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By: Dr Peter Howell

At St Mary's we bring together a wide range of modules in literature and language to enrich the study of both disciplines.

Understanding how language works allows a more nuanced analysis of literature, while understanding the social, historical and cultural contexts of literature allows a better understanding of how language reflects and produces human experiences.

As you progress through the degree, you will have the option to direct your studies more towards language or literature (including options in creative writing), or you may wish to maintain a balance of both.

The degree is aimed at students who are receptive to ideas and eager to explore them at university level with tutors who are open, friendly and available to interact with you as an individual as well as a member of a seminar group.

English literature

The literature part of the programme focusses on works from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Core teaching in Tragedy, Critical Theory and Renaissance culture encompasses Shakespeare, Romanticism and Modernism to provide a broad basis for the analysis of text and culture.

English language

The language part of the programme begins with an introduction to the nature of language, setting out to dispel common myths of where it comes from, how it is structured, and who controls it as it changes across time.

This basis then supports more focussed study of how language is acquired by children and adults.

What you can study

As you progress through the programme, you are able to make choices according to your academic and career interests, choosing from a 'menu' of innovative modules that often seek to connect study with the world beyond. Examples include: 

  • Gothic fiction (taught, of course, at the home of Gothic)
  • Bob Dylan and the Lyricism of Protest
  • Curating London
  • Writing Conflict: the Literature of the First World War
  • Children and Language
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Language and Society

English language teaching

You may also opt to take the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) qualification in your second year (subject to validation)

This is a valuable professional qualification, enabling you to teach English as a Foreign Language anywhere in the world. Because of its international reputation, it opens up a global career path for graduates.


English degrees at St Mary's

As well as  English Language and Literature, we also offer  English and Drama and  English Literature.