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BA (Honours) English Language and Literature

This degree course offers a stimulating and wide-ranging introduction to English language and literature. You'll have the opportunity to investigate how the English language is used in a variety of global contexts, and to study literature from different historical periods and diverse cultural settings. You'll explore writing and speech in a wide range of forms, and develop your skills in the interpretation of both literary and non-literary texts. At Level 1 your studies will be framed within interdisciplinary themes, and at Level 2 you'll move onto more specialised modules in English language and literature. At Level 3 your options broaden to include choices within the broad field of English, including creative writing. As you progress through your English Language and Literature degree, you'll acquire skills of analysis, the ability to critically comment on different kinds of writing, and learn to develop and sustain complex arguments.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q39 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal qualifications required to study this degree.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

Study of the arts and humanities requires an understanding of human activities in diverse cultural environments and in very different historical circumstances. The breadth of study and the range of cultural texts and objects analysed, combined with training in clear thinking and communication, make this degree course relevant to a wide variety of careers, including:

  • public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
  • advertising, journalism, publishing, creative industries and public relations
  • education
  • legal work
  • business, banking and retail
  • human resources
  • charities and campaigning.

Employers greatly value the high-level skills acquired by studying an English language and literature degree - which may be broadly summarised as critical thinking, analysis, and communication. You'll sharpen your IT, writing, and independent thinking skills, and develop the ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information in constructing an argument. These are key skills in complex organisations, greatly sought after in the world beyond study - whether you're already working, volunteering or changing career.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

Your studies will:

  • provide you with a broad understanding of the English language, including its history, contemporary use and development as a global language
  • provide you with a wide-ranging introduction to literary texts that have been either written in English or translated into English
  • develop your skills of analysis and interpretation of both literary and non-literary texts, including spoken, written and multimodal texts
  • enable you to develop a critical understanding of the range and variety of traditions and approaches to the study of literature and language
  • provide you with opportunities to develop conceptual and communications skills, and to progress towards more independent thinking and judgement.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this degree provides you with opportunities to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a substantial number of authors and texts that have been either written in English or translated into English, including texts written in English outside the United Kingdom
  • the character and conventions of the principal literary genres - poetry, fiction and drama - and of other kinds of writing and communication
  • the history of English, its contemporary diversity, its role as a global language, and its use in a range of contexts in different parts of the world
  • debates surrounding the historical and contemporary position of English in relation to other languages and language varieties
  • how literature and language both reflect and impact upon cultural change and difference; and of the way texts are written and received within literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts
  • how language and literature may be described and analysed
  • the nature of linguistic evidence and different methods used in the collection and analysis of language data
  • the different theoretical approaches to the study of literature, language and literacy.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • develop critical skills in the close reading and analysis of diverse texts
  • acquire complex information of diverse kinds from a variety of sources (such as academic libraries, the internet, CD-ROMs, and corpora)
  • learn and use appropriate linguistic and critical terminology to describe and analyse texts
  • synthesise information and ideas drawn from varied sources, and critically evaluate alternative explanations, arguments and theories
  • engage with different interpretations of texts and relate abstract concepts and theories to specific texts.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be:

  • better informed, more active and questioning members of society through the ability to identify and evaluate conflicting arguments, including recognising the significance of different value positions in these arguments
  • able to transfer and use relevant key skills in the workplace context
  • able to use the more specific knowledge, analytical skills and methods of language and literature studies as a strong basis for work in many professions.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following skills.


You will be able to:

  • identify relevant material from a variety of sources, including multimedia material
  • read, synthesise and evaluate the significance of substantial quantities of material
  • present sustained and persuasive arguments cogently and coherently
  • reference sources in an appropriate way.

Improving own learning and performance

You will be able to:

  • work independently, scheduling tasks and managing time effectively
  • study and learn more independently, and from a variety of different media and teaching methods
  • identify and use sources of support
  • make use of feedback from a tutor to improve performance
  • monitor and reflect on personal progress.

Information technology

You will be able to:

  • use information technology skills to access, store, manage and present data effectively
  • use the relevant computational tools and software packages, where appropriate, for the analysis of data.

Application of number

You will be able to:

  • understand, interpret and discuss basic statistical data in the form of graphs, tables and diagrams.

Problem solving

You will be able to:

  • analyse a problem and define its constituent parts.

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