Explore the rich traditions of literature while developing your talents as a writer, editor and publisher in our unique project-based programme. Find your own voice and discover how to make it heard in today’s literary marketplace.
Covering British, Irish, American, Indigenous, Postcolonial and World literatures, English Literature and Creative Writing at Kent is truly global, cutting edge, creative, interactive and vibrant.
In your first year, you will learn the essentials of creative writing practice, such as journaling, workshopping, editing and redrafting, while taking modules on the major forms of literature (poetry, drama and fiction), as well as option modules on how literature addresses crucial issues such as the environment, power and protest, the social impacts of technology or contemporary feminism.
In second year, you will take specialised modules on the writing of fiction, poetry and other forms, while choosing which aspects of literary history to study from the 1300s to the present day. In this year, will also decide what you would like to do as your project in your final year, which may take any form, from a dissertation, novel or poetry collection to an online exhibition, community project, or mobile application—and more.
In third year, as well as completing your project, you will take a number of specialist modules that take you deep into cutting-edge areas of experimental writing and literary research. Your degree will culminate in an Arts Festival and Summer School, where you may have the opportunity to exhibit your work to the public and potential employers.
“I liked the range of the literature we studied at Kent - the fact that we looked at all sorts of genres, from all sorts of periods. It gave me a good literary grounding, a great sense of the way that literature in English has developed over the centuries”
– Sarah Waters, graduate and award-winning novelist (Fingersmith, Tipping the Velvet)
“Are you ambitious? Kent is the place to nurture those dreams. And if they are interested in creative writing, they are well at home.”
- David Ishaya Osu, graduate and published poet.
During your course, there are a wealth of ways to add further value your degree and get involved with literary activities.
Kent Extra provides a range of co-curricular activities to enhance your employability and add a new dimension to student life. You can spend a year abroad, work in industry, attend a summer school, volunteer, or take a Study Plus course. You could even add a year in Computing, Data Analytics, Journalism or a Language to your degree and increase your employability.
Publish your work with the School of English’s magazine, showcasing students in creative writing, poetry and prose, or alternatively consider writing for the University’s own student, InQuire, run by the student union, giving you the opportunity to develop your writing skills and to gain valuable work experience in journalism. There are also a number of student-run societies with a literary theme to get involved with, including the Creative Writing, Drama, Poetry or Literature societies.
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. 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.
Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee
We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.
*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. All applications are assessed on an individual basis but some of our typical requirements are listed below. Students offering qualifications not listed are welcome to contact our Admissions Team for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.
BBB including a Humanities based essay writing subject including a humanities based essay writing subject which includes History, English, Philosophy, Religious Studies or Classical Civilisation.
The University welcomes applications from Access to Higher Education Diploma candidates for consideration. A typical offer may require you to obtain a proportion of Level 3 credits in relevant subjects at merit grade or above.
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances. A typical offer would be DMM plus A-level English Literature or English Language & Literature at B.
30 points overall or 15 points at HL, including HL English A1/A2/B at 5/6/6 OR English Literature A/English Language and Literature A (or Literature A/Language and Literature A of another country) at HL 5 or SL 6
Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in the Literature module.
The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.
If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
Register for Priority Clearing at Kent to give yourself a head start this results day.
Duration: 3 years full-time (4 with a year abroad/in industry), 6 years part-time (7 with a year abroad/in industry)
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
Changing Literatures: From Chaucer to the Contemporary Literary Forms aims to introduce students to the major forms of literature: poetry, prose and drama, with a core emphasis on innovation. Students will examine the formal structures and generic features of these major forms and, through studying specific examples, observe how these forms change over time and in response to changes in authorship, literary production, and audience/readership. Students will also be exposed to contemporary literary forms, such as literature written via social media (Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram), literature created by Artificial Intelligence, experimental literature, and asked to critically assess them in relation to traditional forms of literature. Embedded in this module will also be the development of writing and research skills that will equip students to manage successfully the transition from A-level to university study in the field of English and American Literature.
Critical theory and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of literary texts have become increasingly fundamental to English Studies, while also offering a number of rich and complex ways of reading and understanding society and culture more generally. In this course, we will introduce you to some key theoretical readings that may, for instance, include: feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, Post-Colonialism and Critical Race Studies, and Queer Theory, among others. Through these readings, we will invite you to make connections between theoretical approaches and to think about how they might inform your reading practices on this and other courses. The aim of this work is to help you to understand the significance and usefulness of theory on its own terms, as well as giving you a coherent grounding in the ways theoretical concepts help us to approach and understand literary and other texts. Through this, you will develop a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic relationship between theory and culture, literature and politics.
This module will introduce students to essential Creative Writing techniques, practices and strategies, such as journaling, workshopping, and editing and redrafting. Students will be asked to consider the range of approaches, concerns, and sources of material that writers draw upon, and to understand how that material is shaped into creative output. A range of sample texts will be presented to students as models for their own creative practice — they will be encouraged to work across genres, in a variety of short prose and poetic forms. Thematic blocks will focus on, for example, 'form, freedom and constraint'; ‘time, tense and memory’; ‘writing and place’; ‘manifestoes’. The importance of critical responses, and the role of the creative writer as critic, will be emphasised.
American Power, American Protest introduces students to the relation between text and power, as it has manifested in US history. It looks at how language has enforced control as well as how it has been mobilised to challenge power. In so doing, it will introduce the necessary tools to understand and critique the aesthetic, political and rhetorical choices of a range of important cultural and political figures. Students will analyse the specific social factors that give rise to the texts they encounter, and survey a range of key historical events and struggles in US history.
To have the right to the world, is to have the right to write, read and construct the world, the right to make a different world.
Travelling across all parts of the globe and spanning 500 years, this module introduces a range of literatures and arts that focus on the right to the world as related to displacement, movements and actions. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's 'right to the city’ and ‘right to difference’, the module provides a platform to interrogate who has the right to write, read and construct the world, and explores ways authors and artists of diverse backgrounds have struggled to claim the right to write, read and construct the world (social, physical and mental places and spaces, which may include: buildings, borders, camps, cities, countries, homes, kitchens, lands, nations, maps, States, streets, seas, villages, and so on) they are living in. These authors and artists are instrumental in providing an understanding of the world we are living in, mainly through highlighting the relationship between the right to the world and internal and external displacement, alongside social movements and political action that relate to local, national and global practices of activism. To demonstrate the relationship between the right to the world and creative activism, the module introduces works in diverse forms, including fiction and non-fiction, written, performative and audio-visuals, and archival. To equip an understanding of the relationship between contemporary and past struggles for the right to the world, the module transitions between key moments, movements and mobilities – including from medieval Western women on a pilgrimage, to feminist Arab women border-crossing to postcolonial Europe; from 18th Century Abolition to Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter; from Spanish, Ottoman, British Colonialism to Windrush Scandal, Indigenous Rights, Islamophobia, Hostile Environment; from Romantism to an Environmental Crisis. To demonstrate how literature and arts has socio-political and economic potential, the module provides access to various organisations (e.g. charities, grassroot organisations, and activist networks) related to the specific rights, social movements and political action. All of these topics will culminate into the creation of a project that writes to the world, raising public awareness of a specific right to the world that can make a different world.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature. It will equip students with critical ideas that will help them become more skilful and confident readers of texts in and beyond this period. Students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts: environmental (for example, considering the effects of urbanisation and the Industrial Revolution); imaginative (examining a variety of genres: for example fable, dream-vision, novel); political (class conflicts, changing gender roles, ideas of nation and empire); and psychological (representations of growing up, courtship, sibling and parent-child relationships, dreams and madness). Students will be made aware of such critical concepts as realism and allegory and will be encouraged to think about various developments of literary form in the period. Students will also be asked to reflect critically on the legacies and afterlives of the Victorian period and its literature in contemporary Britain.
This module will introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers’ responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, austerity, and crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. Throughout, we will explore both thematic and formal concerns.
Before 1660 there was no English novel, and by the end of the eighteenth century there was Jane Austen. This module asks how such a literary revolution was possible. It investigates the rise of professional authorship in an increasingly open marketplace for books. With commercial expansion came experiment and novelty. Genres unheard of in the Renaissance emerged for the first time: they include the periodical essay, autobiography, the oriental tale, amatory fiction, slave narratives and, most remarkably, the modern novel. Ancient modes such as satire, pastoral and romance underwent surprising transformations. Many eighteenth-century men and women felt that they lived in an age of reason and emancipation – although others warned of enlightenment's darker aspect. Seminar reading reflects the fact that an increasing number of women, members of the labouring classes, and African slaves wrote for publication; that readers themselves became more socially varied; and that Britain was growing to understand itself as an imperial nation within a shifting global context. It asks students to reflect, as eighteenth-century writers did, upon the literary, cultural and political implications of these developments. There will be weekly lectures and seminars.
This module will concentrate on, as it says, The Elements of Fiction. The elements that will be covered are: point-of-view; characterisation; dialogue; plot; structure and planning; voice and tone; description and imagery; location and place; editing and re-editing; theme. Each week, there will be a different technical theme, exemplified by prior reading. Students will discuss the set texts, as exemplars of writerly craft. These discussions will be supported and illustrated by writing exercises. As the term progresses, the focus will shift more on to the students' own work; and writing workshops will be an integral part of the seminars.
This module looks at some of the most innovative early twentieth century writers. As well as famous authors, such as the novelists Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and the poet T. S. Eliot, the module examines a wide range of figures, such as Gertrude Stein, who pioneered the 'stream-of-consciousness' technique; the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis, who imitated the bombastic stance of the Italian Futurists; and the African American poet Langston Hughes, who saw the modernist moment as an opportunity to create a new ‘Negro art’. This period is characterised as much by its lively and often strident artistic manifestos as it is by its sometimes monumental literary works, and we take a close look at this climate of literary debate. We will analyse these writers against the background of changing social and sexual attitudes, examine the connections with literary and artistic developments in France and Italy, and unearth some of the less well-known writers of the period who are increasingly viewed as central to modernist literary history.
The drama of early modern England broke new literary and dramatic ground. This module will focus on key plays across the period. It will explore the development of dramatic writing, the status of playing companies within the London theatres, drama's links to court entertainment and its relationship to the provinces. Dramatic and literary form will be a central preoccupation alongside issues of characterisation, culture, politics, and gender. Shakespeare’s work will be put into context in relation to the plays of his contemporary dramatists as well as the various cultural, historical and material circumstances that influenced the composition, performance and publication of drama in early modern England.
This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.
This module will introduce students to a range of writing from the late-medieval period. It focuses on a number of central genres in English literature that emerged between the late-fourteenth and early-sixteenth-centuries (romance, tragedy and fabliaux, miracle plays and devotional prose), and will explore some key topics and themes in medieval literature. In previous years, we have explored, for example: authority and the idea of the 'author', politics and social change, gender, sexuality, piety, personal identity, chivalry, free will, legend, historicism, reading technologies and practices, iconography, and medievalism. The themes and theories covered by the course will vary from year to year in response to the lecture programme, and to the emphases made by individual teachers.
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales will offer an accessible introduction to many of these core genres and themes, and initiate students in issues that are pertinent to less familiar writers and texts from the period, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's Le Morte Darthur, and The Book of Margery Kempe. During the course of the module you will also learn about the historical and cultural contexts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, how such contexts influenced the literature of the period, and how modern medievalisms (the versions of ‘the medieval’ presented in, for instance, film, TV , art and historical novels) have shaped twenty-first-century ideas about medieval life and literature.
This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.
In taking this module, you will have the opportunity to become a future creator, shaping and changing the landscape of how we tell stories. Whether through multi-platform storytelling, alternate reality games, immersive theatre, locked room experiences, interactive art and gallery exhibitions, virtual and enhanced (augmented, integrated, mixed) realities, cross-media marketing campaigns, or hybrid projects, the possibilities for interactive and immersive narratives are constantly growing and developing, as audiences, readers and users begin to expect more from the ways in which stories are told.
This module explores how interactive and immersive fictions enable and empower us to rethink and reshape how stories are told within a range of different contexts. In an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment, students will develop creative skills such as how to build immersive imaginary worlds; how to craft story archaeologies; and how to incorporate user interactivity into different forms of fiction, in order to create experiences that have emotional and psychological value. We will examine questions such as: what makes a meaningful interactive or immersive story? How do interactive and immersive forms change the way we think about terms like narrative and reader? What influences a person's experience of an immersive or interactive story? And what do current, past and future technologies make possible for the telling of stories?
To take the module, students need only have an interest in the craft of storytelling and a vivid imagination; previous experience of gaming or programming may be useful but is not essential. With an emphasis on practical creative work and collaborative learning, this module will interest students from a range of backgrounds, including creative writing, game design, arts, marketing and theatre.
As discussions about mental health and the challenging of stigmas surrounding mental illness, make their way into the mainstream more and more, there has never been a better time to explore the ways in which literary and cultural texts frame and represent mental wellbeing. In this module, students will have the opportunity to examine, respond to, and reflect upon, a range of representations of mental health and mental illness, and the broader social and historical ideas which they reveal.
Drawing on critical texts from the fields of Mad Studies, alongside prose memoir texts, lyric essays, poetry collections, and film and image, the module will explore, critically examine, and creatively respond to some of the various thematic lenses through which mental health and mental illness have been represented. These themes include, for instance, mental health in relation to idleness and work; shame and secrecy; spectacle and morality; sin and punishment; animality and dehumanization; order and disorder; contagion and pathology; leisure and decadence; surveillance and authority; transgression, borderlands and margins; social uniformity and 'family values'; feminisation and silence; and rebellion and protest.
The module will furnish students with the necessary tools required to discuss issues of mental health and mental illness critically and with understanding; as well as providing the opportunity to explore and reflect on these issues creatively in a range of forms. Students are invited to take either a critical or a creative approach to their final projects - or a hybrid of the two – and both approaches will be fully supported throughout the module.
Feminist poet and critic Adrienne Rich suggested that poetry could be a space that allows 'the structures of power to be described and dismantled'. Romantic poet P. B. Shelley called poets ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. Can poetry help us reimagine and restructure our world? What forms might those imaginings and restructures take? What are you, and your poetry, invested in? And what kinds of writing could your poetry be?
This module approaches these questions from different angles. You will have the opportunity to discuss and learn how to write texts for sound performance, visual texts, traditional poetic forms, prose poems, and lyric essays. We will explore what poetry can be and where it meets prose, art, and music, looking at a range of writers: from more traditional poetic texts to contemporary and experimental writing that defies traditional form and easy categorization as a ‘poem’, and investigating how language can be played with through writing experiments and exercises.
This module allows you to think through the relationships between identity, intention, effect, and subject matter through a variety of different writing methods, techniques, procedures and approaches and forms. You will learn how to apply this thinking to your own writing: how, for example, might you want to write back against something that’s made you angry? Could a poetic procedure help you to take back or examine its power over you? Could you erase it, collage it, reduce it to it sound? You will be given the tools to learn how to identify how what is important to you could make an interesting writing project, and discover what forms of articulation can enable you to write this most effectively.
All our undergraduate degrees are also available with a Placement Year. For more information about this option please see Placement Year.
Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.
All students within the Faculty of Humanities can apply to spend a Term or Year Abroad as part of their degree at one of our partner universities in North America, Asia or Europe. You are expected to adhere to any progression requirements in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to proceed to the Term or Year Abroad.
The Term or Year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see Go Abroad.
This module gives an opportunity for intensive study of one of the major novelists of Victorian England. There are many different views and interpretations of Dickens circulating in our culture. He has been dismissed as a writer of cosy sentimentality, celebrated as a radical critic of his age, and admired for his prodigious output and creative innovation.
Studying a selection of his fiction, we will consider a wide variety of interpretations, in the light of the most current literary criticism of Dickens's works. We will analyse Dickens’s texts in terms of narrative method, genre, characterisation, imagery and book history and – in the process – we will examine how the novels respond to, or challenge, significant aspects of Victorian culture and society such as class, gender, family, nation, childhood, the city, empire, industrialisation, and modernity.
This module raises students' awareness of contemporary issues in postcolonial writing, and the debates around them. This includes a selection of important postcolonial texts (which often happen to be major contemporary writing in English) and studies their narrative practice and their reading of contemporary culture. It focuses on issues such as the construction of historical narratives of nation, on identity and gender in the aftermath of globalisation and 'diaspora’, and on the problems associated with creating a discourse about these texts.
This module presents students with an opportunity to formulate and deliver a research project of their own making, whether it be a dissertation, a portfolio of texts, a publication, a podcast, a documentary, a short film, a performance, an app, or another form of public interaction derived from literary research. Supported by appropriate instruction, this module develops independent research skills and creative practices, provides a chance to engage with material of personal and/or professional interest, and offers the possibility of laying claim to a specific area of study. This is a student's opportunity to devote a sustained period of time to an area for which they feel enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer narratives often hold a revelatory place in the personal identity formation of many British and Irish people in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Indeed, queer literature offers a powerful site for identity critique and formation. In the nascent genre of the 'coming out' story, in narratives of both personal and systemic oppressions, as well as in tales of outward resistance, queer writers in Britain and Ireland have used (and continue to use) literary modes to speak back to the very cultural homophobia and transphobia, which marginalises them and their communities. This module invites students to explore the unique place that literature and art maintains in the formation of LGBTQ political identities, cultures, pasts, and futures; students will also be prompted to consider how queerness—specifically in Britain and Ireland—intersects with categories such as class, race, nationality and others. The module will consider a broad range of British and Irish LGBTQ writing from the late twentieth century to the present: sampling significant texts in poetry, drama, prose, and television drama.
This module explores the ways in which Shakespeare's plays and Shakespeare as a cultural icon function within historic and contemporary racial politics. It examines intercultural appropriations of Shakespeare on stage and film, and their racial and cultural meanings. In doing so, students are encouraged to address the role that Shakespeare and his plays have in historic racial politics, global, colonial and postcolonial histories, as well as contemporary discussions (often seen in Twitter hashtags such as #ShakeRace, #RaceB4Race and #BLM). It will focus on five texts and productions, such as Titus Andronicus, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, Othello and The Tempest.
The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically about creative non-fiction and autofiction. This module asks how these forms explore and value alternative modes to epistemology, including embracing those things which are difficult to put into language or 'unknown'. You will explore the techniques writers use when writing about their own lives, analyse the success of these techniques, and discuss the ethics of various forms of ‘life writing’. You will then attempt your own writing in one of these genres or a critical commentary on a topic from the module. Many of the texts we read will be contemporary, but there will also be important literary and critical works from the last 200 years, including on topics such as psychoanalysis, desire, ecocriticism, and the non-human. The Unknown asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write and invites you to explore these questions creatively and critically.
This module will investigate the theory and practice of innovation in the contemporary novel. Students will be exposed to a variety of stimulating contemporary novels, encouraged to make connections between them and assess the ways in which they incorporate innovative devices, prompting students to think about the boundaries and limits of fiction and the novel.
Students will respond to the studied texts through their own writing, and, as the module progresses, will begin work on introductory chapters to their own novels. Writing workshops provide the opportunity for students to share ideas and works-in-progress; technical exercises will encourage experimentation and the development of the writers' unique voice.
This module explores the eighteenth century fascination with bodies and the truths (or lies) bodies were supposed to reveal. Our focus will be on the ways in which the body is read and constructed in eighteenth-century literature and how these readings and constructions reflect various concerns about class, race, gender and sexuality. Efforts to regulate the body (particularly the female, plebeian and racialised body) became the focus of many reformers and philanthropists in the period who sought to recuperate the productive (and reproductive) labour of idle or transgressive bodies to serve the nation's moral and financial economies. Other writers, however, emphasised the body's potential to work against social and cultural norms, focusing on events such as the masquerade, in which women dressed as men and aristocrats as chimney sweeps.
Through the course of this module we will examine a range of literary representations of the body which seek both the control the body and to celebrate its disruptive potential. We will read texts from a variety of genres including medical literature, misogynist satire, sentimental novels, popular fiction, travel writing and pornography. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work by Thomas Lacquer, Michel Foucault, Roy Porter, and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, which illuminate the ideological stakes writers played for when writing about the body. Topics for discussion will include disability and deformity, race, the sentimental body, dress and the body, the body as text and the relationship between the body and the body politic. The primary focus of this option will be literature, but we will also examine visual representations of the body in caricature and satire as well as in the portraiture.
'I am a refugee, an asylum-seeker. These are not simple words, even if habit of hearing them makes them seem so. I arrived at Gatwick Airport in the late afternoon of 23 November last year. It is a familiar minor climax in our stories, leaving what we know and arriving in strange places, carrying little bits of jumbled luggage and suppressing secret and garbled ambitions. For some, as for me, it was the first journey by air, and the first arrival in a place so monumental as an airport, though I have travelled by sea and by land, and in my imagination.' (Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea)
Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature 2021, is a compass point for this module, which navigates through experiences and processes of travelling across seas, places and borders that have been a central concern in Gurnah's work since 1987. Anchoring discussion on Gurnah's writing about the effects of colonialism and the immigrant experience between coastlines of southern England and East Africa, the module will then broaden out geographically and historically to explore texts from the coasts of the East Mediterranean, the Caribbean, West Africa, Europe, and beyond. The texts explored are about the journeys of displaced people – asylum seekers, detainees, political exiles, stateless, diaspora – as shaped by key modern historical and political processes. From immigrant arrival and dislocation to national movements and political realities, the module explores connections between places, journeys, borders, and literary and artistic production, and considers sites and processes of heritage, hostility and hospitality, responsibility and neglect, negotiation and contradiction, convergence and discord, clash and reconciliation. It explores concepts such as: belonging and longing; memory; homeland; trauma and mental health; internal and external displacement (physical, mental, physical); sites without rights – refugee camps, jungles, detention/reception centres, prisons, the buffer zone, middle sea/Mediterranean, border-towns, asylums, hospitals. The module provides access to various organisations (e.g. charities, grassroot groups, and activist networks) engaged with migration projects.
This module explores the history and practice of crime fiction in the United States from Edgar Allan Poe in the 1840s through to the present day. Crime fiction will be understood
broadly to encompass a range of generic categories such as detective, hardboiled and police procedural novels and stories. Attention will also be paid to developments in cinema
and television which parallel those in fiction, such as film noir and the contemporary cop series. Strong emphasis will be placed on historically informed reading and students will be
encouraged to relate the close analysis of texts to shifts in narrative form as well as the establishment and transgression of generic conventions.
The study of American crime fiction reaches directly into the heart of many of the key concerns of undergraduate English. Questions about the distinctions between high and low
culture, the seductiveness of particular narrative forms, and dialectic relations between literary and social history will all be addressed. Students will have the opportunity to read
crime fiction alongside elements of Marxist, narrative and genre theory. Eventually they will be able to consider how crime fiction has evolved in its engagement with questions of
race, gender and sexuality in the United States, from the construction of white masculinity in the hardboiled genre to the policing of black communities in the neoliberal city.
If the Bildungsroman has been criticised for being outmoded and conservative, how do contemporary writers interrogate and expand its scope and importance? Are coming-of-age narratives merely private stories or can they be read in ways which highlight their social functions, and what kind of theoretical, aesthetic and cultural perspectives can we apply to scrutinise these functions? This module will bring together a range of texts and films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that can be read within and against the literary tradition of the Bildungsroman or the coming-of-age narrative. Drawing on material from the US, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe, we will spend time analysing the representation of the coming-of-age experience in terms of content and form and assess the ideological functions of the Bildungsroman in a cross-cultural context. Particular attention will be given to questions of racial and ethnic identity, migration, colonialism, memory, trauma, belonging and sexuality. We will also explore the connection of the Bildungsroman with genres such as autobiography, family memoir, young adult fiction, graphic novel, and film. Writers studied in this module include Richard Wright, Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marjane Satrapi, and we will watch films including My Beautiful Laundrette and Bend it Like Beckham.
This module examines the development of Virginia Woolf's writing across the span of her life. It explores Woolf’s most important modernist texts alongside some of her lesser-known writings, and considers a range of literary genres she wrote in (novels, essays, short stories, auto/biography). As well as paying close attention to the distinct style of modernist literature, there will be consideration of various historical, cultural, philosophical, political and artistic contexts that influenced, and were influenced by, Woolf’s writing. Students will be introduced to the key critical debates on Woolf, featuring discussion of topics as diverse as feminism, visual art, the everyday, war, sexuality, gender, class, empire, science, nature and animality. With Woolf as its central focus, this module therefore seeks to understand the lasting significance of modernist literature.
What is the relationship between 'animal' and ‘human’, and how is this explored through writing? This module seeks to examine creaturely relations by focusing on literature from the eighteenth century up to the present, alongside key theoretical and contextual material that engages with questions concerning animality and humanity. We will focus on how writers imagine distinct animal worlds as well as how they understand the role of animals in human cultures. A range of novels, short stories and poems will raise questions about how we look at, think with, and try to give voice to animals, and topics covered will include ‘Becoming Animal’, ‘Animal Autobiography’, ‘Observing Animals’, ‘Colonial Creatures’, ‘Animal Experiments’, ‘Taming and Training’, and ‘Questions for Animals’. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the diverse critical field known as ‘animal studies’, whilst also considering the broader cultural, philosophical and ethical implications of how we think about the relationship between humans and animals.
The New Woman, a controversial figure who became prominent in British literature in the late nineteenth century, challenged traditional views of femininity and represented a more radical understanding of women's nature and role in society. She was associated with a range of unconventional behaviour – from smoking and bicycle-riding to sexuality outside marriage and political activism. This module will examine some of the key literary texts identified with the New Woman phenomenon including women’s journalism in the period. The module’s reading will be organised around central thematic concerns such as: sexuality and motherhood; suffrage and politics; career and creativity. We will consider to what extent the New Woman was a media construction or whether the term reflected the lives of progressive women in the period. This module will also examine how the New Woman became a global phenomenon, beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, before spreading to literature, journalism, and political essays produced around the world by writers from Britain (Mathilde Blind, Mona Caird, Margaret Harkness, George Gissing, Amy Levy, Evelyn Sharp, and Augusta Webster), America (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), Australia (George Egerton), India (Sarojini Naidu), New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield), and South Africa (Olive Schreiner). The module will also consider the legacy of the New Woman in a neo-Victorian novel, Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet (1998).
This module provides students with an opportunity to explore literature written by, for and about medieval women. It will consider women as writers, readers and the subjects of literature; as the consumers, compilers and scribes of books; and as the protagonists and antagonists in a variety of literary and artistic forms produced in England and Europe during late-medieval period. In the course of the module, we will explore how literature reflected, and helped to construct and constrain, women's lives, bodies, sexualities, identities and experiences, and the avenues through which they expressed their thoughts, desires and fears. By examining a range of material, including lyrics and romances, devotional manuals, saints lives, plays, letters, conduct books, sculptures, iconography and the everyday objects owned by women, we will encounter, for example: women as they were and how they were supposed to be; female friendship and same-sex desire; women’s diverse roles in society and in the home; how their bodies and relationships were used in polemic and political discourse; their influence on prominent male writers of the period; and the construction and erasure of late-medieval women’s voices in the historiography of later ages. The specific topics, materials and the date range covered by the module may alter from year to year to reflect teaching staff’s specialisms and interests.
In his 1980 essay, 'The Mathematics of Rimbaud', the poet, performer, and painter Allen Fisher observed that – as a consequence of the innovations in artistic practice throughout the 20th century – the idea of "art as objects and poetry as poems" had gradually lost its credibility. In stating this, Fisher not only articulated a compelling summary of the ways in which the study and practice of poetry and art over the last fifty years have consistently challenged the idea that these works are somehow enclosed, autonomous, or didactic units of meaning. He also indicated that sometimes poetry goes beyond text. Whether we think of the developments in the fields of concrete and visual poetry; poetry's interaction with larger art installations; sound poetry; poetry in performance; or any combination of these different practices, contemporary poetry often invites us to think of 'poems’ as something more than just words printed on a page.
In this module, you will have the opportunity to explore and engage with a diverse range of poetry beyond text, both on a creative and critical level. The curriculum will cover topics and themes including performance poetry (as well as poetry and performance more broadly), verbal artefacts, and intersections between poetry and sonic, visual and digital arts. Through both theory and practice, including regular creative exercises, the module offers you the opportunity to engage with these interdisciplinary poetry practices from both creative and critical perspectives. The assessment methods will also allow you the opportunity to pursue independent research projects that can be either creative or critical, or a combination of the two. Throughout, our studies will help to further enhance your understanding of poetry as a kinetic and mutable form of art.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for this course are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
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 across all Stages is by a varied and exciting range of coursework only. There are no exams in modules from the School of English. Some modules may include an optional practical element. Assessment at Stage 3 may also include an optional Dissertation or final project.
Assessment at Stage 3 is by coursework only and may include an optional English Dissertation/Creative Writing project.
Attendance at seminars is required, and for the majority of modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
The programme aims to:
You develop knowledge and understanding of:
You develop the following intellectual skills:
You develop the following subject-specific skills:
You develop the following transferable skills:
English at Kent scored 87% overall in The Complete University Guide 2023.
Of final-year English students who completed the National Student Survey 2021, 85% were satisfied with the teaching on their course.
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Alongside specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:
You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.
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