Course information

Entry requirements

UCAS code


Entry requirements

A-level: BBB
IB: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655


3 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time

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 varied 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, 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

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Caroline Blinder

What you'll 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.

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. 

Year 1 (credit level 4)

You take four modules (120 credits in total):

Year 1 modules 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
  Literature of the Victorian Period 30 credits

Year 2 (credit level 5)

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

Year 2 modules 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
  Work Placement (English) 15 credits

Year 3 (credit level 6)

You complete the following:

Module title Credits
  The Emergence of Modern America: American Literature 1890–1940 30 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:

Year 3 option modules Module title Credits
  Caribbean Women Writers 30 credits
  Creating the Text 30 credits
  Decadence 30 credits
  Approaches to Language and the Media 15 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
  How to Read in Translation 15 credits
  Literature of the English Renaissance 30 credits
  Narratives of the Great War (1923-1933) 15 credits
  Work Placement (English) 15 credits

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

Teaching style

This programme is mainly taught through scheduled learning - a mixture of lectures, seminars and workshops. You’ll also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study. This includes carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, and producing essays or project work.

The following information gives an indication of the typical proportions of learning and teaching for each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 15% scheduled learning, 85% independent learning
  • Year 2 - 13% scheduled learning, 87% independent learning
  • Year 3 - 10% scheduled learning, 90% independent learning

How you’ll be assessed

You’ll be assessed by a variety of methods, depending on your module choices. These include coursework portfolios, long essays, examinations (various timescales and formats) and dissertation. The dissertation must be passed for the degree to be awarded.

The following information gives an indication of how you can typically expect to be assessed on each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 62% coursework, 38% written exam
  • Year 2 - 72% coursework, 28% written exam
  • Year 3 - 100% coursework

*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2017/18. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices. Find out more about how this information is calculated.

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 the 2018-19 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

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

Entry requirements

We accept the following qualifications:

A-level: BBB
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%, including a strong grade in English Literature
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2

International qualifications

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Additional Requirements

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

Fees & funding


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.


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.  

What our students say


"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."