English Studies

BA (Hons)


Texts are all around us - from books to magazines to TV, e-mail and the internet.

As texts of all kinds become more prominent and powerful in our lives, the ability to analyse them and appreciate their often elusive meanings becomes more highly prized.

The skills you will learn in an English Studies degree will enable you to recognise ideology and bias, and see through the spin of cultural and political debate. You’ll refine your ability to think and write clearly – valuable skills in many careers and professions. Our graduates are well prepared in these transferable skills and have an excellent success rate in finding rewarding employment in many fields.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2017 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree. EU students will also be eligible for tuition fee support from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

  • UCAS: Q300
  • Qualification: BA (Hons)
  • Study methods: Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Start date: September / January
  • Course Director: Dr Bethan Benwell
  • Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Download undergraduate prospectus

Dr Bethan Benwell


University of Stirling
Scotland, UK

View fees and finance

What makes us different?

  • In the most recent National Student Survey, English at Stirling gained a 99% overall satisfaction rating, placing us top for English Studies in Scotland.
  • In the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide we came 3rd in Scotland for English.
  • In the latest Research Excellence Assessment (REF 2014) 81% of our research was viewed as world leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*).
  • Breadth and variety; you will have the opportunity to read and enjoy some of the greatest poems, plays and novels written in English across the world. You will engage critically with the popular culture of music, films, newspapers, magazines and electronic forms of text.
  • As well as understanding concepts such as genre and the unreliable narrator, you will deal with theoretical concepts such as the death of the author, the debates of feminist criticism, postcolonial perspectives, the unconscious in Gothic literature, and the challenge of the ‘modern’ in every age.
  • Creative writing is fully integrated into the degree, since we believe it strengthens your understanding of literary style and technique and develops the imagination.
  • Our aim is to produce students who are well informed and skilled in interpretation and expression, whose written work can be produced to professional standards of presentation. The giving of class papers and open discussion in tutorials will promote confidence and expertise in oral skills.
  • We do not use exams. In order to train you in both understanding and expression, we feel written course work creates a more productive and personal dialogue between you and your tutor and is the main form of assessment.

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

BTEC (Level 3):

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points

Essential subjects:
To include English or English Literature and Language.

Other qualifications

Year one entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Not available

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply
If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Alternative routes

Students with A-level scores of ABB or higher may be permitted to enter in Year 2.

Fees and costs

Fees 2017/8

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,845.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 12,140.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9,250

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.





Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Semesters 1 - 2

You may choose between two and four of the following introductory core modules:

Compulsory modules:
  • Introduction to English Studies 1: Genres An introduction to a range of different genres of literature, including poetry, fiction and drama from Chaucer to the present day. The course has an overarching emphasis on how genres change and develop over time, and how literary texts respond to each other.
  • Introduction to English Studies 2: Theories and ApproachesThis module aims to introduce students to the study of literary texts through a range of different theoretical and literary critical approaches.

These compulsory modules may offer the opportunity to present a piece of creative writing for assessment.

Optional modules:
  • Language in Society: an introduction to the intricacies of regional and social variation in language, how we influence and judge each other through the way we speak, and how language varieties reflect and construct social contexts and identities.
  • Foundations of Language: provides an introduction to the structures of language and the ways in which language works on various levels (sounds, words, sentences, meaning), exploring the uniqueness and diversity of human language

Semester 3

You will take the following compulsory module:

  • Literary Revolutions This module explores the revolutionary potential of literature and the relationships between actual, historical and political revolutions and literary revolutions (and the counter-revolutions prompted by these).

You may also take the following optional module (depending on the degree programme you are following):

  • Language and the Brain: an introduction to the relationship between language and the brain, and to the cognitive basis of language more generally, exploring issues such as language acquisition, linguistic universals, categorisation, metaphor, and the evolution of language

Semester 4

You will choose either one or two of the following core modules (depending on the degree programme you are following):

  • Writing and History: Scotland and Empire: studies aspects of Scottish literature, history and identity since the defining moment of the Union of the English and the Scottish Parliaments in 1707
  • Writing and Identity: explores the constitution and representation of the ‘self’ and ‘identity’ in a range of literary texts from the 17th century to the present day
  • Writing and Language: will provide you with the technical tools and vocabulary to describe in detail how language choices produce particular effects in literary texts

Semester 5

You will choose between one and three of the following historically-orientated modules (again depending on the degree programme you are following):

  • From Medieval to Renaissance
  • Restoration and 18th Century
  • British Romanticism
  • Victorian Literature and Culture
  • Modernism and Modernity
  • The History of the English Language

Semesters 6 and 7

You will choose from a range of Honours option modules. The selection of modules varies every year, but typical option modules may include:

  • Scottish Literature
  • Modern Gothic
  • Shakespeare's Theatre
  • The Art of Fiction
  • Children's Literature
  • Critical Theory
  • Postcolonial Writing
  • Rotten English
  • Language, Power and Ideology
  • Language and Gender
  • Tragedy
  • Creative Writing
  • Becoming a Writer
  • Jane Austen
  • Chaucer

Semester 8: Final-year dissertation

This last semester is spent writing a dissertation (15,000 words for Single Honours; 10,000 words for Combined Honours). Every student is given a series of meetings with the tutor who will supervise their dissertation project and give feedback on each draft chapter as it is submitted.

Delivery and assessment

Lectures are supplemented by teaching and discussion in tutorial groups. Options are taught by seminar only. Visiting creative writers, scholars and critics are involved in a lively programme of extra-curricular lectures and readings. We also host a Royal Literary Fund Fellow who is on site specifically to give students extra one-to-one support as they develop their essay writing skills. Assessment takes the form of essays or other assignments written during each semester with credit sometimes given for oral presentations. There are no final exams in English.

Combined degrees

English can be combined with a diverse range of other subjects, including Business Studies, Film & Media, Philosophy, Modern Languages, History and Professional Education.

English can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
History and Professional Education QXHC
Religion and Professional Education QXJ1
Film & Media QP33
French QR31
Global Cinema and Culture QP3H
History QV31
Journalism Studies QP35
Philosophy QV35
Politics QL32
Professional Education QX31
Psychology QC38
Religion QV36
Spanish QR34

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Learn more about studying these subjects

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Find out more


Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

The structure of the Single Honours degree programme in English Studies is shown below; modules shown in italics are optional and can be replaced by another module. 

Year Semester Subject 1 Subject 2 Subject 3

1 Introduction to Literary Studies: Genre Language in Society any module
2 Introduction to Literary Studies: Theories & Approaches Foundations of Language any module

3 Literary Revolutions Language and the Brain any module

TWO from:

Writing and History; Writing and Identity; Writing and Language

any module


ONE from:

From Medieval to Renaissance; Restoration and Eighteenth Century; History of the English Language

ONE from:

British Romanticism; Victorian Literature and Culture; Modernism and Modernity

ONE from:

either Semester 5 group

6 Honours Option Module Honours Option Module Honours Option Module

7 Dissertation Preparation Module Honours Option Module Honours Option Module
8 Dissertation


Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

You have the opportunity to study abroad through Stirling's well-established connections with several international universities.


Academic strengths

English Studies has a long-established and vibrant research and teaching culture with staff in English Studies researching and teaching  in areas from the medieval period to the present day, as well as in linguistics and creative writing. We have recognised research and teaching expertise in Scottish Studies, the Gothic, Creative Writing, and Postcolonial Studies, and across literary periods ranging from the Middle Ages to the contemporary. Currently two major literary series and two international journals are edited from within the School.

Our staff are international leaders in their fields and have received recognition of this in the form of accolades and awards. Most recently, Kathleen Jamie’s The Bonniest Companie won the Saltire Book of the Year 2016, Kevin MacNeil’s The Brilliant and Forever was also shortlisted in Best Fiction category.

Our students

The lecturers’ passion and enthusiasm for their subject, their approachability and the diversity of the English Studies programme has resulted in an English Studies degree that has given me a wealth and breadth of theoretical and practical knowledge and the confidence that I have a solid foundation for Postgraduate study. 
Janine Mitchell BA (Hons) English Studies, graduated 2015.
The tutors approach their subjects with an enthusiasm and passion which is both infectious and inspirational.

Martine Flynn BA (Hons) English Studies and Scottish Literature, graduated 2006.

The mixture of core and option modules has allowed me to concentrate on what interests me most while also introducing me to ideas and authors I might not otherwise have come across.’

John Miller BA (Hons) English Studies, graduated 2004.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The ability to think and write clearly is extremely valuable in many careers and professions. English Studies graduates from Stirling are well prepared in these transferable skills, and have an excellent success rate in finding rewarding employment in many fields.

Skills you can develop through this course

  • Skills in both speaking and writing are developed throughout the degree programme, in group discussion, academic presentations and the writing of essays. Advice on composition, the structuring of essays and forming a written argument is provided by tutors, who also provide feedback on written work.   
  • Analytical skills are crucial to all parts of the degree programme. The ability to think rigorously and critically about an argument or point of view, and the capacity to analyse written texts in detail and in an informed way are essential.
  • Independent study is an important part of any English degree. The ability to find and use available resources (both electronic and printed) effectively is a necessary part of the research process, and is a valuable transferable skill that all students acquire.
  • All students are required to manage their time effectively in order to derive the greatest benefit from the experience of higher education. It is important for them to plan ahead in order to manage their workloads and to meet academic deadlines.
  • Group work, whether in tutorials or outside the seminar room, is an important aspect of many parts of the English Studies degree, and gives students the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills.
  • The cultural knowledge acquired by any student of English Studies will be a valuable asset outside, both within and outside the workplace.  This knowledge is particularly valuable in teaching, journalism, advertising and publishing.

Chances to expand your horizons

  • Regular research seminars are held throughout the semester, which all students are very welcome to attend.  These are typically given by a guest academic or postgraduate.
  • Creative writing options are available to students from Semester 6.  Stirling is fortunate to have the poet Kathleen Jamie as a member of its academic staff, and writers such as the late Iain Banks, Kirsty Logan, Jackie Kay and Alan Bissett are among its alumni some of whom are regular guests.
  • We are fortunate that the MacRobert Arts Centre 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.

Notable recent successes

  • Students and alumni of our MLitt programme in Creative Writing enjoy continued publication success: Karen Lloyd’s The Gathering Tide; Helen MacKinven’s Buy Baby Buy; Ross Sayers’ Mary’s the Name; Emma Mooney’s Wings to Fly. In addition, our graduate Danny Murphy won the prestigious Costa Short Story Prize 2015.

Where are our graduates now?

Our English graduates are currently contributing to the performance of the following organisations:

  • The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • The Phoenix Comic
  • The Scottish Parliament
  • Historic Scotland
  • Harper Collins
  • NHS Grampian
  • Capability Scotland

Here are some of the roles our English graduates are in, who graduated in the past two years:

  • Realtime MI Analyst
  • Producing Assistant
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Student
  • Postgraduate Student
  • Publishing Assistant
  • Editor
  • PR & Events Team Member
  • Barista & Supervisor
  • Sales Assistant
  • Publishing Marketing Manager

Building on that foundation, alumni of Stirling’s English degree who graduated between five and ten years ago have since advanced into some of the following positions:

  • Executive PA
  • Media Researcher
  • Senior Recruitment Consultant
  • HI-Net Website Advisor
  • PhD Student
  • ChM Programme Administrator
  • Manager
  • Caretaker for a Castle
  • Teacher
  • Aboriginal Justice Team, full-time member
  • Parliamentary Assistant
  • Employment Services Officer
  • Creative Writer
  • Admin Assistant

Some of our more established alumni are currently leading and shaping strategy across many different sectors – here is an example of how a few former English students have advanced in their careers: 

  • Active Citizenship Worker
  • Employability Adviser
  • Induction Team Leader
  • Records & Information Manager
  • Teacher
  • Business Analyst
  • Managing Director
  • English Teacher

Find out more about the sorts of careers available to English graduates at http://www.afterenglish.ac.uk/

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