English Literature

Undergraduate study | English and Scottish Literature

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, we are the oldest department of English Literature in the UK; one of the longest established in the world. Study with us and develop your analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts and a variety of approaches to reading.

By enhancing your unique literary and critical faculties, studying literature prepares you to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important. On our courses, you will explore the cultural contexts of writing in English (and Scots) from around the world, from the late Middle Ages to the present, and develop a detailed knowledge of specific topics, periods or genres, depending on your interests.

With multiple student societies for literature and drama enthusiasts, our large community has lots to offer, including reading and writers’ groups, poetry slams, creative writing magazines, guest seminars, a thriving Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme (LitPALS), and annual writing prizes for prose and verse. We also have a fantastic Writer-in-Residence.

You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with an unrivalled range of libraries, collections and literary venues, from the National Library of Scotland to the Scottish Poetry Library, Writers’ Museum, and Scottish Storytelling Centre. We have strong links with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

There is such a wealth of resources available in Edinburgh. There is history all around and literature is woven into the core of the city. This is incredibly useful for contextualising a lot of the material and keeps alive the passion I have for my subjects.

Amber IsaacsMA (Hons) English Literature and History student

Your learning at a glance

  • You can take a single honours programme in either English Literature or Scottish Literature, combine both in a joint honours programme, or take either with one of a wide range of other subjects, including English Language and a number of European languages.
  • You’ll complete a four-year MA degree, with the opportunity to study abroad in your third year.
  • You’ll engage with a broad range of subjects in your first two years, and specialise thereafter in the topics, periods and genres that interest you most. At all levels, our size and scale means that we have an extensive range of courses for you to choose from, particularly in your Honours years.
  • You’ll be taught by research-active staff who will pass on the same passion and world-class expertise that gained us excellent results in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • You’ll be based in Edinburgh’s historic centre, close to the Main University Library, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Central Library and a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, and theatres.

I've always appreciated the power of literature, the way that it can inspire and shape the world around it, whilst painting a different picture in the mind of every reader.

Chloe-Anne BanksMA (Hons) English Literature and History student

This information was last updated in February 2020 for prospective students wishing to start studying with us in September 2021. 

What and how you'll study

Degree combinations, teaching methods, and a year-by-year guide to your learning.

Where might literature take you?

Career opportunities for English Literature and Scottish Literature graduates.

Find out more and apply

There’s lots of information about our undergraduate English and Scottish Literature programmes on the University of Edinburgh website. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on undergraduate programmes in English and Scottish Literature

If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh web page on making a UCAS application

Visit us

Our undergraduate Open Days are a great chance to find out about student life in Edinburgh from the people who know it best: our students and staff. Our next Open Days will be for students wishing to start their undergraduate degree in 2021. The Open Days scheduled for 26th September and 10th October 2020 are currently still planned to go ahead. The University is also working to develop an online alternative for prospective students thinking about starting university in 2021.

Keep up to date with Open Day information on the University of Edinburgh website