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We are an English Literature department with wide-ranging interests and world-leading archives. We are in the top 150 worldwide for English Language and Literature (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2024).

You will become part of a diverse and inclusive community of readers and writers, united in our passion for our subject.

Our curriculum is global, contemporary and comprehensive, and you can study literature from across the world and every period of history, right up to the present.

English is a degree which equips you with a universal skill set because it is all about communication - you can go into any field afterwards.
Chayya Syal, BA English Literature graduate

Tailor your degree

Whatever your interests, you'll be able to develop them at Reading.

The flexibility of our courses allows you to choose your own pathway - you can tailor your degree to fit your interests with our extensive range of modules. Many of our modules are unique to Reading because they reflect the research specialisms of our expert teaching staff.

As an English Literature student, in your first year you can choose to study at least one other subject from across the University. This flexible system allows you to change your final degree course from a single to a joint honours, or vice versa at the end of your first year.

Supportive community

As a student in the Department of English Literature, you will become part of a lively academic community.

Through seminars, classes, and extracurricular groups and activities you will discuss and debate different themes and ideas with your peers, enabling you to better express yourself and to learn from each other.

Our belief in small-group teaching means your lecturers will know you by name and you will become part of a supportive community of learners.

Reputation and expertise

The wide range of knowledge among our teaching staff means that you can study literature in English from every period of history and from across the globe. We have expertise in everything from Shakespeare's playhouse to children's literature, from medieval fantasy literature to modern graphic novels.

Your tutors are prize-winning authors and poets, and writers who have published extensively. You will meet them regularly throughout your degree for one-to-one support and advice.

In the National Student Survey 2023, 94% of students in the Department of English Literature said our teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things.


Meet your tutors

Professional development

Our courses will equip you with high-level skills and knowledge. They will open up all the many exciting graduate careers that require excellent literacy and critical intelligence. These include communications and media, the creative industries and publishing, public life, finance, and all levels of teaching.

We offer placements, courses, masterclasses, and professional development opportunities to help you decide on a career path and equip you with the skills you need to succeed.

Prospective employers value the intellectual training, versatility, and resourcefulness that you will gain during your degree studies in English Literature. Past graduates have gone on to careers at the BBC, The Telegraph, Oxford University Press, Waterstones and Cisco Systems, as well as local authorities and schools.

Research-led teaching

At Reading, all your lecturers and seminar leaders are active researchers in the field of English Literature. That means that your learning will be based on the most recent ideas and developments in our field.

You will benefit from your lecturers' expertise, and in seminars you'll become part of a shared conversation about the way our subject is developing. You can be part of the process of discovery: students' ideas help to shape the research of the future.

Find out more about our research

I have matured a lot at Reading. I have learned how to organise and motivate myself and to use all of the resources and support available to me. I am doing something that I love, I am doing a degree that fascinates me and I am receiving loads of support from my seminar leaders and personal tutor.

Phaidra Robinson, BA English Literature

Special Collections and resources

During your studies, you'll have access to a variety of unique and original collections and resources to support and inspire you.

The University has three on-site museums, as well as the Special Collections – a substantial collection of rare books, archives, and manuscripts.

Our literary treasures include:

  • Beckett Collection: the world's largest collection of resources relating to the Nobel Prize-winning author, Samuel Beckett
  • Archive of British Publishing and Printing: our archive covers the full range of British publishing from 1800 to the present day.
  • Rare books: our rare book collection of over 40,000 volumes include early printed books, private press books, modern literary first editions, and ephemera.

Find out more about our Special Collections and resources

Included in our collections:

  • a 1928 draft manuscript of Thomas Hardy's poem We Field-Women, which is explicitly related to his famous novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891)
  • the largest collection of Beckett original manuscripts
  • the Book of Poems by John Donne, published 1633
  • books in our printing and publishing archives from publishing houses such as Chatto, Longmans, and Hogarth Press amongst others.
  • original Mills and Boon publications including the first, Arrows in the Dark.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, presented under her pen name Currer Bell
  • Dickens' Dombey and Son and Little Dorritt as they were originally published
  • what is thought to be the first picture book for children, published in 1755
  • over 200 editions of The Wizard of Oz
  • a rare edition of Oscar Wilde's Salome with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley
  • a 1719 first publication of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - one of the first English language novels ever published, and we have hundreds of other editions
  • over 6000 books in our Children's Collection from the 17th to the 20th century
  • the Ladybird Book Collection.

Life in the Department

Join our friendly and committed community of writers and learn from lecturers, published authors and your fellow students.


Our stories

Read stories from our staff, students, and alumni to find out what it's like to study English Literature at the University of Reading.

Meet our experts

Our talented and internationally-diverse team are actively involved in research, contributing directly to your teaching and supervision.