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BA English Language and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our BA English Language and English Literature joint honours course will enable you to delve into the science of language while exploring a wide range of texts dating from a variety of periods.

You will be taken on a broadly chronological journey of English Literature from the Anglo Saxon period through to the present day.

In addition, you will investigate the sounds, words and grammar of the English language, and you will discover where English comes from, how it developed over time, how it varies across the UK and further afield, and how it is used in different situations.

You will acquire the skills required for analytical language study alongside the means to apply those skills to the study of historical and present-day English. You will practise key transferable skills such as essay writing and how to give a presentation.

You can also broaden the scope of your studies to investigate the interaction between psychology and language (psycholinguistics), child language development, and explore a range of methodological approaches used in study of English Language and English Literature.

You will become part of a thriving community of students, lecturers and writers at The University of Manchester, based in the heart of a UNESCO City of Literature that has produced some of the world's greatest writers and has a thriving literature and arts scene, including major events like Manchester Literature Festival.


We aim to:

  • give you the opportunity to explore the nature of human language in its individual and social context, as represented in particular by English;
  • enable you to engage with a significant range of literary genres, and some non-literary genres, including those associated with film and music, with texts in the English language from the British Archipelago, the United States and other English-speaking communities, ranging historically from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day;
  • help you develop an in-depth understanding of the structural, historical, and cultural aspects of English;
  • enable you to think analytically and develop a range of academic, presentational and organisational skills that are both appropriate to the subject and transferable to the wider context of employment and life-long learning.

Special features

Students in library
The University of Manchester Library is one of only five National Research Libraries.

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Study abroad

You may apply to spend one semester studying abroad during Year 2. Exchange partners are offered through the Erasmus Exchange scheme (in Sweden) and the Worldwide Exchange scheme (eg USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore).

Literature events

Manchester Literature Festival holds literary events across Manchester throughout the year, many in partnership with the University. The Centre for New Writing also hosts a regular public event series, Literature Live, which brings contemporary novelists and poets to the University to read and engage in conversation.

Unique collections

John Rylands Library on Deansgate is part of the University and offers the rare opportunity to see a Gutenberg bible, Shakespeare folios and other archival treasures.

Meet like-minded students

You can get to know your fellow students outside of your course by joining the English Society or volunteering to work on the student-run Sonder Magazine. Learn more on the  Societies  page.

Teaching and learning

You'll be taught through a mixture of:

  • formal lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars.

You'll spend approximately 12 hours each week in formal study sessions. For every hour spent at university, you will be expected to complete a further two to three hours of independent study.

In your independent study time, you may be reading, producing written work, revising for examinations or working as part of a team of students.

Coursework and assessment

Our courses are assessed in various ways, for example, written examinations, oral presentations and different types of coursework.

Coursework may include library research, linguistic fieldwork and data collection, or web-based research.

In your final year, you can choose to write a dissertation.

Course content for year 1

In English Language, you'll study the foundations of English grammar and will be introduced to the history of English and the variations of English in the UK and further afield.

In English literature, you will sample a wide variety of literature and cultural theory and develop a solid basis of knowledge and skill which you'll build on in your second and third years.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Reading Literature ENGL10021 20 Mandatory
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 20 Mandatory
History and Varieties of English LELA10342 20 Mandatory
Mapping the Medieval ENGL10051 20 Optional
Theory and Text ENGL10062 20 Optional
Literature and History ENGL10072 20 Optional
Language, Mind and Brain LELA10201 20 Optional
The Sounds of Language LELA10322 20 Optional
Study of Meaning LELA10332 20 Optional
Speech and Music Processing LELA10701 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

You will tailor your degree to suit your interests in both areas. Choose from a wide range of optional English language units, from the history of English to variation in contemporary English, from semantics and pragmatics (the study of meaning in and out of context) to psycholinguistics.

In English Literature, you can tailor your studies by selecting from a wide range of options: from medieval and early modern literature to Victorian, 20th century and contemporary writing and film.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Variationist Sociolinguistics LELA20502 20 Mandatory
American Film Studies AMER20071 20 Optional
From Jamestown to James Brown: African-American History and Culture AMER20141 20 Optional
American Literature and Social Criticism, 1900-Present AMER20482 20 Optional
Mapping the Medieval ENGL10051 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Fiction ENGL20002 20 Optional
Chaucer: Texts, Contexts, Conflicts ENGL20231 20 Optional
Shakespeare ENGL20372 20 Optional
Gender, Sexuality and the Body: Theories and Histories ENGL20482 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Poetry ENGL20901 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Poetry ENGL20902 20 Optional
Renaissance Literature ENGL21151 20 Optional
Old English: Writing the Unreadable Past ENGL21161 20 Optional
Satire and the Novel: English Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century ENGL21182 20 Optional
Modernism ENGL21192 20 Optional
Romanticism (1776-1832) ENGL21522 20 Optional
Victorian Manchester: Culture and Economy ENGL21621 20 Optional
Language, Mind and Brain LELA10201 20 Optional
The Sounds of Language LELA10322 20 Optional
Study of Meaning LELA10332 20 Optional
Phonology LELA20012 20 Optional
Theory of Grammar LELA20021 20 Optional
Typology LELA20031 20 Optional
Societal Multilingualism LELA20101 20 Optional
Quantitative Methods in Language Sciences LELA20232 20 Optional
Semantics LELA20281 20 Optional
Pragmatics: Meaning, Context, and Interaction LELA20292 20 Optional
Cognitive Linguistics LELA20311 20 Optional
Psycholinguistics LELA20962 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 29 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

You will have complete freedom of choice among a wealth of different course options in both subjects. You will also have the opportunity to write a dissertation on English Language. For the English Literature component, you will be enrolled on the long essay unit (worth 20 credits).

You will be able to choose from a range of English Language units, including Phonology, Historical Syntax, Language Change across the Lifespan, Language contact, Language Development, Second language acquisition, and Speech communities.

For the English Literature component, your remaining units will be selected from four lists as shown below:

  • List A: Revenge Tragedy: Wild Justice on the English Renaissance Stage, The Word: Performing, Writing, Reading the Bible, c1380-c1611, Transnational Shakespeare: Texts, Places, Identities, Troy Stories, Things that Talk: Nonhuman Voices in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture, From Henry V  to  Game of Thrones  : Imagining the Early Modern
  • List B: Crime and the Law in 18th and 19th Century Literature, Eros: Love Poetry in the Nineteenth Century, - Lord Byron, Writing Workers/Workers Writing, Gothic: Politics, Sexuality and Identity in British Gothic Writing, 1789-1900, Imagining the Body in the Long Eighteenth Century: Materiality, Mortality and Disease, LOL: The Serious Business of Comedy in Fiction, Theatre, and Film
  • List C: The Great War: Culture, History, Theory, Contemporary Post-Colonial Fiction and Film, Ulysses,  Crossing Over with Tilda Swinton: Feminist and Queer Theories of Cinema, Politics and Culture; Culture and Conflict: Neoliberalism and Cultural Production; Gendered Experiments: Women's Innovative Writing in the Twentieth Century; Dante in Modernism; Contemporary Irish Poetry and Fiction; Kipling, Forster and India; - Creative Writing: Fiction (Competitive Entry);  Creative Writing: Poetry (Competitive Entry)
  • List D  Conspiracy Theories in American Culture; American Crime Fiction: Genre, Commerce, Ideology; Beat Writing; Love American Style; Occupy Everything.


Phonetics Lab
Undergraduate students can use the Phonetics Lab under supervision.

You will access resources to enhance your learning, including an extensive collection of linguistics texts and our psycholinguistics and phonetics laboratories, with facilities for:

  • signal analysis
  • speech synthesis
  • laryngography
  • electropalatography.

In addition, you will have access to a wide range of other facilities to enhance your studies at Manchester, including the University Library and John Rylands Library.

You will also have the opportunity to enjoy Manchester's many other cultural assets for both study and recreational purposes, including the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum.

Find out more on the Facilities pages for English Language and English Literature .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: