Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2019

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 thematic modules. Students are encouraged to develop their own interests and may choose from a wide variety of specialisms.

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2019
UCAS code
Full-time: 3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2019
London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A Levels

English Literature (or combined Literature and Language) required.
(contextual offer)
ABB (more about contextual offers)
(contextual offer)
A in English Literature (or combined Literature and Language) required.
English Language at grade B or 6, plus Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students, a grade C or 5 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-requirements

IB Diploma

A total of 18 points in three higher level subjects including English A1 at grade 6, with no score below 5.
(contextual offer)
34 (more about contextual offers)
(contextual offer)
A total of 16 points in three higher level subjects including English A1 at 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 Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades AAA. 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 Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see: www.ucl.ac.uk/upc.

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 inspiring 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 amongst the best in the country. We are the only English department in the UK to maintain guaranteed one-to-one tutorial teaching across all three years of the programme.

  • UCL English Language & Literature has a strong tradition of links with the literary world. Practising writers are invited to give readings; there is a writer-in-residence programme; and a wide range of extracurricular culture, media and journalism-based student societies.

  • The wide-ranging nature of the department's optional modules is designed to give you an overview of developments in literary periods and movements over time, whilst also allowing you to pursue your own interests through specialised sign-up seminars and one-to-one tutorial teaching.

Degree structure

In the first year of your degree you will take four modules which constitute a foundation for the study of English literature. Students study eight further modules across years two and three (four in each year). Two of those eight are compulsory, the other six modules are chosen from a list covering many periods of English literature and various themes within the discipline.

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, an introduction to Old and Middle English, the study of critical method, and the study of intellectual and cultural sources (texts which influence English literature but which are not in themselves necessarily classified as such).

In the second and third year you will study compulsory modules on Chaucer and Shakespeare and will choose six further modules from a wide range: from Old Icelandic to The Romantic Period to Literary Representations and the History of Homosexuality, and many more. American literature and literature in English from other countries feature strongly.

Within these compulsory and optional papers you will work with your tutor and in seminars to focus your reading and essay writing around topics that interest you, within the parameters of your chosen modules. The degree thus combines breadth and depth with individual freedom to explore writers and ideas.

The programme is deliberately structured to give you maximum freedom to choose modules in whichever combination.

Modules are assessed by regular tutorial essays and final examinations at the end of the second and third years. Towards the end of the third year you will also write a longer research essay about a topic of particular interest.


An indicative guide to the structure of this programme, year by year.

Core or compulsory module(s)

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

Optional modules

All first-year modules are compulsory.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Chaucer and his Literary Background

Optional modules

You will normally select 3.0 credits of optional modules (see our department website for the full list, and under the Year 3 tab for an indicative sample).

Core or compulsory module(s)

Research Essay

Optional modules

You will normally select 3.0 credits of optional modules, one of which would normally be Commentary and Analysis.

Optional modules in the second and third years will include (amongst others):

American Literature to 1890
The Modern Period I
History of the English Language
Literary Linguistics
Literary Representations and the History of Homosexuality
London in Literature
Middle English II
Old English II
Old Icelandic
Renaissance Literature
The Eighteenth Century
The Romantic Period
The Victorian Period

Your learning

We teach in lectures, seminars and tutorials. Our one-to-one tutorial teaching is unique among English departments in the UK. Tutorials also provide the opportunity to discuss your individual written work and academic progress with your tutor, as well as raise any concerns or queries about your modules or other matters.


Most modules are assessed by examination, which usually entails three-hour written papers. However, for up to two modules you may submit longer essays in place of a desk examination. In addition, throughout the three years of the programme you will receive a mark based on your tutorial essays at the end of each term. You will also be assessed in your third year by a 6,000-word research essay on a topic 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, can undertake research and can present evidence for and against a case. These transferable skills will make you highly employable in the eyes of a wide range of employers.

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

Many of our graduates go on to further study in the UK and elsewhere, pursuing Master's and PhD programmes as well as postgraduate courses in law, teacher training, archive management, and chartered surveying among other professions.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2013-2015) of this programme at UCL include:

  • Archive Graduate Trainee, Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Higher Education and Events Co-ordinator, Shakespeare's Globe
  • Journalism Trainee, BBC
  • Full-time student, GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) at City University, London
  • Marketing Executive, Great Western Railway

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 2013-2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2019/20 academic year. The UK/EU fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2019/20 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

UK/EU students
£9,250 (2019/20)
Overseas students
£19,970 (2019/20)

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.


Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.

Additional costs

If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc. on this programme, please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).

Departmental scholarships

The scholarships listed below are for 2018 entry. Funding opportunities for students applying for 2019 entry will be published when they are available.

The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Application and next steps

Your application

The personal statement in your UCAS 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 focus your statement on telling us why you like a particular text or writer or literary movement. We want to see in your writing not just that you love English literature but that you have the literary critical ability to do well on the programme.

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 2019


Selected UK-based candidates whose UCAS applications meet our entry criteria and include a strong personal statement will be invited to an informal interview with two members of staff. These are held on a rolling basis between November and March. After the interview you will be asked to write a critical commentary on an unseen passage of poetry or prose.

If you live outside the UK your application will be considered without an interview. We may contact you for further information or ask you to complete a questionnaire instead of an interview (which aims to follow a similar format to the face-to-face interview).

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