefits, you can bounce ideas off other students, and you will learn something new every time you step foot in a classroom!

Time Management 🕝

Learning at university is much more independent that what most people are used to, it can be quite daunting, but it really is nothing to worry about! There is so much support available that even if you are taking a while to adjust, the lecturers will be there to help you! It is important to remember to relax whilst at uni, but it is very easy to get distracted and go on a Netflix binge 📺👀

You need to develop a bit of discipline so you can use your time wisely and find a good balance between working, your social life and relaxing. It’s all about finding the right balance for you! ⚖️

Adjusting to uni life can be tough, but take the adjustment at your own pace and you’ll do fine! Remember it isn’t all about studying, make sure you have fun and enjoy yourself too🎉🎊

Student Blogs

Jade - Why I chose Herts

Why I Chose Herts

Hi! I’m Jade and I’m going into my third year of studying English literature at the University of Hertfordshire. I commute into uni as I only live about 40-minutes away and personally found this the better option for me.

Before starting uni, I had studied A-Levels in English literature, History, Media Studies and German. After A-Levels, I went on to work full-time for a few years to try out a different field and narrow down what I wanted as a career. I started tutoring alongside my full-time job and fell in love with it, I had toyed with the idea of teaching before, but I was always unsure. At this point I knew teaching was the right fit for me. I applied to Herts through clearing as I had missed the original UCAS deadline. All the staff were super helpful, and I had my offer through, and place secured within two days of sending off my application. I chose to study Literature as I LOVE to read, and it was my best subject throughout school. Herts was my first choice, it was easy for me to get to, it fitted around my home life and finances. Both campuses are full of life with plenty of activities throughout the week!

The libraries are amazing and always have books on hand to enrich your studies, especially when it comes to writing assignments – the library will become your second home – or third if you’re moving away from home!

Herts do as much as they can to get you involved in uni life, the on-campus gyms are affordable and their facilities are amazing, there are even free classes on offer!

Don’t panic, applying to uni can be scary but just jump in, this is the quickest and best way to make friends. Talk to as many people as you can and enjoy your time at uni, it isn’t as scary as you think!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Student Blogs

Mercedes - Unibuddy

Alumni Stories

Eleanor Pilcher

Meet Eleanor Pilcher who since graduating in 2016 has taken the publishing industry by storm. Eleanor currently works as a Marketing Manager at Avon, HarperCollins Publisher.

Current job roleMarketing Manager
Year of graduation2016
Course of studyBA (Hons) History and Creative Writing

Ellie Pilcher

University experience and employability

Eleanor is a keen writer with great creative ambitions. During her degree she undertook a six-month internship at a literary agency in her final academic year. In 2016, shortly after her studies, Eleanor landed a placement at Penguin before getting a job in publishing recruitment. After developing her skills within the industry and amassing and impressive amount of knowledge and experience, Eleanor began her current role at HarperCollins Publishers.

Eleanor's degree encompassed a broad spectrum of critical, analytical and evaluative skills and helped shape her as a writer. Throughout her studies she had been writing a novel, which she submitted to literary agencies after being encouraged by her tutor to do so. It was Eleanor's passion for writing that uncovered her interest in working for a literary agency. Due to the fantastic lecturers on her course and the invaluable industry networks available to students, Eleanor managed to secure impressive opportunities in her chosen industry that have informed her career.

Sher recognises the impact the University has had on getting her to where she is today. 'For me the advice and feedback I received on both my History essays and Creative Writing finals was incredibly useful to my academic and professional development. I learnt to take criticism and to harness it and also write more because of it.'

Ambitions for the future

Eleanor has established herself in her chosen industry yet still has ambition to continue pursuing new goals. On her hopes for the future, she says: 'I hope to run a marketing department within a publishing company, possibly the one I'm at now. I hope to publish a novel and continue my freelance writing and public speaking on the side.'

For me the advice and feedback I received on both my History essays and Creative Writing finals was incredibly useful to my academic and professional development. I learnt to take criticism and to harness it and also write more because of it.

Alumni Stories

April Wilson

Meet April Wilson who used the diversity of her course to gain new experiences and learn. She is currently a Media and PR Coordinator at the University of Hertfordshire.

Current job roleMedia and PR Coordinator
Year of graduation2017
Course of studyBA(Hons) English Literature with Film
MA Journalism with Media Communications

University life and experience

April initially decided to go to the University of Hertfordshire due to our close proximity to London. She liked that it was easy to commute into the city for shopping and concerts, but that Hatfield wasn’t as expensive to live in!

While studying, April gained valuable experience which helped her develop essential skills for her current role which meant she was able to start ‘armed with the knowledge’ she needed.

However, the most useful thing she learnt from her postgraduate course was having confidence in herself and her ideas, especially when presenting. She credits this to ‘the support of my peers and lecturers who made me feel more confident in my abilities.’

She adds that her undergraduate degree helped her develop the writing and research skills which she applies daily to her current role and her approach to work.

Not only did April gain experience from her studies, but the extra-curricular activities she took part in also helped develop her skills. She says, ‘The writing and video editing experience I was able to gain from my time volunteering for societies at the University was also essential in helping me to have the skills that are valuable within my role.’

Future aspirations

April is also willing to try new experiences to help her gain valuable work experience in a variety of roles. She has previously, done everything from fundraising for charity to running my own online magazine.

In the future, April hopes to continues her studies and complete a PhD in Film Studies. She is particularly interested in looking at representation in films and how this is interpreted through social media.

The writing and video editing experience I was able to gain from my time volunteering for societies at the University was also essential in helping me to have the skills that are valuable within my role.

Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.