English Literature and History (BA)

The Joint Honours degree in English Literature and History provides you with the opportunity of specialising in two university honours subjects.

The BA in  English Literature and History (Joint Honours) enables students to combine a study of the past and English Literature. Many students find joint honours both stimulating and rewarding as they observe both similarities and differences in the two subjects.

The degree aims to develop your knowledge and critical understanding of the political, social, economic, and cultural structures of past societies  with the study of a separate academic discipline, and to cultivate intellectual skills such as the ability to assess evidence critically, to evaluate different interpretations of the evidence, to construct arguments on the basis of evidence, and to express opinions cogently in speech and in writing.

History covers the period from the fall of the Roman Empire to the present day. There is a balance between modules covering specific historical periods and thematic modules that examine broad social and cultural topics, such as warfare, gender, religion, art, medicine and science.

Within English Literature, you are free to follow a traditional programme covering multiple periods and genres or to build a more distinctive mix of modules combining literary study with analysis of other cultural forms.

The degree provides the training necessary for students who wish to study either discipline at postgraduate level, and a valuable range of intellectual and transferable skills for students who wish to enter other professions.

Key facts

Duration3 Year(s)
Typical places availableThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically has 350 places available. The School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically has 320 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically receives 1450 applications. The School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically receives 1800 applications.
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerAAB, including an A in English Literature or English Literature and Language or Creative Writing and B in History. General Studies is not accepted. Note: Normally no offers are made on a point basis.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core plus grades AA at A-Level, to include English Literature or English Literature and Language and History.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer35 points, 6 points each required from English at Higher Level and History at Higher Level.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed admissions and selection criteria for more information.
Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.
QAA subject benchmark

English and History

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Anthony Mandal , Course Administrator

    This is a three-year degree programme comprising some core modules that provide essential skills and training as well as a wide variety of optional modules for you to select from to tailor your degree to meet your interests.

    Year one

    In Year 1, you take 60 credits of English Literature modules and 60 credits of History modules.

    Students studying this course will be able to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) Core and Optional modules from another participating Academic School. View an overview of the module collections available.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Introduction to Poetry and the NovelSE213620 credits
    Reading and IdentitySE213120 credits

    Year two

    In Year 2, you take 60 credits of English Literature modules and 60 credits of History modules.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Approaches To HistoryHS170130 credits
    Exploring Historical DebateHS170230 credits
    From King Coal To Cool Cymru: Society and Culture in Wales, 1939-2000HS175630 credits
    History and ICT: A Guided StudyHS170530 credits
    India and The Raj 1857-1947HS176530 credits
    Medicine and Modern Society, 1750-1919HS179930 credits
    Reading Old EnglishSE244120 credits
    Shakespeare and Renaissance DramaSE244220 credits
    Elizabethan ShakespeareSE244320 credits
    Modernist FictionsSE244520 credits
    Modern Welsh Writing in EnglishSE244820 credits
    Creative Writing ISE241720 credits
    Twentieth-Century Crime FictionSE245520 credits
    Fiction of The Indian SubcontinentSE228320 credits
    Introduction to Romantic PoetrySE245020 credits
    Modernism and the CitySE246320 credits
    The Post-1945 American NovelSE256620 credits
    Imaginary Journeys: More to HuxleySE245720 credits
    Introduction to Visual CultureSE246120 credits
    War, Peace and Diplomacy, c.900-c.1250HS170730 credits
    Warfare in the Byzantine WorldHS170830 credits
    Into The Vortex: Britain and The First World WarHS178730 credits
    Making Empires: Britain and the World, 1541 - 1714HS179330 credits
    African-American LiteratureSE245120 credits
    Contemporary Women's WritingSE244620 credits
    History of EnglishSE139820 credits
    Nations, Empire and Borderlands from 1789 to the presentHS174930 credits
    "An Empire for Liberty": Race, Space and Power in the United States, 1775-1898HS176030 credits
    Poverty and Relief in Medieval EuropeHS171430 credits
    The British Civil Wars and Revolution, C.1638-1649HS174230 credits
    Building the Modern WorldHS174430 credits
    Being Human: Self and Society in Britain from Darwin to the Age of Mass CultureHS174830 credits
    The Search for an Asian Modern: Japanese History from 1800 to the Post-War EraHS176830 credits
    The Soviet Century: Russia and the Soviet Union, 1905-1991HS177630 credits
    Children's Literature: Form & FunctionSE244720 credits
    Representing the VictoriansSE246620 credits
    The Robin Hood TraditionSE236720 credits
    Fictive Histories/Historical FictionsSE246720 credits
    Gothic Fiction: The Romantic AgeSE246820 credits
    Romanticism, Politics, AestheticsSE246920 credits
    Social Politics and National Style: American Fiction and Form 1920-1940SE247020 credits
    Ways of ReadingSE244920 credits
    Revels and Riots: Popular Culture in Early Modern EnglandHS174330 credits
    A Great Leap Forward China Transformed 1840-PresentHS175230 credits
    Diwydiannaeth, Radicaliaeth a'r Bobl Gyffredin yng Nghymru a Phrydain mewn Oes Chwyldro, c. 1789-1880HS175730 credits
    Radicalism and the Common People, 1789-1880HS175830 credits
    Latin American HistoryHS176130 credits
    A Jagged History: Germany in the 20th CenturyHS176330 credits
    The Later Roman Empire AD284 - 602HS331830 credits
    Literature and ScienceSE247120 credits
    Dickens in Many MediaSE247220 credits

    Year three

    In Year 3, you take 60 credits of English Literature modules and 60 credits of History modules.

    If you wish, you can write a dissertation on a topic of your choice in either discipline.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    DissertationHS180130 credits
    Class, Protest and Politics: South Wales 1918-39HS186830 credits
    Race, Sex and Empire & India, 1765-1929HS185530 credits
    The Dangerous City? Urban Society & Culture 1800-1914HS189630 credits
    Nineteenth-Century Crime FictionSE239020 credits
    Writing Caribbean SlaverySE256820 credits
    Creative Writing II: Special TopicsSE237020 credits
    HitchcockSE254420 credits
    Creative Writing III: Special TopicsSE237320 credits
    DissertationSE252420 credits
    Love, Death and Marriage in Renaissance LiteratureSE258320 credits
    R. S. Thomas: No Truce with the FuriesSE257820 credits
    French TheorySE257020 credits
    Second-generation Romantic PoetsSE258220 credits
    Desire, the Body and the Text: Psychoanalysis & LiteratureSE258020 credits
    Utopia: Suffrage to CyberpunkSE258120 credits
    Sexuality and the Social Order in Medieval EuropeHS180430 credits
    From Bismarck To Goebbels: Biography and Modern German History, 1870-1945HS182930 credits
    Deviants, Rebels and Witches in Early Modern Britain and IrelandHS182830 credits
    Gender & Monstrosity: Late/Neo VictorianSE256420 credits
    Interwar Experiments: Sex, Gender, StyleSE258420 credits
    Middle English Romance: Monsters and MagicSE258620 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
    The World of the Anglo-Saxons, c.500-c.1087HS180330 credits
    Glimpses of the Unfamiliar: Travellers to Japan from 1860 to the Post-War EraHS185830 credits
    Culture, Soc & I.D. in Wales 1847-1914HS186530 credits
    Violence and Ideology in Inter-War Soviet RussiaHS188330 credits
    Europe and the Revolutionary Tradition in the Long Nineteenth CenturyHS188730 credits
    Slavery and Slave Life in North America, 1619-1865HS189030 credits
    Gender, Power and Subjectivity in Twentieth-Century BritainHS189430 credits
    Bluestockings, Britannia, Unsex'd Females: Women in public life, 1770 - 1800SE258820 credits
    Kingship: Image and Power c.1000-1399HS181330 credits
    City Lives: Urban Culture and Society, c.1550-1750HS182630 credits
    Cultures of Power: The Gentry of Tudor and Stuart EnglandHS182730 credits
    Conflict, Coercion and Mass Mobilisation in Republican China 1911-1945HS183830 credits
    Latin American HistoryHS185930 credits
    Socialism, Society and Politics in Britain 1880-1918HS186030 credits
    Llafur, Sosialaeth a Chymru, 1880-1979HS186230 credits
    War and Violence in Modern German History: Myth, Memory and MemorializationHS186330 credits
    Gothic Fiction: The VictoriansSE258920 credits
    Modern British Political DramaSE259020 credits
    Norse Myth and SagaSE256020 credits
    Canterbury Tales: Genre, History, InterpretationSE257920 credits
    Four English Poets of the Twentieth CenturySE259120 credits
    Poetry in the Making: Modern Literary ManuscriptsSE259220 credits
    Postcolonial TheorySE259320 credits
    Shakespeare's Late PlaysSE259420 credits
    The Graphic MemoirSE140920 credits
    Visions of Past and Future in Children's LiteratureSE259520 credits
    Medical FictionsSE259620 credits
    Military Masculinities in the Long Nineteenth CenturySE259720 credits
    The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

    We have a supportive learning environment, where students are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge.

    Our programmes foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory, and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team-working, independent research, and time management.

    Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, practicals, field trips, and one-to-one tutorials. You will also undertake independent study and research, with guidance from tutors. 

    A range of formative and summative assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios, and creative assignments.

    School of English, Communication and Philosophy

    In 2013/14, 91% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

    School of History, Archaeology and Religion

    In 2013/14, 92% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy admits around 360 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

    The School of History, Archaeology and Religion admits around 260 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

    Applications received

    Typical applications received

    The School of History, Archaeology and Religion = 1650

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy = 1500


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    English and History

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    The BA in English Literature and History (Joint Honours) gives students the opportunity to combine the study of all periods of literature in English from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twenty-first century and from many different parts of the world with the study of social and political history.  Students divide their modules equally between English Literature and History (and in the first year potentially with a third subject).

    In English Literature, the first year is a foundation year designed to equip you with the skills for advanced study and to give you an overview of the subject that will enable you to make informed choices from the modules available in Year 2 and the Final Year.  In Year 2 you select from a range of period-, genre- or theme-based modules in which you will build on the foundation year, reading a variety of texts in their historical and cultural contexts. In Final Year there is a range of more specialised modules in which you will pursue interests developed in the previous two years and engage with current issues in research and scholarship, enabling you further to develop analytical and presentational skills that employers will value, as well as equipping you for postgraduate study. The focus throughout the degree is on becoming a careful, attentive, and informed reader, sensitive to the nuances of language and style and able to articulate your responses to texts in writing which is precise, stylish, and effective.

    The emphasis on the History side of the degree is on choice.  Students have a free choice of all the modules that are offered in History, subject to caps on student numbers.  Students are able, in the final year, to produce original historical work of their own in the form of a dissertation.

    What is expected of me?

    As a student, you are expected to demonstrate that you are progressing and engaged academically by regularly attending lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials.

    A 20 credit module will normally comprise a minimum of 200 study hours and a 10 credit module will normally comprise of a minimum 100 study hours.  This will include contact hours with staff  (lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials) making up approximately 30 hours per 20 credit module, with the remainder of the time spent on self-directed learning for that module (reading, preparation for seminars, research, reflection, formative writing, assessment work and exam revision).  Examinations and assessed work are marked on the assumption that you have fulfilled these requirements.  There are also additional seminars and workshops that students are able to attend.

    Attendance at lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials is compulsory.  It is extremely important that you attend all of your classes for the following reasons:

    1. It is in the lectures that you find out what the key topics in your subject are, which can help you structure your additional reading.
    2. Your seminars are the place for you to discuss issues raised in the course and from your reading, and to enhance and develop your understanding.
    3. Both your lectures and seminars will help you prepare your essays and revise for your exams.
    4. Your presence can also help others to learn (as well as you), whilst student absence disrupts the learning process for the whole group.

    If you are unable to attend, you must notify your tutor or departmental administrator in advance by telephone, by email or in writing in order to explain your absence. Further information on illness, reporting extenuating circumstances, and leave of absences can be found in student handbooks and the Academic Regulations Handbook.

    The Department expects that Students will:

    • attend all classes, punctually, and to explain any absence (in advance where possible)
    • prepare adequately for and contribute to seminars and tutorials
    • avoid plagiarism (plagiarism being work which uses the words or ideas of others without acknowledging them as such)
    • take responsibility for their own learning, with appropriate guidance  monitor their own progress and take account of the feedback given
    • show respect for their fellow students, tutors and the learning environment
    • manage their time effectively so that they are adequately prepared for all classes and assignments
    • complete their assessments on time and in compliance with the instructions given
    •  take responsibility for advising themselves of the regulations governing assessments
    • ensure that they are registered for the requisite number of modules and that the academic registry are aware of which modules they are taking
    • read all handbooks carefully and take appropriate action
    • regularly access their University e-mail account
    • ask members of staff before using their names as referee

    Full expectations for students are outlined in the University’s Student Charter.

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study, which can be found here:

    How is this Programme Structured?

    BA English Literature and History is a three-year degree programme.  Students progress from more general modules in the first year to more specialised modules in the second and third years.

    Year One

    • 40 credits of History modules;
    • 40 credits of English Literature modules;
    • 40 credits in History, English Literature or another Humanities subject.

    Year Two students study:

    • 60 credits of modules in History;
    • 60 credits of modules in English Literature.

    Year Three students study:

    • 60 credits of modules in History;
    • 60 credits of modules in English Literature.

    Students may opt to write a dissertation on a topic of their choice.

    Students must pass each academic year before being allowed to proceed.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    No specific equipment is required.

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    English Literature

    Many of the learning outcomes listed above involve practising skills that are transferable to numerous areas of employment. In addition, students who engage with the programme will practise and develop the ability to:

    • Communicate effectively with others.
    • Think analytically about problems.
    • Use electronic and other sources of information as appropriate to the project chosen.
    • Take responsibility for their own learning programme and professional development.


    The acquisition of skills and of intellectual understanding generally is progressive. As you progress through your degree we will raise our expectations of the depth and breadth of your studies. In broad terms:

    Year One introduces you to a variety and range of approaches.

    Year Two provides you with specific training in the critical analysis of concepts, theories and methods.

    Final Year provides you with the opportunity to develop your skills through a systematic engagement with, and interrogation of primary sources in your modules and in the production of a Dissertation based on original research.

    You are encouraged to take increasing responsibility for your own learning and for the presentation of your findings. We cannot learn for you, but it is our responsibility to help you learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials, and to help you become independent learners.

    How will I be taught?

    English Literature

    Teaching is by a combination of lectures and seminars, with all modules including seminar or small-group teaching. Each module presents the student with a set of intellectual challenges which have in common a concern with the question of how to read the literary (or other cultural) text and how to write about its significance and meanings. Teaching stresses the importance of the way texts interact with their contexts, and each module is designed to encourage you to focus on a number of specific texts and to prepare carefully a considered answer to specific topics dealt with in the module.

    The learning activities will vary from module to module as appropriate, but may include such activities as: interactive lectures, seminar discussions of prepared texts/topics, student presentations or group presentations, small-group work within seminars, translation classes, formative writing exercises, journal entries, and film showings. Students are expected to do the reading and other relevant preparation to enable them to take a full part in these activities and are encouraged to explore the resources of the library as appropriate.


    Most modules are taught through a combination of lectures, private study, seminars and individual feedback. Lectures, usually one per week, provide guidance concerning the issues and problems to be followed up in your own reading and writing. For each seminar you will do six to eight hours of preparation, and in the session itself you will use the knowledge thus acquired to present and test your arguments. In the process, you will also receive feedback on them from lecturers and fellow students. In your essays you will combine a range of sources – sometimes contradictory – into a coherent argument of your own, backed by evidence. Again, you will receive individual feedback from lecturers, in writing and orally.

    Core courses in Years One and Two usually comprise weekly lectures, supplemented by fortnightly seminars in small groups. In Year Two and especially Year Three, the emphasis shifts further towards seminar work, with individual supervision for extended essays and dissertations. In total, you would be expected to work 35-40 hours per week.

    How will I be assessed?

    English Literature


    All modules offer the opportunity to undertake formative work appropriate to the module. The form(s) of summative assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant Module Description. Most modules are assessed by assessed essay and/or examination, but some include other forms of assessment such as journal entries, a portfolio, or presentations. The assessment strategy is structured to lead students from specimen question papers towards the production of an informed answer. Emphasis in assessment is placed on the writing of clear, persuasive and scholarly essays presented in a professional manner and submitted on time. Details of any academic or competence standards which may limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments for disabled students are noted in the Module Descriptions.

    In the final year of the degree students have the option of choosing to write a dissertation on a topic of particular interest to them.


    Written feedback is provided on both formative and summative assessment and students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with module tutors in seminars and, where appropriate, on a one-to-one basis in office hours.



    You will be assessed largely by written examinations and coursework essays. You will also write longer essays, source criticisms, critical reviews of scholarly articles, and a dissertation, and you will give oral presentations in certain courses. The marking criteria for this work measure the extent to which you have achieved the learning outcomes for the Programme.

    Progression is built into assessment, in that students do smaller guided tasks in Year one, as well as formative essays in Years Two and Four.


    You will receive feedback through formative written work, seminar discussion, written feedback on essays, and essay tutorials.

    How will I be supported?

    Every student is assigned a personal tutor in both English Literature and in History with whom to discuss and reflect upon academic progress and discuss any problems or circumstances that adversely affect your studies.  Students are expected to take responsibility for their own development.  You will attend a compulsory Academic Progress Meeting with your English Literature personal tutor each semester, before which you will complete a form which is designed to help you reflect on the written feedback and the reasons for the marks you have received from the previous round of assessment. You will discuss this feedback and your reflections on it with your personal tutor.

    In addition, all staff have weekly office hours during teaching weeks and students may make appointments to see their personal tutor or module leaders on a one-to-one basis. Staff may also be contacted by email. Details of the office hours and email addresses of staff are provided in the Module Guide for each module and/or posted on their office doors.

    The majority of modules make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where students can access course materials and links to related reading and online resources.

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    Students should be able to demonstrate the following:

    • Awareness of different literary periods, movements and genres and of the variety of English literature.
    • Understanding of the importance of historical and cultural contexts.
    • Knowledge of the critical issues and/or debates surrounding or raised by texts.
    • Understanding of the shaping effects of historical and cultural circumstances on the production and meaning of texts.
    • Ability to select and organise material purposefully and cogently.
    • Ability to handle complex ideas with clarity.
    • Ability to analyse and interpret material drawn from a diversity of literary periods.
    • Ability to apply high level critical skills of close analysis to literary texts.
    • Knowledge of appropriate critical vocabulary and terminology.
    • Ability to sustain a critical argument that is responsive to the workings of language and literary styles.
    • Critical understanding;
    • Knowledge of the diversity of human society across a wide geographical and chronological range;
    • Ability to identify patterns of change and to locate detailed examination of particular themes, episodes and events within them;
    • Ability to develop a reasoned, coherent, argument about specific problems, deploying appropriate evidence, and demonstrating awareness of the limits of their knowledge;
    • Ability to achieve the above objectives both independently and as part of a team.
    • Awareness of the bibliographic conventions of the discipline and their role in communicating information.

    Other information

    Students will develop a range of discipline-specific skills that employers also value. Students learn to assess critically a body of knowledge, to develop hypotheses, test them against qualitative and quantitative evidence, and present conclusions both in writing and orally.

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Anthony Mandal , Course Administrator

      Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.