BA (Hons) English & History

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

Course overview

This degree offers you the opportunity to explore the disciplines of history and English literature. You'll be introduced to the skills of the historian, and will analyse societies and their structures in a way that will inform and complement your literary studies.

Why study BA English & History at Goldsmiths?

  • You'll explore thematic and genre-based approaches to literature, verbal analysis and literary theory
  • You'll have the opportunity to gain precious industry-standard experience through our History at Work placement scheme
  • Our staff come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and, with their diverse research specialties, they’ll be able to help you develop your own interests 
  • Both departments are large enough to provide a wide range of modules, 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 and Doris Lessing
  • Interdisciplinary modules draw together standard historical sources with literature, film, and the visual arts, and help you develop a wide range of skills that are attractive to employers 
  • Our graduates have a good employment record, and 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 History with International Foundation

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Isobel Hurst

Modules & structure

Level 4

At Level 4 you'll be introduced to essential concepts in literary study, encouraged to read a wide range of works covering the major literary genres, and become aware of changing views of the past, and theories of history. You'll choose between learning about cultural history, intellectual history, modern political history or religion, peace and conflict.

You take the following compulsory modules:

Module title Credits
  Concepts and Methods in History 30 credits
  Literature of the Victorian Period 30 credits
  Approaches to Text 30 credits

And one other first year 30-credit History module.

Level 5

Level 5 consists of an interdisciplinary studies module or modules, plus a combination of English and history modules. For instance, (for English) you might want to: examine the literature and ideas of the 16th and 17th centuries; investigate how the concept of the American nation state was produced in 19th-century literature; make a literary and cultural analysis of Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s work; and (for History): examine the medieval crusades or gender relations in the past; look into the cultural history of Buddhist Asia; or investigate the recent history of a range of European countries.

You take:

  • One English/History interdisciplinary 30 credit module
  • 30 credits of History modules
  • One English Period module worth 30 credits
  • The fourth module may be either 30 credits of History modules or a 30 credit English module, but there must be a balance of work in each discipline are levels 5 and 6 together.

Find out more about the History modules that may be available to you.

Level 6

Your interdisciplinary studies at Level 6 are directed towards a written project, and you continue to deepen your knowledge by balancing your selection of English and History modules with those you took at Level 5.

Options currently available include: taking a creative writing option; exploring the close relationship between literature and film in the 20th century; investigating gender and culture in medieval Europe; considering contemporary moral problems; or studying aspects of African or South Asian history.

The Departments also offer each year a small number of single-term ‘option’ modules which can be combined in pairs to form the equivalent of full-year modules. You can also apply to take a ‘related study’ – an approved module from another department which is relevant to your overall module profile.

You take:

  • The Interdisciplinary Project
  • 60 credits in History modules (if you only took 30 at level 5) and 30 credits of English modules
  • Or 60 credits in English modules (if you only took 30 at level 5) and 30 credits of English modules

Find out more about the History modules that may be available to you.


Coursework portfolios, long essays, examinations (various timescales and formats) and interdisciplinary project. The interdisciplinary project 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
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.

At Goldsmiths we offer innovative and challenging degrees in English and history, as well as a stimulating environment amongst a diverse and exciting community of students. Many of our students have achieved very high A-level grades, and that is reflected in our standard A-level offer.  

But above all we're looking for potential students who can demonstrate the range of skills, talents and interests necessary for this work, either through traditional A-levels or otherwise. We believe that all able students of whatever age and background who have the ability should have the chance to study at Goldsmiths, and we actively encourage applications from students with a wide range of relevant qualifications, especially the access diploma. We also offer a year 0 (foundation year) in English or history for students who need more preparation and experience before embarking on the BA. This is a longstanding commitment and practice. Consequently, over many years, a large number of our students have come from non-traditional backgrounds.

If you're interested in applying to Goldsmiths, whether you're currently studying or have been out of education for some time, we'd be delighted to hear from you. If you'd like further advice or have specific questions, please get in touch with the Admissions Tutor listed above.

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 History 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)
European Baccalaureate: 80%, preferably including English
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


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

History at Goldsmiths is ranked 11th in the UK for the quality of our research**


History at Goldsmiths isn't just a sequence of events - we study the past thematically as well as chronologically.

You will be taught by research-active, publishing historians whose wide range of expertise across different periods and many countries will help you to explore the diversity of past human experience through themes like madness, medicine, revolution, religious beliefs, identitities and the body.

You'll be thinking about the way history is informed by a wide range of other subjects and how knowledge of the past can help you to understand the world we live in today.

Find out more about the Department of History

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings

Skills & careers

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 learn to solve problems, to think critically and creatively, and to communicate with clarity.

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.

History at Work

History at Work is an exciting and innovative new initiative which offers some second and third year students taking History single and joint honours programmes the chance to apply their academic skills within the workplace.

Students spend one day a week over one term undertaking a project within a museum, archive or library: places which collect, process and present the 'raw material' of history. These organisations include the Wellcome Library, Royal Pharmaceutical SocietyLondon Transport Museum and the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The project might involve archiving, conservation, building an exhibition, or developing a public engagement project. Students will be invited to apply for places on the programme each February. It should give students a great chance to test out their career ideas, develop skills and increase their employability.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths. You can also explore potential career options on our English and History careers pages.

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

Student profiles


"I wanted to learn something different."

"This is my second year of studying English and History. I am really enjoying what I have chosen this year. I am originally from Jamaica and I have always had an interest in both these subjects. Literature was my favourite subject at school, while History was in a lot of ways harder for me to take in but fascinating anyway. Historical studies in Jamaica tend to involve mostly the study of slavery and the slave trade. I wanted to learn something different, so this year I chose the Crusades, literature of the middle ages and I am really enjoying my studies. I like looking at how the world appeared during that period and people’s perceptions of the events taking place. I did my access course at Morley College and that is where I learnt about Goldsmiths. One of my tutors there recommended that I investigate the university; he was previously employed in the and could not recommend it more. While it is in no way easy I feel like I am on the right track and that I made the best decision when I made my choice."

Victoria Appleby

Former BA English & History student Victoria was recently recognised for her success in the advertising industry at the IPA’s inaugural ‘Women of Tomorrow Awards’. 

Created to recognise successful women in middle levels of management and identify potential future industry leaders, 10 award winners were selected from across a range of media agencies, clients and creative agencies

Victoria, who is a Business Director at agency MediaCom, was praised for her straight talking and team focussed, collaborative and ambitious attitude, as well as her desire to champion the role of women in the workplace. Next year Victoria will be running MediaCom’s graduate scheme and has also taken responsibility for her company’s apprentice who she is teaching about the world of work. Outside of work she has authored a novel, Secret Stone, featuring a strong female lead, and is aiming for board directorship in order to be a role model for her young daughter.

She said: “I am delighted to receive the Women of Tomorrow Award.  I have extremely fond memories of my time at Goldsmiths and my degree and experiences there have had a huge impact on my career."

Tom King

"Take every single opportunity that’s offered to you."

"The best thing for me about being at Goldsmiths, personally, was just the experience, being with creative, likeminded people. When I started at Goldsmiths I wasn't interested in having a career in music whatsoever, I wanted to be a writer or an academic. The idea of music only came to me in my second or third year when I realised that much of my social and recreational activities were leaning towards that in some degree. I met the people I founded the label with social events at university and around the area.

The best part of my job is the creative side and working with all of these incredibly talented people. The worst part is having to deal with so many different things all the time!

My advice for current students would be that 'yes' is always a far better answer than 'no' – just take every single opportunity that’s offered to you and apply for things and do things, whether it’s sports, meeting up with your friends... anything that can inspire you. Keep your options open, experience things rather than plan any kind of career path. Be positive and try and engage as much as you can with everything."

Fees & funding

Related content links

University statistics for this course