Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. A language or History can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.
How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]
No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount
Grants, bursaries and scholarships available
More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]
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What is English Language and Literature?
The English Language and Literature course is one of the broadest in the country, giving you the chance to study writing in English from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England to the literature of the 20th and early 21st centuries. As well as the literature of the British Isles, you can study works written in English from many other parts of the world. The course also allows you a considerable degree of choice about the topics you would like to concentrate on. Studying literature at Oxford involves the development of sophisticated reading skills and of an ability to place literary texts in their wider intellectual and historical contexts. It also requires you to consider the critical processes by which you analyse and judge, to learn about literary form and technique, and to study the development of the English language.
English at Oxford
The Oxford English Faculty is the largest English department in Britain. All Oxford colleges have at least two tutors in English who are responsible for tutorial teaching in their own college. Many also give lectures to all students in the English Faculty. You thus have the opportunity to learn from a wide range of specialist teachers.
Library provision for English at Oxford is exceptionally good. All students have access to the Bodleian Library, the English Faculty Library, other faculty libraries and their own college libraries. The English Faculty has long pioneered the use of electronic resources in teaching, and has a wide range of resources and facilities. The English Faculty building has its own computer room and all colleges have computing facilities for undergraduates to use.
In your first year you will be introduced to the conceptual and technical tools used in the study of language and literature, and to a wide range of different critical assumptions and approaches. At the same time, you will be doing tutorial work on early medieval literature, Victorian literature and modern literature up to the present day.
In your second and third years you will extend your study of English literary history in four more period papers ranging from late medieval literature to the Romantic age. These papers are assessed by three-hour written examinations at the end of your third year. You will also have coursework papers over the second and third years: a portfolio of work on Shakespeare; a Special Options paper on a topic selected from faculty research expertise; and an 8,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice. Submitted work therefore constitutes almost half of your final assessment.
Alternatively, in the second and third years, you can choose to follow our specialist course in Medieval Literature and Language, whose compulsory papers cover literature in English from 650–1550 along with the history of the English language up to 1800, with a further paper either on Shakespeare or on manuscript and print culture. Optional papers for this course include old Norse, medieval French, archaeology, and any of the modern options available to candidates reading for the more general undergraduate course in English.
A typical weekly timetable
Although details of practice vary from college to college, most students will have one or two tutorials each week, together with some lectures and classes. Each tutorial normally involves the writing and discussion of an essay, which you will be asked to produce from your own research over the course of the week. You will be expected to produce between eight and twelve pieces of written work each term.
What are tutors looking for?
Successful candidates will tend to be those who can give evidence of wide, enthusiastic and thoughtful reading. Tutors appreciate that you may be nervous in interview. You should not be afraid to defend your views or to suggest authors whose work you would particularly like to discuss.
For further information about the selection criteria see: ox.ac.uk/criteria.
Students interested in this course might also like to consider the English joint courses: English and Modern Languages, History and English or Classics and English.
A number of English graduates (about 7%) choose to undertake research, while many more use the communication and analytical skills they develop at Oxford in a range of careers including advertising, acting, publishing, teaching, librarianship, public relations, journalism, the legal professions, management consultancy and finance. Recent English graduates include a projects coordinator in education for a London theatre, a trainee solicitor and a teacher.
Catherine, who graduated in 2004, is now Editor of Film4’s website and was a regular guest on the BBC’s Film 2012 and Film 2013 with Claudia Winkleman. She says: My degree in English wasn’t directly vocational, but developed my critical faculties and writing skills, enabling me to pursue a career as a film journalist. Plus, the many opportunities to be involved with student theatre at Oxford helped build the confidence needed to appear on TV!
Duncan, who was an English graduate in 2000, now works as a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s strategy consulting practice. He says: ‘The skills I acquired at Oxford, in being able to analyse and assimilate complex volumes of information in short timeframes, have allowed me to write and present board papers and reports to senior business leaders from a young age’.
Laura, who graduated in 2000, works as a freelance journalist and is Associate Editor at i-escape.com. She says: ‘Being able to hit a deadline, develop ideas, conduct thorough research and talk to anyone at any level, is essential in my job and my English degree gave me the specific skills to do that’.
For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].
Four papers are taken:
Introduction to English Language and Literature
Early medieval literature 650–1350
Literature in English 1830–1910
Literature in English 1910–present day
Three written papers form the First University Examination, together with a submitted portfolio of two essays for ‘Introduction to English Language and Literature’.