Download the course booklet to find out more about Lancaster University, how we teach English Literature and what you'll study as an English Literature student.
Top reasons to study with us
6th for Creative Writing
The Complete University Guide (2022)
13th for Philosophy
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2022)
Study abroad and placement opportunities
Your degree is taught jointly by Lancaster’s Philosophy Department and our English Literature and Creative Writing Department.
You’ll learn how philosophical perspectives can be applied fruitfully to literature and your literary studies will elucidate the narrative structures and cultural functions of Philosophy. You’ll take various approaches to English and other literatures by diverse authors and will look at both the history of and contemporary debates in Philosophy.
You’ll start your degree with courses including English Literature and Introduction to Philosophy. As you progress, the scheme allows you to specialise according to your own interests and strengths, with a selection of second and third-year English Literature modules and options such as The Theory and Practice of Criticism; Literature and Film; Shakespeare; History of Philosophy; Philosophy of the Mind; and Philosophy of Science.
A Philosophy degree from Lancaster gives you the opportunity to learn how to analyse problems from a multi-dimensional perspective, encouraging you to approach issues creatively and with an enquiring mind. Your study of Philosophy and Literature will also cultivate a wide range of interpersonal and communication skills that are highly valued by employers. All this will stand you in good stead for careers involving analysis, assessment and the weighing-up of arguments.
Many of our graduates go on to careers traditionally associated with English and creative writing, such as publishing and the media, teaching and librarianship. Others find roles in business, administration and professional services, where their skills of self-expression and critical understanding of complex information are equally valued.
A number of our English Literature and Philosophy graduates go on to take higher degrees, at Lancaster or another institution.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, but that you also graduate with relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature grade A
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including 6 in a HL Literature subject
BTEC Considered alongside A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature grade A
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme to complement your main specialism. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster please visit our Teaching and Learning section.
The following courses do not offer modules outside of the subject area due to the structured nature of the programmes: Architecture, Law, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Sports and Exercise Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Biomedical Science.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.
Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality
This module introduces students to key themes in the study of philosophy. Consciously drawing on a broad range of philosophical traditions -- Continental, Analytic, and non-Western -- it aims to present a comprehensive overview of various theoretical sub-disciplines within philosophy, but also to equip students with the ability to reason and think clearly about the most fundamental questions of human existence. The course, though designed as an introduction to the advanced degree-level study of philosophy, will also function as a self-standing introduction to philosophy suitable for those seeking to broaden their understanding of philosophy as it has been practiced throughout various traditions.
The module will involve the study of European and non-European sources, and areas of study will typically include:
1. Epistemology: the study of the nature of knowledge, belief, and the mind's ability to apprehend the world.
2. Metaphysics: the study of the nature of matter, causation, freedom, and being.
3. Phenomenology: the study of the nature and structure of consciousness.
4. Philosophy of Religion: the study of the nature and existence of God and of religious faith.
5. Philosophy of Mind: the study of the nature of mind and the mental.
Literature in Crisis: From Chaucer to Comics
This module introduces you to some of the most vital debates in an English literary tradition that is constantly being rewritten and challenged, especially in the multicultural, postmodern era of the late twentieth century and beyond. A range of literary genres is also covered including plays, films, short stories and novels in addition to poetry in order to develop the practice of close analytical reading Throughout the module attention is given to the working-class, women, black and Irish writers as well as mainstream English authors. The module also includes a Study Skills component and an introduction to some of the general theoretical issues of reading and interpretation.
Moral and Political Philosophy
This module aims to introduce students to key themes in practical philosophy, and to develop their ability to reason and think clearly about the question of how we ought to act and organise our interaction. The course aims to treat this issue both systematically and in an applied manner: to familiarise students with various accounts of moral and political theories, but also to use these theories to think critically about real-world problems. The course, though designed as an introduction to the advanced degree-level study of philosophy, will also function as a self-standing introduction to philosophy suitable for those seeking to better understand the foundations of modern moral and political thought. Areas of study will typically include: 1. Moral Philosophy: the study of how we should act, and what we should value. 2. Political Philosophy: the study of the values which underpin our political institutions and how we ought to organise our collective lives. 3. Gender and Philosophy: the study of the nature of gender and gendered thinking, and its relation to ethics and politics. 4. Ethical Controversies: the study of practical questions of ethics, such as the nature of animals rights, choices of life and death, the value of privacy, and problems of discrimination. 5. Applied Political Philosophy: the study of practical political issues, such as immigration rights, international inequality, the permissibility of war, free speech and propaganda from a philosophical standpoint. 6. Environmental Philosophy: the study of our relationship to nature, and how to respond to the environmental crisis.
This module seeks to look beyond the boundaries of traditional courses in English Literature by enabling you to explore a wide and exciting range of texts. The module covers world literatures in English (such as Rushdie, Munro, Atwood), to the literatures that have influenced the development of English (from the Bible and classical figures such as Ovid and Homer, through to Medieval and Early Modern authors such as Dante and Rabelais). It also considers modern and contemporary world authors in translation (such as Kafka, Borges, Salih and Murukami), to new media writing and the graphic novel.
The Theory and Practice of Criticism
What is literature? Who decides? How should we read literary texts? To what extent is the meaning of a text decided by the author, the reader, history or culture? Why does literary criticism still have value? To address these fundamental questions, ENGL 201 introduces students to a range of key concepts in contemporary literary and cultural criticism. The module will ask us to re-think familiar concepts such as writing and history, and will extend literary criticism beyond its traditional limits to encompass concepts such as animals, biopolitics and neoliberalism. The module will enable students to deploy theoretical terms and concepts in their own acts of reading, and its overall aim is to make students more rigorous, sophisticated and inventive in their responses to literary and cultural texts.
American Literature to 1900
This course explores how American Literature has evolved from its colonial origins, with particular emphasis on key figures of the nineteenth century. What we call ‘American Literature’ and how we define America and ‘the American experience’ depends on who is writing and to whom. We shall encounter many different voices, many conflicting and contrasting views, a diversity of complex experience and a great range of writing in form and style (don’t expect the poetic and novelistic forms you are used to in British literature). The course will be broadly thematic in its approach, aiming to build up through recurring themes, images, questions and stylistic features, an increasingly complex picture of the literature created mostly by English-speaking Americans.
This module is divided into key areas across the two terms: Revolution; The Self; Politics and Poetics; and the Gothic.
We will begin by examining revolutionary writing of the Romantic period, including the poetry of such writers as Anna Barbauld, William Blake, and William Wordsworth, and the prose of such writers as Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and Mary Wollstonecraft. We will then consider ideas of the self in the poetry of such writers as Charlotte Smith and Letitia Landon, Lord Byron’s Manfred, and the labouring-class writing of John Clare.
We also examine the relationship between politics and poetics for the second-generation poets such as John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and then, the slave narratives of Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, and the orientalism of S. T. Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey. Finally, the module will turn its attention to the popular literary movement of ‘Gothic’ which emerges during the Romantic period, exploring its manifestation in a range of texts that may include Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Joanna Baillie’s play De Montfort, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The module aims to give students a sense of the diverse range of writers in this period. We will use the close knowledge of key texts to tackle some of the wider, more abstract ideas such as: nature, the imagination, and the sublime. We will also consider literary ideas within a broader social, historical and philosophical context.
The aim of this module is to give you a good, broad introduction to some of the key themes in epistemology (the theory of knowledge). We begin with the question what is knowledge? This then leads us on to questions about how knowledge relates to other things, like belief, and truth. Our answers to these questions have implications for how we think about the structure of knowledge (e.g., must all of our knowledge rest upon a “firm foundation”?). Throughout the term we will see that it is much harder to answer our core question than you might think and this raises the question of why it is so hard to give a clear, general, account of what knowledge is. We also look at different sources of knowledge - especially, perception, self-knowledge and “testimony” (other people’s say-so) and, towards the end of term explore some of the relationships between epistemology and ethics, ending the term with the question whether we ever ought to refrain from seeking knowledge.
Late Medieval to Early Modern Literature
Course Aims and Objectives
Designed to take up and develop Part One’s engagement with pre-1700 texts, this course will take us from the late medieval period’s interest in spiritual and earthly travel to the episodes of power, revolution and restitution that characterised Stuart rule (1603-1688). During this time, English culture saw upheavals in religion that were accompanied by shifts in discourses of (among others) politics, sex, science and education. Late Medieval to Early Modern Literature will examine the literature of change from the late fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, from John Mandeville’s and Margery Kempe’s marvellous journeys through Europe, Northern Africa, Asia and the Holy Land, to the brilliant and edgy theatre of Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, and the writings of revolutionaries such as John Milton and monarchist libertines like Aphra Behn.
Our readings will mainly be focused on topics designed to provide us with ingress into the literature, culture and historical vitality of the period. To this end, the texts are gathered under four headings: ‘Love, Sex and Death’, ‘Court, Country, City’, ‘Power and Politics’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’. We will be reading cross-sections from works by many authors to explore these themes from as many angles as possible. We will consider the continuities across a range of different primary texts, but we will also be keen to observe and analyse differences.
Literature, Film, and Media
Course Aims and Objectives:
This course surveys formal, generic, historical, cultural, narrative, and theoretical relationships between literature and film across a range of periods, genres, and cultures, paying particular attention to the practice and analysis of literary film adaptation.
In this module we give you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding of some of the key issues in metaphysics. We focus primarily on issues concerning space and time, the nature of physical objects and persons, and some key philosophical distinctions. Studying this module can also enable you to see connections between various philosophical issues, which can be of value for other philosophy modules.
Philosophical Questions in the Study of Politics and Economics
Our aim in this module is to consider some of the big philosophical questions underlying social sciences. Economics and politics raise both deep philosophical questions about society and subjectivity; for example: Who gets what? Who rules whom? Who, or what, decides? In this module we will investigate a variety of methods that attempt to address these questions, and what answers might be possible. In sum, the aim is to examine methods and assumptions across central movements in the social sciences, politics and economics, from a philosophical perspective to see the troubles and possibilities in each.
Philosophy of Science
This module considers philosophical issues that arise in connection with the sciences. We will consider what scientific method is, how science relates to the rest of knowledge, whether it provides an ideal model for rational inquiry in general, and whether we should think of science as describing reality. In the first few weeks we will consider traditional accounts of scientific method and theory-testing, and then examine philosophical challenges to the status of science as a rational form of enquiry. We give particular consideration to three of the most important twentieth-century philosophers of science: Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend. Next we will consider whether and in what sense we should be confident that our best current scientific theories are accurate descriptions of reality. We do not assume that you have an extensive knowledge of science: the relevant scientific concepts will be presented in a simple and accessible way, and there will be no maths.
The years of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901) saw great social, political and cultural change. New technologies and scientific developments altered the ways in which Victorians thought about themselves and their environment, and the literature of the period responded to these changes in all sorts of ways. Examining a wide range of Victorian literature, including novels, short stories, poetry, drama and non-fiction prose, the course is structured around four major themes: ‘Socio-Political Change,’ ‘Realism, Idealism and Fantasy,’ ‘Falls and Losses,’ and ‘Personal Experience and Perspective.’ The aim of the course is to explore and interrogate the complexity of 'Victorian' attitudes within and across these areas.
21st Century Theory: Literature, Culture, Criticism
In 21st Century Theory, we will build upon the general introduction to critical and cultural theory given on ENGL201 by focusing on one specific theme in contemporary theory: biopolitics. To explore biopolitics – or the politics of life itself – we will examine a selection of classic theoretical works by Michel Foucault, Georgio Agamben and others and then read them alongside some key literary and filmic texts from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to the Batman Trilogy. This course will seek to address the following questions. What exactly is biopolitics? How have theorists, novelists and film-makers imagined such concepts as sovereign power, bare life, the state of exception and so on? To what extent might it be possible to resist the biopolitical hold over our political imaginary?
Between the Acts
The course will begin with writing that looks back to the First World War and end with writing that anticipates the Second World War. In between the students will explore and interrogate the inter-war ‘moment’ through close attention to a number of other texts. The course will focus on many of the great themes of the period such as exile, unemployment, Englishness, eugenics, militarisation, and political commitment, as well as many of the great cultural motifs of the period such as borders, radios, planes, cars, trains, cameras and telephones. Close attention will also be paid to many of the great intellectual debates of the period such as the nature of history, the role of the State in everyday life, and the place of literary experimentation in time of war. The course will not, though, be limited to what these texts are ‘about’ but will also attend to what these texts ‘do.’ In other words, we shall explore how inter-war writing both reflects the period and indeed participates in the period. The students will, then, be expected to understand the ways in which the texts under consideration exist not only ‘between the acts’ but are themselves acts - acts not only of mourning and warning but also agitation, provocation, resistance, despair, and even (therefore) hope.
Bible and Literature
In this module we will look at a selection of biblical texts alongside literary works that appropriate, rewrite and subvert them. We will be thinking about the Bible as literature; the reciprocal relationship between the Bible and literature; and what the Bible does to a literary text. By the end of the course you should be more familiar and knowledgeable about the Bible, its genres, ideas and narratives, and be able to appreciate its literary qualities. You will develop skills of exploring the relation between a literary text and the biblical text it invokes: in what ways does awareness of the Bible provoke more profound readings of a literary text? Does rewriting refine or subvert the Bible? Throughout the course we will also have in focus issues related to reading, interpretation and adaptation that will be relevant to your wider studies.
Children in Horror Fiction and Film
Course Outline: This module will focus upon the motif of ‘the child’ within 20th and 21st century horror fiction and film. Students will expand upon key critical and theoretical skills and apply these skills to popular fiction and film adaptation, using the motif of the child as a focus for this. The module will also encourage students to interrogate texts from a range of theoretical perspectives such as cultural materialism, psychoanalysis, and feminism in order to reveal how and why representations of the child in the horror genre supply an important cultural, psychological, and political point of reference for literary studies.
More specifically, the module aims to explore the cultural significance of the motif of the child in horror fiction and film through analysis of themes such as innocence and evil, psychic powers, child abuse, parenting, technology and grief. We will analyse the process of adaptation from novel to film and examine how issues relating to gender are crucial to the horror genre. The module will develop in students a sophisticated ability to think critically and analytically about how an exploration of popular fiction and film can reveal deep cultural anxieties and fixations at a historical and psychological level.
Contemporary Literature in English
ENGL 308 Contemporary Literatures focuses on different kinds of (postmodern, postcolonial/world, Gothic, post-9/11, feminist/queer, experimental) contemporary literature. The course consolidates student knowledge of ways in which writers redress notions of ‘English literature’, including ways in which they both respond to and stimulate critical theory. Beginning in the 1950s, we consider the explosion of new literatures from the decolonising/newly postcolonial world and the rise of new literary forms in the post-war period. The course also emphasises work from the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, foregrounding, at all stages, English literature in its international dimensions: we read texts from Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and Australasia, as well as from multicultural and devolved Britain. Recurrent themes include borders, margins, haunting, apocalypse, rewriting, migration and metamorphosis; these terms also reflect formal qualities of the texts studied (i.e. aspects of genre, structure and style). The course considers inter-generic forms (e.g. the graphic novel) as well as a range of more standard literary genres (novels; short stories; poetry), highlighting literary experimentation and critically reflecting on notions of ‘the contemporary’.
Contemporary Middle Eastern Literatures
The twenty-first century has seen the emergence of Middle Eastern literature in English and translation as one of the most exciting new areas of world literature. The region has experienced, so far this century, the ‘war on terror’, revolutions and wintery aftermaths, civil wars, sectarian violence, the rise and fall of ‘Islamic State’, and an ongoing refugee crisis. On this course, we will explore some of the shapes and styles of contemporary Middle Eastern literature, the concerns and aspirations that drive it, and its growing international visibility. We will study novels, short stories, and new genres from the region, in English and in translation. No prior knowledge is needed.
This module introduces three of the most important thinkers from the ‘continental’ tradition of philosophy, with a focus on moral and political questions. The aim is to give you an understanding of their main ideas and help you develop your own critical perspective on them. We begin by looking at Friedrich Nietzsche’s provocative account of the origins and development of morality. We then turn to Michel Foucault, who adapts Nietzsche’s method of historical analysis in order to challenge our assumptions about progress, freedom and welfare in modern societies. Finally, we turn to Hannah Arendt. Using a parallel method of historical analysis, Arendt examines the social and political elements that came together in the disaster of Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism.
Culture, Heritage and Creative Industries: Work Placement
This module is run by the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, with the support of the FASS Engagement team and central Careers. It aims to enhance students’ employability by providing an assessed work placement opportunity as an option on the curriculum. It will also encourage students actively to think about the transferability of skills gained through the study of English and/or Creative Writing. The Department, via the FASS Engagement team, will set up a number of work placements in the (broadly defined) culture, heritage and creative sectors: with, for example, publishers, museums, newspapers, heritage sites, and arts venues. Students may alternatively source their own work placements, subject to prior discussion with the FASS Placements provider. Information on how to source a placement will be circulated to all enrolled students during summer.
Students must be prepared to pay their own transport/accommodation costs, though a small Departmental contribution toward travel can be applied for. It is expected that placements will be either close to Lancaster University or to the student’s home; many placements occur remotely. Students typically work for 30-40 hours with their host organization (not all of which will necessarily be on-site) in the Lent term. They maintain contact with the convenor and FAS placements team throughout the placement period. Placement providers are required to complete risk assessment and health and safety forms and to ensure an induction process. Both students and placement providers are required to sign a Learning Agreement.
Please note that you cannot take both this module and ENGL 376 Schools Volunteering.
Please also note that the maximum number of students on this course is fixed, and that in fairness to students, and in dialogue with the FASS Placements Officer, we have chosen to set up a selection process. If you choose this course, you will be sent an online form to complete as an application. The criteria will be enthusiasm, commitment, and having aspirations which can be realistically met on this module. You do not have to have prior placement experience, but it is fine if you do. Places will be allocated by the FASS Placements Officer, who sources the placements, and by the Course Convenor. If more students successfully pass the application stage than there are places, then we will use a random selection process as a final stage. If you are unsuccessful in obtaining one of the places on this module, you will need to choose from the remaining pool of options at that time; this may mean having a reduced pool of choice, so there is of necessity a degree of risk with selecting this module option. However, if any student is unsuccessful in obtaining a place on the course will still be provided a handbook that is helpful for sourcing any placements of their own in the future.
Darwinism and Philosophy
The module will look at philosophical issues that arise out of Darwin’s theory of evolution. These include questions about how best to understand the theory of evolution, and questions about what evolution implies for our view of the world, and in particular of ourselves. The module breaks down into three broad areas:
- Different ways to understand the theory of evolution, e.g. Is evolution, as some would have us believe, all about genes? Is natural selection the only important factor in evolution?
- Conceptual issues relating to biology, e.g. How do we define ‘function’? Is there one right way to classify living things?
- Implications of Darwinism for understanding human nature, e.g. Does the fact that we have evolved affect how we should see human nature? Why are evolutionary theories of human nature so controversial? Does Darwinism have any implications for moral questions?
Course Aims and Objectives:
This unit, taken in the final year, is compulsory for all English Literature Single Honours students, and optional for combined honours students. The unit is intended to give students the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choice in intensive detail, developing research skills in a programme of directed independent study. Students will complete a dissertation of 9600-10,000 words (excluding notes and bibliography), which must be word-processed, properly annotated, and have a substantial and appropriate bibliography. The final assessment will take into account presentation as well as content.
The introductory lecture in the second year advises students on their choice of dissertation topic. Proposals are submitted to the Undergraduate Office on Friday, Week 29, Term 3 of the Second Year. The proposal must be submitted in the form outlined in the lecture and ENGL 301 Handbook, and be presented in conformity to the Departmental Style Sheet. We assign students to supervisors on the basis of their proposals.
You are broadly free to write on any literary or theoretical/critical topic, so long as we feel that it is appropriate, the library has adequate resources, you have had appropriate training to tackle the material, and we can supervise it. The dissertation should be an opportunity to build on the skills you have acquired in your second year with the Department, and we expect you to pursue your research with proper regard to modern critical methods and cultural debates. You may choose a topic arising out of one of the courses taught on our programmes, or you may choose to do something entirely different. The material you use in your dissertation must not duplicate material for which you will be assessed in other courses.
The dissertation represents a whole unit’s work, and will require substantial reading, planning and drafting. It is fundamentally your project and responsibility. The supervisor’s role involves guidance, not the detailed and regular teaching you get on other courses, but there will be other forms of support provided by the course. We hope you will see this as an exciting opportunity to construct your own research project and work it through to a successful conclusion. All students will have four meetings with their supervisors. The first of these will be a group seminar (of 45 minutes) and the remaining three will be individual meetings (of 45 minutes). The course also has two lectures (1 per term) and four research skills seminars throughout the year (2 per term).
Early Modern Outlaws: On Land and Sea
From Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow (2003-) to Taron Egerton’s Robin Hood (2010), notions of outlawry haunt twenty-first century popular culture and recent academic debate (see Phillips (ed.) 2005 and Jowitt, 2010). A fascination with renegade figures is also found in the early modern period. Developing first and second-year work on critical and theoretical approaches to literature, the course examines representations of Robin Hood (weeks 2-5) and pirates (weeks 7-10) in a range of generically distinct sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts.
This module will give students the opportunity to study all the major works of one of the most celebrated novelists in English literary history. It will combine close attention to the stylistic textures and narrative strategies of Jane Austen’s fiction with broader consideration of key themes and preoccupations such as friendship, desire, matchmaking, snobbery, illness, resistance, transgression and secrecy.
Literary Film Adaptations, Hollywood 1939
Course Aims and Objectives
Film historians consider 1939 to be ‘the greatest year in the history of Hollywood’: in that year, 365 films were released and 80 million tickets sold. This module considers how literature and film interact and conflict in that year to construct mythologies of the American past and present in the context of the Great Depression and on the eve of the Second World War. The module also considers the context of Hollywood, the functions of motion picture palaces, American film’s relationship to British literature, and more.
Literature and Religion at the Fin de Siecle
Friedrich Nietzsche was far from alone in suggesting that God had died by the end of the nineteenth century, but the literature of the fin de siècle (c. 1880-1914) paints a very different picture from the one offered by those who suggest that religion simply disappeared. A number of prominent writers in the period converted to Catholicism; others explored the permeable boundaries between orthodox belief and esoteric spirituality. Those who turned to literature to think about religion did so in a wide variety of ways: experimenting with form, narrating religious experience, exploring the relationship between spirit and matter, thinking about religious practice in ways both conventional and bizarre, and revealing the plurality of belief that Charles Taylor sees as a key feature of our secular age. Looking to a range of writers from the period, this module will explore the capacity of literature to challenge and deepen our understanding of religion.
Literature and the Visual Arts
Is it possible to ‘read’ a painting? Can an artist interpret a poem in paint? This module addresses the complex relationship between literature and the visual arts, tracing key debates in aesthetic theory from Romanticism to the twenty-first century. Literature and the Visual Arts will begin with an introduction to key critical terms and an examination of the painting-inspired poetry of, for example, John Keats and W. H. Auden. Subsequent seminars will explore the work of figures such as William Blake, John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites who blur the distinction between literature and art; the revival of the Pop Art tradition and postmodern narrative practices; the advent of photography; and, finally, the fusion of word and image in graphic novels including texts such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The module will draw on the unique resources of the University’s Ruskin Library and rare book archive.
Logic and Language
The module provides an introduction to formal logic together with an examination of various philosophical issues that arise out of it. The syllabus includes a study of the languages of propositional and quantificational logic, how to formalize key logical concepts within them, and how to prove elementary results using formal techniques. Additional topics include identity, definite descriptions, modal logic and its philosophical significance, and some criticisms of classical logic.
Medieval Theatre: Drama Before Shakespeare
Course Aims and Objectives:
At a time when life was viewed as a constant struggle between good and evil within the human soul, how was the inner self conceived? Furthermore, when public life was a type of performance in itself, how did people publicly enact their identities? And how did those private and public identities function in such a rigidly hierarchical society? With an emphasis on close critical readings, this course aims to explore medieval identities by looking at manifestations of self in literature and drama; it will examine and challenge distinctions between public and private, questioning the concept of subjectivity in this period, and consider moments of personal crisis. As well as looking at the role of performance in everyday life and organised drama, we will study the creation of narrative voices and personas in literary texts, and interrogate the interrelationship of text, ‘voice’ and performance. The course also sets aside seminar time to develop close reading skills and build familiarity with Middle English language.
Modernism towards Postmodernism
This course will trace the evolution of English (including American) literature in a period of social and political change stretching from the Boer War to the Cold War, from the Edwardian era to the Space Age. It will explore the dynamics of literary history, focusing on the strain of radical experimentation that characterizes so much twentieth-century writing. We will examine the ways in which modernist writers from Eliot to Woolf renewed and re-shaped the language of literature; we shall consider how some representative post-modernist writers (Beckett and Pynchon) addressed the problem of how to follow their formidable literary predecessors. The first term’s work considers writers working in, and sometimes against, the British context (including New Zealand and Ireland); the second term considers those working in, and sometimes against, the American context. Given the transnational nature of Modernism, this in turn begs the question of whether primary allegiance was owed to nation, or to art.
Monstrous Bodies: Romantic Period Poetry and Prose
Using a range of texts and genres from 1790s to the 1820s this module will consider the importance of the physical human body, in health and sickness. Examining the historical context in which these texts were written, we will look at such topics as illness, death, doctors, medical treatments, recreational drug use, pregnancy, disability, physical strength, sexuality, sensuality, health, race, gender, physiognomy and phrenology. How did Romantic poets and prose writers imagine the body? What did they think of the distinction between the mind and body or between the body and soul? How was the body understood medically? How are people made ‘monsters’ in the period and for what political purpose? The module will explore how bodies are not to be thought of as neutral or ahistorical but instead as historically-contingent sites of dismodule.
Performing Death, Desire and Gender
How are acts of desire, murder, fake and ‘real’ deaths represented on stage in early modern drama and how are these experiences gendered? The module will explore the construction and deconstruction of death, desire and genders by focusing on performance. The performativity of gender, on stage and beyond, was materialised in the theatres of early modern England where boys played female roles, representing female desire, and often same-sex desire, at the same time. Modern films and productions of early modern plays create similar (and different) gender-effects. We will study texts by Marlowe, Middleton, Heywood, Webster, Wroth using a mixture of discussion, analysis of films / productions and short practical explorations (such as getting the text ‘on its feet’). The module will ask when and how can death be comic in performance? Does outlawed desire always lead to tragedy? How did drama help to shape human experiences of desire and violence? No previous experience of (or expertise in) acting is necessary but you will be required to think in terms of performance because the module will culminate in a series of short presentations and performances by the group.
Philosophy of Art
The aim of this module is to provide you with a through grounding in some of the central issues in philosophical aesthetics within the continental European tradition. The module introduces these issues by looking at the work of some of the most important philosophers who have written in this tradition. These philosophers are not only important in their own right and because of the influence that they have had and continue to have, but also because their work provides a way in to key debates and issues in aesthetics, as well as to enrich experience of and critical engagement with contemporary art in all its forms.
Philosophy of Medicine
Are psychopaths evil or sick? Should the NHS pay for the treatment of nicotine addiction? Is it right for shy people to take character-altering drugs?
Whether a condition is considered a disease often has social, economic and ethical implications. It tends to be taken for granted that what it is to be healthy can be identified and is desirable. Similarly, it is assumed that those who are diseased or disabled can be diagnosed and require help. In this module we question these assumptions via examining the key concepts of normality, disease, illness, mental illness, and disability.
It’s an illuminating fact that the very phrase ‘climate change’ was first deployed by colonising thinkers who wanted to transform local environments to serve their purposes. Today, it is clearer than ever that the catastrophic effects of global climate change will be most keenly felt by the global poor, especially in colonised or postcolonial spaces. This module explores how postcolonial writing from a variety of locations grapples with environmental change, crisis and collapse, especially the looming spectres of the so-called ‘Anthropocene’ (a buzzword in contemporary theory that we’ll interrogate in our discussions). Our aim throughout will be to explore how postcolonial literature and film can enlarge or transform our environmental imaginaries, not only critiquing or mourning environmental destruction but also hatching alternatives to the destructive ontologies that have shaped our present. We’ll read established and emerging voices from Africa, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, and these primary readings will be supported by readings in postcolonial and environmental theory. Students taking this module will extend their knowledge of postcolonial and environmental literatures and participate in the debates informing the vibrant interdisciplinary field of the Environmental Humanities.
‘[T]he Gothic’, as Nick Groom argues, ‘was not simply a reaction to the Enlightenment, and the rise of the Gothic novel is part of a longer history’ (Groom, 2012, p.xiv). In coining the term Premodern Gothic, this innovative half-unit considers some of the ways in which a range of generically diverse texts produced in England between c.1450 and 1600 engage with Gothic tropes and sensibilities - e.g. ghosts, vampires, castles, darkness, magic, terror and wonder - before ‘the rise of the Gothic novel’.
Schools Volunteering Project
Course Aims and Objectives: This module will be run as a partnership between the Department of English and Creative Writing and the Schools Outreach office. It will help to enhance students’ employability and will be based on the University’s Schools’ Partnership Scheme, which normally supports Lancaster students on 10-week placements in local schools.
The module normally involves classroom observation and assistance, teacher assistance, and the opportunity to design and develop a teaching-related ‘special project’ to be conducted with a designated group of students or the class as a whole. This enables students to develop confidence in communicating their subject, as well as an increased awareness of the roles of schools and universities in educational processes and structures. As well as providing students with practical and communication experience, this module is likely to help with career progression, in particular (though not exclusively) for those interested in pursuing a career in teaching.
Science Fiction in Literature and Film
This course will trace the development of science fiction (SF) in literature and film, providing an insight into the conventions of the genre and, in particular, how the key themes of the science fiction genre have been successfully adapted for the screen. Texts have been chosen from a range of historical periods to enable a consideration of the cultural and historical contexts in which key science fiction texts were produced, and how this effects their development. The course will analyse in detail the formal and generic characteristics of the science fiction novel and short story, and will provide an introduction to the visual aspects of the science fiction film. The course will be organised through a thematic concentration on the themes of time and space travel. It will encompass narratives of time travel, evolution, temporal dislocation and also stories that formally incorporate atemporality. It will consider journeys, encounters, species and ontologies. It will offer discussions about questions of human subjectivity, gender, race, transcendence, love and loss. The module will also constitute an ongoing investigation of the relationship between science fiction film and ‘literary’ SF texts, considering both how the genre is represented through the cinematic form and what happens in terms of narrative structure, plot and characterisation when presented in an audiovisual format.
Ben Jonson claimed of Shakespeare ‘he was not of an age but for all time.’ This course examines Shakespearean drama and poetry in its own time: as a platform in which early modern debates about agency and government, family, national identity, were put into play, and in relation to how we perceive these issues now. The stage was and is a place in which questions of gender, class, race, gain immediacy through the bodies and voices of actors. By examining texts from across Shakespeare’s career, we will explore their power to shape thoughts and feelings in their own age and in ours. We will consider Shakespeare’s manipulation of genre (poetry, comedy, history, tragedy and romance) and the ways the texts make active use of language (verse, prose, rhyme, rhythm) and theatrical languages (costume, stage positions) to generate meaning. The course will consider how, in the past and in the present, Shakespeare’s texts exploit the emotional and political possibilities of poetry and drama
The Byron-Shelley Circle
Course Aims and Objectives:
This course examines the work of three of the great writers of the Romantic period, the poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, and the novelist Mary Shelley. Famously, these three writers lived and worked together during the summer of 1816, an episode that produced two of the dominant myths of modern literature – Frankenstein (in Mary Shelley’s novel) and the Vampire (in a story based on Byron by another member of the group, John Polidori) – both of which we will examine. Throughout their careers these writers were engaged in a creative and critical conversation with each other that addressed major themes including: conceptions of the heroic; the possibilities of political change; literary, scientific and biological creation; empire, slavery, and the East; transgressive love; gender roles; and the Gothic. This course will provide an opportunity to study in detail these writers’ works and to consider them within their historical, cultural and intellectual contexts.
Transformations and Revolutions in Twentieth Century Philosophy
This module focuses upon some key aspects of the history of 20th Century Philosophy.
The module begins by examining a revolution in philosophy at the very start of the 20th century with the origins of analytic philosophy. It then focuses on Wittgenstein’s radical philosophy (or anti-philosophy). Wittgenstein’s own philosophical development brings to the fore a deep schism, or tension, that has existed throughout the century’s philosophy, one which lays between those who hold that philosophy should align itself with natural science and mathematics, and those who reject this view. Students will examine whether philosophy should seek to emulate the natural sciences and illustrate the tension between scientistic and humanistic philosophy via mid-20th century debate about the nature of historical explanation.
The final lectures look at the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy in the 20th century, and upon the emergence of applied philosophy later in the century, asking whether philosophy can ever really be applied to real-life problems.
Urban Gothic in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Fiction
This course explores twentieth and twenty-first century writing about the city that uses Gothic generic conventions and modalities. Cities are ostensibly places of shelter and refuge, but these sites have also always been ambiguous. Gothic is characterised by a concern with vulnerable bodies within confining environments, subjected to threatening forces both visible and intangible. The built environments of Gothic are often plastic and mutable, the setting an animate, changeable, and malevolent force. We will explore the ‘architectural uncanny’ and the ‘urban sublime’, and consider how traditional elements of Gothic fiction are pressed to new ends in response to changing sensory, social and political contexts of urban space and place. We will ask how these texts imagine sensory geographies of the city, how they unsettle the binary between urban and rural, how they represent assemblages of the human and non-human, posthuman biotechnological transformations of the body, and concerns over environmental catastrophe, structural inequality, histories of trauma and gendered dimensions of urban experience. We will work with a range of critical approaches to urban gothic, drawing from literary criticism, Gothic studies, cultural geography and sociology of urban space. While most sources will be textual, these will be complemented with reference to screen media, fine art, graphic novel and UrbEx photography.
In the Victorian period, the decaying castles, corrupt priests and ancestral curses that were so prominent in the first phase of the Gothic novel gave way to an increased emphasis on spectral and monstrous others: ghosts, witches, werewolves, vampires, mummies and other creatures of the night. The module will explore these phenomena in their historical, cultural and literary contexts, with particular focus on emerging discourses of gender, sexuality, colonialism and class. The module will pay special attention to visual aspects of the Gothic, examining book illustration, painting and photography from the period and their relationship with Gothic texts. Students will be asked to consider the relationship between newly emergent forms of modernity (from medical discourses to photography) and the preoccupation with history and the past that is a generic feature of the Gothic. Texts will comprise a selection of novels and short fiction, with additional images and extracts from contextual works provided online and in class.
Victorian Popular Fiction
The module is centred upon three new genres which emerge in the mid-late Victorian period: Detective Fiction; The Adventure Story; Children’s Fiction. Why do these new forms appear when they do? What determines them? We will spend three weeks on each focussing on key texts and writers within the emerging genre and looking at how certain conventions, principles and core concerns develop for new genres as well as considering issues of literary status and canonicity. The course covers quite a lot of ground quite rapidly so each new block is introduced by a lecture providing a full context for analysis of the genre.
The course will be centred upon one key text each week but we will be making connections across and between texts and genres as well. (Is Treasure Island an adventure story or a work of children’s fiction?) Within each session we will explore texts in terms of overlapping themes within a genre and the issues they raise for how we interpret the subject (Colonialism/ Imperialism/ Gender/Education) as well as thinking about issues of narrative structure and voice and the involvement of the reader.
The module will also encourage students to consider the differences made by different forms of representation (e.g. serialisation for adventure stories; illustrations alongside the story for Holmes; initial dramatic representation of Peter Pan). It will be taught by an initial short presentation each week and then workshop type activities. Students may also be expected to contribute informal presentations.
Women Writers of Britain and America
Course Aims and Objectives
In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf famously asks, ‘what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister?’ and goes on to explore the obstacles to literary success that she might have encountered. This module follows Woolf’s lead by seeking to redress the historical marginalisation of women writers in the English literary canon through an exploration of how women have come to writing at different historical moments, what they have chosen to write, and how. A selection of texts from the 17th century through to the 21st, encompassing autobiographical forms, the novel, poetry and drama, are used to examine relationships between gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity and literary production, and to explore continuities, connections and disparities between representations of female experience. The module is historical in terms of both the range of primary texts it addresses, and in the history of feminist theoretical and critical approaches it provides. It is structured generically, in order to facilitate formal analysis of the texts under consideration.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2023/24 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2022/23 were:
Scholarships and bursaries
At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.
Additional costs for this course
You will be able to borrow many books free of charge from the university library, however most students prefer to buy their own copies of at least some of the texts. Costs vary depending on whether these are bought new or second hand.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2022, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2023 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Study abroad courses
In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.
Placement and industry year courses
In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.
Fees in subsequent years
Fees are set by the UK Government annually, and subsequent years' fees may be subject to increases. For international applicants starting in 2022, any annual increase will be capped at 4% of the previous year's fee.
English Literature/Creative Writing
- Chinese Studies and English Literature BA Hons : T1Q3
- English Language and Creative Writing BA Hons : Q3WV
- English Language and Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : Q4WV
- English Language and Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : Q5WV
- English Language and Literature BA Hons : Q302
- English Language and Literature (Placement Year) BA Hons : Q303
- English Language and Literature (Study Abroad) BA Hons : Q306
- English Literature BA Hons : Q300
- English Literature (Placement Year) BA Hons : Q301
- English Literature (Study Abroad) BA Hons : Q307
- English Literature and Creative Writing BA Hons : QW38
- English Literature and Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : QW39
- English Literature and Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : QW40
- English Literature and History BA Hons : QV31
- English Literature and History (Placement Year) BA Hons : QV32
- English Literature and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : QV34
- English Literature with Creative Writing BA Hons : Q3W8
- English Literature with Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : Q3W9
- English Literature with Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : Q3W7
- Film and Creative Writing BA Hons : PW38
- Film and Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : PW39
- Film and Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : PW40
- Film and English Literature BA Hons : PQ33
- Film and English Literature (Placement Year) BA Hons : PQ34
- Film and English Literature (Study Abroad) BA Hons : PQ35
- Fine Art and Creative Writing BA Hons : WW18
- Fine Art and Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : WW19
- Fine Art and Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : WW20
- French Studies and English Literature BA Hons : RQ13
- German Studies and English Literature BA Hons : RQ23
- Spanish Studies and English Literature BA Hons : RQ43
- Theatre and Creative Writing BA Hons : WW48
- Theatre and Creative Writing (Placement Year) BA Hons : WW49
- Theatre and Creative Writing (Study Abroad) BA Hons : WW50
- Theatre and English Literature BA Hons : WQ43
- Theatre and English Literature (Placement Year) BA Hons : WQ44
- Theatre and English Literature (Study Abroad) BA Hons : WQ45
- English Literature and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : QV34
- Film and Philosophy BA Hons : PV35
- Film and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : PV36
- Film and Philosophy (Study Abroad) BA Hons : PV37
- French Studies and Philosophy BA Hons : RV15
- German Studies and Philosophy BA Hons : RV25
- History and Philosophy BA Hons : VVC5
- History and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : VVC6
- History and Philosophy (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VVC7
- History, Philosophy and Politics BA Hons : V0L0
- History, Philosophy and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : V0L1
- Linguistics and Philosophy BA Hons : QV15
- Linguistics and Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : QV16
- Linguistics and Philosophy (Study Abroad) BA Hons : QV17
- Mathematics and Philosophy BA Hons : GV15
- Philosophy BA Hons : V500
- Philosophy (Placement Year) BA Hons : V501
- Philosophy (Study Abroad) BA Hons : V502
- Philosophy and Politics BA Hons : VL52
- Philosophy and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : VL53
- Philosophy and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VL54
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA Hons : L0V0
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Placement Year) BA Hons : L0V1
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : L0V2
- Politics, Religion and Values BA Hons : LV28
- Politics, Religion and Values (Placement Year) BA Hons : LV29
- Politics, Religion and Values (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LV30
- Spanish Studies and Philosophy BA Hons : RV45
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.