English Literature

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Lectures and seminars are lively and offer plenty of opportunities for involvement and debate. Throughout your study you can experiment with new ideas and new perspectives, both critically and creatively.

English at Bath Spa is a dynamic subject offering a broad and stimulating approach to literary studies.

Why study English Literature?

Literature can change the way we see the world; it can introduce us to new experiences; it can be dangerous, or exciting, or heart-rending.

Here at Bath Spa we welcome students who share our passion for the written word. A current student describes the course as 'enlightening, eye-opening and endlessly entertaining'.

The English programme is large and varied and offers you plenty of choice. It is designed to balance the study of canonical writers - Shakespeare, Wordsworth, James Joyce, Charlotte Bronte - with texts and writers who may be less familiar to you. We are keen to bring literature to life, and the course features options that include field trips to London, Oxford, Krakow and Auschwitz, and Berlin, amongst others. The modules range from those on specific authors (Shakespeare, Ian McEwan, or Virginia Woolf, for instance), to topic-based subjects (Writing and the Environment, Post-Colonial Literatures, or Literary London), to period-based study (Gender and Eighteenth-Century Fiction or Gothic Origins and Innovations). You will be encouraged to explore diverse areas of literature and to investigate issues that matter to you.

English staff are committed to sharing their literary enthusiasms with students. We are all active researchers, writing scholarly books and articles and engaged in debate on literary and critical issues. We have specialists in the Gothic, writing and the environment, Renaissance literature, women's writing and modern and contemporary culture.

We are also passionate about teaching: we encourage our students to bring their own literary loves into the seminar room and we aim to foster a supportive atmosphere of lively, interactive debate. Lectures and seminars offer plenty of opportunities for involvement and debate. Throughout your study you can experiment with new ideas and new perspectives, both critically and creatively.

Don't just take our word for it: in the 2011 National Student Survey *100%* of our BA Hons. English Literature students were satisfied with their experience of the course.

Course structure

The English Literature course at Bath Spa offers a large range of diverse modules. Although most English modules are optional, there are core modules in Years 1 and 2 which provide a common framework to explore central issues and aspects of literary study. The course is structured to allow an extended independent project or dissertation in Year 3.

In year 1, all students study the core module, Critical Reading I, which covers texts ranging from Ovid's Metamorphoses to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre to James Joyce's modernist classic Ulysses. There are also a number of optional modules which give students the chance to broaden their experience of literature before moving into more specialised study in years 2 and 3. To accompany the core module you can study contemporary literature, 19th-century literature, or you can explore the 18th century or the Renaissance.

In year 2, all students study the core module, Critical Reading II, which, as its title suggests, follows on from Critical Reading I. In the year 2 core module, you will read a range of prose, poetry and drama; the authors studied include Samuel Richardson, Samuel Beckett, Shelley, Keats, Aphra Behn and Sylvia Plath. This module also features a PDP/employability strand, closely linked to its academic content.

In the third year of the course, a project or dissertation is core for students on the single honours BA English route and for those students taking English as their major. All other third-year English modules - of which there are a wide variety - are optional.

The reading list for the compulsory first year core module (EN4001: Critical Reading 1) is listed below. It is important that only the editions listed are purchased.

  • William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (1607), (ed.), Norton Critical Edition. 

  • Alexander Pope, Selected Poems, Pat Rogers (ed.), Oxford University Press.

  • William Wordsworth, Selected Poems, Stephen Gill and Duncan Wu (eds), Oxford University Press.

  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847), Richard J. Dunn (ed.), Norton Critical Edition.

  • James Joyce, Ulysses (1922), Jeri Johnson (ed.), Oxford University Press.

 

Modules

Year 1

All students take Critical Reading I in the first year. This core module introduces a variety of texts and critical debates, and provides a foundation for English Literature in Years 2 and 3. All other first-year modules are optional.

  • Critical Reading I (core) English Literature Book Order Form     
  • Writing and the Self;
  • Writing, Gender and Politics, 1500-1750;
  • Scandal and Sobriety: Enlightenment to Victorianism, 1750-1890;
  • From Decadence to the Naughties, 1890-2009.

Year 2

Current Year 2 modules:

  • Critical Reading II (core);
  • Theatre, Sex and Power in Early Modern England;
  • Nineteenth-Century European Literature;
  • Gothic Origins and Innovations, 1780-1890; Gothic Origins Innovations Order Form 2014
  • Poetry;
  • Historical Fiction;
  • Three Women Writers;
  • Gender & Eighteenth-Century Literature;
  • Canadian Literature and Culture;
  • Post-Colonial Literatures;
  • Practical Criticism and Close Reading;
  • Reading Animals;
  • Writing America: Identity, Ethnicity, Nationhood;
  • Manifesto!;
  • Crime Fiction;
  • Twentieth-Century Irish Writing;
  • Renaissance Worlds: sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry.

Year 3

Current Year 3 modules:

  • Research Project (compulsory for Single and Major Hons. English);
  • Shakespeare;
  • Aspects of Modernism;
  • Writing and the Environmental Crisis;
  • Twentieth-Century European Literature;
  • Virginia Woolf;
  • Sylvia Plath;
  • Bronte and Dickens;
  • Gothic Revivals; gothic revivals order form
  • Authors, Books and Readers in Early Modern England;
  • Literary London;
  • Margaret Atwood;
  • In Search of America;
  • Publishing: the Literary Journal;
  • Empire and Identity in the 18th Century;
  • Caribbean Writings, 1950 - the present;
  • Women's Writing 1960-2000;
  • Irish Women's Writing;
  • European Drama from Ibsen to Ionesco;
  • Ian McEwan;
  • Gender, Race & Nation in Early Modern Britain;
  • Literature & Evil;
  • Love & Desire in Contemporary Culture
  • Meanings of Friendship in Literature and Philosophy

Course assessment

The course is assessed by coursework (including essays, portfolios, study journals and reviews), projects and dissertations, individual and group presentations, and seen and unseen examinations. An increasing proportion of English assessment is online and we offer plenty of guidance and support on writing for the web, for example.

English staff are all active researchers in their fields, writing scholarly books and articles and engaged in debate on literary and critical issues. We are also expert and enthusiastic teachers: our staff have held National Teaching Fellowships and have won awards for the quality of their teaching. Year on year, National Student Surveys show that students value our commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Students on our course also have access to a well-stocked library that includes a large range of high-quality online resources, such as The Dictionary of National Biography, the OED, Early English Books Online, and JSTOR, a database of journal articles.

Teaching methods

English modules are taught via seminars, lectures, individual tutorials, and IT workshops.

In addition, there are opportunities for field trips to enrich the course: places we visit include the City of London, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Krakow and Auschwitz, and Berlin.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

admissions@bathspa.ac.uk

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

280–320 UCAS Tariff points including A-level English Literature at grade B minimum.

Career opportunities

Our students go on to higher degrees, to teaching, journalism and PR/marketing, librarianship, and to other careers where excellent communication skills and analytical abilities are valued, such as arts management and the civil service.

Through Artswork, our Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, you’ll have access to cutting-edge resources in the areas of publishing and broadcast media to prepare you for careers or for self-employment in the media and creative industries. We have a wealth of contacts in the media and creative industries and our students are well-placed to gain internships and placements.

Since 2010, employers such as Edward Elgar Publishing, Amberley Publishing. Steel Media, IHS Global Insight and The Green Living Magazine have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Editorial Assistant, Marketing Executive, Communications Officer, Account Executive PR and Middle East and Telecommunications editor.

What students say...

Chris Simmonds, English Literature, Year 3

“The staff here are very approachable and easy to talk to and there are plenty of services to help with anything from finance to careers. The tutors have office hours at convenient times so if you need any advice on an assessment they are more than able and ready to help. The general feel of the campus, and the knowledge that you as a student are being represented in the decision making process of how the university is run, really makes you feel at home. You couldn’t find a better place to study.

I am currently applying for a job with the Civil Service. The way that the course encourages you to think critically and objectively as well as to plan ahead will definitely assist me in this process and any future jobs I may have.”

Recent graduate:

"It is, perhaps, only after graduating that students have the time to reflect on how well the course was designed, administered and delivered… without exception, the English Literature tutors all possessed great enthusiasm… Their choice of set texts and teaching style provoked engagement and involvement and I always looked forward to their classes… Studying English Literature at Bath Spa University was an enlightening, enriching, and a very rewarding experience. I will miss it greatly and remember it fondly."

Nathan Jones, English Literature, Year 3:

“I have always had an intense love for literature which I gained from studying both English and Greek literature and plays at A level. English is all about your opinion and how you respond to a particular text which I find hugely appealing as I love to vocalise and write down my opinions. English is not just reading books though; it is about comprehending the historical, political, social and ideological movements both inside and outside the text’s context. 

The first thing that struck me about Bath Spa University was the sheer sense of serenity I got while visiting. I come from East London, a place of buildings and business, which is all very hectic; I really enjoy being surrounded by greenery and foliage. I strongly believe being surrounded by such things is conducive to a healthy working environment. If I have a stressful day, a walk around the campus, past the ponds or in the gardens always eases my mind and lets me unwind.”