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English Literature BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time Q300 2018
4 years full time including foundation year Q320 2018
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2018

Why choose this course?

This course covers major genres and periods of literature, with opportunities to specialise in key periods and special topics. You can focus on issues of diversity, identity, political writing, popular fiction, and experimental literature.

Our regular teaching programme is enhanced by outside speakers and field trips which bring subjects to life and make the most of Kingston's close location to central London. Recent visits have included the Globe Theatre, the Science Museum, the Royal Opera House and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

You'll be taught by world-leading academics with highly rated research publications. Course assessment is flexible and innovative, ranging from traditional essays and dissertations to creative projects in areas such as creative writing, film and performance.

Foundation year - Humanities & Arts

If you are thinking of returning to education after a break you could apply for our foundation year course. This course will provide you with the academic and transferable skills you need to study an undergraduate degree in any of the humanities or arts. At Kingston these include Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and English Literature.

Throughout the year-long course, you can study a range of these subjects, allowing you to get a better idea of which ones you prefer. It'll guide you in the direction of a humanities or arts degree that you're particularly interested in. The foundation year will develop your independent study skills and help you to better understand your academic ability, a potential career path and how to develop the skills that employers look for in graduates.

Watch this video to find out what our students have to say about studying this course at Kingston University:

Why choose English Literature BA(Hons)?

What you will study

Year 1 introduces you to classic texts of literature through our module Reading London, which explores how London has been represented in poetry, drama and prose. Here we take the learning outside the classroom and make use of our London location to inspire us! You'll also study popular and world literature, considering subjects such as such as gender, sexuality, class, race, and selfhood. Finally, you'll be introduced to the exciting world of literary theory, studying ideas such as Marxism, feminism and psychoanalysis in relation to a range of classic texts. By the end of this year you will be able to write argumentative, analytical essays, and will have gained a broad understanding of literature in different genres and historical periods.

Year 2 develops your critical voice through an independent research project, where you work closely with a supervisor to develop your own extended essay. A core module on literary theory and the Gothic develops the themes introduced in Year 1. Alongside this, you'll choose to specialise in chosen periods of literature, through period based modules that cover Medieval, Early Modern, Romantic, Victorian, Modernist, and 20th- and 21st-century literature.

Year 3 includes a module on radical writers, looking at how literature has driven political thinking, dissent, and transgression. Here, academic staff will introduce cutting-edge perspectives from their own research, giving you access to the newest ideas in literary studies. Alongside this, you'll write a 10,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice, supervised by a specialist member of staff. In addition to these core modules you'll choose from a range of option modules, examples of which include Gender and Sexuality, British Black and Asian Writing, Shakespeare, Children's Literature, American Countercultures, Special Author, and Imagined Places.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Foundation year

  • This module aims to prepare you for undergraduate study and to give you the skills and knowledge related to the study of humanities, arts and social science subjects. The main areas covered will include research skills (like using a library and electronic resources), planning, note taking, building a bibliography, and avoiding plagiarism. You will also develop your communication skills, especially focusing on essay and report writing, delivering presentations and being an active participant in debates and discussions. The module will encourage you to develop the independent learning, critical analysis, and reflective skills crucial to succeeding in a degree.

     
  • Radical Imaginations focuses on creative writing, drama and English literature and aims to highlight how powerful you can be with your creativity. You'll look at text and performance, combining classroom learning with field trips to theatre productions in London.

    The module will help you understand how different texts relate to contemporary experiences: how have classic literary texts been translated into film, opera and ballet and with what effects? How do television drama shows such as Sherlock create dramatic interventions into established narratives, and for what purposes? How have contemporary playwrights like Caryl Churchill, Sarah Daniel, Debbie Tucker Green and Sarah Kane challenged perceptions through controversial and experimental works? Through these sorts of questions, you'll experience imagination at its most radical and relevant.

     
  • Being Human: History and the History of Ideas draws from history and philosophy. It considers how ideas shape our thinking about society, politics, and the arts. You'll reflect on how history has been studied, explore ideas like counterfactual histories, the use and misuse of history in different political contexts and ask questions on how history relates to memory. You'll also examine the ways in which ideas have their own history eg the idea of freedom, and its political history through philosophers, political thinkers, abolitionists, feminists, anti colonial militants, revolutionaries, and civil rights campaigners . In each of these areas you'll reflect on how our ideas are shaped by the social, political and cultural contexts in which we think.

     
  • Communication in Context and Practice introduces you to spoken and written communications and will explore a range of subjects like : journalism, publishing, and linguistics. It explores the dynamic ways in which language reports on, shapes, and transforms our understanding of the world. You'll be introduced to degree-level publishing and journalism, and look at communications across multimedia and multimodal formats. Through this, you'll understand the importance of the audience (or hearer/ reader) for effective communication in different contexts.

     

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module introduces you to the literature of London, from the rise of Renaissance theatre culture to its fictional futures, and from explorations of its urban heart to its sprawling suburbs. You will investigate how numerous writers have depicted everyday life in the metropolis, as well as social upheaval, crime and injustice. You will consider the emergence of distinct literary cultures in the capital, the ways London's position at the centre of a global empire has shaped its literature, and how writers have in turn represented the experiences of particular groups, for example, social elites, immigrants, women, and children.

    The module will also introduce you to some of the most fundamental categories of literature. The module will be organised into three strands: one on drama, one on poetry, and one on prose (fiction and non-fiction). In each strand you will identify the distinctive characteristics of particular forms and genres of literature, and of modes of writing that developed at particular historical moments. Through close study of a range of literary texts we will consider, for instance, what distinguishes tragedy, comedy and realism in drama, how poets have engaged with the sonnet form or the epic, what defines the memoir, and how to explain the differences in narrative style between realist and modernist fiction.

    Our weekly interactive lectures will be complemented by study trips to locations across London, which may include a visit to the Globe Theatre, the London Museum or a walking lecture following the route taken by Mrs Dalloway in Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name. 

     
  • Why are our reading practices so dominated by British writers? What happens if you turn the world map upside down? This module introduces literatures written in places other than Great Britain and considers the links between literature and the formation of cultural, national and racial identities. We will also think about how literature can act as a mode of resistance to imperialist ideologies. In doing so, we will broaden our understanding of what constitutes 'English' literature.

    The module begins with a series of lectures discussing relevant conceptual frameworks; you will be asked to consider how texts function within discursive and ideological contexts, largely through a postcolonial framework. Following this introduction, you will study consecutively three areas of geographical focus in detail, such as nineteenth-century American literature, Irish literature, Latin American writing, Caribbean literature, contemporary American fiction, African writing.

     
  • What does it mean to think critically about literature? What is literary theory, and why do we use it? Taking classic texts such as The Tempest, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this module looks at how we can produce dynamic readings of literature through the use of perspectives from the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis. In interactive lectures and small-group discussions, we will explore themes such as gender, sexuality, race, class, history and the uncanny. We will look at how language shapes literature, and how approaches to reading are both socially and historically formed.

    As part of this module, you will meet each week with your personal tutor, in a small group that as well as the core module content will also introduce advanced skills in writing and rhetoric suitable for study at undergraduate level. By the end of this module you will be able to write a theoretically informed and argumentative essay, and present your ideas in presentation form to an audience.

     
  • What makes a book 'popular'? How does this change how we read it? How do different genres of literature open up themes in new and innovative ways? This core level 4 module introduces you to popular genres of fiction writing. Students study four different genres over their year of study, such as children's literature, Gothic fiction and horror, science fiction and fantasy, adventure stories, sensation novels, crime fiction, romance, and historical fiction. As well as exposing you to the diversity of popular writing from different periods, the module explores the emergence of distinct readerships and interrogates the very concept of the popular and the different ways genre has been theorised.

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This module, a core module for full-field and half-field English Literature students, is all about developing your own interests and research expertise. Every year, members of staff will offer a range of texts and you will select you own special subject from amongst these, working independently but with close supervision to produce your own set of resources and an extended original essay. In recent years, available texts have included The Lord of the Rings, Never Let Me Go, Great Expectations, and Hamlet. Encouraging independent learning and research, the module develops a range of transferable critical and communication skills that are central to the degree and useful in occupations and professional tasks beyond the university, while also allowing you to develop you own critical voice.

    Read full module description

     
  • What does literature do? How does it shape individual and cultural identities? In what ways does it produce affects, construct otherness and celebrate difference? Studying a range of influential approaches to literature, this module will examine key ideas concerning the creation and interpretation of texts, from the role of language, history and cultural difference to the effects of sexuality, the unconscious, empire and technology. By applying these insights to one important genre of fiction - to works like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Beetle, Rebecca and World War Z - the module will extend practical analytical skills while introducing exciting new ways of thinking about texts.

     
  • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. The year-long module provides an introduction to the literary culture of England during the years 1380-1650. This module considers medieval and early modern English texts in relation to influential works from the continent (mostly from Italy, the ‘birthplace of the Renaissance'), and by situating canonical literature in relation to non-canonical writings of the medieval and early modern periods. You will begin by examining poetry and drama written in the late-Medieval period, including some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The rest of Teaching Block One will focus on medieval drama - from mystery plays to morality plays - highlighting continuity and change with later, Renaissance drama. It will also study English literature and culture in the fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries in relation to continental influences. Because Shakespeare's Richard II is a Renaissance play whose action takes place in the medieval period, this play provides a pivotal middle point between Teaching Blocks One and Two, which resumes in the mid-sixteenth century and continues with plays, poetry, prose and cultural documents framed on one side by the Edwardian Reformation and on the other by the English Civil War.

     
  • This module is an optional period module at Level 5 and explores the major authors and literary themes of the ‘long' eighteenth century. Students will be required to think about literary production in relation to historical and cultural change and to explore the inter-connections of satire and sensibility, town and country, and polite and popular literature through its focus on major developments in the period such as the following: satire and society, the ‘rise of the novel' debate, sensibility and the literature of feeling, and the growing participation of women in the literary marketplace. Key to this year-long study of eighteenth-century literature is the crucial context it provides for understanding the evolution of Romanticism towards the end of the century. The module aims to situate the poetry of the major Romantic poets between 1780-1830 in an historical context and explore the philosophical and theoretical concepts that underpin their work. It also seeks to scrutinise the formation of literary categories such as ‘Romanticism' and encourage a critical scepticism about the usefulness or otherwise of such terms.

     
  • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. We will study key texts from the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries that register the ways in which Britain is transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and which give expression to fears about technology, social mobility and urban culture. We will consider literature of the period that questions and resists established theories of gendered identity, and which challenges the literary representation of sexuality, defying censorship in the process. We will be introduced to writers who engage with contemporary debates about science, religion, the empire, and racial and national identity. And we will encounter a range of consciously modern texts which dislocate and make new the reader's experience by technical innovation and experiment. In recent years, writers studied have included Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

     
  • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. It will begin by exploring literature published from the 1930s through to the present day, and will examine the strategies writers have used in response to a changing Britain and wider world. We will consider how twentieth and twenty-first-century texts adapt realist, modernist and postmodern techniques to engage with issues such as the rise of mass culture, the threat of totalitarianism, the establishment of the Welfare State, post-war immigration, and sexual liberation. To enhance your perspective on these issues, you will be introduced to non-fiction material by other contemporary writers, such as J.B. Priestley, Erich Fromm, Iris Murdoch, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Hoggart, and George Lamming, as well as more recent critical and theoretical material. The module also examines the development and continuing popularity of realist drama in the twentieth century. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which realist drama is used as a tool of social and political examination in the various contexts of pre-revolutionary Russia, Dublin in the aftermath of the First World War, and the establishment of the welfare state in Britain after 1945. Secondly, we will examine the developments in non-realist forms of drama and the experiments which gave rise to what is, somewhat controversially, called the ‘Theatre of the Absurd'. The module culminates with the study of a selection of texts chosen to illustrate the great variety of genres and styles in contemporary British literature and to exemplify literature written by different nationalities and social groups. Underpinned by relevant theoretical perspectives, questions will be raised about the relation between literature and contemporary events, with relation to issues pertinent to literature, such as social mobility, hybridity, democracy and technology. In recent years, authors studied have included Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, Harold Pinter, Alan Hollinghurst, and Zadie Smith.

     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • The dissertation is a core module for all full-field literature students. Under guidance from an allocated specialist member of staff, and supported by interactive workshops, you will produce a sustained piece of research, either in the form of a traditional 10,000 word dissertation or alternatively in the form of creative project and accompanying 3000 word rationale. The module culminates in a student conference, which you will work with your peers to organise, and which your contribution to will also be assessed. An initial dissertation proposal must be submitted in September before the module begins. At the end of the module you will have produced a critically engaged and fully developed piece of independent research.

    Read full module description

     
  • Salman Rushdie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Geoffrey Chaucer, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Mary Shelley, John Milton, Lawrence Sterne, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison...the list is endless. At every point in literary history there are writers who break the mould and challenge the status quo. Whether it is through writing epics that endure through centuries, addressing the injustices of the time or challenging the very notion of what a novel, poem or a play can do, writers can be radical in a number of exciting ways. This module looks at works by radical writers in depth, studying one famous text in detail by a range of writers from different time periods and taught by lecturers who are experts in these writers. We will look at the context of each text as well as the way the text is written, determining why these radical writers have been so successful and looking at the effects their texts have had on the world around them. We will look at the idea of the literary ‘canon', made up of writers who have been radical in some way, and consider the way that this idea can be challenged, reinvigorated or refreshed.

     
  • Despite its categorisation, children's literature is frequently read by adult readers, often celebrated for its attention to storytelling, rich creativity, and the development of imagined worlds. This module introduces you to children's literature as a subject for adult study. It investigates the origins of the genre in the eighteenth century, its flourishing in the nineteenth century and its varied fortunes thereafter. You will read and critically explore a number of major texts in their contexts. You will consider authors and subject-matter, changing ideas about childhood, the pressures of commercialisation, educational theories, cities and gardens, sex and gender, race, class and empire, as well as wonder, magic and adventure, considering what it is about children's literature that means it retains its appeal long after childhood has ended.

    The module will be organised chronologically and thematically in four strands. Texts will be selected to illuminate a range of topics, styles and approaches, from the didactic to the fantastical, the starkly realistic to the satirical.  Assessment is by an extended essay allowing you to show knowledge of a range of texts, and by two close reading exercises.

     
  • This module allows students to study two authors in depth across a sustained period of time. In each year, the module will be taught in two blocks, each focused on the works of a single author who falls under the research specialism of one or more members of staff. Each block may involve the study of several texts or the extended, in-depth study of a longer work of literature. Information as to the current year's content will be released prior to the selection of student options, but will change each year to reflect staff research interests. Possible authors for study might include (but are not limited to) novelists such as Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Don DeLillo, poets such as John Milton, Samuel Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, or Ted Hughes, or dramatists such as Christopher Marlowe, Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter, or Caryl Churchill. Alternatively, the module may in some years also focus on a memoir or short story writer, travel writer, or notable literary theorist or philosopher. The module is assessed by a critical or creative project and two essays. 

     
  • Throughout its history, the American nation has centred its identity upon notions of protest, resistance and dissent: a questioning of authority that has come to define American ideas of democratic freedom and individuality. This module explores how writers of poetry and prose from the 19th century to the present have asserted the American consciousness through literatures of counter-cultural resistance, challenging political ideologies, and questioning established modes of thinking. We will explore movements such as Transcendentalism, the Beats, Black Arts, and the New York School and their production of a counter-cultural aesthetic. Alongside this, we will consider individual writers who have responded to dominant discourses surrounding race, gender, nationalism, capitalism, and war - writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, George Saunders and Thomas Pynchon. How, we ask, have these writers and movements both responded to and shaped the idea of American identity through a politics that is both radical and anti-authoritarian? The module is assessed by a combination of two short essays, discussion posts and a long critical essay.

     
  • What does it mean to be human? What does it means to post-human? Who are our postmodern monsters? And what is the relationship between these differently defined subjects and the environments - built, natural, virtual - in which they exist? In this module we examine literature that has asked these questions, investigating how narratives of modernity have interrogated assumptions about the relationship between living subjects and the physical world, and indeed the way in which both those subjects and that world are conceived. Framed by ecocritical and spatial theory, we will consider how narrative explores the way in which the physical world has been treated in the current age - the age described as the Anthropocene  - and how it has played a role in re-shaping our understanding of that world, and the changing idea of what constitutes the human. Alongside this, we will consider how literature illuminates the ways in which spaces and places are themselves implicated in these definitions, with particular consequences for questions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. The module will include field trips to relevant sites such as urban developments and local wildlife centres, and will be assessed by a combination of essay and critical reflection.

     
  • This module examines the rich and dynamic presence of British black and Asian writing from the mid-17th century to the present. Exploring the ways in which black and Asian writing has contributed to definitions of Britishness for more than 300 years, it examines how black writers have produced formally innovative and conceptually challenging responses to questions of race, class, gender and identity, while simultaneously making significant creative contributions to the fields of drama, prose, poetry, and life-writing. In the first half of the module, students will study a range of early British texts from the mid-17th century to the 19th century from writers such as Equiano and Mary Seacole, alongside contemporary works which have reflected on the black cultural presence in Britain during this period, while the second half of the module turns to 20th century and contemporary texts by writers such as Zadie Smith. Andrea Levy, Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani, Leila Aboulela, Jackie Kay and John Agard, contextualised by appropriate critical and cultural theories from thinkers such as Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall. The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy which allows students to respond to the module through a combination of critical essay, performance and/or creative writing, and discussion posts documenting engagement and critical response.

     
  • This optional Level 6 module allows students to pursue Shakespeare studies at an advanced level and is founded upon a detailed and extensive study of the writer and his works.  Consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches to Shakespeare as well as the long history and dynamic status of Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, for example in relation to questions of gender, identity and globalisation.  Students will be encouraged to reflect upon the role of Shakespeare in culture now as well as relevant contemporary contexts such as the nature of early modern theatre going alongside crucial political and religious conditions. Teaching on the module will be closely aligned with the rich resources available at the Rose Theatre and in particular will afford students the opportunity to participate in the stimulating series of talks and events organised as part of the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS).

     
  • This module traces how literature from the 19th century to the present has concerned itself with questions of gender identity and sexuality, often offering a radical voice for those - including both women and LGBTQ+ voices - excluded from dominant and mainstream discourses. Rooted in feminist and queer theory, we will explore how feminist writing has critiqued patriarchy, how literature has challenged normative gender roles, how it has engaged with powerful questions regarding the body and the politics of desire, and how it has represented the debates within different facets of the feminist and queer community. We will also consider how writers have employed literary form and genre - for example the use of experimental writing, dramatic or poetic form, or the romance genre - and to what extent debates surrounding these forms and genre contribute to a gendered politics of cultural production. Explicitly intersectional in its approach, we will frame our discussions with an interrogation of how the politics of gender and sexuality is shaped by its relationship with questions of class, race, disability, and religion. Examples of authors studied might include Jeanette Winterson, Fleur Adock Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Kushner, Clare Macintyre, Leila Aboulela, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Virginia Woolf.

    The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy consisting of discussion board posts and a student designed portfolio of responses which may include essay, creative writing (fiction or non-fiction), artwork, media production and performance.

     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

A copy of the regulations governing this course is available here

Details of term dates for this course can be found here

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