English Studies

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English at Stirling

English Studies at the University of Stirling has a long-established and vibrant research culture in a number of diverse specialisms including 18th, 19th- and 20th-century writing, postcolonial writing in English, Scottish Culture and Literature, Gothic studies, Medieval, Renaissance and 17th-century writing, American literature, Publishing Studies, Book History, Gender Studies,  Language and Linguistics (including discourse analysis and evolutionary linguistics) and Creative Writing. These interests emerge in parts of our undergraduate programme and very much inform our taught masters provision. Our undergraduate programme is broad-based and varied, arising from the demands of the subject, the needs and wishes of our students and our research interests and specialisms. We offer a wide range of modules, giving students the opportunity to study a wealth and diversity of subjects and texts within English literature and language. We have performed consistently well in the National Student Satisfaction Survey since it was initiated, including a satisfaction rating of 100% in 2011.

We offer degree programmes (Honours, BA and General) which employ varied methods of teaching and assessment. As well as the traditional essay, students are assessed through blogs, journal write-ups, presentations, collaborative group exercises, research projects and peer assessment. There are no final examinations for English students; instead we operate a system of periodic assessment.

Our students regularly testify to the quality of our teaching, and we pride ourselves on our very supportive and hands-on culture of teaching and learning. The following testimonials were taken from the Student Satisfaction Survey:

"My ability to think critically and evaluate texts has really improved and I now have a basic understanding of every theory, historical period of English. I have the confidence to carry on research in any of these subject areas in my later life."


"The tutors were all enormously helpful whenever I have needed assistance with essay planning or writing. Similarly over the last four years the large choice of modules available has been very impressive. I feel I have learnt an enormous amount in the time I have been at university."


"Nothing was ever too much trouble for my tutors, they always made time to help me with my concerns."
"I feel that not only has participation in this course fulfilled my own interests but that passion for the subject shown by my professors has inspired my thirst for knowledge in new areas as well. To those individuals I will always be grateful."


Current Students

Information for current English students

  • The English Handbook is a guide to all matters to do with studying English at Stirling.



1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year


1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year

Undergraduate Advising

Choosing Modules

You should check the University Calendar for details of how your degree is structured and the choices you can make within that structure; follow the links on this page to find more information about all the English modules available. The University will provide you with a list of compulsory modules for your programme; you choose your modules through the on-line registration system on the Portal.

If you have any further questions about module choices, then these can be raised with the adviser of studies Dr Stephen Penn.

Learning Support

Student Learning Services provides helpful advice about how to develop your study skills and improve your academic performance: workshops are advertised through Succeed.

Other Guidance

The University has many specialist support services on many different issues from counselling to financial guidance. Your first port of call for these issues is likely to be Student Support Services, or one of the Advisers above, who will be able to liaise with other University departments on your behalf in case of illness or personal difficulty.

Remember that you can also access Student Support Services direct if you need help or advice on any of the following matters:

For help with Study Skills, contact Student Learning Services (SLS) who run online workshops via your WebCT. They also run workshops and seminars throughout the year so keep an eye on noticeboards and the portal for details of those.

Undergraduate Applicants

No Exams

Students in TutorialOur English Degree is achieved through modular units and periodic assessment, rather than leaving it all to a final-year 'big bang' examination.

Over your four years with us, you will write essays rather than sit exams, each essay returned with detailed comments for further thought and discussion. Your final degree classification is based on the written work you have done over the last two years of the course.

Clear thinking and writing are among the most important skills you will gain whilst studying English at Stirling. Our methods of assessment are designed to foster your ability to construct a solid and persuasive argument, and to effectively express your point of view.

Students often have the option of responding imaginatively to essay assignments. For example, you might have the choice of re-writing a section of a novel or poem from the perspective of another character, or in a radically different style. You would then spend the remainder of your essay comparing the effect of your writing to that of the original, or analysing the linguistic choices reflected by the two texts. This is a creative and challenging way of enriching your understanding of how writing works.

Student Choice

Bench on CampusStudents studying English at Stirling have an uncommon degree of choice about what they study, and when.  In semesters 4 and 5, students choose from a range of optional core modules, taught by lecture and tutorial, which focus on specific historical periods, or on particular theoretical perspectives on writing.

From semester 6 onwards, students can choose from a wide range of advanced modules, taught in smaller seminars for 2 hours each week. These more specialised optional seminars pursue critical, theoretical, linguistic, historical or thematic approaches to a very wide range of topics, from Shakespeare in the Movies to African Writing in English; from Jane Austen to Literature and the Environment; from Modern Gothic writing to Medieval Dream Poetry; from Language and Gender to Contemporary Scottish Literature.

For a more detailed explanation of the choices available to students as they progress through the degree, and for a listing of optional seminar modules currently offered, consult the English Programme Guide.

Your Own Dissertation

The English degree concludes with a final year dissertation, (about 15,000 words long) supervised one-to-one with a member of staff, on a topic of your own choice. This is a really attractive feature for many of our applicants and the best work is outstanding. It is also a major skill, as the ability to research and present work at this level can be transferred to any task in your future career.

Creative Writing

Student with LaptopThe discipline, focus and practice of creative writing can take us towards a different kind of critical understanding than when we are reading work by other writers. This is why it plays a valued part in the Stirling English Studies degree, even in classes that are primarily critical and analytical.

Full-scale modules in creative writing are also available and these engage with various modes such as the short story, different genres of prose fiction, scripts and poetry, as well as the production of personal reflections, feature articles and travel writing. Equally valuable will be instruction on how to structure, revise, present and publish your work, as well as exercises in ‘creative thinking’ that help you listen to and trust your own imaginative insights. 

Since the foundation of the University, English Studies has always offered students the opportunity to submit a final-year dissertation in creative writing, and over the years this has been a route taken by many undergraduates, some of whom have gone on to take masters degrees in this field or indeed to become established authors and teachers in their turn.

We are fortunate in that the MacRobert Theatre is at the centre of the University, presenting a widely varied programme of film, drama and music throughout the year. Small magazines are published on campus and the Literary Society organizes visits from distinguished creative writers each year, along with theatre trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Finally, the University Drama Society is very active, producing about seven plays a year, including performances at the Edinburgh Festival.

Honours and General Degrees

In common with other Scottish Universities, Stirling offers a three-year General Degree, a three year BA (specialising more in one subject) and a four-year Honours Degree. Honours and BA and General students are treated identically, except the General and BA students may not do an advanced optional seminar in the fourth semester. (See our guide to English Studies degree programmes for further details.) General and BA students will graduate after semester 6, while the Honours student continues to specialise until semester 8. This means that although selection for Honours is made at the end of the fourth semester, in practice General and BA students who do well enough have the chance to change their category right up to the end of their last year.

Combined Honours

Honours English can be taken in various combinations with all the other Arts subjects offered at Stirling as well as with Education. These Joint Honours schemes are arduous but rewarding, and allow students to shape their degree programme in accordance with their own intellectual interests.

International Students

International students can study our Undergraduate Certificate if they do not possess the necessary entrance requirements to be admitted directly to the first year of an undergraduate degree programme.

Postgraduate Applicants

The division has created a vibrant research culture as a central part of its work. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise found that we enjoy 'internationally excellent esteem', and that our research culture 'supports research activity of an internationally excellent quality.'

All members of academic staff are research active and research students play a crucial role in helping the division to remain at the cutting edge of its discipline.

We offer a range of taught MLitt (Scottish Masters) degrees, and research degrees at M.Res and Ph.D level. Follow the links below for more details about each of the individual programmes.


Research in English Studies

Research in English Studies in the Division of Literature and Languages spans the medieval period to the present day. Members of staff publish on Medieval translation, Early Modern manuscript and print culture (including Shakespeare, Bacon, Milton, Republican writing), Romantic-era writing, Victorian literature, Modernist literature, and Contemporary writing, as well as on interdisciplinary cross-period areas, particularly on book history (including scholarly editing and publishing studies), the Gothic, Scottish literature, postcolonial cultures of India, Australia and the Caribbean, religion, gender and sexualities, cultural studies and linguistics. We have a renowned group of award-winning creative writers working here, and a committed, intellectually searching postgraduate student community.

Our research interests are organised according to the following cross-cutting thematic research groups that are shared with colleagues across the Division:

Stirling is home to Routledge’s The New Critical Idiom Series (Series Editor: John Drakakis), as well as the 39-volume Stirling/South Carolina edition of James Hogg (General Editors: Suzanne Gilbert and Ian Duncan (University of California, Berkeley)), and the new five volume edition of Richard Baxter (General Editor: Neil Keeble). The following journals are edited by Divisional staff: Literature and Theology (ed. Andrew Hass), Journal of Romance Studies (ed. William Marshall), Journal of Stevenson Studies (ed. Rory Watson), International Journal of Scottish Literature (ed. Scott Hames and Ian Duncan), Journal of Journal of European Popular Culture (ed. Cristina Johnston).

In conducting research we are guided by our policy on impact: to preserve and make public global literary and cultural heritage; to develop new vocabularies to enhance understanding of cultural values and practices; to inspire and educate readers and audiences outside academia. Recent collaborations with external partners include the British Library, Aye Write!, the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality and Peace, the Scottish Poetry Library, the National Trust for Scotland, NHS Scotland, and many others.

In the past five years we have significantly strengthened our research culture through shared divisional expertise, recruiting early career researchers and senior academics, and by hosting fellowships for creative writers through our external partnerships with the Charles Wallace Trust and the Royal Literary Fund.

Each year an Indian creative writer is based at Stirling thanks to the Charles Wallace Fellowship. Since 2006 the Africa in Motion film festival in Edinburgh (founded by Stirling PhD students) has offered our student interns the opportunity to gain experience in the creative arts industries.

Click here to see a list of the current Research Projects

For More Information please visit the Literature and Languages Divisional Page 

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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