This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a broad introduction to the arts and humanities followed by looking at contemporary cultures and relationships between cultures throughout history.
- Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study two compulsory literature modules exploring different approaches to reading texts and developing your skills of literary analysis.
- Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll complete your degree with an advanced literature module and your choice from modules in literature, creative writing and English language.
In Stage 1 you'll encounter a variety of different times and places and engage with some fascinating people, art works, ideas and stories. This broad foundation in cultural analysis will help you develop the skills and the confident, open approach you need to tackle more specialist literature modules at Stages 2 and 3.
In Stage 2 you’ll focus on developing your skills in reading and literary analysis as you're introduced to an exciting range of texts from a diversity of periods and from Shakespeare to science fiction. You’ll study novels, drama, poems and short stories, and discover new ways of reading literature.
At Stage 3 you can focus on two different periods in English literature: from Shakespeare to Jane Austen and from Dickens to the present day. Studying both of these will provide you with an advanced knowledge of a very wide chronological span of English literature. Alternatively you can study one of the period-based modules and another that focuses on either children’s literature, creative writing, or English language and creativity.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 January 2022.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) English Literature uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
- finding external/third party material online such as in ebooks, electronic journals and databases
- working in a group with other students
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered – you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our BA (Honours) English Literature.
The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
Arts and languages Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. From the perspective of its central theme, ‘popular protest’, it explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, and popular music. The module also offers an opportunity to explore other subjects, such as modern languages, classical studies, religious studies and creative writing.
View full details of Arts and languages Access module
Skills for career development
Employers greatly value the high-level skills gained by studying an English literature degree. Broadly summarised these are skills of creative and critical thinking, analysis, and communication. You’ll also sharpen your IT and writing skills, and develop an ability to assimilate and evaluate relevant information when constructing an argument. These are key skills that are crucial to many different kinds of complex organisations, and are greatly sought after in the world beyond study – whether you’re already working, volunteering, or changing career.
Studying arts and humanities can give entry to a vast range of occupations, leading in many directions. The breadth of study and the range of material analysed, combined with an adaptable set of transferable skills, are relevant to a wide variety of careers including:
- public administration, local government, the civil service, art institutions, and social services
- advertising, journalism, publishing, creative industries and public relations
- legal work
- business, banking and retail
- human resources
- charities and campaigning.
Many graduate-level jobs, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector, are open to graduates of any discipline. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- advertising account manager
- public relations manager
- information archivist
- civil servant
- charity campaigner
- retail manager
- human resources manager
- further education lecturer
- arts administration
- advice worker
- local government and NHS manager
- tourist officer
- marketing officer
- business manager.