Navigation

BA (Hons) English & American Literature

  • UCAS
    QT37
  • Entry requirements
    A-level: ABB
    BTEC: DDM
    IB: 33 points including three HL subjects
  • Length
    3 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time
  • Department
    English and Comparative Literature

Course overview

Examine the formation of the American literary aesthetic, and the critical concepts and ideologies that shape the American nation, through the study of a varies range of literary and critical works from both sides of the Atlantic.

Why study BA English & American Literature at Goldsmiths?

  • You'll cultivate an understanding of the main cultural, historical and political concepts underpinning America and its literatures
  • You'll be able to examine American literary and cultural contexts, the formation of an American literary aesthetic from Puritan times to the present day, and the critical concepts and ideologies that shape the American nation
  • You'll be able to access probably the best collection of American materials in the country, in the University of London Library
  • Our staff come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and, with their diverse research specialities, they’ll be able to help you develop your own interests 
  • The Department is large enough to provide a wide range of courses, but small enough to let you get to know other students and staff
  • We host a programme of guest lectures that has included major names in literature, including Alan Bennett, Germaine Greer, and Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Derek Walcott
  • Our graduates have gone on to work in publishing, journalism, PR, teaching, advertising, and the media

If you are an international student and you don't meet the entry requirements for this programme, you may be able to apply for our BA English and American Literature with International Foundation

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Padraig Kirwan

Modules & structure

What you study

 
 
 

Over the course of the degree you'll:

  • cultivate an understanding of the main cultural, historical and political concepts underpinning America and its literatures
  • be introduced to selected works spanning literary history from Homer to the present day
  • be given a grounding in the methods and terms used in the analysis of literary and non-literary texts
  • have the opportunity to familiarise yourself with either the short story genre, or with the genre of poetry, sharpening your interpretative skills through close reading and teaching contributions from practising poets
  • examine a selection of major American writers from the 1830s to the 1880s, and how they were active in describing, shaping, criticising and contesting the emerging American nation
  • trace the emergence of modern America, encompassing the years which saw both mass immigration and the growth of urban centres, the wealth of the twenties and the poverty of the thirties, the entrenchment of racial prejudice in the South, and the cultural flowering of the Harlem Renaissance
  • complete a dissertation

You'll also be able to choose option modules from the wide range available within the Department.

Assessment

Coursework portfolios, long essays, examinations (various timescales and formats) and dissertation. The dissertation must be passed for the degree to be awarded.

PLEASE NOTE: At Level 5 at least 30 credits must be chosen from those designated by the Department as encompassing pre-1800 literature, and a pass in both Inventing the Nation and the Level 6 Dissertation is compulsory for award of the degree. 

Overview

Over the course of the degree you'll:

  • cultivate an understanding of the main cultural, historical and political concepts underpinning America and its literatures
  • be introduced to selected works spanning literary history from Homer to the present day
  • be given a grounding in the methods and terms used in the analysis of literary and non-literary texts
  • have the opportunity to familiarise yourself with either the short story genre, or with the genre of poetry, sharpening your interpretative skills through close reading and teaching contributions from practising poets
  • examine a selection of major American writers from the 1830s to the 1880s, and how they were active in describing, shaping, criticising and contesting the emerging American nation
  • trace the emergence of modern America, encompassing the years which saw both mass immigration and the growth of urban centres, the wealth of the twenties and the poverty of the thirties, the entrenchment of racial prejudice in the South, and the cultural flowering of the Harlem Renaissance
  • complete a dissertation

Level 4

You take four modules (120 credits in total):

Module title Credits
  Introduction to American Literature and Culture 30 credits
  Explorations in Literature 30 credits
  Approaches to Text 30 credits
  Engaging Poetry 30 credits
  or
  Literature of the Victorian Period 30 credits

Level 5

You take the following two compulsory modules, of which the first – Inventing the Nation – is core.

Module title Credits
  Inventing the Nation: American Literature in the mid-19th Century 30 credits
  Further Studies in American Literature and Culture 30 credits

You also take two modules chosen from the range of options available within the Department. You must take at least 30 credits from modules encompassing pre-1800 literature.

The modules on offer may differ from year to year, but some examples of modules recently on offer include:

Module title Credits
  Drama and Transgression: From Prometheus to Faust 30 credits
  European Cinema 30 credits
  Literary London 30 credits
  Literature of the English Renaissance 30 credits
  Moderns 30 credits
  Post-Victorian English Literature 30 credits
  Sensibility and Romanticism: Revolutions in Writing and Society 30 credits
  Shakespeare 30 credits

Level 6

You complete the following:

Module title Credits
  BA (Hons) English & American Literature Dissertation 30 credits

You also take modules worth a total of 60 credits chosen from the range of Level 6 options available within the Department (a rotation of single-term half-modules is also available at Level 6). 

The modules on offer may differ from year to year, but some examples of modules recently on offer include:

Module title Credits
  Caribbean Women Writers 30 credits
  Creating the Text 30 credits
  Decadence 30 credits
  Language and the Media 30 credits
  Modern American Fiction 30 credits
  Modern Poetry 30 credits
  Modernism & Drama (1880-1930) 30 credits
  The Art of the Novel 30 credits
  Oedipus: Myths, Tragedies and Theories 30 credits
  Postcolonial Literatures in English 30 credits
  Studies in Literature and Film 30 credits

Please note: a pass in both Inventing the Nation and the Level 6 Dissertation is compulsory for award of the degree. 

Assessment

Coursework portfolios, long essays, examinations (various timescales and formats) and dissertation. The dissertation must be passed for the degree to be awarded.

Credits and levels of learning

An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB
BTEC: DDM
International Baccalaureate: 33 points including three HL subjects

Grade A in A-level English Literature (or Language and Literature) is required; A-level General Studies is not accepted.

If you are an international student and you don't meet the entry requirements for this programme, you may be able to apply for our BA English and American Literature with International Foundation

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:

Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including distinctions/merits in subject specific modules
Scottish qualifications: ABBBC (Higher), ABC (Advanced Higher) Grade A in English Literature (or Language and Literature) required
European Baccalaureate: 80%, including a strong grade in English Literature
Irish Leaving Certificate: A1 A1 A2 B1

If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us. 

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Read more about our general entrance requirements

Department

English at Goldsmiths is ranked:
18th in the UK for the quality of our research**
In the world’s top 150 universities for English language and literature***

English and Comparative Literature

Cervantes. Bukowski. Dostoevsky. Self. From classical literature and linguistics, to creative writing and contemporary fiction, we take a critical and creative approach to the discipline.

As a department we’re interested in a field of enquiry that extends from Old English to 21st-century literatures in English, French, Spanish and Italian. So you can study texts and films across a variety of periods and genres.

We’re engaged

We have a dedicated Writers’ Centre that encourages new writing and stimulates debate about all forms of literature. And we award the annual Goldsmiths Prize (for “fiction at its most novel”), which brings critically acclaimed writers like Ali Smith and Eimear McBride to campus.

We’re nurturing

We may be one of the largest departments at Goldsmiths but that doesn’t mean you won’t get personal support. Learn from our approachable team of academic staff and become part of the student-run English Society.

We’re vibrant

As one of the first departments in the UK to offer creative writing, you’ll be part of a hub of literary excellence – our graduates have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Orange Prize for Fiction to the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

Find out more about the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by subject 2015

Learning & teaching

On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills.

But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.

This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of that are highly sought after by employers. 

Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Independent learning
  • Presentations
  • Assessments

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches

Skills & careers

The skills you'll develop

Our degrees open up a wide range of careers by developing critical and analytical skills, proficiency in assessing evidence, the clear expression of ideas, and the ability to bring together insights from a range of subjects – all of which are attractive to a variety of employers. You will learn to solve problems, to think critically and creatively, and to communicate with clarity.

Careers

Our graduates have a good employment record: professions include publishing, journalism, PR, teaching, advertising, civil service, business and industry, European Union private sector management and personnel work, and the media. You can read more about the careers options open to you once you graduate on our English and Comparative Literature careers page.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.  

Student profiles

Dominic

"The tutors have always been approachable – whether I've knocked on doors with tangible questions or just to chew the fat."

"I initially applied to Goldsmiths on account of the university’s reputation in arts circles; I was applying to study English, and hoped that the freedom often affiliated with the creative arts would apply here to the humanities. My expectations were exceeded. The American side of the course has been brilliant – establishing a little community that seems driven by a mutual respect between staff and students – arguably echoing the atmosphere in the College at large – a kind of learning environment that feels ingratiating rather than exclusive. The department of English and Comparative Literature has been welcoming throughout the degree, and the tutors have always been approachable – whether I’ve knocked on doors with tangible questions or just to chew the fat, teachers have always been encouraging.

The course itself has been comprehensive, running from the Renaissance to the post-modern moment, and has proved to strengthen not only a knowledge but also, I would argue, a love of literature: the enthusiasm of the lecturers precipitating a mutual sense of excitement. The degree has, as hoped, been an opportunity to consolidate this love. Given the current cultural and political climate, it feels of unique significance to be affiliated with an institution that champions the humanities, and that exercises this championship without any sense of elitism. Currently in the final year of my undergraduate programme, I hope to continue studying at Goldsmiths, and undertake a Masters with the Department."

Fees & funding

Related content links

University statistics for this course