Kent’s School of English is ambitious, inclusive, engaged and international. Several of our staff are published authors and poets and there are also numerous internationally recognised scholars. We try to ensure that you are taught by different lecturers with varying approaches, so that, throughout your degree, you encounter fresh ideas and new authors.
We keep our class sizes small to ensure you receive as much individual attention as possible.
Our degree programme
At Kent, you choose your own pathway through your degree. There are
very few compulsory modules, which puts you in control of your learning
from the very beginning, giving you the intellectual freedom to grow as
an individual and as a student of literature. You may wish to follow
modules that provide an account of literature from Chaucer to the
present day. Or you can focus on American literature, medieval and Tudor literature, postcolonial literature or modern poetry.
In your first year, you are introduced to the major forms of literature: poetry, narrative prose and drama. You study how writers of different backgrounds and time periods have confronted the concept of identity and gain an understanding of critical theory and theoretical approaches to literature. You also study and produce creative work in the form of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
In your second year, you select the particular periods of literature
you want to study and gain a solid grounding in literary studies. You
also take modules that ask you to look closely at techniques and writing strategies in poetry, and elements in fiction such as point-of-view and characterisation. These modules teach you about writing and give you
the chance to practise, through writing exercises, workshops and
assignments, your own writing.
In your final year, you explore more specialised topics. Our modules
are varied, covering Middle English literature through to 21st-century writing, with some focusing on individual authors such as Hardy and
Woolf. You also choose modules from a selection specifically aimed at
Creative Writing students, which explore areas such as memoir, the
boundaries between prose and poetry, and historical fiction.
Your year abroad takes place between your second and final years of
study and gives you the opportunity to see your subject from a new
perspective and discover a new culture. Previous destinations include:
the USCanadaEuropeHong Kong.
Alternatively, you can take our three-year degree, without a year abroad. For details, see English Literature and Creative Writing.
There are a variety of literary activities at Kent. Students in the
School of English publish a magazine of their creative writing, poetry
and prose. There are also a number of student-run societies with a
literary theme. In previous years these have included the:
Creative Writing Society T24 Drama Society Poetry Society Literature Society.
The student newspaper, InQuire, is run by the student union
and gives you the opportunity to develop your writing skills and to gain valuable work experience in journalism.
The School of English runs research seminars, workshops and social
events, as well as a successful creative writing series of readings,
where well-known writers and publishers share their experiences and
skills. Previous guests include:
Iain Sinclair Patience Agbabi Terry Eagleton.
All our students receive free membership to the Institute of
Contemporary Arts (ICA) in central London, giving you access to the
ICA’s facilities and a small number of internships.
Teaching and assessment can vary between modules. All modules are taught by weekly seminars. In addition to seminars, the majority of literature modules also include a weekly lecture. The majority of Stage 2 and Stage 3 Creative Writing modules also include a weekly workshop.
Assessment at Stage 1 and 2 is by a mixture of coursework and examination. Some modules may include an optional practical element.
Assessment at Stage 3 is by coursework only and may include an optional Dissertation/Creative Writing project.
Attendance at seminars is required, and for the majority of modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance.
Knowledge and understanding
You develop knowledge and understanding of:
- a wide range of authors and texts from different periods of literary history, in both British and American literature
- the principal literary genres, fiction, poetry, drama and of other kinds of writing and communication; insight into the varying demands imposed by their written production
- the challenges involved in producing original imaginative writing as they relate to several different genres
- literatures in English from countries outside Britain and America
- traditions in literary criticism and their relationship with creative writing
- terminology used in literary criticism
- the cultural and historical contexts in which literature is written, transmitted and read
- critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
- literary criticism as a practice subject to considerable variation of approach.
You develop the following intellectual skills:
- application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry
- evaluation of critical interpretations
- ability to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of critical theory and general methodology; ability to synthesise material from a number of sources in a coherent creative whole
- ability to make discriminations and selections of relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge or of a body of creative material
- exercise of problem-solving skills, especially in the context of creative writing
- the ability to organise and present research findings
- the ability to frame oral criticism of creative work sensitively and constructively and to digest it to good effect.
You develop the following subject-specific skills:
- enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts and written creative work in progress
- ability to structure and edit original creative work
- informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature and contemporary writing
- ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to the study of literature and technical alternatives and their implications in the context of creative writing
- sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature and to their implications for the practising writer
- very well-developed linguistic resourcefulness including attention to tone and register and a grasp of standard critical terminology
- articulate responsiveness to literary and other persuasive language
- appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
- appropriate professional practice in the presentation of creative work, in particular in formatting and normal submission procedure
- understanding of how cultural norms, assumptions and practices influence questions of judgement
- appreciation of the value of collaborative intellectual work in developing critical judgement.
You develop the following transferable skills:
- developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
- highly developed writing skills and enhanced fluency in creative, discursive and general communicative contexts
- enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
- enhanced confidence in the writing and presentation of original projects
- developed critical acumen and critical diagnostic skills
- the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information or creative material of diverse kinds
- competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work and in the conception, planning, execution and editing of individual creative work
- enhanced capacity for independent thought, intellectual focus, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
- enhanced original creativity, imagination, judgement and powers of self-criticism
- enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual or creative work, including more finely tuned listening and questioning skills
- the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
- the ability to respond to a variety of creative positions while sustaining confidence in your own
- research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
- IT skills: word-processing, email communication, the ability to access electronic data.
The programme aims to:
- introduce you to a range of predominantly British and American literatures, and study them both as literature and as sources of technical expertise, inspiration and best practice in their own writing
- enable you to develop an historical awareness of literary traditions and place your own endeavour within that tradition
- develop your understanding, critical appreciation and practical powers of application of the expressive resources of language
- offer sustained opportunities for you to discover and develop your potential for creative writing in more than one generic area
- offer generous scope for the study of literature and creative writing within an interdisciplinary context
- develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
- develop your ability to assimilate and organise a mass of diverse information
- offer you the experience of a variety of teaching styles and approaches to the study of literature and contemporary writing
- develop your independent critical thinking, judgement, originality and self-reliance
- provide a basis for the study of English, creative writing or related disciplines at a higher level
- provide a basis for future creative writing in a number of different genres
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach English literature and/or creative writing
- provide the opportunity to experience another culture’s approaches to English and American literature and creative writing
- if studying in continental Europe, to develop the ability to communicate in another language, in part through the provision of language modules at the host University.