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What you'll learn – University of Reading

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  • "If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." Haruki Murukami

What you'll learn

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The English Literature curriculum at Reading is pioneering, contemporary, and comprehensive. The wide range of expertise among our teaching staff means that you can study literature in English from every period of history and from across the globe.

Our degrees are flexible, allowing you to choose the modules that best suit your interests. After the groundwork of Part 1, you will choose your individual pathway through the broader period or thematic modules of Part 2 and a wide range of specialised options in Part 3. You can, in effect, design your own degree by picking the modules that appeal most to you.

We are proud of the range of options available to our students. Many of our modules are unique to Reading because they reflect the research specialisms of our expert teaching staff.

"I love having the freedom to choose my modules and study the areas of literature that interest me, and now that I'm working on my dissertation in my final year I feel more supported and encouraged by staff within the department than ever."

 - Hannah Groves, BA (Hons) English Literature. 


Creative writing

MagazineThe University of Reading offers an excellent opportunity to train in creative writing. If this is something which you're interested in, this pathway will be ideal for you. We offer a number of creative writing modules as well as the chance to write your dissertation as a creative piece. You will be taught by successful authors and leading academics in the creative field.

How our degrees work

Undergraduate seminar groupYear One - the bedrock of your degree

Your first year will teach you new methods for getting to grips with literature, including literary theory and criticism, textual analysis and comparison. First year modules include:


Genre and Context Poetry in English
Research and Criticism Twentieth Century American Literature
What is Comparative Literature? Introduction to Creative Writing
Thinking Translation: History and Theory Persuasive Writing

ell-seminarYear Two - Pick your specialisms

During your second year, you will be able to pick from a wide range of modules covering key historical periods, themes and concepts. Here at Reading we allow you to choose all six of the modules in your second year, giving you a real breadth of experience and expertise. Our current second year modules include:


The Business of Books Contemporary Literature
Chaucer and Medieval Narrative Critical Issues
Introduction to Old English Modernism in poetry and fiction
Early Modern Theatre Practice The Romantic Period
Shakespeare Victorian Literature
Writing America Writing, Gender and Identity
The Romantic Period Renaissance Texts and Cultures
Communications at work Writing and Revising
Languages and literature in the media Lyric voices
Languages and literature in education Restoration to revolution

Students using the collection to studyYear Three - becoming an expert

In your third year you delve further into specialised fields of expertise. You will also have the opportunity to carry out a personalised research project in the form of your dissertation. This project is on a subject of your choice and will involve individual supervision and mentoring from one of our academic team. Below are just some of the huge variety of third-year modules that we offer.


American Graphic Novels Nigerian Literature
American poetry

Children's literature

Contemporary American fiction

Decadence and degeneration: The literature of the fin de si├Ęcle
Editing the Renaissance Family romances: Genealogy, identity and imposture in the nineteenth-century novel

James Joyce

Margaret Atwood

Class matters

19th-century American fiction

Shakespeare on film

'Eyes on the prize': Literature of the US Civil Rights movement

Wordsworth, Coleridge and their circle The writer's workshop: studying manuscripts
Alfred Hitchcock Black British fiction
Classical and Renaissance tragedy

Colonial explorations


The Eighteenth-century novel: Sex and sensibility

Eighteenth-century text, culture and education

From Troy to Camelot: Medieval romance

Holocaust fiction

Irish poetry after Yeats  

Lord Byron and his contemporaries

Modern and contemporary British poetry

Modern and contemporary British poetry

Packaging literature

Renaissance travel drama 

Renaissance women writing

Samuel Beckett

Shakespeare and gender

Victorian and Edwardian children's fantasy

Victorian literature and the history of medicine

Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury

Writing global justice

Writing the North American wilderness

Writing Women: nineteenth-century poetry

Fiction and ethnicity in post-war Britain and America


Find out about entry requirements, fees and other details of our degree courses.

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