Our 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.
Students 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.
The 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.
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 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.