• Top 10 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and The Complete University Guide 2020
  • Top 100 for English in the QS World University Rankings 2018
  • 4th in the UK for research power in English
  • Participate in events involving internationally acclaimed authors, actors and filmmakers
  • Opportunities to study abroad at a range of partner institutions in Europe, USA, Canada and elsewhere

One of the leading English departments in the UK, with excellence in both teaching and research, we cover literature from the Medieval period to the present day, with additional strengths in film studies and creative writing. As a student you will be taught by world-class academics whose expertise spans the whole of the discipline of English.

We offer a curriculum that provides considerable flexibility and choice to encourage you to discover your literary interests. Explore the writings of canonical figures such as Austen, Dickens, Joyce, Shakespeare, Woolf and Wordsworth, and specialise as you progress, by period, genre or theme.

Choose one of our Combined Honours programmes and combine the study of literature with Film Studies, Drama, Classical Studies, Art History & Visual Culture or a Modern Language at our Streatham Campus in Exeter, or with History at our Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
Throughout your studies, you will learn to analyse the literatures of different cultures and periods and to interpret this material within wider contexts of cultural and intellectual history. Our committed and passionate staff will help you to develop your ability to read perceptively and critically and to foster your capacity for creative and original thought. You will develop proficiency in research and analysis, an ability to construct coherent, substantiated arguments and a capacity to propose your own ideas and theories.

We are a substantial department, with staff based at the Streatham Campus in Exeter, and at the Penryn Campus near Falmouth in Cornwall. You will find enthusiastic, research-active staff at both campuses, who are leaders in their field and are committed to sharing their expertise with you through their teaching.

We offer a selection of degree programmes at the Streatham Campus in Exeter. These are distinguished by the range of material that you can study, the amount of flexibility and choice you are given to develop and follow your own interests and the provision of modules by active researchers who are at the forefront of their respective fields.

Adopting both critical and creative approaches, our programmes will develop your understanding of a wide range of genres and literatures in English. Modules are taught by staff with expertise in literature from the Middle Ages to the present, in cinema throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and in creative writing practices in poetry, prose and screen-writing. The programmes move from an initial foundation year towards greater choice and a higher degree of specialisation in the latter years. You will develop to the stage where, in your final year, what you study, how you approach it, and how you communicate what you have found are closely aligned with the practices of the research-active academics who teach you during seminars.

Our programmes in Exeter encourage you to ask challenging questions about the nature of literary and other texts. When you read Troilus and Criseyde or Jane Eyre, or watch movies such as Bicycle Thieves, you will be prompted to ask not only what they mean, but also how they make those meanings. Who were they written or filmed for? How do they compare with other works of the same or different periods? How do they relate to the historical and social conditions in which they were produced?

At the end of your programme you will have acquired an extensive and enriched knowledge of English literature and have developed into an independent, self-motivated researcher, ready for a broad range of graduate careers or postgraduate study.  

In addition to your academic work, the student-run Lit Soc brings together like-minded people to discuss literature and literary interests and gives you the opportunity to attend book and poetry readings, film screenings and to socialise with others.




Our Penryn Campus programme is an engaging and classic English degree covering the history of English literature, with a focus on writing from 1580 to the present.

The Penryn English department offers an exceptional student experience, combining a friendly, small-group approach to teaching, supported by first-rate research. With a smaller student intake, the campus offers a welcoming environment and an emphasis on innovative learning and teaching in a flexible and intimate atmosphere.

The campus’ state-of-the-art buildings have been equipped with the latest technologies to deliver the very best in learning and teaching facilities. We share the campus facilities with the University of Falmouth, creating a vibrant mixture of students from science, engineering, humanities and arts backgrounds.

There is also a student-run English Society which organises guest speakers, film screenings, trips and social events, providing an opportunity to meet students who share a love of literature, culture and the arts.

Cornwall has inspired many famous authors, playwrights and poets including Daphne du Maurier, Thomas Hardy and William Golding, and has since become a creative writing hotspot. Studying in an inspirational setting with a rich history of artistic and scientific innovation will not only enhance your learning, but also your student experience. You could take advantage of local events, including performances at the Minack Theatre, a spectacular open air theatre near Land’s End, and various arts festivals.

Find out more about studying English at our Penryn Campus