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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

Core modules: 

  • 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.

Entry requirements

A level offerA*AA 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 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

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £25,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £25,500 per year

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.

For further information on career options please visit our web pages.

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 85% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 83% 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


History graduates are proficient in research, critical reasoning and analytical thinking, and a history degree from Durham will equip you with these skills and more. This rewarding subject also equips you to analyse, interpret and prioritise information which is essential to effective decision making and invaluable in a whole range of working environments.

Many of our graduates move into the arts and heritage sector including curatorial, archivist or education officer roles in museums, galleries and libraries, but there are many more career options open to you. The academic rigour and transferable skills demanded of a history degree opens career paths in teaching at schools and universities, in law, finance and accountancy, media, policy making, the Civil Service and the charity sector.

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 85% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 73% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £26,000.

(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

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 2023 
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 9th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023


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.


The Department of History at Durham is one of the most highly regarded history departments in the UK. Staff and students contribute to a vibrant learning environment where you engage in the study of history from the fall of the Roman Empire through to the making of modern Africa. And all from the inspiring setting of Durham World Heritage Site.

The curriculum aims to develop your understanding of what is meant by the term ‘history’ and to challenge your assumptions about the past. You will develop an awareness of the complex relationship between the present and the past in a rich and varied learning environment that includes field trips and guided independent projects alongside traditional lectures and seminars.

Our degrees are built on flexibility and choice, with an extensive selection of modules that cover periods from the Middle Ages to the present from many different parts of the world. Chinese, Japanese, African, South Asian and US history are taught alongside the history of the British Isles and continental Europe. You can also apply to add a further dimension to your learning by spending a year studying abroad in a partner institution or undertaking a work placement.

For more information see our department pages


  • Top 50 in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024


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


The Department of History occupies a group of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century town houses in 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. From the start of your degree, 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 wealth records of the Sudan Archive, and more. The University Library, with its Archives and Special Collections, and the Durham Cathedral Library and Archives hold historical resources of international significance.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



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