Skip to main content
Degree type


Course length

3 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


Ready to Apply?

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

Joint Honours in English 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, develops the ability to deploy and contextualise a number of subject-specific skills in each discipline, and locates these skills and forms of knowledge in relation to one another.

Year 1

In the first year, you will take three modules in English Literature and three modules in History.

Examples of optional modules in English:

  • Introduction to Drama
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • Introduction to Poetry
  • Romance and the Literature of Chivalry
  • Epic and Literature of Legend
  • Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to English Literature.

Examples of optional modules in History:

  • Beyond the Northlands: The Vikings and their World
  • Decline and Crisis: Europe 1300-1500
  • Early Modern England: A Social History
  • Society and Culture in China under Ming and Qing Dynasties
  • Reformation Europe
  • The Century of Revolution
  • Making History
  • The Birth of Western Society, 300-1050 AD.

Year 2

In English, you have a wide choice from among lecture and seminar modules, but must take either Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism or Shakespeare. In History, you are offered modules that provide time-depth and focus on a closely defined period, and modules that are broader and more wide ranging, typically offering a widely delimited chronological and geographical approach.

Compulsory modules in English:


  • Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism
  • Shakespeare

(although both may be selected).

Examples of optional lecture modules in English (taught by weekly lectures and four one-hour tutorials):

  • Chaucer
  • Old English
  • Old Norse
  • Old French
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Victorian Literature
  • Literature of the Modern Period
  • American Poetry.

Examples of optional seminar modules in English (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars):

  • Jane Austen
  • Arthurian Literature
  • Germanic Myth and Legend
  • Toni Morrison: Texts and Contexts
  • The Brontës
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Shakespeare’s History Plays
  • Romantic Plays and Players (a maximum of one may be selected).

Examples of optional modules in History:

  • Conversations with History
  • Hard Times: British Society, 1818-1902
  • Robin Hood
  • The Book of Hours in Medieval Life and Art
  • The Court: Art and Power in Early Modern Europe
  • Selling the Tudor Monarchy
  • Political Culture in Japan since 1688
  • Soviet Socialism in the Cold War: The USSR, 1945-1991
  • From Vikings to Crusaders: The Formation of the Scandinavian Kingdoms, 900-1200
  • Colonial British America, 1600-1776.

Year 3

In English, the combination of a range of optional lecture modules and Special Topics is designed to broaden and deepen your knowledge base and analytical skills. In History, the syllabus encourages the detailed study and analysis of historical events, trends and problems by means of a Special Subject (requiring close study of a highly specialised topic using primary source materials) and a Dissertation. The third year also includes the possibility of choosing ‘reflective’ modules which oblige students to study a particular historical problem that will lead them to reflect upon the problematical nature of the historical enterprise, on its technique, historiography and subjectivity.

Compulsory modules:

One from:

  • Dissertation in English
  • Dissertation in History (40 credits).

Examples of optional lecture modules in English (taught by weekly lectures and four one-hour tutorials):

  • Old English
  • Old Norse
  • Old French
  • Restoration and 18th Century Literature
  • Literature of the Romantic Period
  • Post-War Fiction and Poetry
  • American Fiction
  • Medieval Literature.

Examples of optional special topics in English (taught by fortnightly two-hour seminars):

  • Literature, Cinema and Neuroscience
  • Shakespeare on Film
  • Resistance in South Asian Postcolonial Literature
  • Writing Prose Fiction
  • Reading Joyce’s Ulysses
  • W.B. Yeats
  • Keats and Shelley
  • Elizabeth Bishop and Twentieth Century Verse
  • Nonsense Literature
  • Creative Writing Poetry
  • Writing Mountains in the Early Twentieth Century
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Jewish American Fiction
  • Science and the Literary Imagination
  • Mind and Narrative.

Examples of optional modules in History:

  • A World Turned Upside Down: Radicalism in the English Revolution
  • From War to Cold War: US Foreign Policy, c. 1944-1948
  • Politics and Polemics: Medieval German Kings and their Chroniclers, c. 1024-1125
  • Revolution and History
  • The Ruin of the World: Roman to Barbarian Gaul, 400-500
  • Medieval Iceland: Settlement, Sagas, Civil War
  • Popular Cultures in Early Modern England 1500-1640.


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

Study abroad

You may apply to study abroad for an additional year between Levels 2 and 3 (transferring from BA Hons in English Literature and History to BA Hons English Literature and History with a Year Abroad). Supported by the International Office and the Department’s International Co-ordinator, you can put yourself forward for the following study abroad options:

The Overseas Exchange programme university-wide links with institutions in North America, the Far East, Australasia, and so on). A list of the University’s current partners is available here:

The year abroad is designed to promote and develop the knowledge and understanding of other cultures and languages via an approved placement. It also helps to promote and develop an advanced knowledge of the national, regional and/or international frameworks in which literature is produced and categorised. Successful year abroad applicants will take a course of study chosen in consultation with the International Co-ordinator and the host institution. Modules relating to literary study should normally comprise a minimum of 50% of those taken. There should not be significant overlap between modules taken on the Year Abroad and modules taken in Durham.


When you study English Literature at Durham you will typically receive 8 contact hours per week in the first year (lectures and tutorials), 7 in the second year, and 5 in the third year (lectures, tutorials and seminars) per week. In addition, the course requires a very considerable amount of directed independent learning: a minimum of 30 hours per week, comprised of reading primary and secondary sources, writing formative and assessed essays, and preparation of tutorial and seminar assignments. From the outset the Department cultivates an ethos of research-led teaching and the acquisition of specialist study skills, as well as transferable skills. Throughout, particular emphasis is placed on small group teaching and individual academic development. The balance of contact hours across the course reflects individual progression in research, analysis and writing.

In the first year, a choice of six modules provides an induction into the disciplines of literature and advanced historical study. English modules cover the main genres, historical periods, contexts and backgrounds to English literature, while History modules offer engagement with different periods and approaches to the study of the past, and experience of the way in which History, as a community of practice, encompasses the diversity of the human experience. 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 English degree and in academic progression. The average contact time of 8 hours per week is supported by directed reading, tutorial preparation and essay research and writing, comprising at least 30 hours per week. Teaching methods are designed to support the directed learning model, for example, through the provision of reading lists, assignments, presentation briefs and online materials. Directed learning is also supported by the online learning environment Learn Ultra. In addition to lectures and tutorials, four plenary sessions support and develop directed learning and study skills throughout the year and prepare you to make module choices for your second year.

In the second year, in keeping with the Department’s policy on academic progression, an increasing emphasis is placed on the development of critical and analytical skills. The curriculum continues to require you to engage with a range of periods and styles of literary and historical study, with modules introducing new problems in a more specific framework. You will take at least two, and up to four, modules in each discipline. This may include a seminar module in English, which may be author- or theme-based, with a strong research component, taught in 2-hour, fortnightly seminar sessions, often involving individual or group presentations. Seminars involve significant preparation (c. 10 hours), typically reading assigned texts and secondary material, preparing assigned topics, and researching and preparing presentations. Individual consultation sessions allow for discussion of a plan of the first assessed essay with seminar convenors. Overall, the small group ethos is maintained in second year. The average 7 hours of weekly contact time in Year 2 requires extensive directed learning and independent research of c. 34 hours per week.

The average contact time in the third year is 5 hours per week and you will be expected to take further responsibility for managing your own time. The curriculum, while continuing to offer support and guidance, will require you to use the skills in independent study and time management you have developed in the two preceding years. This will culminate with the dissertation, a large research project undertaken in either the History or English Department, giving you the opportunity to engage, at an advanced level, with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline.

In addition to your dissertation, during the third year you will have the opportunity to take a Special Topic and further lecture modules in the English Department. You will also undertake further modules in History, which may include a Special Subject module based around a seminar group which meets each week to discuss the interpretation of chosen primary sources and to interrogate the secondary literature. You will be expected to spend at least 30 hours each week in independent study.

Throughout the undergraduate degree, you are encouraged to participate in the Department’s extensive programme of research-related activities, including public lectures, special guest lectures, and lectures, readings and workshops by visiting UK and overseas academics and creative writers. Postdoctoral and postgraduate students regularly offer seminars and study days. In addition, you are invited to attend regular lectures and workshops on personal development and employment prospects, organised jointly by the Department and the Careers and Enterprise Centre. In addition to College mentors, who offer pastoral support, academic support is available from module tutors, seminar leaders, and module conveners, in addition to an Academic Advisor, allocated at the start of the course.

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 £23,900 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £23,900 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

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


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 will appeal to people with a sensitivity to language, a love of reading and a sense of intellectual adventure.

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

For more information see our department pages.


  • 36th in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2022
  • 3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
  • 3rd in The Complete 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).


The Department is housed in a Grade II listed building, Hallgarth House and in Elvet Riverside. Both buildings are close to the University’s Bill Bryson Library and the special collections in the Palace Green Library. The Department has strong links with the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Institute for Medical Humanities, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, which oversees the archive of the distinguished Northumbrian modernist poet, Basil Bunting, and the Institute of Advanced Study.

Durham students run their own English Society, which provides many opportunities for theatre visits, especially to the Royal Shakespeare Company season in Newcastle every year. There is also a strong tradition of student drama and music within the Department and the University as a whole.


We have one of the most highly regarded history departments in the UK and our students love being here. This reputation is the product of the quality and commitment of our staff, and the breadth of our teaching, which reflects the research interests of a Department with an international outlook.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 35th in the world in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2022
  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2023.


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


The Department of History is located in the heart of Durham, next to Durham Cathedral and Castle, which together form the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are within easy reach of all university colleges, libraries, lecture rooms, and other facilities.

The Department occupies a group of historic townhouses on North Bailey and Palace Green. Originally built as coffee houses and lawyers’ offices in the 17th and 18th Centuries, these buildings now accommodate academic staff, administrative staff and seminar rooms. All postgraduate classes and supervision meetings take place within the History Department.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Discover Durham Tours
  • Date: 24/10/2022
  • Time: 13:00 - 16:00
Register for open day
Discover Durham Live Virtual Sessions
  • Date: 11/10/2022
  • Time: 16:00 - 18:00
Register for open day