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Undergraduate Courses

From Anglo-Saxon epics to Renaissance drama to contemporary novels from the Anglophone world – English is a rich and varied degree. 

You can study English Literature as part of the following courses:

Whichever route you take, our aim is to stimulate a living interest in literature and to equip you with a basis of knowledge and methods of study that will help you to choose and formulate your own positions. 

The ability to argue incisively, think creatively, and work independently are valuable across a wide range of careers, and our students demonstrate excellent employability. In the Times Good University Guide 2023 we rank 3rd for graduate prospects out of 92 English departments.

University student
What were the highlights of studying at Durham? The breadth of the course and element of choice with modules in second and third year.

Emma Tucker
BA English Literature, 2021


Teaching for all our degree programmes is by a mixture of: 

  • Lectures: to set the foundations for study 
  • Seminars: to allow you and other students to present and discuss topics 
  • Tutorials: small groups with individual contact between students and staff 
  • Essays: tutorial essays are not always used for formal assessment, but the feedback you receive on your work will shape your approach to writing and analysis of literary texts 
  • Dissertation: during your third year you will submit a dissertation on a subject of your choice in consultation with a member of staff in the Department 

Assessment may include a mixture of examinations, long essays, portfolios, and a dissertation. A few modules may be assessed by a mixture of coursework and examination.

University student
The skills I developed throughout my degree have been a huge support in my current role, from reading and research to essay planning and writing. The ability to think creatively and look at things from different perspectives is also really valued in communications.

Sunita Ramani
BA English Literature, 2020

Creative Writing 

Our award-winning creative writers cover poetry, fiction, life-writing, and creative non-fiction.  

Creative Writing opportunities begin at undergraduate level, where English students can choose optional modules in creative writing, or practice their work through student-led groups such as Durham University Poetry Society. 

The Creative Writing MA at Durham is an academically rigorous programme that gives students structured support through writing workshops and one-to-one tutorials in order to develop practical knowledge of writing poetry and prose fiction. Students also study a broad range of literature from the 20th and 21st centuries, and produce new work in response.  

We also offer a Creative Writing PhD or MLitt, in which you will produce a complete and coherent creative writing project in your chosen form, plus a literary-critical dissertation of a high academic standard. 

Several of our students have gone on to achieve success and recognition with their published creative work.