BA History and English Literature
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Our joint honours BA History and English Literature course allows you to explore the richness of English literature alongside the great variety of human history around the world.
Discover a thousand years of history whilst experiencing all the specialist areas on offer at the University of Reading. The Department of History's expertise covers a wide range of world regions – from Europe and Africa to America, South Asia and the Middle East – and historical periods, with module choices ranging from the Crusades to the 1960s, slavery in America to Tudor monarchy, and Cold War Berlin to medieval magic.
In your first year, your core History modules will explore people, politics, and revolution – finding out how people struggled for power in past societies – and the culture and concepts those societies developed. We will teach you the skills you need to study and research history through an individual project of your choice.
In your English literature modules, you will read more of authors and genres that you may already know (from tragedy to Gothic, from Shakespeare and Dickens to Plath and Beckett). But you will also encounter aspects of literary studies that may be less familiar to you, from children’s literature to publishing studies and the history of the book. Our academics have published research on everything from medieval poetry to contemporary Caribbean and American fiction.
As you progress through your degree, your module choices become more diverse and specialised: you can do archive work on Studying Manuscripts, or look at the politics of literature in Writing Global Justice. Everyone in the Department of English Literature, from new lecturers to professors, teaches at every level of the degree: this gives you the benefit of our expertise and makes you part of the conversation about our research and its impact outside the classroom. We place a strong emphasis on small-group learning within a friendly and supportive environment. In your first and second years, you will have a mix of lectures (which can be quite large) and seminars (which will never have more than 16 people).
You can study abroad for a term in your second year at one of the University's partner institutions, including those in Europe, the USA, and Australia. The University also offers all students the chance to learn a modern language alongside their core subjects.
This course is flexible and enables you to shape your study to match your interests. Taught in small interactive seminar groups, you will regularly be able to discuss and debate topics with teaching staff and fellow students.
Placements are a prominent feature of our degree courses and are highly encouraged. Through our links with the Careers Centre, you can source potential employers and help with CVs and letters of application. Staff in the History Department also have close links with the University’s Institute of Education, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) and Special Collections (archives), and with external organisations such as Cliveden House, English Heritage, Reading Museum, Reading Borough Library and the Berkshire Record Office.
Placements are a good way to show you how you can use the skills acquired through studying history in the real world. In History we ensure that placements are incorporated into your core learning. In the second year, we offer opportunities for short group placements in museums and heritage organisations, and encourage students to reflect on what they have learned from previous employment or voluntary work experience. For third years, two optional modules offer placements of 10 working days in local archives and secondary schools.
In English literature, you can take a placement module on languages and literature in heritage, in education, and in the media. Students on our Communications at Work module also undertake a short placement to explore the ways in which the skills and knowledge gained in their studies have direct application to the workplace.
You also have the option to study abroad for a term in the second year. Some of the universities we have links with include University of Ottawa, Canada; University of Maastricht, Netherlands; University of Georgia, USA; and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
For more information, please visit the Department of History website.