English Literature students using computer provision
Mode of Study
Full-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement
3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
Start Date
September 2019


Portsmouth is the perfect place to study literature and history. Charles Dickens was born here, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called these streets home, and Rudyard Kipling’s work was inspired by his early years here. Plus, it's a city that's played a major role in British and world history – you'll find influences of the past throughout, from Portsea Castle to the Historic Dockyard.

On this BA (Hons) English Literature with History degree, you’ll examine literature from classics to the contemporary, and discover how history has shaped – and been shaped – by written works. You'll become an expert in reading, analysing and discussing literature, and explore British and global history.

You’ll emerge with a skill set that’s sought after for careers in the arts, publishing, media and as a historian. The critical thinking, reading and analytical abilities you'll develop will also set you up for postgraduate study or roles in areas like teaching and politics. 

What you'll experience

On this English Literature with History degree course you’ll:

  • Build your knowledge of literature, from Shakespeare to the present day, and across genres from crime writing to magical realism
  • Learn from staff who are undertaking historical and literary research, ensuring you keep abreast of the latest theories and findings
  • Have access to primary and secondary historical sources through local organisations and archive subscriptions
  • Grapple with current issues in literature and engage in lively critical debates
  • Tailor your studies to the areas of literature and history that excite you the most, choosing units that match your interests
  • Enhance your studies by taking advantage of our close links with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Records Service and the D-Day Museum
  • Develop analytical reading, presentation and team-work skills that’ll serve you in your future career

You can also:

  • Undertake work or research placements, volunteer roles and internships while you study
  • Develop personal and professional contacts locally and further afield through our work-related units
  • Study abroad at one of our partner universities, such as Ghent University, University of Gdańsk, Kiel University, University of Luxembourg and the University of Malaga
  • Meet high-profile figures in the literary world and attend a reception at our annual Literary Prizes and Public Acclaim event

Careers and opportunities

A degree in English literature is a great foundation for a career in the arts. Graduate employers also value the sophisticated analytical and presentational skills you'll develop on this course.

After the course, you could work in areas such as:

  • advertising
  • journalism
  • arts and media
  • public relations
  • copywriting
  • teaching
  • research
  • museum curation
  • the heritage sector
  • archiving

You could also study at postgraduate level.

Our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job or course that puts your skills to work. After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.

What you'll study on this BA (Hons) English Literature with History course

Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 40 credits.

Units currently being studied

Core units in this year include:

  • The Short Story: Murder, Madness and Experimentation
  • Popular Culture: Spies, Dragons, Time Machines
  • Body Politics
  • Global Identities
  • Unpacking Texts: Introducing Critical Theory

There are no optional units in this year.

Core units in this year include:

  • Current Approaches to Literature
  • Literary Prizes and Public Acclaim

Optional units in this year currently include:

  • Being British
  • Bloody Shakespeare: Shakespeare's History Plays
  • Crime Writing
  • Crime, Sin and Punishment
  • Dystopian and Apocalyptic Environments: Ecocrisis in the Literary Imagination
  • In Darkest England: Culture, Conflict & City
  • Institution Wide Language Programme
  • Learning from Experience (LiFE)
  • Literary Heritage
  • Mortals and Immortals: Man, God and the Devil in Early Modern Literature
  • Neo-Historical Fiction
  • Puritans to Postmodernists: American Literature
  • Ruins, Revolutions & Reunification Post-War Germany
  • Space, Place and Being
  • The Way to the Stars
  • Women's Writing in the Americas

On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.

We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

Core units in this year include:

  • Dissertation

Optional units in this year currently include:

  • Archival Research Project
  • Consuming Fictions: Food and Appetite in Victorian Culture
  • Dangerous Desires: Renaissance Revenge Drama
  • Enlightenment: Literature, Culture and Modernity
  • History Special Subject
  • History Special Subject
  • Holocaust Literatures
  • Into the Archives
  • Introduction to Teaching
  • Learning from Experience (LiFE)
  • Learning from Experience Plus (LiFE+)
  • Magical Realism
  • Time, Temporality, Contemporary Fiction
  • US Masculinities

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Work experience and career planning

To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.

We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your portfolio.

This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option. This means you can earn credits towards your degree for work, volunteer and research placements that you do alongside your study.

Placement year

After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry.

Previous students have completed work placements with organisations such as museums and local schools.

We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

Learning support

As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a mental or physical disability, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) can give you help, support and advice so you can reach your potential.

Support with English

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free English for Academic Purposes programme to improve your English further.


Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • workshops

How you'll spend your time

Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

  • September to December – teaching block 1
  • January – assessment period 1
  • January to May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
  • May to June – assessment period 2

Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.

There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • textual analysis
  • presentations
  • a dissertation
  • real-world projects
  • creative assignments

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year 1 students: 17% by written exams, 17% by practical exams and 66% by coursework
  • Year 2 students: 8% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 84% by coursework
  • Year 3 students: 100% by coursework

Entry requirements​

To do this degree, you need to apply for the BA (Hons) English Literature course. This is because it's a 'pathway' degree.

You’ll study English Literature in depth and add History as a complementary subject in years 2 and 3. You’ll graduate with a BA (Hons) English Literature with History degree when you finish the course.

These are the entry requirements for the BA (Hons) English Literature course.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • 96-112 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, to include English.

See the other qualifications we accept

English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

​Course costs

Tuition fees (2019 start)

  • UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £13,900 per year (subject to annual increase)

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You will have to read several set texts for each unit.

You're expected to have your own copies of the set texts so you can make notes in them. If you buy these, you should expect to spend around £30-£40 per unit. 

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

You’ll need to cover additional costs, such as travel costs, if you take an optional placement or placement abroad.

These costs will vary depending on the location and duration of the placement, and can range from £50 to £1000.


You need to choose BA (Hons) English Literature when you apply for this course, because this is a ‘pathway’ course. This is where you study English Literature in depth and add History as a complementary subject in years 2 and 3. You’ll then graduate with a BA (Hons) English Literature with History degree when you complete the course.

If you change your mind after you apply, you can choose not to study History in years 2 and 3. You’ll then graduate with a BA (Hons) English Literature degree when you complete the course.

How to apply

To start in 2019 you need to apply through UCAS. You’ll need:

  • the UCAS course code – Q301
  • our institution code – P80

You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.

Not quite ready to apply?

Come to an Open Day to explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

If you’re new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.

How to apply from outside the UK

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section. 

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.