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BA (Hons) English Literature
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.
Why choose this course?
We give you:
- A fresh take on traditional writing and the opportunity to study contemporary works that speak directly to our everyday lives
- An expert academic team to support you and build your confidence as you develop into a literary scholar
- A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
- Teaching rated excellent by 92.14% of our students in the 2018 National Student Survey
- CV-building potential through work placements and extra-curricular activities
What's the course about?
Study English Literature with us and we’ll help you grow from passionate reader into critical thinker and literary scholar.
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.
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, our courses will 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 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 study international and American literature or revisit Shakespeare and consider his cultural relevance today through fictional, cinematic and TV adaptations.
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 18th century, to the radical transformations of the Victorian age, and the emergence of modernity in the 20th 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.
You’ll have the chance to specialise in your final year, tailoring your degree to reflect your own interests. Themed options include children’s literature, young adult fiction, Renaissance tragedy, 21st century American literature, European crime fiction, literary adaptations and the culture of print in the 18th century.
If you have a particular interest or independent research idea you can choose to work with a supervisor to write an extended dissertation. Previous dissertations have focused on subjects as diverse as anthropomorphism in Beatrix Potter’s animal tales; Black British identity in young adult fiction and grime music; women in Shakespearean tragedy; and slavery and the frontier in early American gothic short stories.
Jade - Week at a glance
My uni week at a glance
I usually have classes 3-4 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 and I will 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 lessons, I make my class notes as I go then afterwards I go to the library and type-up all my notes to combine everything. I also make use of the library whilst I am there and do some wider reading around my previous class. I find that this helps to clear up any confusion I may have around the modules. 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 which helps if you haven’t quite grasped the concept!
A few weeks into each module, the assessments are set, 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 visiting 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!
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! 📖
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; all assessments will be made clear at the beginning of the module by the lecturer. You also get 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 2 hours, they are a bit more interactive than lectures and seminars as they involve more group work 👭👫👬
All of the different class types have their benefits; you can bounce ideas off of 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 work, 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🎉🎊
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 2 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 Learning Resource Centres (LRCs) are amazing and always have books on hand to enrich your studies, especially when it comes to writing assignments – the LRC 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 with 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!