English

Reading literature allows us to question our world, to discover new ideas and ways of being, to evaluate historical and cultural processes, and to think through the complexities of our own times.

Research leaders

Supported by world-leading scholarship, the Department of English offers innovative and research-led teaching.

Literary community

Take part in Bristol's literary scene. Enjoy festivals, societies, theatres and events.

First-class facilities

You’ll study in our recently renovated Humanities Hub, home to new lecture theatres, flexible teaching spaces, a screening room, an exhibition area and a range of social spaces.

Virtual open week 2021

Watch recordings and view resources from our September virtual open week.

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English at Bristol

At Bristol you'll be taught by world leaders in the field and have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of units every year. You’ll be taught in small-group tutorials, seminars, lectures and, in the dissertation year, 1 to 1 tutorials.

Our campus is beautiful, including our gorgeous new Humanities Hub, and is woven into the larger community. Bristol is a fantastic literary city, home to the Bristol Festival of Literature, Bristol Women's Literature Festival and Bristol Poetry Festival, as well as a host of theatres, cafés, and independent bookshops. It has also inspired writers throughout its history, from William Wordsworth and Jane Austen to Helen Dunmore.

We are proud to include writers Angela Carter, David Nicholls and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio among our alumni.

Bristol has a really rich, cultural, historical past. It's exciting to be able to talk about things that are difficult, to have awareness of the weight of our history. It's great to be able to study the character of the place that you're living in.

Anna, BA English

Career prospects

English graduates are highly sought after by employers for their versatility, research ability, critical thinking, creativity, and excellent writing and presentation skills. These very qualities have also made our graduates successful in entrepreneurial ventures. An English degree will help you to develop a broad, active, and flexible learning style as well as a range of communication skills and evaluative techniques.

We have a lively postgraduate community, and many of our students go on to study on master’s programmes and research degrees, including English as well as areas like law, education, development studies, and many others.

Recent Bristol English graduates have obtained employment in the media, journalism, publishing, marketing, non-governmental organisations, the theatre, arts administration and teaching, as well as in industry, commerce, law, computing, accountancy, international relations and social work. Some have become successful novelists, playwrights and poets.

What our students do after graduating

Course structure

As part of our intellectually rich and friendly community, you will study literature in English from the medieval period to the present, and learn exciting critical and theoretical approaches to literary study.

Year one supports your transition to undergraduate study and lays strong foundations, while also giving you the opportunity to choose optional units. Subsequent years allow greater freedom as you develop your own specialisations. You will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of your own choosing, with personalised 1 to 1 tutorials, in your final year.

You will be taught by staff who come from all over the globe to produce world-leading research, so our special subject units really are 'special'; they incorporate a wealth of perspectives, including postcolonial theory, environmental studies, Black studies, gender studies, medical humanities, visual culture and comparative transhistorical literary studies, among others.

Our creative writing tutors have specialisms in poetry, fiction for adults, children's fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting and editing. Single honours students have the opportunity to study in Europe, Australia or North America for a semester. To find out more visit Global Opportunities.

Vibrant community

There are plenty of opportunities to meet fellow book lovers outside of the classroom. The Falstaff Society organises poetry readings, theatre productions and creative writing groups, as well as popular social events. At the Afrolit Society you can get involved with book clubs, panel events and recitals focused on literature by African writers.

The SU also supports several theatre, creative writing and performance societies, and you can get involved in journalism with Bristol's student newspaper, Epigram.

English

Supported by world-leading scholarship, the Department of English offers innovative and wide-ranging engagement with literary studies. You will be part of an intellectually rich and friendly community that specialises in research-led teaching. 

Why study English at Bristol?

English at Bristol is distinguished by a diverse and lively approach to literary studies through small-group tutorials, seminars and lectures. It is a serious but enjoyable academic discipline, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary dialogue.

Our courses are designed to support your growth as an independent learner and allow you to follow your own interests with many optional units. You can study English literature from the medieval period to the present day, as well as key critical and theoretical approaches to literary study.

Our courses emphasise the chronological development of literature in the global anglophone world, as well as the theoretical and cultural contexts in which development can be understood. 

Year one supports your transition to undergraduate study and lays strong foundations, while also giving you the opportunity to choose optional units. Subsequent years allow greater freedom as you develop your own specialisations. You will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of your own choosing in your final year.

Optional special subject units, which are based on the expertise of our teaching staff, allow you to explore particular authors, topics or genres in depth. Our range of research interests include literature, poetry and drama from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period and draw on many perspectives and literary theories, such as postcolonial theory, environmental studies, gender and critical race studies, medical humanities, visual culture and comparative literary studies, among others.

Our creative writing tutors have specialisms in poetry, fiction for adults, children’s fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting and editing.

What kind of student would this course suit?

This course suits intelligent, imaginative, hard-working students who love to read widely.

Many people take the activity of reading for granted but it is one of the most difficult and exciting things we do. Reading literature allows us to question our world, to realise the limits of our understanding, to make connections across disciplines and ideas, to evaluate historical and cultural processes, and to think through the complexities of our own times.   

How is this course taught and assessed?

Teaching is delivered through lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops. You will be expected to participate in small-group teaching and may be asked to give introductory talks to initiate discussion.

Coursework essays of different lengths are the most common form of assessment; some units also require short examinations (unseen and take-home). Optional units may be partially assessed by a portfolio of short pieces of writing, a presentation or a poster.

What are my career prospects?

English graduates are versatile researchers, active learners, critical thinkers and good communicators. An English degree will help you to develop a broad range of communication skills and evaluative techniques sought after by employers.

Recent Bristol English graduates have obtained employment in the media, journalism, publishing, marketing, the theatre, arts administration and teaching, as well as in industry, commerce, law, computing, accountancy, international relations and social work. Some have become successful novelists, playwrights and poets.

We also have a lively postgraduate community and many of our students go on to study on our master’s programmes and research degrees.

Find out more about what our students do after graduating.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra (LLB Law)

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