English Literature BA
School of English
Explore this course:
You are viewing this course for 2024-25 entry. 2023-24 entry is also available.
- A Levels AAB
Other entry requirements
- UCAS code Q306
- 3 years / Full-time
- September start
- Find out the course fee
- Optional placement year
- Study abroad
We seek to foster your love of literature and the creative arts, including film and theatre, so you graduate with a real understanding and appreciation of the subject area. You'll have the opportunity to study texts from Old English to the present day, and you'll be invited to participate in new research areas such as Animal Studies and the Environmental Humanities.
Your first year is the starting point for your chronological study of literature, where you'll study the poetry and prose from the early modern period in England. You'll also be able to choose from a wide selection of optional modules. As well as representing the varied areas of study available within the school, all first year modules provide degree-level study skills to help you expand your knowledge and develop as a scholar.
In your second year, your core modules build on the experience of year one, completing the chronological spine to your degree and equipping you with complex critical and theoretical approaches to unlock the study of English literary cultures in all their forms. There are also options to extend your core studies, which can be based on single authors, genres or literary movements, reflecting the cutting-edge of research.
There are no core requirements in your final year. You choose from modules based on research-led teaching and will engage in focused, in-depth work with tutors who are experts in their field. You'll also have the opportunity to complete a final year dissertation on a topic of your own choice, with the support of a dedicated supervisor.
Over the course of each academic year at Sheffield, you will need to study modules that equate to the value of 120 credits. Some of these credits will be taken up by our core modules, which are designed to give you the breadth of knowledge and ways of thinking necessary to the degree being awarded.
For your remaining credits, you will be able to choose from an extensive range of optional modules, allowing you to shape your degree to the topics that interest you.
UCAS code: Q306
Years: 2022, 2023
In your first year, all students take the core module Renaissance to Revolution worth 40 credits. The remaining 80 credits can be used on modules from the list of optional English modules listed below, all 20 credits.
- Renaissance to Revolution
This module surveys the poetry and prose from the early modern period in England, i.e., that written between the beginnings of the sixteenth century through the seventeenth century to the late eighteenth century. We will look at different genres, from court complaint to sonnets, prose fiction, erotic verse, restoration drama and the works of writers such as Donne, Herbert, Spenser, Marlowe, Dyrden, Milton and Pope. The texts studied will be related to critical methods that help us understand the relationships between literature and the culture, society, and politics of the period in which it was produced.40 credits
- Early Englishes
Early Englishes works backward over a whole millennium of English, 1600 to 600. Each week's lectures and seminar focus on one century and one text representative of that century (for example, Beowulf and Piers Plowman). We will use a variety of techniques , literary, linguistic, anthropological, cultural historical, to analyse each text, thereby opening up discussion of the issues that preoccupied the English of the time, from glorious monster-slaying to the slow surrender of pagan belief to terror at the imminent arrival of Antichrist and on to the first expressions of love and desire. Texts will initially be studied in translation so no prior knowledge of Old or Middle English is necessary, but students will also be given the opportunity to examine texts in the original language.20 credits
- Foundations in Literary Study: Biblical and Classical Sources in English Literature
This module provides foundational knowledge about the treatment of Biblical and Classical sources in English Literature. It is an important unit for the study of literature and the Humanities, preparing students for work at higher levels. Typically a Biblical or Classical source and a literary text will be discussed together, to expose a range of meanings and to prepare participants for their own research about both the Bible and Classical material as literature and the treatment of Bible and Classical material in Literature. It will also prepare students for independent research. It is recommended that all students of English take this module.20 credits
- Contemporary Literature
This module introduces students to a diverse range of texts in English (prose, poetry, and film) with a focus on texts published since 2000. Texts will be chosen to provoke thinking and debate on urgent and controversial topics that might include: globalisation and neoliberalism; ecology and animal lives; artificial intelligence and the posthuman; political activism and social justice; migration and displacement; state violence and armed conflict. We will discuss formally and conceptually challenging works, raise ethical and philosophical questions and begin to discover how current critical and theoretical approaches can help us to engage with contemporary texts.20 credits
- Studying Theatre: A History of Dramatic Texts in Performance
Covering classical, contemporary and popular texts, Studying Theatre; A History of Dramatic Text in Performance aims to turn an interest in theatre and theatre-going into a more thorough appreciation of the ways in which playwriting, acting, design and performance have shaped theatre's development. Each week students will study a particular play and the historical context that informed its first performances and its theatrical afterlife. The course emphasis is on theatre as a social practice and practical discipline. Seminars and lectures will focus on the play in performance, and the processes that underlie production. Students do not need previous knowledge or experience, but should be prepared to try some new approaches to texts, for example through practical workshops.20 credits
- Exploring Literary Language
How are literary effects created through language? How can we describe these effects? This course will aim to provide literature students with a gentle introduction to language, and provide language students with experience of applying linguistic analysis to literary texts. The emphasis will be upon a practical hands-on approach, and topics covered will include sentence structure, lexical choice, cohesion, narrative structure, discourse analysis (with reference to drama and dialogue) and point of view in narrative fiction. The texts studied will be predominantly literary and twentieth century, and will include extracts from novels, plays, poetry and short stories.20 credits
- Hybrid Forms? Comedy and Tragedy
This module gives you the opportunity to study developments in comedy and tragedy from classical antiquity to the present day. This focus on genre enables you to take a broadly comparative approach, setting, for instance, works of classical antiquity alongside those of the early modern, modern, and contemporary worlds. As such, the module equips you to draw connections between periods studied separately at different points of your degree and between disparate forms, e.g. drama and the novel. Over the course of this module we will consider questions such as: what is genre, and why is it important? How does genre reflect or respond to historical change? Is there any such thing as a ‘pure’ genre or is hybridization a defining feature of genre itself? We will answer these questions by reading texts by authors such as Angela Carter, Noel Coward, Plautus, Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Wole Soyinka.20 credits
- Theatre 1: Staging Texts
This module will explore the processes through which texts written for theatrical performance ('plays') may be effectively interrogated, interpreted, and translated into performances. This will involve seeing one or more productions and analysing the relationship between the written and the performance texts, but the main emphasis will be on the first-hand, studio-based practical exploration of text(s). Though some consideration may be given to the perspectives of designers, directors and others, students will engage with text(s) primarily as imaginative, inventive and creative performers and interpreters of text(s).20 credits
- History of English
This module traces the history of the English language of the Fifth century AD through to the present day. Students will learn about the development of English over this period, looking at the factors which have shaped the language, and learning a variety of techniques for studying the language. The module will also introduce students to the range and variety of the English language at all periods, and to the ways in which English influences, and is influenced by, other languages.20 credits
- Introduction to Creative Writing
The aim of this unit is to help students to develop their expressive and technical skills in writing poetry and prose and to improve their abilities as an editor and critic of their own and other people's writing. Students will be guided in the production of new work and encouraged to develop an analytical awareness of both the craft elements and the wider cultural and theoretical contexts of writing. This module explores poetic techniques for creating new poems and narrative techniques for generating some prose work through the critical study of published examples, imaginative exercises, discussion and feedback on students' own writing. This exploration will help students to develop their own creative work while sharpening critical appreciation of published poetry and modern and contemporary fiction. The course is designed to give students the expereince of being workshopped as well as to establish basic creative writing techniques on Level 1 to preparing students for the challenges of Creative Writing Level 2.20 credits
- Introduction to Cinema
This module aims to study a cross-section of the most important American films up to the present day and to develop both a formalist and an institutional analysis of these works. Its intention is to study the growth of the classical Hollywood style, a matter of a sophisticated range of technical stratagems as well as of a genre-based cinema, and of the institution of Hollywood itself, the most significant force in cinema to-day.20 credits
Try a new subject:
The flexible structure of your first year at Sheffield means that you also have the chance to experience modules from outside of English - you can choose up to 40 credits of modules from a list approved by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. A final guided module list is made available to new students when you select your modules as part of registration.
In your second year, you will take the following core modules worth 40 credits each, Literature and Critical Thought and Romanticism to Modernism. The remaining 40 credits can be used on modules from the list of optional English modules listed below, which are all 20 credits.
- Romanticism to Modernism (a)
This module focuses on a diverse range of texts (including poetry, prose, drama and film) produced between the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century. It pays detailed attention to the varied styles, issues, and movements produced by the rapid technological, political and cultural shifts that characterise these two centuries. Drawing on the expertise of the teaching team, the module introduces cutting-edge research carried out within the department in areas such as romanticism, the Gothic and science fiction, experimental literature, colonial and postcolonial contexts, war studies, and animal studies40 credits
- Literature and Critical Thought (a)
This course introduces writers, concepts and approaches fundamental to contemporary literary theory, and explores their application to diverse relevant texts. Students will engage in a transhistorical study of the formal, literary and cultural functions of genre (e.g. in the forms of comedy and tragedy). They will also encounter theorists such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Ferdinand de Saussure, Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, Michael Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan and Jean Baudrillard. Lectures will introduce and explain this material, and seminars will discuss and apply it to the study of literature.40 credits
- The History of Persuasion
In all areas of life language plays a crucial role in defining what kind of event is taking place, who is in a position of authority and whose assertions should be trusted and believed. The aim of this module is to explore the nature of texts produced within four different areas: science, religion, the mass-media, and the market place. We shall consider the linguistic characteristics of each discourse and discuss how authority is constructed and persuasion achieved within each area. We shall also examine the emergence of each discourse from a historical angle and explore the controversies which surround communication in all four contexts. Students will have the opportunity to use stylistic techniques in the analysis of both historical and contemporary texts and to explore the social and cultural history of communication. Where appropriate, comparisons will be drawn with more literary genres with the aim of investigating (and problematising) the distinction between literary and non-literary discourse.20 credits
- Contemporary Drama and Creative Practices
This module engages with diverse modes of contemporary drama and creative practices, including formats beyond conventional play scripts. Expanding literary and dramatic traditions, this module investigates alternative, experimental and even radical processes for creating drama and creative practice and reflects on the potential these modes of making might offer. Students will be introduced to a range of approaches, aesthetics and forms in which contemporary dramatic and creative practices could be understood and analysed. Building on interdisciplinary understandings and theoretical research, this module will also examine the contexts which gave rise to these modes of making and consider how these respond to or challenge different traditions. Under staff direction and supervision, students will experiment with different strategies and apply various methodologies in making, writing and sharing new dramatic and creative texts, drawing from their practical research and exploration.20 credits
- Victorian Women Poets: Stressing Sex
This module introduces students to a range of Victorian women poets and the critical and ideological debates that surround their work. Reading the poetry of canonical writers, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti alongside less familiar works by, for example Mathilde Blind and Amy Levy, students will be encouraged to engage with questions of gender and genre and to think about how women employed different poetic forms and voices to respond to the political, scientific and religious upheavals of the nineteenth century. The module also explores the gender politics of the literary canon and encourages students to consider how a focus on women writers from diverse class, national and ethnic backgrounds might resist powerful narratives about Victorian literature and culture.20 credits
- Exiles and Monsters: An Introduction to Old English
This module explores the language and literature of Anglo-Saxon England, enabling you to read and understand the earliest English literature. You will learn how to read Old English, developing a good understanding of Old English grammar and gaining familiarity with the language and literature through translating a range of texts. We will examine the historical background and cultural contexts of these texts, introducing you to the breadth and variety of Old English texts, and to differing critical approaches to them.20 credits
- Representing the Holocaust
This course will examine fictional and non-fictional, literary and filmic, representations of the Holocaust, and considers the use and extension of conventional textual forms to do so, including documentary film, memoir, short story and cartoon. Texts covered will include Elie Wiesel's 'Night', Claude Lanzmann's film 'Shoah', Martin Sherman's 'Bent', Martin Amis's 'Time's Arrow' and Ida Fink's stories in 'A Scrap of Time'.20 credits
- The Novella and the Uncanny
This course will explore novellas from across the last 150 years which represent uncanny experiences of haunting, madness, obsession, and psychological and political disorientation, with these intense experiences often refracted through the consciousness of a central character. We will consider whether the particularities of this literary form lend themselves to representing experiences at the 'limits of reason'. Texts will include works by Kafka, Camus, George Eliot, Ayn Rand, Pynchon and others. The course will encompass the study of some relevant theory, including Freud's essay 'The Uncanny' - which itself contains an analysis of Hoffman's bizarre short story 'The Sandman'.20 credits
- John Donne Worlds of Desire
This module focuses on the work of one of the most charismatic, provocative, and intellectually challenging poets and preachers of the early modern period, John Donne. Ranging across Donne's writings, we will consider his erotic and religious poetry, political satires, letters, and sermons. The module will examine the social and literary circles in which Donne's work was written and read, with a particular emphasis on contemporary cultures of print and manuscript, and also seek to locate Donne's work in the wider context of sixteenth and seventeenth-century society, exploring, for example, his engagement with court politics, religious controversy, debates about marriage, and the exploration of the New World. The module will conclude with an examination of the critical reception of Donne's work and, in particular, the ways in which his biography has been constructed from the seventeenth-century to the present day.20 credits
- Good Books: Intertextual Approaches to Literature and the Bible
Literature, film and television constantly return to the Bible as a source of narrative, character and image. Biblical texts are translated, rewritten, transposed and radically challenged by literature from the medieval period to the present day and so intertextual readings of the Bible and literature provide insight into the ways authors engage with politics, philosophy, and tradition. Our module explores a range of intertextual relationships, from medieval dream poetry through to contemporary writing and cultural representation, including a range of genres and approaches. We will analyse film, TV and visual media as well as literary forms, to explore the ways in which creative writers interpret and re-imagine biblical narratives and tropes.20 credits
- Creative Writing Prose Fiction 2
The aim of this unit is to help students to develop their expressive and technical skills in writing prose fiction at Level 2 and to improve their abilities as an editor and critic of their own and other people's writing. Students will be guided in the production of new work and encouraged to develop an analytical awareness of both the craft elements and the wider cultural and theoretical contexts of writing. The emphasis throughout will be on reading as a writer and writing as a reader.20 credits
- Hollywood Cinema
This module introduces students to the historical, formal and critical analysis of Hollywood cinema. Through the study of a chronological series of set film texts from the classical studio period, the postclassical era and contemporary Hollywood, students will be encouraged 1) to engage with the cultural and contextual readings of popular American cinema, 2) explore and question its representation practices and ideological positions, and 3) apply and interrogate relevant critical and theoretical approaches. In order to read Hollywood cinema in detail and in its aesthetic and industrial contexts, students will also undertake detailed close reading of film texts, learning to employ technical terminology to identify and interpret examples of continuity style. Set films will reflect the spectrum of filmmakers, stars, genres and institutions exemplifying Hollywood from the 1930s to the present day.20 credits
- Writing the Real
This module explores the often problematic relationship between literature and 'the real world', using a range of theoretical and stylistic approaches. We will consider why 'realism' is such a difficult term to get to grips with; why describing a text or film as 'realistic' can be a very politically charged act; how ideas of 'the real' have changed over time; and what effects the inclusion of 'real' materials into fictional works may have. We will explore 'the real' in a wide range literary texts and films, including works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Ken Loach and Harold Pinter.20 credits
- Crime Writing: from the fin de siècle to the Golden Age
How did the genre of crime writing become so influential? This module will examine the cultural history of crime writing from 1890-1950, in a range of genres including detective novels, short stories, plays and films, and true crime writing or reportage. By focusing on a number of narratives of crime, the module will invite an analysis of how this genre is engaged with and subverted by writers wrestling with a modernity that included developments including two World Wars, imperialism and anticolonial movements, women's suffrage and presence in the workplace and a hugely increased use of technology, alongside the rise of criminology and psychoanalysis.20 credits
- Sex and Decadence in Restoration Theatre
The period between the Restoration of Charles II 1660 and the accession of James II (1688), witnessed an astonishing development of theatrical practice and culture; the professional Restoration stage, unlike its Renaissance predecessor, used actresses rather than cross-dressed boys to play female parts and the introduction of moveable scenery to these theatres brought with it different styles of acting, plotting and realism. On this module, we will consider how this new kind of theatre enabled the emergence of two key Restoration theatrical types, the rake and the courtesan, and what these new roles might tell us about changing attitudes towards sex20 credits
- Queer and Now: Contemporary Queer Texts
This module introduces students to a range of contemporary queer texts and considers how they respond to key debates and conversations regarding gender, sexuality, identity and community. Students will explore a variety of exemplary texts and artworks from the late 20th century up to the present day, together with the social, political, cultural and theoretical contexts which inform them. Considering how queer texts and theories might expand, challenge or stand in opposition to notions of canon, students will read works by queer novelists, poets and writers and will watch plays, films and drag performances to examine the opportunities of queer work and its relationship to activism and social change.20 credits
- Satire and Print in the Eighteenth Century
Against a background of political, religious and cultural ferment, new ideas of the individual's relationship to the state emerged in the early-eighteenth century. New kinds of readers, authors, and an increasingly powerful book trade reshaped the literary map of Britain. Those fraught relationships are captured in the prose and poetry of the satirists upon this course. The political, religious and economic satires of writers including Defoe, Pope, Swift, Ramsay, Finch, Gay, Leapor, Montagu, Addison and Steele will be read as a new and troubled relationship between the individual and the state emerged alongside a vigorously contested idea of 'Britain' in literature.20 credits
- Creative Writing Poetry 2
We learn by example: a creative writer is first and foremost a creative reader and a critical reader of his/her own work. This module explores poetic form and techniques for creating new poems through the critical study of published examples, imaginative exercises, discussion and feeback on students' own writing. This exploration will help students to develop their own creative work while sharpening critical appreciation of the formal aspects of poetry. Subjects covered will include: metre, rhythm and free verse; rhyme and verbal patterning; traditional forms such as sonnet and terza rima; new ways with form.20 credits
- Road Journeys in American Culture: 1930-2000
This module analyses the development of road narratives from the 1930s to the present, looking at the ways in which this narrative trope tells the story of American culture and society throughout the twentieth-century. The module aims to address some or all of the following questions. Do road journeys reflect or run away from political realities 'at home'? To what extent is the road journey a gendered space predominantly occupied by men? Are certain groups of people allowed to travel and other groups not? Is the road journey a metaphor for American colonization and expansion, or something else more ambiguous? Texts to be studied include films such as 'The Wizard of Oz', 'Bonnie and Clyde', The Straight Strory', and 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' novels such as 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac, 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov, and 'The Music of Chance' by Paul Auster, and poems by Elizabeth Bishop and Amy Clampitt.20 credits
- Christopher Marlowe
This module gives students the opportunity to read the entire dramatic and poetic output of Shakespeare's great rival, Christopher Marlowe. In putting plays into dialogue with lyric and narrative poetry, we will interrogate the implications of the label 'poet-dramatist' to describe the trajectory of Marlowe's career. Students will also look at important institutional contexts for the publication of Marlowe's work: professional theatre, patronage networks and print.20 credits
- Literature, Ecology, Capital
Fredric Jameson famously noted that it seems to be easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism. This module explores how literature represents the relationships between ecological crisis and the crises of capitalism. We will consider texts concerned with (for example) petroculture, habitat loss, biotechnology, meat and tourism. Chronologically, we will move from the late nineteenth century to the present. Given the global nature of the topic, we will be concerned with a diverse range of national literatures.20 credits
Try a new subject:
The flexible structure of your second year at Sheffield means that you also have the chance to experience modules from outside of English - you can choose up to 20 credits of modules from a list approved by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. A final guided module list is made available to new students when you select your modules as part of registration.
In your third year, 40 credits will be used on one of the four core English modules.
The remaining 80 credits can be used on modules from the list of optional English modules listed below, all 20 credits, on another one of the core modules, or on the dissertation module which is worth 40 credits.
- The Invention of Romanticism
This module is about the birth and legacy of romantic writing. You'll write a critical essay over Christmas, and over Easter you'll write a proposal for an oral paper. You'll be invited to present that paper to our undergraduate conference after Easter. Your conference paper will be converted into a final essay. All told, you'll understand the modern world better, and will have had lots of support towards enhancing your presentation skills.40 credits
- Renaissance Literature, Modern Crisis
This module considers early modern and Renaissance literature in relation to some of the pressing concerns of the modern world, e.g. the climate emergency, decolonisation, and gender identity (topics may vary from year to year depending on staff expertise and current events). You'll write a critical essay and work on a project such as an edited collection of texts with a shared theme.40 credits
- Research Topics in Theatre and Film
This module introduces students to significant research topics in the areas of theatre studies and film studies, through examination of diverse historical and contemporary examples. The module's topics and themes will investigate theatre and film texts in terms of their creation, production and reception, explore them via relevant formal, practical and critical approaches, and interrogate and integrate them within complex, creative and theoretically-informed scholarly work.40 credits
- Mod Cons: Exploring the Long 20th Century
This module introduces students to current research in the study of literary and related forms of cultural text and practice, focusing on the modern and contemporary periods from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. With a curriculum adapted each year in response to the current research interests of available academic staff, the module focuses on the ways in which literary and related works can be understood in terms of important aesthetic, cultural and socio-political concerns in the period.40 credits
- Life After Death? Romantic Poets and Writing the Afterlife
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason held that there were only two real questions: Is there a God and is there eternal life? Poets and philosophers (and for Coleridge, 'no man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher') have sought to imagine, conjure, or deny the idea of a life after death. This module will explore the versions of eternity written by Romantic poets. From Keats's denial of eternity, Byron's questioning, Shelley's agnostic yearning, and Hemans's feminist redress of the issue, we will consider the idea of life after death in poetry. Starting with a grounding in key philosophical ideas from Plato's assertion of the soul's immortality and Lucretius' denial of any life after death, this module will look at the hell, purgatory, heaven, and nothingness of life after death as written by Romantic poets.20 credits
- Exiles and Monsters: Reading Old English
This module explores the language and literature of Anglo-Saxon England, enabling you to read and understand the earliest English literature. You will learn how to read Old English, developing a good understanding of Old English grammar and gaining familiarity with the language and literature through translating a range of texts. We will examine the historical background and cultural contexts of these texts, introducing you to the breadth and variety of Old English literature, and to differing critical approaches to them.20 credits
- Afro-American Literature 1: Beginnings to the Harlem Renaissance
This course examines Afro-American Literature from early slave narratives and poems to the explosion of creativity after the first world war in the Harlem Renaissance, with its mixture of jazz, art, writing and politics. Writers considered include Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E. Du Bois, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Huston, Langston Hughes, Paul Dunbar. Music, art, and the cartoonist George Herriman will be discussed. We will also consider some later texts which reflect on this history, including Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Toni Morrison's Jazz.20 credits
- No Animals were Harmed in the Making of this Module: Animals in Film
Animals have played a crucial role in film as an artistic medium, from the literal use of animal products in film stock to the capturing of animal movement as a driver of stop-motion, wide-screen and CGI film technology. The wish to picture animals' lives, whether naturalistically or playfully, brings about filmic genres such as wildlife film and animation. By analysing a range of key films, the module will consider these and other major aspects of animals in film such as: animals' roles in different film genres, from art-house documentary to horror; the range of literal and symbolic ways animals appear in film; animals in the film star-system; animal lives and the ethics of film-making; adaptation and the different challenges of filmic and literary representation of animals.20 credits
- Fin de siècle Gothic
The module examines a range of Gothic texts and their fin de siècle contexts. Writers explored include R.L. Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Vernon Lee, Oscar Wilde, M.R. James, Bram Stoker, and H.G. Wells. Students will explore a diverse range of contemporary contexts which will enable them to see how theories of degeneration, images of Empire, models of medicine, notions of decadence, and ideas about history can be applied to the fin de siècle Gothic. The focus on ghosts, vampires, and aliens will help identify how a language of 'otherness' articulated the culturally specific anxieties of fin de siècle Britain. Teaching involves a mixture of lectures and seminars.20 credits
- Creative Writing Poetry 3
The aim of this unit is to help students to develop their expressive and technical skills in writing poetry at Level 3 and to improve their abilities as an editor and critic of their own and other people's writing. Students will be guided in the production of new work and encouraged to develop an analytical awareness of both the craft elements and the wider cultural and theoretical contexts of writing poetry. The emphasis throughout will be on reading as a writer and writing as a reader.20 credits
Virginia Woolf famously described Middlemarch as 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.' Spanning eight books, it is widely regarded as George Eliot's masterpiece. Eliot described and defied her society; she scrutinised her Victorian moment. She lived and worked at odds with nineteenth-century religious institutions: for more than twenty years, she was the partner of George Henry Lewes, a married man, and in her writing she sought to portray life 'as it was', to represent and celebrate everyday life, to resist its injustices. She is also one of the few pseudonymous women to retain their pen name in posterity. This module focuses on Middlemarch's eight books, exploring a range of historical and thematic issues including: serialisation; gender and marriage; class, religion and politics; Victorian science; art and ethics.20 credits
- The Idea of America
This module examines how and why contemporary American writers challenge foundational ideas of America. By reading some of the most exciting new voices of American literature alongside canonical authors of the 20th Century, we will discover how creative responses to key 'Americanised' tropes such as self-reliance, equality and freedom produce a reimagining of the idea of America. We will explore how literary depictions of American identities and portraits of the nation are influenced by wider social, cultural and historical contexts and this module has a particular focus on diversity. The content is structured thematically and offers students an opportunity to co-create aspects of the taught curriculum.20 credits
- The Man Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock's Films
This course will examine a selection of Hitchcock's British and Hollywood films in the context of a variety of critical approaches. It will analyse the plot, techniques, influences of and homages to a variety of Hitchcock's films.20 credits
- America and the Avant-Garde, 1950's-1990's
We require a situation like it really is - no rules at all. Only when we make them do it in our labs do crystals win our games. Do they? I wonder? (John Cage). In this module we will be looking at a range of avant-garde experiments in poetry, prose and performance that have been carried out by contemporary American writers and artists. As well as discussing the innovations of performance poetry, happenings and assemblages, we will also be comparing the work of different movements such as the Beats, the Black Mountain Poets, FLUXUS, and Mail Art.20 credits
- Writing Fiction 3
This module explores techniques and strategies for creating fiction through the critical study of short excerpts from a wide range of novels and short stories, imaginative exercises, discussion and feedback on students own writing. This exploration will help students develop their own creative work while sharpening critical appreciation of both classic and contemporary fiction. Subjects covered will include: narrative voice, character, dialogue, plot, mood, pace and style. Examples will include work by Laurence Sterne, Dickens, Joyce and Anthony Burgess, JG Ballard, Martin Amis, Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Houellebecq.20 credits
- Crime and Transgression in Romantic Literature
This course focuses on the literature of the period 1900-1945, in particular on Anglo-American and Irish Modernism, its origins around World War 1, and the texts of the 1920s and 1930s which register its impact in Britain and North America. While the Modernism movement will be at the centre of the course, represented by Joyce, Woolf, and Eliot for example, we will examine a full range of texts of that period and pay attention to the vast range of styles, issues, and non-modernists movements of the periods. The aesthetic revolution of Modernism will be changed20 credits
- Women Playwrights on the International Stage: 1880s-1930s
This module introduces plays from the 1880-1930s to demonstrate the contribution of women writers to modern drama. Studying plays in the 'Social Realist' tradition, by Elizabeth Robins and others, we examine the tensions attached to being a woman writing in a period marked by dramatic increase in women's activism. We also address plays within Symbolist and Expressionist modes by Rachilde and others who aligned themselves with the primarily male avant-garde, where representations of 'the feminine' are typically highly ambivalent. Plays are studied in conjunction with non-dramatic documents, including texts of pro- and anti-suffrage speeches and examples from the visual arts.20 credits
- Contemporary Black British Writing
This module will explore the diversity of Black British Writing from the Windrush Era to the present, paying particular attention to rewritings of earlier British texts and experiments with generic and cultural forms. We will use theoretical interrogations of race and colonialism from thinkers including Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall and Reni Eddo-Lodge to analyse works that radically reformulate key moments in British literature and culture from the Roman invasion to The Canturbury Tales, through the colonial hinterlands of Victorian fiction to the aspiration and culture clash of 1950s London.20 credits
The Dissertation is a long essay of between 8-10,000 words, the result of a sustained period of independent study across both semesters at Level 3. This module provides final year undergraduate students with an opportunity to build on work done in previous modules, or study a topic that has not been included in the degree. Students taking this module are expected to demonstrate a capacity both for independent research and for organising a long piece of work.40 credits
Try a new subject:
The flexible structure of your third year at Sheffield means that you also have the chance to experience modules from outside of English - you can choose up to 20 credits of modules from a list approved by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. A final guided module list is made available to new students when you select your modules as part of registration.
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
You'll learn through a mix of lectures and smaller group seminars. We keep seminar groups small because we believe that's the best way to stimulate discussion and debate. All students are assigned a personal tutor with whom they have regular meetings, and you are welcome to see any of the academic staff in their regular office hours if there's anything you want to ask.
Our staff are researchers, critics, and writers. They're also passionate, dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to ensure their students are inspired.
In addition to writing essays and more traditional exams, our modules use a range of innovative assessments that can include designing websites, writing blog posts, delivering presentations and working with publishing software.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
A Levels + additional qualifications ABB + B in the EPQ
International Baccalaureate 34
BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in a relevant subject
BTEC Diploma DD + A at A Level
Scottish Highers AAAAB
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AA
Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction and 9 at Merit
Evidence of interest in literature, demonstrated through the personal statement is also required
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
A Levels + additional qualifications ABB + B in the EPQ
International Baccalaureate 33
BTEC Extended Diploma DDM in a relevant subject
BTEC Diploma DD + B at A Level
Scottish Highers AAABB
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AB
Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit
Evidence of interest in literature, demonstrated through the personal statement is also required
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
Equivalent English language qualifications
Visa and immigration requirements
Other qualifications | UK and EU/international
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
School of English
We're a research-intensive school with an international perspective on English studies. Students can specialise in their chosen subject, whilst taking modules from other programmes, forging interdisciplinary connections. We are famous for our pioneering work with communities, locally and internationally. We encourage our students to get involved and to apply their academic learning, working in partnership with external organisations both within the city of Sheffield and beyond.
Our staff are researchers, critics, and writers. They're also passionate, dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to ensure their students are inspired.
We keep seminar groups small because we believe that's the best way to stimulate discussion and debate. Our modules use a range of innovative assessments and can include designing websites, writing blog posts, and working with publishing software, in addition to writing essays and delivering presentations.
We're committed to providing our students with the pastoral support they need in order to thrive on their degree. All students are assigned a personal tutor with whom they have regular meetings. You are welcome to see any of the academic staff in their regular student consultations if there's anything you want to ask.
The School of English is based in the Jessop West building at the heart of the university campus, close to the Diamond and the Information Commons. We share the Jessop West Building with the Department of History and the School of Languages and Cultures.School of English
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A top 100 university
QS World University Rankings 2023
92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
Research Excellence Framework 2021
Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
A top 10 university targeted by employers
The Graduate Market in 2022, High Fliers report
Choosing to study English Literature at the University of Sheffield has been one of the best decisions I have ever made
Scott Moore BA and MA, English Literature
BA English Literature student Scott Moore worked with academic staff on the Barry Hines Project, which saw him bringing University research into the Sheffield community through engagement events with local schools.
School of English
The academic aptitude and personal skills that you develop on your degree will make you highly prized by employers, whatever your chosen career path after university:
- Excellent oral and written communication
- Independent working
- Time management and organisation
- Planning and researching written work
- Articulating knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories
- Leading and participating in discussions
- Negotiation and teamwork
- Effectively conveying arguments and opinions and thinking creatively
- Critical reasoning and analysis
Our graduates are confident and articulate. They have highly developed communication skills, equipping them for a wide range of careers in journalism, the charity sector, marketing and communications, theatre and television production, PR, copywriting, publishing, teaching, web development, accountancy, and speech and language therapy, among other fields.
Many of our students go on to postgraduate study, research, and an academic career.
Placements and study abroad
There are opportunities to study abroad, for a semester or a year, as part of a three or four year degree programme. We have exchange agreements with universities in the USA, Australia, Canada, Singapore and throughout Europe.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
University open days
We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.
Offer holder days
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.
Telephone: +44 114 222 0236
The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.