Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2016

English BA

This programme aims to provide a historically based overview of the literature of all periods, together with opportunities to specialise in particular periods of literature, in modern English language, and in non-period courses. Students are encouraged to develop their own interests and may choose from a wide variety of specialisms.

Key Information

Degree Programme
English BA
UCAS code
3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2016
Subject area
Total intake (by subject area)
95 (2016 entry)
Applications per place (by subject area)
17 (2014 entry)
Research Excellence Framework
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Entry requirements

A Levels

English Literature (or combined Literature and Language) required.
AS Levels
For UK-based students a pass in a further subject at AS level or equivalent is required.
English Language at grade B, plus Mathematics at grade C. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A total of 18 points in three higher level subjects including English A1 grade 6, with no score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme

Pass in Access to HE Diploma, with a minimum of 23 credits awarded with Distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the Level 3 units awarded with Merit.

D3,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects. English Literature required

A,A,A at Advanced Highers (or A,A at Advanced Higher and A,A,A at Higher). English Literature required at Advanced Higher.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Diploma Core with grade A, plus 2 GCE A-levels at grades AA. English Literature required.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL offers intensive one-year foundation courses to prepare international students for a variety of degree programmes at UCL.

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

For more information see our website: UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • Studying English at UCL provides you with an inspired setting: central London has long been the centre of British literary life and you will be surrounded by world-class libraries.
  • UCL was at the forefront of the establishment of English literature as a university subject and the department is regularly ranked first in the country (for example in the Guardian University Guide)
  • The English Department has a strong tradition of links with the literary world. Practising writers are invited to give readings and there is a writer-in-residence programme.
  • In addition to core courses on Shakespeare and Chaucer the undergraduate syllabus offers a wide range of optional courses in many historical periods.

Degree structure

The first year of the English BA acts as a foundation for the two following years, covering major narrative texts from the Renaissance to the present, background texts from Homer to Freud and Barthes, Anglo-Saxon and medieval writings and the study of critical method.

In the second and third years you will study compulsory courses on Chaucer and Shakespeare, and will choose six further courses from a wide range of options. American literature and literature in English from other countries outside Europe feature strongly on several courses and attention is paid to the study of film.

Year One

Compulsory courses

Narrative Texts
Intellectual and Cultural Sources
Introduction to Medieval Language and Literature

Optional courses

All first year courses are compulsory.

Year Two

Compulsory courses

Chaucer and his Literary Background

Optional courses

You will normally select 3.0 credits of optional courses (see list below).

Year Three

Compulsory courses

Special Subject Essay
Course Assessment

Optional courses

You will normally select 3.0 credits of option courses, one of which would normally be Commentary and Analysis.
Optional courses in the second and third years may include:
American Literature to 1890
Civil War and Restoration
History of the Language since Chaucer
Literary Linguistics
Literary Representation and the History of Homosexuality
London in Literature
Middle English Language
Modern English Literature
Old English Literature
Old Icelandic
Renaissance Literature
The Eighteenth Century
The Modern Period
The Romantic Period
The Victorian Period

Your learning

We teach through lectures, seminars and tutorials. Our one-to-one tutorial teaching is, we think, a unique provision in English departments in the UK. Tutorials provide the opportunity to discuss with your tutor your individual written work and academic progress, and for you to raise any concerns or queries about your courses or other matters.


Most courses are assessed by three-hour question papers, but some courses are examined by six-hour examinations with plain texts provided of the author's complete works. You will be assessed in your third year by a 6,000-word essay on a 'Special Subject' chosen by you with guidance from your tutor.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: English BA.


Good graduates in English are articulate, can write clearly, undertake research and can present evidence for and against a case, all of which will make you highly employable.

Traditional career paths include publishing, journalism and teaching, but English graduates are also sought by the civil service, local government, finance, business, the media and film. Some of the destinations in recent years have included Deloitte, Waterstones, Oxford University Press, the BBC, Granada TV, Sotheby's and Reuters in New York.

Graduates have gone on to Master's or doctoral degrees and to teacher training and law courses.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2010-2013) of this programme include:

  • Civil Servant (Fast Track), UK Government (2013)
  • Production Assistant, BBC (2013)
  • Publisher, Random House (2012)
  • Editorial Assistant, Vogue (2011)
  • Journalist, the Sunday Telegraph (2011)

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2010-2013 graduating cohorts six months after graduation and, where necessary, department records.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies here: Careers and skills.

Student view

There is no better place to study English than in the heart of Bloomsbury, at a leading institution that thrives in the cultural buzz of London. Camilla Hewens - English BA (Third year)

Fees and funding


UK & EU fee
£9,000 (2016/17)
Overseas fee
£16,130 (2016/17)


Details about financial support are available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/study/ug-finance


The Scholarships and Funding website has a comprehensive list of scholarships and funding schemes available for UCL students. These can be available for specific nationalities, regions, departments or open to all students.

Application and next steps

Your application

The personal statement on your application is of great importance as we see it as an indicator of your ability to think and write about literature, and your capacity and curiosity to learn. You should aim to give the fullest possible account of your literary interests, and indicate the extent of your reading outside your A level or other qualifying studies.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2016


Selected UK-based candidates, whose UCAS applications meet our entry criteria and include a strong personal statement, will be invited to interview with two members of staff. After the interview you will be asked to write a critical commentary on an unseen passage of prose or verse.

If you live outside the UK your application will be considered without interview, but we may contact you for further information.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students