English and Philosophy BA

2025-26 entry
School of English
Department of Philosophy

English and Philosophy are mutually supportive subjects that provide distinct but corresponding methodologies for our understanding of the world. The joint study of English literary cultures (including theatre, film and creative writing) and Philosophy (including philosophy of language, ethics, metaphysics and logic) will throw you into some of the oldest debates around the very possibility of meaningful life.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Three philosophy students in a seminar

    Delve into some of the oldest debates, exploring the human experience through literature and philosophical thought.

    Literature and philosophical thought are both interested in questioning the very nature of our existence. Whether it’s exploring the meaning of life, the definition of morality or the role of religion, these big topics will help you tackle the issues of today.

    In English, you'll study literature from the medieval period to the present day, with the chance to explore areas as diverse as animal studies, the history of the Gothic, American literature, theatre, creative writing and film.

    In philosophy, you'll study the essential cornerstones of the subject (including philosophy of language, ethics, metaphysics and logic) alongside distinctive specialist modules on topics like philosophy of education, philosophy of law, philosophy of the arts, film and philosophy, and feminism.

    Why choose this course?

    • Interrogate life’s big questions - combining the study of literature with philosophical thought results in an in-depth understanding of the human experience, providing the skills to tackle the issues of tomorrow.
    • Top 100 in the world for philosophy QS World Rankings 2023 - learn from world-leading staff teaching an exceptionally diverse range of modules.
    • Work placements across local and national companies - stand out from the crowd through real work experience opportunities that equip you with new skills, build contacts and help you prepare for your future career.

    Dual and combined honours degrees

    Students sitting at a table in discussion

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Title: English and Philosophy BA course structure 2023-24
    UCAS code: QV35
    Years: 2023
    First year

    A maximum of 80 credits can be selected from English modules, which includes 40 credits of core modules. Core English modules:

    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

    Optional English modules:

    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

    This module explores the language of literary texts. We will look at how different literary styles create particular effects and describe these styles and effects using linguistics. The course aims to provide students interested in English literature with a practical introduction to language, and to provide students interested in language with experience of applying linguistic analysis to literary texts. The emphasis is on a hands-on approach, and topics covered will include sentence structure, register, narrative structure, conversation 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
    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
    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

    You must take at least 40 credits of Philosophy modules. You must take:

    Writing Philosophy

    Philosophical writing is a skill that you, the student, must hone early on in order to succeed in your degree. It is also a transferable skill that will serve you in your post-academic career. Philosophical writing combines the general virtues of clarity, organisation, focus and style found in other academic writing with particular philosophical virtues; namely, the ability to expose the implicit assumptions of analysed texts and to make explicit the logical structure of one's own and other people's arguments. A precondition of philosophical writing is a unique form of textual analysis that pays particular attention to its argumentative structure. In this module you will learn and practice philosophical writing. You will learn how to read in preparation for philosophical writing, learn how to plan an essay, learn how to rework your drafts and learn how to use feedback constructively.  Short writing exercises will help you hone specific writing skills. You will bring these skills together by writing a number of complete essays. The lectures in the course will be split between lectures on the art of writing and lectures on philosophical topics in the domain of fact and value. Essay topics will be based on the topical lectures and their associated readings.

    20 credits

    And at least one other core Philosophy module (20 credits) from the list below.

    Ethics and Society

    This module introduces students to some core questions in ethics, political philosophy, and social philosophy. We ask questions such as: What is a good life for you? What is a morally good life? Does being virtuous matter? What kind of moral consideration do we owe to non-human animals and the environment? Turning to political philosophy, we consider how societies should be organised if they are to realise values such as freedom, equality, and community. How should we understand these values? And what role might the state play in promoting (or undermining) them? We also look at some questions in social philosophy. For example: What are social groups? And when and why are social norms oppressive?

    20 credits
    Mind and World

    This module is an introduction to a range of topics in epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. In the first half of the module we consider questions such as: How should we understand knowledge? What implications does cognitive and cultural diversity have for our understanding of knowledge? Should we privilege some points of view? Should we trust others? Can we wrong them if we don't? And what should we say about disagreement? In the second half of the module we ask questions such as: Is the mind a physical thing? Can a machine have a mind? Can you survive the destruction of your body? Do you have free will? And can a machine be responsible for its own actions?

    20 credits
    Reason and Argument

    This module teaches basic philosophical concepts and skills to do with argument.  The first part of the course deals with arguments in ordinary language.  It teaches techniques for recognizing, interpreting, analyzing, and assessing arguments of various kinds.  It also teaches important concepts related to arguments, such as truth, validity, explanation, entailment, consistency, and necessity.  The second part of the course is a basic introduction to formal logic.  It teaches how to translate ordinary-language arguments into formal languages, which enables you to rigorously prove validity, consistency, and so on.

    20 credits

    Optional philosophy modules:

    Ethics in Antiquity: East and West

    How should we live? What are the right values and principles by which we should guide our lives? What weight should we give to considerations of morality and justice? Are there fixed truths about these matters or are they just determined by choice or convention? Ethics is concerned with questions such as these. This course will engage with such questions by examining some important and influential texts from the ancient world, both Western and Eastern, including key writings by the Greek philosopher Plato and the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi.   

    10 credits
    History of Philosophical Ideas

    The history of philosophy is made up of a series of debates between competing philosophical traditions and schools: for example, idealists argue with realists, rationalists with empiricists. And at different times, distinctive philosophical movements have dominated the discussion, such as pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, and critical theory. This module will introduce you to some of these central movements and traditions in the history of philosophy from Plato onwards, and the key philosophical concepts and issues that they have brought in to western thought.

    10 credits
    Death

    This module is mainly about death itself . What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.

    10 credits
    Philosophy of Sex

    Sex is one of the most basic human motivators, of fundamental importance in many people's lives, and a topic of enormous moral, religious, and political contention. No surprise, then, that it turns out to be of great philosophical interest. We will discuss moral issues related to sex' asking when we might be right to judge a particular sex act to be morally problematic; and what political significance (if any) sex has. We will also discuss metaphysical issues, such as the surprisingly difficult questions of what exactly sex is and what a sexual orientation is. Throughout our study, we will draw both on philosophical sources and on up-to-date contemporary information.

    10 credits
    Philosophy of Religion

    This course will pose and try to answer philosophical questions about religion. These include questions about the nature of religion. For instance does being religious necessarily involve believing in the existence of a God or Gods? And is religious faith compatible with adherence to the scientific method? Other questions that the course will cover include questions about the theistic notion of God. Does the idea of an all-powerful being make sense? Is an all-knowing God compatible with human freedom? And is an all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good creator of the universe compatible with the existence of evil? Further questions concern God and morality. Is it true that if there is no God, then there is no right and wrong? The course will examine philosophical arguments for the existence of God, and question whether these arguments are sound.

    10 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 and Philosophy - 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.

    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.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    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.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    You'll be taught by world-leading experts in both departments. School of English staff are researchers, critics, and writers. They're also passionate, dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to ensure their students are inspired. In the Department of Philosophy, you'll be taught by researchers working at the cutting-edge of their field, meaning your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting.

    Assessment

    In addition to writing essays and more traditional exams, English modules use a range of innovative assessments that can include designing websites, writing blog posts, delivering presentations and working with publishing software. For philosophy modules, assessment is normally through a combination of coursework essays and exams, with long essay options available instead of exams.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    BBB + B in the EPQ
    International Baccalaureate
    33
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD 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
    Other requirements
    • Evidence of interest in language and literature, demonstrated through the personal statement is also required

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    BBB

    A Levels + a fourth Level 3 qualification
    BBB + B in the EPQ
    International Baccalaureate
    32
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDM in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + B at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AABBB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + BB
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 24 at Distinction and 21 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • Evidence of interest in language and literature, demonstrated through the personal statement is also required

    English language requirements

    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

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    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.

    Your career - the School of English

    Department of Philosophy

    Studying philosophy will develop your ability to analyse and state a case clearly, evaluate arguments and be precise in your thinking. These skills will put you in a strong position when it comes to finding employment or going on to further study.

    Our graduates work in teaching, law, social work, computing, the civil service, journalism, paid charity work, business, insurance and accountancy. Many also go on to study philosophy at postgraduate level.

    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

    Department of Philosophy

    We pride ourselves on the diversity of our modules and the high quality of our teaching. Our staff are among the best in the world at what they do. They're active researchers so your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting. We'll teach you how to think carefully, analytically and creatively.

    Our staff and students use philosophy to engage with real world issues. You will be able to use what you learn to make a difference in the community, through projects like Philosophy in the City, an innovative and award-winning programme that enables students to teach philosophy in schools, homeless shelters and centres for the elderly.

    Our students run a thriving Philosophy Society and the only UK undergraduate philosophy journal. Our Centre for Engaged Philosophy pursues research into questions of fundamental political and social importance, from criminal justice and social inclusion to climate ethics, all topics that are covered in our teaching.

    Philosophy changes our perspective on the world, and equips and motivates us to make a difference.

    The Department of Philosophy is based at 45 Victoria Street at the heart of the University campus. We're close to the Diamond and the Information Commons, as well as Jessop West, which houses our fellow Arts & Humanities departments of History, English and Languages & Cultures.

    Department of Philosophy

    University rankings

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      University of the Year and best for Student Life 
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024

      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 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024, 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    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.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    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.

    Placement and study abroad

     Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range of transferable skills
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    There are other opportunities to get work experience, with hands-on projects integrated into several of our academic modules. With our third year Work Place Learning module, you can spend time with an organisation from the Sheffield voluntary or private sector, gaining skills and experience relevant to philosophy in an applied setting.

    You can join our student-led volunteering organisation, English in the City, and take part in activities that bring topics in English studies to local school children. You can also take part in the award-winning Philosophy in the City group, which introduces school children to philosophical ideas they can apply to everyday life.

    All of these experiences will help you build a compelling CV.

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget.

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually studying abroad between the second and third year at Sheffield. Or you can apply to replace a year of your time at Sheffield with a period abroad without adding an additional year to your course. 

    We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    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.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    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.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    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.

    Campus tours

    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.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    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.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2025-2026

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    English and Philosophy are mutually supportive subjects that provide distinct but corresponding methodologies for our understanding of the world. The joint study of English literary cultures (including theatre, film and creative writing) and Philosophy (including philosophy of language, ethics, metaphysics and logic) will throw you into some of the oldest debates around the very possibility of meaningful life.