BA (Hons) English

  • 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

Course overview

Our English degree gives you the opportunity to develop the critical and verbal skills needed for a confident, effective reading of literary and non-literary texts. It develops your core skills in analytical and imaginative reading and writing.

Module options on this degree offer an historical view of writing in English, and also let you specialise in areas of interest, including thematic and genre-based approaches to literature, comparative analysis, and literary theory.

Our staff have diverse cultural backgrounds and research areas, so are ideally placed to offer you insights as you develop your own interests in American, British, European, Irish, Caribbean or other literatures in English.

Why study BA English at Goldsmiths?

  • The degree is structured to give you a broad foundation in literary and cultural studies, as well as the opportunity to study the topics that really interest you
  • 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 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 with International Foundation

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Gail McDonald

Modules & structure

Level 4

Module title Credits
  Explorations in Literature 30 credits
  Approaches to Text 30 credits
  Literature of the Victorian Period 30 credits
  Engaging Poetry 30 credits

Level 5

You choose four modules (120 credits) from a range characterised by wide literary, historical and contextual scope, of which at least 60 credits must encompass pre-1800 literature.

Modules may vary from year to year, but recent modules have included:

Module title Credits
  Drama and Transgression: From Prometheus to Faust 30 credits
  European Cinema 30 credits
  Hollywood Cinema 30 credits
  Inventing the Nation: American Literature in the mid-19th Century 30 credits
  Literary London 30 credits
  Literature of the Later Middle-Ages: Society and the Individual 30 credits
  Moderns 30 credits
  Old English 30 credits
  Post-Victorian English Literature 30 credits
  Restoration and 18th-Century Literature 30 credits
  Sensibility and Romanticism: Revolutions in Writing and Society 30 credits
  Shakespeare 30 credits
  Varieties of English 30 credits

Level 6

You choose modules to the value of 90 credits. You also complete a 6,000-8,000-word Dissertation (30 credits) on a topic of your choice. A pass in this module is compulsory for the award of the degree.

A rotation of single-term 15-credit modules is also available at Level 6.

30-credit modules may vary from year to year, but recent examples have included:

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


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
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 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%, 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


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

This degree opens up a wide range of careers by developing your 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.


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 find out more about the career options available to you after you graduate on our English careers page.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Student profiles


"I've always found a lot of satisfaction in reading and learning new things."

"I came to the campus on one of the Open Days and it seemed like a very warm and friendly place to study. All of the staff seemed very friendly and there was a very diverse mix of people which is something I like. The campus was quite small and it seemed like you could put a name to a face quite easily so that’s what I liked about it.

I’m looking forward to the workload, I thrive on challenges, I love to read and I’ve always had a passion for learning. I’ve always very much been an autodidact, I love to teach myself. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals throughout my life so I’ve always found a lot of satisfaction in reading and learning new things."


"Goldsmiths is place where you find a lot of people who question the status quo and I think this helped me in my career."

"I had a great time at Goldsmiths, so much so that I opted to carry on after my BA to study for an MA in the same department. I developed valuable skills in being able to consume and interpret large volumes and different kinds of texts, and in nurturing my ability to think creatively and having faith in the independence of my thought processes.

Goldsmiths is definitely a kind of 'black sheep of the family' kind of place where you find a lot of people who are prepared to question things in a staunch kind of way and I think this helped me in my career. I met people from all around the world and travelled a lot during and post university to visit them and was fortunate to study with a huge variety of people from a wealth of different backgrounds. This was an invaluable part of my study as it was very different to the kind of education I'd had before Goldsmiths.

When you're at Goldsmiths there's no doubt that you're at an art college and this suffuses a lot of your study and extra-curricular life, so alongside the kind of left of centre education and a supplementary education in fine art there was a lot of socialising and partying at surreal times and places.

I now produce the weekly Dan and Phil show on air on Radio 1 which aims to bring the sound of the internet onto the radio. I also lead the station's interactive team in innovation so look to incorporate new and exciting digital experiments into the Radio 1 output, whether that is creating virtual nightclubs from Ibiza, letting the audience remix Radio 1 content, or flying indoor live streaming blimps."


"I love how the University breaks down barriers, whether they are in art, fashion or any other creative discipline, and encourages young talent to believe in their work."

"I remember Club Sandwich, the Wednesday night party in the SU, with fond memories, and I edited Smiths with a great team of writers, which was a lot of fun. Goldsmiths was such a creative place to be on so many levels and I am grateful for its part in inspiring me.

My favourite part of my job is probably nurturing young talent, making theatre accessible and seeing an audience enjoying a show. Those are all very rewarding. I love seeing the careers of our actors grow. I’m sure that a lot of these interests are inspired by Goldsmiths. I love how the University breaks down barriers, whether they are in art, fashion or any other creative discipline, and encourages young talent to believe in their work."

Fees & funding

How to apply

Related content links

University statistics for this course