School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature

English Literature

English Literature at the University of Portsmouth is a broad and exciting area of study, in which your passion and curiosity for poetry, fiction and drama will be nurtured and developed. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach, examining relations between literature and other creative forms (film, visual arts) or disciplines (history, cultural studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis). This aims to provide a detailed understanding of literary texts within the socio-cultural contexts and historic conditions of literary production.

The interests of our academic staff cover many topics and time periods of literature in English, and embrace other disciplines (such as history or psychology) and forms (such as film or visual art).  Undergraduate students may therefore expect a course that covers their interests and encourages discovery, on single or combined honours degrees, whilst potential postgraduates can expect to find a specialist relevant to PhD research and a wide range of MA courses.  

As you broaden your knowledge of English literature, you will be encouraged to develop a critical sensibility of the way in which different kinds of texts shape our experience of the world and our identity, and are in turn shaped by their cultural context of production. Through your close readings and critical responses, the course will foster your skills in analysis, reflection and research, and polish your ability to communicate and present your ideas. 

Undergraduate study

English Literature

As an English Literature undergraduate at Portsmouth, you will take a core thread of units covering literary history and technique, then tailor your course to your interests by choosing optional modules from a menu that ranges from Shakespeare to cyberpunk. Pathways are available, which will allow you to combine the study of English with History or Media Studies. The University also offers a combined honours degree in English and Creative Writing.

English Literature students at Portsmouth benefit from working in a city with a rich literary heritage, following in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, and H. G. Wells, among others. Our students also get the opportunity to meet with current literary practitioners, including prize judges and literary agents, as part of our unique 'Literary Prizes' module.

You will be learning from research-active specialists, giving you access to expertise and the most recent thinking in the topics you choose to study.  Alongside your lectures, seminars and online studies, you will also be supported throughout your degree by your personal tutors.

We have a strong record in achieving student satisfaction rates above the national average, and our students consistently praise English Literature staff and course content.

The staff in the English Literature Department at the University of Portsmouth are incredible. Not only are they enthusiastic, informed and knowledgeable in a wide range of research specialties, they are caring and involved in student satisfaction and wellbeing. I could not have asked for a better three years at Portsmouth. (Source: NSS 2018)

Positive feedback from our students is reflected in the university’s position as a top 20 university in the National Student Survey.

Research and postgraduate study

Postgraduate study and research in English Literature can be undertaken at the University of Portsmouth through the Centre for Studies in Literature (CSL) and its team of research-active specialists in English Literature. The Centre for Studies in Literature brings together scholars from different fields within literary studies to promote academic research and innovation in literary studies, and wider engagement with research through collaboration and dissemination. Research is organised under the following three clusters: Body Politics; Time, Space and Environment; Culture, Community and Heritage.

Doctoral study may be undertaken in a range of specialisms within English literature and critical theory, with particular focus on subjects in Early Modern Writing, Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture and Twentieth and Twenty-First Century British and American Literature. PhD candidates are generally supervised by a team of three staff. Find out more about PhD study in English Literature.

Our Research Master's or MRes in Literary Studies offers you the opportunity for in-depth study of an area of specific interest within Literary Studies under the supervision of one or two experts within the team. The MRes is highly flexible, allowing you to design your own programme of study, tailored to your academic and professional development needs. You can study the MRes full time or part time, as a campus-based or DL course.