English Literature and Study of Religions

Find out more

Send me updates

Simply enter your email address and we'll send you updates about this course!

How to Apply

Apply on UCAS's site

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.

  • Genesis, chapters 1-22, in the Authorised Version, translated 1611. Suggested editions are from Grove Press or Oxford University Press, or the on-line text athttp://etext.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html
  • 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.

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;
  • 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;
  • Adventures in Periodical Culture: beyond the book, 1700-1960.

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;
  • 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;
  • Literary Women, Work and Art: Romantic to Modern;
  • Contemporary Crime Fiction;
  • Digital Literary Studies;
  • Literature and Psychology.

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

Course enquiries

admissions@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

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.”

This course explores a wide range of religious traditions, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living traditions. The approach taken is open and exploratory, with an emphasis on direct first-hand experience of religious communities.

The religious traditions studied are diverse, including major traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, and the less well known such as newer religious movements. Included in the programme are contemporary developments such as Paganism and Goddess spirituality. We range from the local, such as religions in Bath and Glastonbury, to the global, such as Japanese Religions. Crucial to the study of religions is direct encounter and experiential learning, and the course includes visits and a one-week placement in a religious community. There are opportunities to follow up your own interests or career plans in a variety of special projects, employment related placements and a dissertation.

Study of Religions is offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined degree. If you want to combine it with Philosophy and Ethics you should take the Religions, Philosophies and Ethics specialised award.

Why study Study of Religions?

‘My stay at the Buddhist monastery was challenging, yet very rewarding. I learnt a lot about Theravada Buddhism, but about myself too’

Diverse range of traditions

We try to explore as many different traditions as possible, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living religions followed by people you can meet today.

Open and exploratory

We stress that we are studying religions, trying to understand, rather than trying to convert, and we are equally welcoming of those who belong to a religious tradition and those who don’t.

First hand experience and community placement

‘There is no substitute for seeing the architecture, rituals and colours first hand as well as the account of the religion from a believer’

We think it is important to meet people from religious traditions, and the programme includes visit to religious communities, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and churches. You may visit the Goddess temple in Glastonbury, meet a Druid or have an opportunity to interview a Buddhist monk. In the third year all students have the opportunity to spend a week living with a religious or belief community: such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas, the British Humanist Association or the Salvation Army. For further details see www.livingreligion.co.uk

Excellent teaching 

Our external examiners praised us last year for the excellent quality of our feedback to students on their work. Tutors think it is important to make time for individual students.

Appropriate for teaching RE

A popular career destination for our students is teaching RE in primary or secondary schools, or sixth-form colleges. Every year the numbers of pupils taking GCSE and A level Religious Studies is going up.

Chance to study abroad

One semester can be spent abroad, for example, at the University of Helsinki in Finland or the University of Sibiu in Romania.

Course structure

In Year 1 we offer a core module which explores the meaning of religion and spirituality, examines a variety of methods of studying religions and spiritualities, and illustrates these from a variety of contemporary traditions, from Druidry to the Bahá’í faith. There is also a field visit to Glastonbury. An optional module in global religions and philosophies looks at major traditions and movements, and key thinkers. 

The core module in Year 2 focuses on philosophies and religious or non-religious world views in Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules include philosophy, religions and the environment; and in depth study of major religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

There is also a Special Project in which you can explore topics of your choice, engage in a placement or project relevant to employment, or take part in a summer school in another country such as Korea.

In the third year, as part of a core module on religion in the contemporary world, you will undertake a fieldwork placement with a religious community such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas or the Salvation Army. For further details see our website www.livingreligion.co.uk. Optional modules include religion, philosophy and gender; advanced study of pagan, new and alternative religions; and modules studying the Bhagavad Gita, Muslim migration and Islam in Europe, culture and counter-culture, religion and education internationally, Buddhism, and religion, culture and society in Japan. There is also a special Research Project (past students have helped to run a conference for year 12 students or to digitise an archive on contemporary religions), a Dissertation which allows for in-depth concentration on a topic of your choice, or an employment related project.

NOTE: You will need to study another subject to study with Study of Religions.

 

 

Modules

Year 1

  • Beyond Belief: Introduction to the Study of Religions and Spiritualities (core module);

  • Truth and Value: Introduction to Philosophical and Ethical Enquiry (core module);
  • Global Religions and Philosophies;
  • Spirituality, Culture and Civilisation: An Introduction to faith and Belief in Global Perspective
  • Philosophy and Thinking in Schools;
  • Medieval and Renaissance Worlds.

Year 2

  • Darshana, Dharma and Dao: Philosophy in the Indian and Chinese Traditions (core module);Exploring Global Christianity;

  • Exploring Global Christianity
  • Power, Duty and Desire: Life and Liberation in the Hindu Tradition;
  • Special Project;
  • Buddhism: Historical and Doctrinal Developments;
  • Saints and Soldiers: Mysticism, Militancy and Modernity in the Sikh Tradition;
  • Philosophy, Religions and the Environment.

Year 3

  • Studying Religions in the Contemporary World (core module);
  • Dissertation;
  • Employment related placement (alternative to Dissertation);
  • Buddhism in Practice;
  • Religion, Philosophy and Gender;
  • Life and Meaning;
  • Advanced Special Project;
  • The Song of the Lord: Hinduism, Religion, Scripture and the Bhagavad-Gita;
  • Spiritual Revolution: Pagan, New and Alternative Religions in the 21st Century;
  • Religion, Culture and Society in Japan;
  • Muslim Migration and Islam in Europe
  • Without Fear or Favour: National and International Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Education;
  • Culture and Counterculture: from Orientalism to the ‘Hippy Trail’.

Course assessment

Assessment is mainly by coursework such as essays, reports, projects, presentations, on-line discussion board participation, or even the production of a short film, and there are also some timed elements such as critical analyses or examinations.

Learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and fieldtrips.

We teach with attention to individuals. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.

Resources include a well-stocked library, on-line materials in our virtual learning platform and our many contacts with faith communities (and ethical associations) locally and nationally.

BACRA (the Bath Archive of Contemporary Religious Affairs) is an archive of ephemera devoted mainly to New Religious Movements and concentrated on the 1980s and 1990s before most movements had their own websites.

 

Teaching methods

Our lectures set out the broad themes and issues, often include visual materials and enable you to participate and raise questions.

Seminars are in smaller groups where you have more opportunities to participate and interact with each other. These might involve you giving short presentations, working in groups, debates and discussions. They help you clarify issues that you find in your readings and raised in lectures; some seminars may include viewing of brief documentaries.

One-to-one tutorials are an important part of our teaching, especially in giving individual feedback on your work.

To give you an experiential understanding of the subjects that you study, we organise educational visits and fieldtrips to religious and pilgrimage centres in Bath, Glastonbury, Bristol, London, etc. We also enable you to take part in a one-week placement in a religious or ethical community to see how religions and philosophies impact on people's daily lives. For examples see www.livingreligion.co.uk.

We encourage you to take part in the study abroad programmes by, for example, participating in the existing Erasmus exchanges in Europe (e.g., University of Helsinki and University of Sibiu).

Application method

Full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A popular career for our students is teaching Religious Education and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. The combination of studying religions and philosophy is particularly good preparation for this, and one module is specially designed as preparation for a career in education. Others have gone on to further academic study and university teaching.

It is increasingly important for people in a wide range of careers to be able to mix with people from different religious and cultural backgrounds, for example past students have had careers in the police, hospital administration, social work, and journalism. Study of Religions comes in useful when working overseas whether in tourism or other businesses.

Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser,  Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.

What students say...

Student Profile: Alex Hyde, Year 3 Study of Religions

I chose my course because I have always been interested in the world and in people.  I am fascinated by the thoughts, needs, beliefs and knowledge of others who have been brought up outside of Christianity.

I really like the structure of the course because the first year enables you to study in breadth and then in the second year focus more deeply on some of the religions studied in the first year. I was enthralled by the prospect of going on a placement for a week in a religious community as part of the course in second year.  I am soon to find out whether I will be going to live with The Community of the Many Names of God or the Hare Krishnas.

The Department has a friendly ethos, with lecturers who are genuinely willing their students to do well and continually supporting them along the way. It is with thanks to this course that my understanding of people in the world is ever expanding and even when the pressure is on with assignments due, I continue to brim with enthusiasm for the knowledge I gain.