Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: English Literature and Scottish Literature

Why choose English Literature and Scottish Literature at the University of Edinburgh?

  • You will be joining the oldest English literature department in the world, to study in a city that has an excellent tradition of literature.

  • In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 80 per cent of our research in English Language and Literature was classified world-leading (4) or internationally excellent (3).

  • We host several creative writing magazines and sponsor dramatic productions every year, produced and performed by English literature students. Our Writer-in-Residence, currently poet Sam Riviere, is on hand for consultation.

  • We also run the James Tait Black Prizes in fiction, biography and drama, Britain's oldest literary awards.

Study abroad

Literature is my greatest passion. A literary text can be explored historically, culturally and philosophically, which gives a student of literature a lot of scope for learning.

Pratyusha Prakash 3rd year MA (Hons) English Language & Literature
Pratyusha Prakash 3rd year MA (Hons) English Language & Literature

You will study literature written in English from all major periods in history, from medieval to postmodern. You will explore in depth a range of individual works and authors, and the historical contexts in which works of literature were created.

You will learn to compare different writing styles and genres. You will also study the evolution of literary thinking and how literary works have been interpreted in different ways over time.

The city of Edinburgh provides an excellent setting to study literature. It was named the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004 and hosts the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival, which attracts the biggest names in literature and publishing.

Our central location puts a range of excellent facilities within easy reach, including the city’s exceptional collection of libraries. The University library is complemented by the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Central Library, and the Scottish Poetry Library.

The city also offers the Writers’ Museum, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and several outstanding theatres. The student drama scene is particularly vibrant, with the annual International Festival and its Fringe allowing students to perform the best of their productions before a large and cosmopolitan audience.

As well as the courses in creative writing we offer, our Writer-in-Residence offers guidance in the production of fiction and poetry, and several creative writing magazines are produced from within English Literature. Our student newspaper has developed contacts with the Edinburgh and Glasgow press.

English Literature takes as its field, writing from any and all of the English-speaking cultures. We offer a wide range of courses, taught by world-class experts in their subjects, that have been designed and revised around the latest developments in thinking about writing and culture. These courses make it possible for you to make an original contribution to these contemporary debates.

Year 1

You will study English Literature 1 or Scottish Literature 1. These courses will introduce you to some of the major stylistic aspects of literary writing and you will study modern literary and critical theory. In English Literature you will investigate the historical development of English literature from the Medieval period to the 17th century. In Scottish Literature you will examine the relationship between Scottish national identity and literature from the Medieval period to the present.

Year 2

You will take English Literature 2 or Scottish Literature 2. Both courses examine the changes in literature between 1750 and 1950 and the cultural and historical contexts in which the literature of this period was produced.

Year 3

You can start to specialise and choose courses according to your area of interest and will take compulsory courses in critical practice.

Year 4

You can choose further specialist courses and will write an independent dissertation.

Are there additional costs?


Our facilities

Most of the courses are taught within the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures, located within the University's Central Area. You will also have access to the University's libraries and computing facilities.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to spend Year 3 studying abroad, either at a range of universities in Europe through the ERASMUS scheme (including Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona), or in a number of universities worldwide through the University’s international exchange programme (including Pennsylvania, California, Toronto, Hong Kong and Melbourne).

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by exams, coursework and your honours dissertation.

There are a variety of careers open to English and Scottish Literature graduates. You can choose to work in publishing, teaching, arts administration, the creative industries or a media-related career such as PR, journalism or advertising.

Graduates have also gone on to work in the finance or business sectors.

Some students pursue postgraduate study.