Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: English Literature and Scottish Literature

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

  • We're ranked in the world's top 15 universities for English language and literature in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

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

  • We host several creative writing magazines and sponsor dramatic productions every year that are produced and performed by English literature students.

  • We are ranked 14th in the world for arts and humanities in Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 by Subject.

  • Our teaching staff are also highly active researchers, passing on to you the same passion and world-class expertise that gained excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. In English language and literature, 80 per cent of our research was rated either world-leading or internationally excellent on the overall quality profile.

Study abroad

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 Isaacs 3rd year MA (Hons) English Literature
Amber Isaacs 3rd year MA (Hons) English Literature

The study of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh includes writing from any and all of the English-speaking cultures. We offer a wide range of courses, taught by world-class experts, 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 contemporary debates.

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 Edinburgh International Festival and Festival Fringe allowing students to perform the best of their productions before a large and cosmopolitan audience.

As well as our creative writing courses, our writer-in-residence offers guidance in the production of fiction and poetry. We produce several creative writing magazines and our student newspaper has developed contacts with the Edinburgh and Glasgow media.

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 (these include Pennsylvania, California, Toronto, Hong Kong and Melbourne).

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars. You will also be required to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for classes.

How will I be assessed?

Your progress will be assessed through close reading exercises, essays, assignments and exams, and you will receive prompt feedback on all your coursework to help you improve as you go on..

There are a variety of careers open to English and Scottish Literature graduates. You can choose to work in publishing, teaching, arts administration, or the creative industries, or embark on 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.