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BA (Honours) English Literature

English literature is a broad and accessible subject that is important in its own right and offers connections to a wide range of other kinds of cultural enquiry. This wide-ranging, fascinating degree course draws on a rich variety of texts and approaches, helping to reveal the extraordinary scope of English Literature and its importance in today's world. You'll encounter texts from different historical and cultural settings - including translations - in genres from poetry to fiction to film scripts. At Level 1 your studies will be framed within interdisciplinary themes; later, more specialised modules will help you consolidate your understanding of literary history and critical approaches to all the major literary genres. You can also choose creative writing and English language modules as part of your English literature degree. As you progress, you'll become a more self-aware reader of all kinds of writing, and acquire advanced skills in analysis, evaluation and communication.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q66 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal entry requirements 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 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 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 wide-ranging introduction to writing in English (and texts translated into English)
  • develop your skills of textual analysis and interpretation, your awareness of the range and variety of current critical and theoretical approaches to the study of English literature
  • enable you to develop conceptual ability, communication skills, and a capacity for creative and independent thinking.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

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

  • a substantial number of texts in English (or translated into English) from a wide range of different genres
  • the central and complex role of language in the creation of meaning
  • key critical and theoretical approaches to the study of English, including an awareness of how language and texts negotiate cultural change and difference
  • how texts are produced, disseminated and interpreted within different cultural and socio-historical contexts
  • how the study of English literature can benefit from interdisciplinary work.

Cognitive skills

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

  • analyse a wide range of texts in an appropriate critical vocabulary
  • synthesise information and ideas drawn from a variety of sources
  • evaluate different interpretations of texts
  • engage with literary texts from the past and from other contexts and cultures.

Practical and/or professional skills

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

  • plan and write essays and longer projects, following the conventions of scholarship in this subject, and acknowledging the work of others.

Key skills

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

  • ability to communicate complex ideas and arguments clearly and in ways that are appropriate to your subject, purpose and audience
  • information literacy skills in finding, evaluating and using online data
  • competence in the use of appropriate ICT tools
  • ability to work independently, and develop your own learning strategies.

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