This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a broad introduction to the arts and humanities followed by up to two modules chosen from a variety of subjects.
- Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study two compulsory literature modules exploring different approaches to reading texts and developing your skills of literary analysis.
- Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll complete your degree with one advanced literature module that'll extend and develop your knowledge of, and engagement with, English literature. You'll also choose one module from options in literature, creative writing and English language.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
In Stage 1 you will encounter a variety of different times and places and engage with some fascinating people, art works, ideas and stories. This broad foundation in cultural analysis will help you develop the skills and the confident, open approach you need to tackle more specialist literature modules at Stages 2 and 3.
In Stage 2 you’ll focus on developing your skills in reading and literary analysis as you're introduced to an exciting range of texts from a diversity of periods and from Shakespeare to science fiction. You’ll study novels, drama, poems and short stories, and discover new ways of reading literature.
At Stage 3 you can focus on two different periods in English literature: from Shakespeare to Jane Austen and from Dickens to the present day. Studying both of these which will provide you with an advanced knowledge of a very wide chronological span of English literature. Alternatively you can study one of the period-based modules and another that focuses on either children’s literature, creative writing, or English language and creativity.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) English Literature uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- finding external/third party material online such as in ebooks, electronic journals and databases
- working in a group with other students.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered – you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) English Literature degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Skills for career development
Employers greatly value the high-level skills gained by studying an English literature degree. Broadly summarised these are skills of creative and critical thinking, analysis, and communication. You’ll also sharpen your IT and writing skills, and develop an ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information when constructing an argument. These are key skills that are crucial to many different kinds of complex organisations, and are greatly sought after in the world beyond study – whether you’re already working, volunteering, or changing career.
Studying arts and humanities can give entry to a vast range of occupations, leading in many directions. The breadth of study and the range of material analysed, combined with an adaptable set of transferable skills, are relevant to a wide variety of careers including:
- public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
- advertising, journalism, publishing, creative industries and public relations
- legal work
- business, banking and retail
- human resources
- charities and campaigning.
Many graduate-level jobs, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector, are open to graduates of any discipline. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- advertising account manager
- public relations manager
- information archivist
- civil servant
- charity campaigner
- retail manager
- human resources manager
- further education lecturer
- arts administration
- advice worker
- local government and NHS manager
- tourist officer
- marketing officer
- business manager.