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Key facts

  • 95%

    of our research judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'

  • 95%

    of our BA (Hons) English graduates employed or in further study

    15 months after graduating

    Source: Discover Uni

  • 100%

    of our students found our course 'intellectually stimulating'

    Source: Discover Uni


About the Department of English

At Southampton, we are proud of the breadth and rigour of our teaching and research.

Students here discover new sides to familiar writers like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen or Margaret Atwood. They also encounter radically different writing in modules driven by our research expertise. 

These include Arthurian manuscripts, Nigerian fantasy fiction, political manifestos, experimental genres, script writing and digital fiction.

The rich curriculum reflects our position as one of the UK’s most prestigious and exciting English departments: we were ranked joint 8th nationally for research in the latest census (Research Excellence Framework 2021), while 100% of students found our course 'intellectually stimulating' (National Student Survey 2023).  

As researchers and educators, we are leading the way in demonstrating the role of English in shaping national and global conversations as well as policy. Our department is home to major funded projects exploring the cultural worlds of post-pandemic towns in the UK, the role of assistive technologies in changing our experiences of text and voice, and Elizabeth II’s legacy and role in the Caribbean.

English at Southampton fosters a lively and welcoming intellectual community. Our commitment to providing exceptional academic and pastoral support drives the success of our students, 93.9% of whom felt 'challenged to achieve their best work' on our courses (National Student Survey 2023). 

Two groups of three students are standing beside a long table. They are looking at books that are visibly old, with yellowing pages. The books sit open on cushions topped with white cloths. The students are holding pens and paper and one is making notes. Behind them, shelves of books and folders stretch across the entire length of the wall.
Our third-year students examining rare books with Dr Callan Davies, Hartley Library Special Collections.

Our Research expertise

Our research culture is dynamic, creative, and collegial. English is a broad subject. We expand its reach through film documentaries, memoirs, and plays, as well as academic articles and monographs.

As researchers and tutors, we ask what words do in the world. This could mean exploring petro-chemical literature, interactions between literary and visual culture, or the cultural history of money.

Our high impact and award-winning research shapes policy and practice across many sectors. These include heritage, the marine environment, healthcare and gender diversity.

Our focus spans the entire range of contemporary literary studies. We delve into diverse subjects, such as medieval forests and refugee narratives. Other topics could include Jane Austen's afterlife, big data and narratives of extractivism.

We are also literary historians. We revisit Victorian seafarers' writings, analyse casting and theatre sites in Shakespeare's plays, reinterpret cultural meanings of sovereignty, and explore energy's significance in literary texts.

Our innovative research takes many forms. It includes literary festivals, public art installations, digital writing apps, textual editing, workshops and massive open online courses. This diversity connects the creative and the critical, and helps us champion an open and engaged culture of research.

Our academic staff have expertise in a wide range of specialisms.

Medieval and early modern / Renaissance

The research of our medievalists and early modern scholars includes:

  • maps and travel literature
  • the extended mind theory
  • Ben Jonson in print and performance
  • monarchy and the period of the English republic
  • sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama
  • playhouse and theatre history

18th and 19th centuries

Our experts on these periods specialise in:

  • women writers and readers such as Jane Austen
  • the birth of the United States
  • gardens and landscape
  • Dickens and the popular press
  • Victorian ecology
  • the American gothic
  • maritime law and literature

20th century and modernism

The wide range of subjects taught and studied by our 20th century specialists includes:

  • British and Irish modernisms
  • histories of the novel in the 20th century
  • the drama of Howard Barker
  • the development of psychoanalytic theory
  • Holocaust studies
  • the history of the BBC

Contemporary fiction

Our colleagues working on contemporary fiction and art focus on:

  • experimental poetics
  • transmission and translation of voice
  • African fiction
  • digital storytelling
  • literary constructions of queerness
  • docu-fiction and life-writing
  • new American drama

Global and postcolonial

The department is a home to world-leading research in:

  • African, Latin American and Caribbean studies
  • environmental humanities
  • the impact of oil
  • literary and legal understandings of piracy
  • African literatures
  • digital humanities
  • the technologies of the archive 

Creative writing

We run an English with Creative Writing BA and a Creative Writing MA.

These programmes give students the chance to develop their writing and build confidence through small workshops, craft seminars, and one-on-one mentoring from established authors.

Tutors include:

Our courses allow students to:

  • experiment with different forms and genres
  • attend intimate masterclasses and question-and-answer sessions with successful writers
  • take part in literary events such as our internationally renowned Writers in Conversation reading series
  • build industry knowledge and contacts through end of year agent and publisher showcases
  • gain practical publishing, editing and marketing experience on the production team of our annual graduate anthology, Avenues

Postgraduate study and support

We have a vibrant community of postgraduate taught and research students. 

We offer taught MA degrees in English Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Global Literary Industries Management. You'll study a range of specialist options as well as receive one-on-one supervision.

We also welcome applications from prospective PhD students. We offer a range of funding and scholarships. Browse our staff pages to find a potential supervisor and contact them to find out more.

We especially welcome applications from international students. Tailored support for international students includes: 

  • Language classes 
  • Summer pre-sessional programs
  • International student societies where you can connect with students from around the world
  • Weekly events and newsletters

Find out more about applying as an international student here.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

English at Southampton is committed to promoting equal treatment and access to institutional resources for all members of our community, whether students, academic staff or specialist staff.

We condemn and work to prevent discrimination based on:

  • age
  • class
  • disability
  • ethnicity
  • gender and gender affirmation
  • marital status
  • nationality
  • religious belief
  • sexual orientation

We encourage transparent communication and foster inclusive spaces for learning, working, and socialising, where it is safe for everyone to be themselves.

The study and practice of literature in our department are closely bound up with personal and world histories – some of them difficult. Many such issues and injustices animate our research. Modules in our programme may include the study of attitudes, narratives, language and ideas that may prove troubling, unsettling or distressing. We aim to help our students to make sense of such content by placing it in its historical, cultural and intellectual contexts, and by signalling appropriate classroom procedures for reading and discussing sensitive material.

While not shying away from discussing difficult and sensitive topics, we do all we can to ensure such discussions are conducted in a way that is considerate and respectful. 



Discover the full range of research in the Department of English, including our dedicated research groups.

  • A row of books in a library, with their spines turned away from the viewer

    English research

    Learn more about our research and its real-world impact. Explore impact stories, browse projects and publications, make contact with experts. 

Our research community

Research centres and groups bring together specialists to share knowledge and solve problems.


Working with students and staff in a top ten research department brings exciting new insights into English literatures from around the globe.
Head of Department

Work with us

Contact us

Get in touch, we're happy to help

You can contact us by emailing:
Avenue Campus, Highfield Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BF
We're open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm UK time

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