Kent’s School of English is an energetic and enterprising department. 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.
Seminars form a crucial part of your learning experience and you are able to express your own ideas and opinions. We keep our class sizes small to ensure you receive as much individual attention as possible.
Our degree programme
This programme opens students to the possibilities of transatlantic exchange (with literature from the United States and Canada) and, through a range of specialist modules, the study of global literatures in English including the literature of Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, India and the Caribbean.
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 subject of identity and the kinds of identities literature depicts. You also gain an understanding of critical theory and the way we read and think about literature in the 21st century.
You study broad periods and genres of English and American literature and explore a variety of critical approaches in your second and final years. You take one module in pre-1800 literature and then choose from a broad range of additional modules covering modern American literature, modernism, Shakespeare and Victorian literature.
In your final year, you move into specialised areas of study. Our specialist modules explore specific authors, genres or topics and have previously included contemporary British and Irish poetry, Thomas Hardy, the graphic novel, Native American Literature, the Brontës and postcolonial writing. You can also opt to complete a supervised dissertation.
English and American Literature student Domonique talks about her course at Kent.
It is possible to spend a year on placement gaining valuable workplace experience and increasing your professional contacts. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply.
You can study abroad at one of our partner universities between the second and final year. Previous destinations include the US, Canada, Europe and Hong Kong. For details, see English and American Literature with an Approved Year Abroad.
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.
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.
Attendance at seminars is required, and for the majority of modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a wide range of authors, texts and cultures from 1350 to the present day in both British and American Literature
- the principal literary genres, fiction, poetry, drama and of other kinds of writing and communication
- the cultural, national and historical contexts in which literature is written, transmitted and read, particularly inflected by traditions of study in English, American and Postcolonial Literature
- awareness of the range and variety of approaches to literary study, include creative practice
- traditions in literary criticism
- the mechanisms of circulation and reception of literary texts
- critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
- the ways the study of literature relates to other disciplines
- the ways literary work relates to other aesthetic forms
- the history and conventions of the principal literary genres.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- listening to and absorbing the oral transmission of complicated data
- careful reading of literary works and theoretical material
- reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, using power of analysis and imagination
- marshalling a complex body of information
- remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- constructing cogent arguments
- formulating independent ideas and defending them in a plausible manner
- presenting arguments in written form in a time-limited context (examinations).
You gain the following subject-specific skills:
- enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts
- informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
- ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies
- sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
- sensitivity to the problems of translation and cultural difference
- ability to articulate the relation between literary work and other aesthetic forms
- well-developed language use and awareness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
- articulate responsiveness to literary language
- appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
- 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
- enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
- developed critical acumen
- the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
- competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work
- enhanced skills in critical analysis
- enhanced capacity for independent thought, intellectual focus, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
- enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work, including more finely tuned listening skills
- the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
- 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 wide range of literatures, particularly British and American, from Chaucer to the present day, and encourage you to identify and develop your own interests and expertise in fields of literary study
- enable you to develop an historical and cross-cultural awareness of literary traditions and the ways in which they interact
- develop your understanding and critical appreciation of the expressive resources of language
- offer opportunities for you to develop your potential for creative writing
- offer generous scope for the study of literature within an interdisciplinary context
- enable you to follow a particular pathway within the context of English and American literary study
- 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
- develop your capacity for independent critical thinking and judgement
- provide a basis for the study of English or related disciplines at a higher level
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach English literature, including a broad frame of cultural reference
- provide you with the opportunity to develop more general skills and competences so that you can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.