Why this course?
The BA in English at the University of Strathclyde is truly innovative. As an English student you'll enjoy the best of old and new: a grounding in the classics as well as an insight into new fields of literature.
In a world overflowing with text – from blogs and emails to novels and plays - our academics will help you express yourself well, construct arguments and analyse the written word. You'll also have the option to use creative and critical skills to address works which show how exciting and wide-ranging English is. As part of your experience, you’ll get the chance to work with award-winning scholars and creative writers.
Employers like the skills developed in an English degree: written and verbal communication, analysis and discussion of ideas, and broad, creative thinking. That's why many of our graduates go on to work in exciting areas including journalism, marketing and teaching.
What you'll study
Our BA degrees in Humanities & Social Sciences are initially broad-based.
In Year 1, you'll study three subjects, including those from your chosen degree.
All students take one English class in each semester of the first year. These classes introduce the advanced study of literature, and include a focus on research methods and techniques for writing essays – with the option of using a creative, as well as critical, approach.
Texts studied currently include Shakespeare, Othello; Bronte, Jane Eyre; Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Woolf, Flush; Kay, Trumpet; Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, and a range of poetry from the Renaissance to contemporary slam and rap.
In Year 2, you'll take two core classes:
- Writing Through Time 1 (semester one)
- Writing Through Time 2 (semester two)
These classes give you the confidence to discuss a historical range of English literature, which will include poetry, drama, the novel, and short stories.
You then have a choice of one or two interdisciplinary electives:
- The Construction of Scotland: Text and Context (semester one)
- Making the Modern Human (semester two)
These interdisciplinary elective classes will expose you to a variety of different ways of thinking about literary studies in a broader context.
In Year 3 you'll select from a range of English electives, and you'll have the option to take a Creative Writing class too.
Current options include:
- From Greek Theatre to the National Theatre of Scotland
- Sin in Renaissance Drama
- The Glasgow Novel
- Language in Business
- International Influences
- Writing War
- Detective Fiction
- Directing in the Theatre
- Scottish Literature: 1770-1914
- Children’s Literature
- Reading Poetry
- Writing Short Fiction and Poetry
- Dramatic Writing
In your Honours year, Single Honours students take five electives alongside the dissertation in English.
Joint Honours students either take two electives and the dissertation in English, or write their dissertation in their other subject alongside three English electives.
Current examples of our Honours options include:
- Dramatic Work in Performance
- Sixties Britain: Literature, Culture, Counterculture
- Literature, Mind, and Brain
- Creative Economies and the Culture Industry
- Songs: Music and Literature
- The 1930s: Literature and Culture
- Victorian Gothic
- Wild in the Renaissance
- New Narratives
We're based in the Lord Hope Building which provides a social hub and access to student services such as the library, cafés, meeting areas and exhibition spaces.
The Andersonian Library - directly opposite - has around a million print volumes as well as access to over one million electronic books and over 105,000 e-journals.
We offer these taught masters degrees in:
Masters degrees can be a first step to a PhD or help with career and personal development. We welcome overseas students, including visiting students.
We also offer a number of different research degrees, including an innovative MRes in Creative Writing.
You'll have the opportunity to take part in the Socrates exchange programme, in which you can spend your third year (two semesters) abroad and obtain credits that qualify you to enter the Honours year in one or both of your principal subjects on your return.
Socrates have partner institutions in Germany and France, as well as programmes in North America and elsewhere. While priority on Socrates is given to students who have proficiency in the relevant language, many classes (at least in the host English departments) are conducted in English and there is no language requirement for countries like the USA.
English 1A & 1B
These first-year classes offer an introduction to the study of English at university level.
In the course of these classes you will study a range of texts in the three main genres of creative literature - poetry, prose, and drama – and will learn to engage with the critical materials that analyse them, and have the option in assessment to respond creatively to some of these work as well.
Across this year you will also have an opportunity to understand how particular historical and social contexts shape literature, and to discuss ways in which historical literature continues to live and have relevance to the contemporary reader. Current texts studied in this class include Othello, Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, and some contemporary song lyrics and Renaissance poetry.
Writing Through Time 1&2
These classes develop your understanding of literary criticism from our first-year classes by engaging with the question of the historical situatedness of literary production, offering an overview of key ideas, debates and literary texts from the Renaissance to the present. Once again our focus is on different genres of writing: this time, poetry, drama, and long and short prose fiction. Through these texts, you will engage with distinct modes of analysis, with literary critical approaches sitting alongside more innovative creative approaches.
ElectiveThe Construction of Scotland
Making the Modern Human
This class offers a wide variety of ways of thinking about 'Scottishness' and Scottish national identity. The main aim of the class it to challenge assumptions of national identity as something that is coherent and fixed by exploring the many complexities, subtleties, and contradictions in Scottish identity. Focusing on issues of language, gender, and place, the class will encourage students to deepen their understanding of 'Scottishness' and the constructed nature of national identity through a literary and cultural lens.
The class aims to introduce you to changing ideas about the human in relation to two key moments in history: the concept of the idea of the beast within from the age of Shakespeare, and the emergence of Darwin's theory of evolution in the mid-nineteenth century. The class will look at shifts in understanding the boundary between humans and animals and at what that meant for how people understood themselves at two very different moments in the past. Core to the class will be how scientific, philosophical and literary materials contemplate the same ideas.
Textlab is one of several Vertically Integrated Projects (ViPs) running across the University. Each ViP brings together a team of undergraduates, postgraduates, and staff to work on a research-based project.
TextLab brings together students and staff from English/Humanities and Computer and Information Science. We work on research projects in the field of Digital Humanities (the application of computer-based technologies to the study of texts) – specifically using computers to analyse Shakespeare’s language, and building a website aimed at schools.
You'll select from a range of Year 3 electives, and have the chance to take one Creative Writing class too.
Greek Theatre to National Theatre
This course will trace the development of crime fiction from the mid C19th until the present day. Beginning with some of the earliest depictions, we will examine short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, before going on to look at C20th representations of the literary sleuth in Britain and the USA. We will consider well-known examples from popular culture (eg Hercule Poirot and his 'little grey cells', the stereotype of the American private-eye) as well as more experimental, postmodern examples (Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Paul Auster's New York Trilogy).
Throughout the course we will be concerned with connections between crime and the emergence of the modern city, questioning the extent to which detective fiction aims to impose a sense of rationality and closure on an otherwise uncertain and alienating world. In its concern with the social and cultural role of crime fiction, this course will also reflect on the importance of deconstructive, feminist, post-structuralist and psychoanalytic readings of the genre.
International influences: world literature & literature in English
This class is designed to introduce students to theatre practice starting with Greek theatre through to the work of the National Theatre for Scotland. The sessions are designed to be both theoretical and practical with students engaging with activities that illuminate the textual material studied. Drama was intended to be performed and to this end, study will also include that of set design and how that has evolved over the centuries taking into account the changes in style and expectations of an audience as well as the harnessing of technological advances.
Students will study in two-hour sessions to allow the theoretical underpinning to be embedded into the workshop activities and should be considered as a foundation for future study in theatre practice. The intention is to study a selection of plays, not as isolated written works, but in relation to their production and performance.
The class will give students insights into evolving theatre practices, predominately in Europe, through examination and analysis of dramatic fiction and their theatrical constructs. The class will draw upon the work of playwrights that will include Euripides, Shakespeare, Moliere, Pirandello, Chekov, Brecht, Beckett, Pinter, and Greig and examine the professional practice of contemporary theatre performers and directors. The class will work alongside practice-based research on the communication of dramatic fiction through theatrical performance.
Language in Business & Organisations
This class teaches you how various kinds of world literature have been influential on literature in English. Each week the lecture introduces a new literature, sometimes referring to one or two specific authors, and places the foreign literature linguistically, culturally and historically. We then look at specific influences on writers in English. Sometimes we will look at translations, sometimes adaptations, including into different media, and we will see that texts can lead to other texts through complex chains of influence.
Seminars often take a foreign text, and look at one or more English language variants of it. One of the assessments is an essay involving analysis of adapted texts; the other is an essay on the more general issues which arise. Students are not expected to learn or know about any of the foreign languages involved.
Topics for 2019-20 are likely to be similar to those for the current year, which includes Sappho and Homer (Greek), Catullus (Latin), Dante and Petrarch (Italian), the Hebrew Bible, Borges (and other Latin Americans), Chinese and Japanese poetry, Scottish Gaelic, Indian and other South Asian literature, and Scandinavian (including Old English) literature.
This class explores the ways in which language is used in businesses and other organisations (including charities, government, education, etc.). The class also functions as an introduction to the theory of communication more generally; we explore how meaning is communicated, how texts are made coherent, why speaking is a way of acting, how conversations are structured, and how politeness is managed.
We consider gender as an aspect of organisations, and how language maintains and constructs gender. We look at the use and invention of words (eg brand names), including organisational metaphors and the use of storytelling in an organisation. We consider how language and communication differ across cultures, and how this can lead to cross-cultural misunderstanding, and we ask whether different languages shape different ways of thinking; as part of this, we consider the discourses of banal nationalism.
The materials we study may include websites, values statements, marketing brochures and posters, public apologies, political speeches, transcripts of e-mail interactions, and of meetings. One of the assessments is an essay involving analysis of one of these kinds of organisational discourse; the other is an essay on the more general issues which arise. Students are not expected to have any prior knowledge of linguistics or the analysis of language.
Sex, Revenge & Corruption in Renaissance Drama
This class will examine the tools of poetry, including voice, rhyme, meter, schemes, and tropes, in a variety of genres and periods. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the conventions of poetry and the ways in which these conventions have been subverted or modified over time, allowing for innovation and introducing new voices, such as those of women, minorities and the working classes.
We will consider a number of poetic forms, such as the sonnet, the lyric, the epic, and the ode, with examples taken from the early modern to the present day. The principal aim of the class is to give students the tools required to read poetry with confidence.
The course will cover the sonnet, sonnet sequences, lyric poetry, dramatic monologues, narrative poetry, epic, satire, ekphrasis, and odes and elegies, and a wide range of authors including Donne, Pope, Byron, Christina Rossetti, Tennyson, Dickinson, Poe, Siddal, Rilke, Plath, Angelou, and Atwood.
Theories of Literature & Wellbeing
This class will focus on drama, a key genre in the period from the 1580s to the closure of the playhouses in 1642. Reading work by major dramatists such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton, we will engage with a form that addressed both a highly literate and a popular audience, and is thus a particularly interesting place to trace ways of thinking in the period.
The common thread that ties this selection of plays together is their interest in transgression: what happens when humans cross the limits set by tradition, religion and the state? In the process of this theatrical interrogation, the plays pose questions about violence, identity, gender, desire, citizenship and the role of the theatre itself. We will read tragedies and comedies, and wonder why tragedies in this period are so often comic, and why the comedies end badly.
The relationship between literature and wellbeing is of interest to the a number of employers and professions, including health and social care (evidenced by the journal Medical Humanities and the 'Get into Reading' programme run by The Reader, a charity). However investigations into the potential benefits of reading or hearing literature are hampered at the moment by the lack of a theoretical base from which to start. Academic work in English and literature is growing more interdisciplinary with sustained interest in the psychology of the reading experience for example.
This class combines recent academic research with the needs and interests of students to assess a number of theories which relate literature to wellbeing. It also encourages students to reflect on their own experiences as students, readers and critics of literature. Students with an interest in arts therapy may find the class a useful part of their degree, as well students considering teaching English or working in libraries, arts organisations or social care.
The class will also provide a new avenue for literary investigation for students who may be considering going on to do interdisciplinary research. The learning outcomes will differ from learning objectives insofar as they focus on broader cognitive abilities, non-subject specific skills or graduate attributes.
- improved ability to understand what a theory is and how it can be evaluated
- enhancement of skills taught in other English classes, such as textual analysis, argumentation, group discussion etc
This class explores the literature of conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries, from the First World War to the Iraq War. The class treats war as a complex cultural phenomenon rather than a simple military activity, and as such we explore not only the literature of combat but also a range of texts.
You can also take one of the following English & Creative Writing classes as part of your English degree in Year 3.
Writing Short Fiction & Poetry
This core class will introduce creative writing students to two key genres: short fiction and poetry. Taught in workshop sessions by practising creative writers this will be a practice led class. On it, students will develop good practice related to the professional presentation of creative work, and will be introduced to the skills involved in reflecting critically on creative products and processes.
The class will build on the basic writing techniques that students have developed in their first and second year of study such as: point of view, characterisation, setting, dialogue and narrative structure. The class will also encourage and expect a more advanced and discerning set of reading skills. Looking at a wide range of material such as novels, short stories and poems the class will examine a range of different narrative strategies, contexts and approaches and use these as stimuli for creative work.
This class will be based around a selection of screen and radio scripts that have formed the basis for dramatic works such as: The Graduate, Mad Men, Bladerunner, The True Story of Bonnie Parker and When Harry Met Sally and will introduce key concepts in the theory and practice of creative writing as these emerge in the context of writing for radio and screen.
Students will write dramatic scripts that demonstrate a good awareness of skills and techniques relevant to the genre, develop good practice related to the professional presentation of creative work, and be introduced to the skills involved in reflecting critically on creative products and processes. The class will be taught by practising creative writers.
Throughout your degree, analytical and writing skills are being developed, preparing you to tackle the final-year dissertation. The choice of subjects for your dissertation is wide open – we value and reward student initiative.
Year 4 is also your chance to take more electives as well as your dissertation in English – two options for joint Honours, and five for single Honours. Choose from:
Creative Economies & Culture Industry
Literature, Mind & Brain
This Honours option will explore how 'creative economies' operate in the twenty-first century, using a focus on local industries to investigate global issues and challenges. It will enable students to understand how the concepts of 'creative economy', 'cultural industry' or 'creative industries' developed, and explore the controversies which have often surrounded these terms.
The 1930s: Literature & Culture
This class responds to developments in literary research which are drawing on findings in cognitive science. A number of PhDs and postdoctoral researchers, as well as more experienced literary scholars, are using these findings to ask questions about the nature of literary experience in general, and the nature of specific literary texts in particular. In addition, the class responds to the increasing demand for interdisciplinary skills for humanities students. This is likely to appeal to honours English students who wish to bridge the gap between the critical analysis of texts and the rapidly changing model of human cognition emerging from psychology, neuroscience and philosophy.
The class will combine a weekly reading of a scientific or philosophical article with a short literary text and consider the implications of and/or problems with the article in the light of the literary text. No class of this kind is currently on offer at Strathclyde.
Sixties Britain: Literature, Culture, Counterculture
The 1930s is a period of cultural and political instability that is dominated by the inequalities between rich and poor, by problems with employment and housing, and by an insecure international situation in which the United Kingdom is increasingly isolated from developments in continental Europe. Into this conflict come authoritarian populist politicians intent on restoring strong leadership and the restoration of past national glories, and on the other side coalitions of the liberal left seeking a new politics to resist such authoritarian thinking. It is a period, in other words, strikingly like our own.
In taking the class you will gain an understanding of the distinctive concerns of the literature and wider culture of the 1930s. We will pay particular attention to formal questions that dominate the decade’s literature - those of documentary, realism, and the legacy of Modernism - as well as to thematic issues of class division and national identity, urbanisation, and domestic politics. You will also gain an understanding of the relationship between literature and other forms of cultural production in the period, particularly journalism and documentary cinema.
By taking part in the class you will develop your abilities in close critical reading of literary texts and will gain further experience of independent learning and essay and examination writing.
Songs: music & literature
The 1960s are often thought of as the decade of hedonism, hippies, free love and The Beatles. Yet the sixties were also a time of deep political unrest and activism, during which political movements for civil rights, anti-war and women’s liberation gained momentum. In addition, the 1960s were a decade of important technological advancements (including the introduction of colour television and developments in space exploration) which would have a fundamental effect on culture in Britain and beyond. This aim of this class, therefore, is to explore the legacy of the 1960s, its representation through a variety of key literary, cultural and critical texts.
Beginning with an examination of British culture through a literary lens in the late 1950s, it goes on to explore the central tensions of the decade. In doing so, students will engage with a variety of classic texts of the period, examining the 1960s in terms of culture vs counterculture, class, race and gender, reflecting on just how controversial the decade actually was.
Soviet Literature: 1917-1967
This class looks at songs of different kinds. We ask what makes songs both similar to, and different from, poems. We explore how words are fitted to musical structures, including rhythms and tunes. We examine how poems are set to music, or otherwise accompanied by music; we consider the difference between poetic and musical metre, and the use of rhyme. We explore different kinds of singing style. We examine why songs give us strong emotional experiences.
We consider the difference between high and low cultures in songs, and the borrowing of songs between genres. We consider the role of songs in constructing identity, including national identity. We consider popular and rock songs, folk songs, and classical songs; in addition we will look at some overseas song traditions (eg Chinese, Australian Aboriginal).
One of the assessments is an essay involving analysis of a song which you choose yourself; the other is an essay on the more general issues which arise.
Students are not expected to have any prior knowledge of music or linguistics, or musical ability.
Studio Theatre Performance
This class looks at three key moments in the history of the Soviet Union, and explores how political contexts radically different from those in western Europe affected the way literature was written and interpreted.
All texts are in English, translated from Russian. The Russian Revolution in 1917 happened at a moment of intense experimentation in literature across Europe. In the early revolutionary years, many Soviet writers of the avant garde explored the possibility of experimental writing which could both reach the masses and help to bring about social change. We will look at both the literary theory and some of the experimental texts from this period, including a film. In the 1930s, during Stalin's rule, this revolutionary approach was sidelined by a top down emphasis on 'Soviet socialist realism', fiction that is easily accessible and offers a vision of a brighter future for a population living through unprecedented change. We will look at three of these Socialist Realist novels and appraise how far they conformed with the ambitions of the state, as well as considering the nature of literary realism itself.
Finally, we will consider literature by dissidents, writers who increasingly challenged the Communist regime in the 'Thaw' that followed Stalin's death in 1953, looking at novels by two dissident writers, including Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago.
This class is designed to expand the students’ understanding and experience of theatre practice and apply that knowledge to a professional theatre setting. Students will work collectively to produce a text-based or devised work, of 40–45 minutes duration, taking full responsibility for all aspects of the production. To support the students in undertaking this challenge study will include the work of Boal, Brook, Grotowski, Littlewood, Meyerhold and Schechner with workshops focusing on experimental approaches to mounting a production. There will be emphasis on the physical approach to performance with action replacing words and words punctuated through action and comparing this approach to that of the psychological building of character associated with Stanislavsky. In pursuit of this physical expression, the work of Laban and the significance of applied theatre will be explored, examining and investigating the social function of site specific performances.
The present tense action, the 'performative' will be examined through study of projects undertaken with communities in location with such practitioners as Thompson, Heritage and Boal. Emphasis will be placed on developing a culture of favourable conditions within which artistic endeavour will be nurtured and celebrated creating the potential for students to make the emotional shift from self to performer and from reader to director.
Theoretical underpinning will be embedded into the workshop activities encouraging students to work independently in group settings and as an individual.
Wild in the Renaissance
This class will examine the development of the Gothic tradition in a diverse selection of Victorian texts which will include works by the Brontes, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle.
The aims of the course are twofold. Firstly, we will consider the literary origins and devices of Gothic in the popular novels and short stories of the Romantic period (eg Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), and trace the ways in which major Victorian authors modified them, paying attention to questions such as genre and inter-textuality. However, these textual studies will continually be placed within a broader historical and social context: the principal aim of the class is to assess how an understanding of the fascination of the Gothic mode for Victorian authors can be used as a tool for exploring the complexities of nineteenth-century society.
We will use the texts to consider issues such as urbanisation, scientific progress, religious crisis, Empire, new forms of communications technology and print culture, the ‘New Woman’, deviant sexualities, degeneration, decadence and the fin-de-siècle.
Throughout, the texts will be read ‘against the grain’ by employing a range of critical terminology (such as Freud’s work on dreams or recent work on ‘female Gothic’).
The concept of 'the wild' is one that emerges in many different ways in the writings of the Renaissance; in relation to self-cultivation (holding back the wildness within), the control of one's world (taming the ever-present wilderness); and in relations with fellow humans in a changing world (in savage domination). These ideas get played out in numerous ways in the period - from poetic use of the symbolic resonance of gardens and gardening; the religious underpinnings of the 'missionary endeavour' in the New World and what that says about the concept of human nature; to the anxious self-examination of humanity's inevitable sinfulness.
This class will thus introduce you to key canonical texts from the period – plays, poetry, and court masques – by writers including Shakespeare, Jonson, and Milton, and will also engage with a critical and theoretical debates about the relationships between humans and the natural world from the new fields of animal studies and ecocriticism.
In addition to traditional exams, many classes are assessed partly or solely by essays. In later years, you have the opportunity to set the topics and titles of these essays themselves.
Some courses have specific assessment methods, for example drama students are assessed for their writing and practical performance skills, while those studying digital humanities use social media and analyse texts with software.
All our classes use Myplace, Strathclyde's virtual learning environment, which can be used for online quizzes and keeping a reading diary.
Learning & teaching
English staff present lectures, seminars and workshops, where students take part in small group work, individual and group presentations, debates and writing exercises. Some classes also take place in computer labs and include analysis of texts using software tools.
Vertically Integrated Project
We have recently introduced a new research task in which staff, undergraduates and postgraduates work together.
Required subjects are indicated following minimum accepted grades.
1st sitting: AABB (Higher English B, Maths/Applications of Mathematics National 5 C, plus one subject from the list of Highers below)
2nd sitting: AABBB (Higher English B, Maths/Applications of Mathematics National 5 C, plus one subject from the list of Highers below)
- Classical Studies
- Modern Studies
- Religious Moral & Philosophical Studies
We recognise a wide range of Highers, however, your profile must reflect a good grounding in essay-based subjects.
Year 1 entry
Typical entry requirement: ABB (GCSE English Language 6/B or English Literature 6/B, GCSE Maths 4/C)
Minimum entry requirement: BBB (GCSE English Language 6/B or English Literature 6/B, GCSE Maths 4/C)
Typical entry requirement: AAA (two core subjects required; GCSE English Language 6/B or English Literature 6/B, GCSE Maths 4/C)
Minimum entry requirement: ABB (two core subjects at AB; (GCSE English Language 6/B or English Literature 6/B, GCSE Maths 4/C)
36 (Maths SL5)
Year 1 entry
HNC Social Sciences: A in Graded Unit; Maths National 5 B or equivalent
Irish Leaving Certificate
Subjects and grades as for Highers
It is important to take care over your personal statement. We look for information about your academic and career interests, and your range of skills, abilities, and relevant experience. Your personal statement should show evidence you have a strong awareness and interest in the subject you are applying to.
Deferred entry normally not accepted.
Applicants with Highers
Due to the high level of competition for the number of available places, it is unlikely that Conditional Offers will be made to anyone attaining less than AAB at the first sitting of Highers.
Second-year entry for A Level/Advanced Higher candidates is possible with AA/AB in the two subjects you are planning to study.
Admission to Honours
All students will be admitted as potential Honours students. Students may exit with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the end of Year 3 of the programme if they have accumulated at least 360 credits and satisfied the appropriate specialisation requirements. For admission to the final year of the Honours course, a student must have achieved an approved standard of performance.
We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.
Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.
Find out entry requirements for your country.
Degree preparation course for international students
We offer international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for
an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.
Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the
University of Strathclyde.