English Literature here is taught to small groups by energetic and enthusiastic staff, led by Oxford-trained academics with international research profiles in 19th- and 20th-century studies. Ideas developed in core seminars are taken forward in weekly small-group tutorials, where half a dozen students are encouraged to discuss and interpret specific passages of writing, under the watchful guidance of their tutor.
Our students are expected to read widely and to develop strong lines of argument and personal responses to what they find, anchored in an informed understanding of the discipline and with reference to the critical debates that animate it. We believe, as Jeanette Winterson says, that ‘learning how to read deeply – and that means diverse and sometimes difficult texts – trains the brain and improves your sense of self. Learning how to write, even reasonably well, gives fluency to the rest of life’.
The degree is structured around a combination of period study, thematic study, and modules inculcating theoretical and practical skills. Victorian literature modules cover prose from Dickens to Gaskell, and poetry from Browning to Hardy; 20th-century literature topics range from Rhys, Hurston, Woolf, and Plath to Hemingway, Forster, Larkin, and Beckett. Shakespeare is one central focus. Other earlier writers who are studied include Marlowe, Donne, Webster, Herbert, Milton, Dryden, Centlivre, Swift, Pope, Blake, Wordsworth, Austen, Keats, and Shelley. Thematic study encourages students to analyse contextually based on sociological variations, gender, contemporary politics, and psychological influences. We encourage the understanding of contemporary literary and cultural theory while never losing sight of the values of liberal/aesthetic education.
This is the 3-year format of the BA degree (UCAS code Q321), which allows you the traditional summer break. Starting each September, there are 3 terms per year, leading to an assessment period in early June. Then the summer is free, before returning for the new academic year in late September. This allows you more time for reading and reflection. For the 2-year format of the degree see BA English Literature | 2 Years, 2 Years (+ 1 term).
Our recent graduates have gone on to pursue careers in the media, creative writing, teaching, academia, business, and marketing.
Full details in the Curriculum Handbook
In your final year, you are given the opportunity to research, develop, and write a mini-dissertation of 6,000 – 8,000 words. This sounds daunting, but you have six months to complete it, and plenty of guidance from us, so many of our students have found it one of the most rewarding parts of their studies.
Among other outcomes, you should gain from this course:
- In-depth understanding of your chosen field of study.
- Experience of completing an individual piece of research through from conception to final, fully-documented work.
- Understanding of scholarly standards of objectivity, documentation, referencing and citation.
- A more nuanced sense of the complexities of contemporary critical practice.
The final dissertation has to be bound, fully ‘styled’ and sourced (in other words, a professional piece of report writing in every sense), and is your chance to connect together many of the skills you have acquired on the Literature programme here at Buckingham. Subjects presented recently include ‘The Idea of the Gentleman in Victorian Fiction,’ ‘Heroes, Anti-Heroes, and Villains in Gothic Fiction,’ ‘Virginia Woolf’s prose fiction in the 1920s’, and ‘Sympathy and Alienation in the Plays of Christopher Marlowe’. Your bound dissertation makes an ideal accompaniment to your CV if you are applying for jobs where research and report-writing are important.