The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of HumanitiesUndergraduate study

Studying Here

In the top 1% per cent of universities worldwide (QS World Rankings 2018), Southampton is a leading UK research university with world-class facilities and teaching, innovative learning environments and unmatched flexibility in our degree programmes. We back this up with superb accommodation and excellent sport and social amenities.

How to ApplyInternational students
Students in their Halls of Residence


Discover our range of accommodation options and how to apply.

Our Life Sciences Building on Highfield Campus

Virtual Open Day

Step into our world and explore the University from wherever you are using our Virtual Open Day.

One of our Student Bloggers

Our student blog

Four current students share their experiences on our Life at Southampton student blog.

A campus map at the University's Bus Interchange

Visit us

Find out how to take a tour around the campus and meet some of our current students.

A student in the library

Choose Southampton

Find out why you should choose Southampton for your undergraduate degree.

How to Apply

Undergraduate students can apply for courses through UCAS. Find out more about the process, deadlines, entry requirements and more on our undergraduate application pages.

How to apply


For all up-to-date information on activities and events for all new undergraduate students visit the Welcome website.

Visit our Welcome website

Study support

The University offers a huge range of resources and study support across all our campuses to help you make the most of your learning experience.

Help and support

Alumni community

Find out more about the University's alumni community, their experiences and the benefits available to graduates.

Our Alumni

Undergraduate English programmes

You can study English on its own or as a combined course with film, history, modern languages, music or philosophy. We cover the full timespan of English literature, from the early Middle Ages to the present. The programme is interdisciplinary, looking at the social and cultural contexts of literature; it covers film and the visual arts as well as literary works; and it includes optional creative writing elements. You'll also gain the skills you'll need for a choice of careers, graduating with a degree that demonstrates to potential employers that you have important skills in communication, independent research and critical thought.

English programme structure

The English undergraduate programme is modular. This means that it's divided into self-contained modules taught and assessed in a single semester.

First year

In the first year, the normal pattern is that all students, single and combined, take an English double module in each semester: Narrative and Culture in the first semester and Critical Theory in the second. Single Honours students usually also take two single modules in English in each semester; these introduce you to medieval language and literature, to the cultural transmission of myths and legends, to the theory and practice of poetry, and to film and theatre studies. You can, however, take one or two single modules in another discipline as alternative subjects (for full details of how you can do this, see the Programme Specifications for English); the University is currently creating more opportunities for you to study across Faculties, and also offering new interdisciplinary modules under its Curriculum Innovation scheme (follow the link for full details).
First-year assessment isn't counted in the final degree result, but to proceed to the second year, you'll need to pass your first year.

Second year

In the second year, your course is entirely option-based. We offer a very wide range of options, including film and creative writing. As in your first year, you can also take one or two single modules in another discipline as alternative subjects.
You'll make your module choices in the second semester of the academic year before you take them. Modules are grouped according to literary period or genre. If you're a single honours student you'll be expected to choose at least one module from each group, but you'll still be able to weight your course to the areas which particularly interest you. You'll be asked to list modules in order of preference in the course ballot; we don't guarantee that you will get all your first choices, but we do our best to accommodate your preferences.

During your second year, it's possible for you to spend one semester at another European university (Barcelona, Lausanne, or Frankfurt) under the Erasmus exchange scheme. For details and information on other study abroad opportunities within English, visit our study abroad page.

Final year

The course is again mainly option-based, and it's possible for you to make one or more option choices outside English. You can also take one or two modules, as in the first and second year, as alternative subjects (see above). The only required element is an individually-supervised dissertation, an 8,000-word piece of written work on a topic of your own choice. Single honours students do their dissertation on an English topic; combined honours can choose a topic in either of their two main subjects.

You'll find a full account of the rationale of the English course, its structure and academic goals, and the kind of skills you'll acquire on it, in the Programme Specifications for English.

Teaching methods

Your formal contact-hours will normally be eight hours a week. For single modules, you'll normally have one lecture and one seminar a week. For double modules the lectures and seminars run over four timetabled hours, allowing more varied teaching methods. The dissertation (final year only) is taught by individual consultations with a nominated supervisor. The weekly seminars for each module of study are chaired either by the lecturers or by seminar tutors who work closely with them.

Individual advice and feedback

The move from a fully-timetabled week at school or college to a university system where you are expected to manage your own time and take responsibility for your own learning can be a shock. However, our friendly and approachable staff are on hand to help you learn to take an active role in shaping your own education. In addition to your timetabled hours, tutors will also hold weekly office hours for individual advice and feedback, and further individual consultations as appropriate for the needs of the module. Tutors are also available via e-mail during normal working hours, and will normally respond to e-mailed enquiries within three working days. For tutors' contact details and a downloadable list of office hours, see our staff pages.


Lectures are an essential element of most modules. Their purpose is to introduce a topic, to raise awareness of the latest research in the field, and to invite you to explore the subject further, both individually and in seminars. While students taking a given course have priority if seating is limited, we would encourage you to attend any lectures which interest you, to gain a broader perspective on English as a subject.


We try to keep our seminar groups to a reasonable size; single-module groups are capped at a maximum of 15 students, and double-module groups at 20. Attendance at seminars is compulsory; their purpose is to deepen your understanding of the course material, but you should also see them as an opportunity to develop your discussion and presentation skills and capacity for teamwork. You're expected to take part in the discussion and development of ideas. You're encouraged to think actively about the topic and readings assigned, and bring questions and comments to each session. You may be asked to make an informal presentation, either on your own or in collaboration with others, on which your tutor will advise you. A couple of our modules are lecture-only; in this case, the seminars are replaced by other forms of contact (e.g. blog groups and peer appraisal).

Virtual Learning Environment

All your modules in English at Southampton will be supported by a dedicated site within the University's Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard). You will use this to access module information, readings, and relevant websites, as well as, sometimes, to interact with your tutor and fellow-students through online blogs and forums.

Study time

Students of English need to have time to read and write, and the English programmes at Southampton are designed to allow for this. In addition, a central goal of your English degree at Southampton is to equip you to become independent learners and researchers; these vital skills are highly valued by employers. As well as time spent in lectures, seminars, and individual consultations, you're expected to spend about four hours a week for every contact hour in personal study and preparation during term-time. This means that full-time students can expect to work the equivalent of a normal working week (36-40 hours).

If you're planning to take a part-time job, you'll need to take this time commitment into account; UK research suggests anything more than 10 hours per week paid work during term can have an adverse effect on your degree results.


Our wide and often innovative range of assessment methods has been praised by external examiners and internal reviewers alike. Our assessment methods are designed to enhance both your subject-specific knowledge and skills and your future employability.  Read more about our assessment methods.

How to Apply

Undergraduate students can apply for courses through UCAS. Find out more about the process, deadlines, entry requirements and more on our undergraduate application pages.

Thumbnail photo of Robert McWhirter

“I’m never tied down to doing something that doesn’t interest me and there’s a real focus of coming up with your own argument on a topic. If a topic fascinates you, you can go away, focus on a part of it, research it further and then start coming up with your own ideas. I love having this kind of freedom ”

Robert McWhirter - BA English

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.