English Literature (BA)

English Literature at Cardiff has an international reputation, with a far-ranging choice of modules.

English Literature at Cardiff has long enjoyed an international reputation for its teaching and research. But more than this: we pride ourselves on nurturing a friendly, personalised and supportive environment for our students. We aim for the best and for success in all we do.

Our curriculum offers access to the whole span of English literature, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twenty-first century. Nor is the curriculum restricted to the printed word: we are intrigued by the connections between literature and film, art, music, history, language, and popular culture, and our teaching reflects these interests.

There are no compulsory modules in English Literature at Cardiff after year one. We give you choice – but we also give you the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions from a diverse range of options which includes Creative Writing.

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.

As a student in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff you will be taught by leading researchers in English Literature in modules that reflect the cutting edge of the discipline.

There are lecture and seminar classes for each module and contact hours are supplemented by the opportunity for individual meetings with academic staff, and supportive academic progress meetings with your personal tutor.

Cardiff is a splendid city in which to spend your undergraduate years. Our commitment is to make those years intellectually stimulating and academically rewarding.

Key facts

UCAS CodeQ306
Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically has 350 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically receives 1450 applications.
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerAAB including an A in English Literature or English Literature and Language or Creative Writing. General Studies is not accepted.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core plus AA at A Level. Must include grade A in English Literature or English Literature and Language.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer36 points, including 6,6,5 in Higher Level subjects to include English Literature.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark


Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Anthony Mandal , Admissions Tutor

    Year one

    Year one 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 Years Two and Three. Single Honours students will need to take at least four 20 credit modules selected from the following list, but can take all six of the modules below:

    An Introduction to the Novel and Poetry  - 20 credits
    Reading and Identity - 20 credits
    Texts in Time - 20 credits
    Literature, Culture and Place - 20 credits
    Introduction to Shakespeare and Chaucer - 20 credits
    Medieval Narrative and Nation - 20 credits

    For entry 2016, the School is also working to develop two 20 credits options in Creative Reading and  Creative Writing which students can choose as part of their programme. The availability of these modules will be confirmed in December.

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

    Year two

    In year two you can select from a range of period-and theme-based modules in which you will build on the foundation year, reading a variety of texts in their historical and cultural contexts. These might include modules such as 'Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama', 'The Novel in the Romantic Age', Welsh Fiction and Poetry', as well as 'Ways of Reading', 'American South in Literature and Film' and Creative Writing.

    Year three

    By year three you will have gained an experience of a variety of literary periods, topics, genres and approaches, developing your critical faculties and your skills in analysing texts and contexts. You will therefore be in an excellent position to choose between a range of more specialised modules in which you will be able to engage with current issues in research and scholarship in relation to authors and texts both well-known and possibly less well-known to you. Current topics include 'Norse Myth and Saga', 'Jacobean Shakespeare', 'Eighteenth-Century Women Writers', 'Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction', 'The Illustrated Book', 'Early Twentieth-Century Poetry', 'The Post-1945 American Novel', 'French Theory' and 'Hitchcock' – and there are more opportunities for developing your talents as a creative writer, if you wish.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Creative Writing III: Special TopicsSE237320 credits
    DissertationSE252420 credits
    HitchcockSE254420 credits
    Nineteenth-Century Crime FictionSE239020 credits
    Creative Writing II: Special TopicsSE237020 credits
    Writing Caribbean SlaverySE256820 credits
    Second-generation Romantic PoetsSE258220 credits
    Love, Death and Marriage in Renaissance LiteratureSE258320 credits
    R. S. Thomas: No Truce with the FuriesSE257820 credits
    French TheorySE257020 credits
    Desire, the Body and the Text: Psychoanalysis & LiteratureSE258020 credits
    Utopia: Suffrage to CyberpunkSE258120 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
    Bluestockings, Britannia, Unsex'd Females: Women in public life, 1770 - 1800SE258820 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.

    The Cardiff BA in English Literature will be taught using the following methods:

    • Weekly lectures
    • Weekly small group seminars
    • Contact via Virtual Learning Environments.

    Most of the assessment in English Literature is by assessed essay. Some Year One modules and a very small number of modules in Years Two and Three are assessed partly by examination. Where appropriate, some modules in Years Two and Three also make use of other modes of assessment such as student presentations, journal entries, or portfolios of creative writing; in the final year students also have an opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their own choice.

    It is possible to do formative written for all modules: this does not count towards the mark for the module but provides you with valuable practice in developing and expressing your ideas. Feedback is given on all formative and assessed work.

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy provides its students with a highly satisfying academic experience that assists their development as critically-minded, culturally-aware citizens whose high analytic skills, powers of expression and progressive self-reliance make them attractive to employers.

    English Literature graduates have excellent analytic and communication skills that fit them for a full range of professions and further training. Their cultural expertise and intellectual abilities are valued in the public and private sector, and in contexts as varied as the classroom, the law courts or the media.

    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.

    As a graduate in English Literature at Cardiff you will have shown yourself to be able to:

    • Grasp complex issues with confidence
    • Ask the right questions of complex texts
    • Have an imaginative appreciation of different views and options
    • Analyse these critically and reflectively
    • Identify and apply relevant data
    • Propose imaginative solutions of your own that are rooted in evidence and critical analysis
    • Do so clearly, concisely and persuasively in writing and speech.
    • Work to deadlines and priorities, managing a range of tasks at the same time
    • Articulate well-researched ideas with the right degree of assertiveness
    • Learn from constructive criticism and incorporate its insights in revising your work and in future work on different topics
    • Demonstrate enterprise and initiative in researching your topics and developing your point of view
    • Work as part of a team, developing qualities of respect for the ideas and arguments of others and a collaborative approach to inquiry and problem-solving.
    • Develop a range of communicative skills, including the use of IT programmes and digital media, where appropriate.


    • Reporter
    • Crime Intelligence Analyst
    • Teacher
    • Writer
    • Researcher


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    There are approximately 200 places for Single and Joint Honours programmes that include English Literature.

    Applications received

    Typical applications received

    685 applications were received for the Single Honours BA English Literature for entry 2013.


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark


    What are the aims of this Programme?

    This programme is structured to enable you to study all periods of literature in English from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twenty-first century and from many different parts of the world. Year 1 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. You take three subjects worth 40 credits each: these must include English Literature I and at least one of English Literature II or Medieval and Renaissance English Literature. 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.

    What is expected of me?

    Students are expected to attend and participate in the lectures and seminars for all modules on which they are enrolled. In line with University policy, attendance will be monitored at specific 'points of engagement’ throughout the year. Students with good cause to be absent should inform their module leaders, who will provide the necessary support. Students with extenuating circumstances should submit the Extenuating Circumstances Form in accordance with the School’s procedures.

    The total number of hours which students are expected to devote to each 20-credit module is 200.  Of these, 30 hours will be contact hours with staff (lectures and seminars); the remaining 170 hours should be spent on self-directed learning for that module (reading, preparation for seminars, research, reflection, formative writing, assessed work, exam revision).  There are also additional seminars and workshops that students are able to attend.

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

    How is this Programme Structured?

    The programme is offered in full-time mode over three academic years or part-time mode over four to nine academic years.  360 credits are studied (120 credits per year).  The first year consists of 40 core credits, plus 40 credits from within English Literature and 40 further credits from either English Literature or another Humanities subject.  The second and third years consist of 120 credits per year chosen from the range of English Literature optional modules.  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?

    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.

    How will I be taught?

    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.

    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.

    How will I be assessed?


    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.


    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.

    How will I be supported?

    Every student is assigned a personal tutor and will meet him/her for regular Academic Progress Meetings (one per semester). There is a form to fill in before each Academic Progress meeting 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 about any issues. 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.

    Use of Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, will vary from module to module as the module leader feels appropriate for the specific contents of the module but will normally at least include making lecture handouts available online.

    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.
    • Awareness of the bibliographic conventions of the discipline and their role in communicating information.

    Other information

    English Literature at Cardiff is taught by staff with an international reputation for innovative and influential research. Our passion for the subject and the strength and range of our scholarship enable us to offer a degree which is:

    • Inclusive.We teach across the whole chronological span of English literature, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the twenty-first century; we teach writing in English from England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, America, the Caribbean, India, and Australia. We are intrigued by the connections between literature and film, art, music, history, language, and popular culture, and our teaching reflects these interests.
    • Challenging. Research-led teaching means students engage with new ideas that are helping to shape the future of the discipline. We see the study of literature in its various contexts as broadening horizons.
    • Diverse. After Year 1 there are no compulsory modules. We give you choice – but we also give you the skills and knowledge to make informed choices. You have the freedom to construct 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. Our teaching is varied, too, ranging from traditional-style lectures to smaller-group seminars in which students develop their writing and presentational skills in a supportive environment designed to help them take responsibility for their own learning.

    Engaged. At Cardiff we do not think of literature as isolated from the rest of culture or separate from society. We are proud of our reputation for theoretically informed reading, bringing texts from all periods into dialogue with contemporary concerns about gender, identity, sexuality, nationality, race, the body, the environment, and digital technology. We also maintain a strong tradition in Creative Writing, taught by writers making their mark on contemporary culture.

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Anthony Mandal , Admissions Tutor

      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.