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Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

The Joint Honours in BA English Literature and History is a cross-disciplinary course, which develops and assesses skills that are common to both disciplines alongside others that are specific to each. The course offers you the opportunity to acquire a range of both literary-critical and historical knowledge.

The English part of your degree not only provides a thorough grounding in the ‘great tradition’ of English literature – from Chaucer and Shakespeare through to plays, poems and novels written in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – and in literary theory, but it also offers a wide range of imaginative and carefully designed modules.

The history element offers you one of the most varied, exciting and wide-ranging courses in the country. You will explore the full range of history from the end of the Roman Empire to the present day. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, this would increase the course from three years to four.

In the first year of your degree, you'll get an introduction into the disciplines of literature and advanced historical study. In the second year, you are required to engage with a range of periods and styles of literary and historical study. The third year will include a dissertation as well as optional modules for both subjects.

Course structure 

Year 1

You will complete three modules in English Literature from a list which may include:

  • Introduction to Drama
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • Introduction to Poetry
  • Romance and the Literature of Chivalry
  • Epic and Literature of Legend
  • Ancient Worlds and English Literature

You will also complete three modules in History from a list which may include:

  • Decline and Crisis? Europe 1300-1500
  • Transformations in the Late Antique Mediterranean, c.300-c.700 CE
  • Connected Histories: Early Modern Europe, c.1450-1750
  • The Atlantic Archipelago, c.1500-c.1750
  • Modern Times: a Cultural History of Europe, c.1860-1960
  • Power in Africa
  • Imagining East Asia in the Modern World
  • Wars and Welfare: c.1900-1945
  • The Rise and Fall of American Slavery

Year 2

Core modules:

Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism introduces the presuppositions and principles of literary criticism and issues of knowledge, value and ideology arising from the practice of reading. You will develop an independent critical sense in your own practice of reading.

Shakespeare introduces a broad range of Shakespeare’s work and will enable you to analyse in detail a selection of works from different periods of Shakespeare’s oeuvre and in different genres. 

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Chaucer
  • Victorian Literature
  • American Poetry
  • Contemporary US Fiction and the Question of Genre
  • Romantic Plays and Players
  • The Brontës
  • Medieval Islamic World
  • Modern China’s Transformations
  • Black British History
  • Photographic Histories

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement year or year abroad)

Core module:

In the third year you will produce a Dissertation, a large research project undertaken in either English Literature or History. This involves guided research on a topic of interest.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Restoration and 18th Century Literature
  • Old English
  • Old Norse
  • Literature of the Romantic Period
  • Post-War Fiction and Poetry
  • Keats and Shelley
  • Resistance in South Asian Postcolonial Literature
  • US Cold War Literature and Culture
  • 1688: Monarchy and Revolution in Britain 
  • Developing Africa 
  • Mapping Eastern Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 
  • Sexual Revolutions: The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Britain and Beyond, 1920s–1970s

Additional pathways

Students on the BA in English Literature and History can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand, and if your application is successful, your studies will extend from three years to four.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. The course requires a considerable amount of directed independent learning, consisting of reading primary and secondary sources, writing formative and assessed essays, and preparing tutorial and seminar assignments.

Teaching is research-led from the outset, with a gradually increasing focus on the development of your own research skills as you progress through your degree.

Weekly lectures are supplemented by small-group tutorials and seminars. Specialist research, analytical and writing skills are developed in formative essays and individual feedback sessions, which play a key role in the delivery of the degree and in academic progression.


Most modules will be assessed by essays and end-of-year examinations.

The third year will culminate with a dissertation, a large research project undertaken in either the English or History Department, giving you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline.

Entry requirements

A level offerA*AA including History and English Literature (or the combined English Literature and Language).

Contextual offer – AAB including History and English Literature (or the combined English Literature and Language).

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaD*DD and A level requirements as above.

IB Diploma score38 with 666 in higher level subjects, including History and English Literature or English Literature/Language.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or from those who may have had a break in their study.
  • We welcome enquiries regarding applications for deferred entry which may be considered in special circumstances. Please contact us using

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

English Studies

Academically, we inspire our students to develop as analytic, sensitive and creative readers and writers, yet an English Studies degree is worth so much more. We aim to transform students into independent thinkers with the ability to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. It’s this skill set, coupled with effective organisational and research skills, that makes them so highly valued across a range of work environments. Outside of the classroom, we offer regular lectures and workshops that focus on personal development and key employability skills.

Graduates progress into a diverse range of careers and sectors, including roles in arts and theatre management, broadcasting, publishing and journalism, technical writing, business, marketing and advertising, teaching, higher education, law, the third sector and government.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 87% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 78% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £25,000

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here


Our aim is to make you better at thinking, speaking, and writing for yourself; and better at critically assessing the words that others speak and write. Thinking analytically, arguing clearly and concisely - these are fundamental skills in many jobs. Our graduates have gone on to find successful careers in a wide variety of fields. They work in teaching at schools and universities, in museums and galleries, in law, finance, banking and accountancy, the Civil Service, the charity sector, media, journalism, and the military and further study.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 87% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 85% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

English Studies

Spanning texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare, from Jane Austen to Virginial Woolf, and American poetry to twenty-first century novels, English Studies at Durham will appeal to those with a sensitivity to language, a love of reading and a sense of intellectual adventure.

English Studies is a popular and highly regarded subject that will give you a broader and more balanced understanding of how the world works, politically, psychologically and sociologically. It also develops the highly transferable linguistic, critical and analytical skills that are sought after in the contemporary workplace. 

An English degree at Durham provides a comprehensive grounding in literary theory. The wide range of modules allows you to explore a variety of literary forms and challenge the way you think about the role of literature in the world, from the classics to contemporary texts. We are home to a vibrant and active research department and take a research-led approach to teaching and learning which informs all levels of academic enquiry, including undergraduate ‘special topic’ seminar modules developed around key research themes and areas of expertise. 

You can choose to focus purely on English literature or combine the study of English with either Philosophy or History. We also offer English Studies named routes through a Combined Honours or Liberal Arts degree. You can further tailor your study with an optional year abroad or work placement in the third year.

We are consistently ranked as one of the leading English departments in the UK, so when you choose to study English at Durham you can be assured of the highest quality learning experience.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 38th in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the English Studies pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 90% of our research activity was judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2021).


We are a diverse community of around 700 undergraduates, 120 postgraduates and 70 staff from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. We are located close to Durham city centre with most of the Department’s teaching and research taking place in two buildings: the Georgian listed building, Hallgarth House and Elvet Riverside which stands beside the River Wear.

Students have access to extensive general collections in literary studies which are housed in the University library, and a number of specialist collections and archives in Palace Green, in the heart of Durham city.

Undergraduate students are also invited to attend the Department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including public lectures, special guest lectures, as well as lectures, readings and workshops by visiting UK and overseas academics and creative writers.


Why study history? Our answer to that is simple: because we are human, and we need to understand ourselves, and one another. History helps us to see other ways of thinking and living – and it offers us alternative perspectives on the present.

The History programme at Durham is designed to give you a sense of the diversity of human experience – geographically and chronologically. We offer an unusually broad range of options that will take you to very different places and times. You can also explore diverse themes and approaches, such as environmental and scientific history, visual cultures, and gender and sexuality. The course will equip you with critical and presentational skills that are valuable in many careers.

Year 1 offers you an induction into advanced historical study, engaging with different periods and approaches to the study of the past.

Year 2 raises new questions about the human past, setting these in specific periods and parts of the world. It develops your understanding of historiography - the history of history-writing – and gives you experience of writing an extended historical argument. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

In Year 3 the focus is on intensive study and independent learning. The special subject guides you through the primary and secondary material on a specific period or phenomenon; the dissertation allows you to choose your own topic, and devise your own question, for an extended piece of writing. The dissertation is an opportunity to focus on a topic that fascinates you – and brings together the skills you have developed through your time at Durham.

Throughout your degree, you will be encouraged to attend an extensive programme of activities, including research seminars and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 50 in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 5  in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 5 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • Top 5 in The Complete University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the History Department web pages.


The Department of History occupies the heart of Durham World Heritage Site. Our location is within easy reach of all University colleges, lecture halls and libraries.

Our work incorporates everything from manuscripts to photography, printed sources to museum collections. You will work with staff on a rich array of primary sources, which range from medieval manuscripts in the cathedral archive, through the ceramics, prints and textiles held by the Oriental Museum, to the documents of the Sudan Archive, and more. Durham holds historical resources of international significance.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



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