School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies

English Literature

English Literature at the University of Portsmouth is a broad and exciting area of study, in which your passion and curiosity for poetry, fiction and drama will be nurtured and developed. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach, examining relations between literature and other creative forms (film, visual arts) or disciplines (history, cultural studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis). This aims to provide a detailed understanding of literary texts within the socio-cultural contexts and historic conditions of literary production.

The interests of our academic staff cover many topics and time periods of literature in English, and embrace other disciplines (such as history or psychology) and forms (such as film or visual art).  Undergraduate students may therefore expect a course that covers their interests and encourages discovery, on single or combined honours degrees, whilst potential postgraduates can expect to find a specialist relevant to PhD research and a wide range of MA courses.  

As you broaden your knowledge of English literature, you will be encouraged to develop a critical sensibility of the way in which different kinds of texts shape our experience of the world and our identity, and are in turn shaped by their cultural context of production. Through your close readings and critical responses, the course will foster your skills in analysis, reflection and research, and polish your ability to communicate and present your ideas. 

Undergraduate study

English Literature

As an English Literature undergraduate at Portsmouth, you will take a core thread of units covering literary history and technique, then tailor your course to your interests by choosing optional modules from a menu that ranges from Shakespeare to cyberpunk. Several combined honours courses are also available, which will allow you to combine the study of English with other disciplines, such as Psychology, History or Media Studies.

You will be learning from research-active specialists, giving you access to expertise and the most recent thinking in the topics you choose to study.  Alongside your lectures, seminars and online studies, you will also be supported throughout your degree by your personal tutors.

BA (Hons) English Literature students reported a 97% satisfaction rate in 2013.

Research and postgraduate study

Postgraduate study and research in English Literature can be undertaken at the University of Portsmouth through the newly-founded Centre for Studies in Literature (CSL) and its team of research-active specialists in English Literature. In its previous home, English research contributed to table-topping RAE scores, and we maintain strong links with other research centres in the University. 

Doctoral study may be undertaken in a range of specialisms within English literature and critical theory, with particular focus on subjects in Early Modern Writing, Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture and Twentieth and Twenty-First Century British and American Literature. PhD candidates are generally supervised by a team of three staff. 

Our MA Literature, Culture and Identity is a taught postgraduate course in English Literature exploring questions of gender, sexuality and ethnicity through wide-ranging literary analysis.