England.  Change location

BA (Honours) English Language and Literature - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

Your studies will:

  • provide you with a broad understanding of the English language, including its history, contemporary use and development as a global language
  • provide you with a wide-ranging introduction to literary texts that have been either written in English or translated into English
  • develop your skills of analysis and interpretation of both literary and non-literary texts, including spoken, written and multimodal texts
  • enable you to develop a critical understanding of the range and variety of traditions and approaches to the study of literature and language
  • provide you with opportunities to develop conceptual and communications skills, and to progress towards more independent thinking and judgement.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this degree provides you with opportunities to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a substantial number of authors and texts that have been either written in English or translated into English, including texts written in English outside the United Kingdom
  • the character and conventions of the principal literary genres – poetry, fiction and drama – and of other kinds of writing and communication
  • the history of English, its contemporary diversity, its role as a global language, and its use in a range of contexts in different parts of the world
  • debates surrounding the historical and contemporary position of English in relation to other languages and language varieties
  • how literature and language both reflect and impact upon cultural change and difference; and of the way texts are written and received within literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts
  • how language and literature may be described and analysed
  • the nature of linguistic evidence and different methods used in the collection and analysis of language data
  • the different theoretical approaches to the study of literature, language and literacy.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • develop critical skills in the close reading and analysis of diverse texts
  • acquire complex information of diverse kinds from a variety of sources (such as academic libraries, the internet, CD-ROMs, and corpora)
  • learn and use appropriate linguistic and critical terminology to describe and analyse texts
  • synthesise information and ideas drawn from varied sources, and critically evaluate alternative explanations, arguments and theories
  • engage with different interpretations of texts and relate abstract concepts and theories to specific texts.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be:

  • a better informed, more active and questioning member of society through the ability to identify and evaluate conflicting arguments, including recognising the significance of different value positions in these arguments
  • able to transfer and use relevant key skills in the workplace context
  • able to use the more specific knowledge, analytical skills and methods of language and literature studies as a strong basis for work in many professions.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following skills.


You will be able to:

  • identify relevant material from a variety of sources, including multimedia material
  • read, synthesise and evaluate the significance of substantial quantities of material
  • present sustained and persuasive arguments cogently and coherently
  • reference sources in an appropriate way.

Improving own learning and performance

You will be able to:

  • work independently, scheduling tasks and managing time effectively
  • study and learn more independently, and from a variety of different media and teaching methods
  • identify and use sources of support
  • make use of feedback from a tutor to improve performance
  • monitor and reflect on personal progress.

Information technology

You will be able to:

  • use information technology skills to access, store, manage and present data effectively
  • use the relevant computational tools and software packages, where appropriate, for the analysis of data.

Application of number

You will be able to:

  • understand, interpret and discuss basic statistical data in the form of graphs, tables and diagrams.

Problem solving

You will be able to:

  • analyse a problem and define its constituent parts.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will gain knowledge and understanding through study of published distance learning materials, including specially written printed and online teaching texts, audiovisual materials, set texts, study guides, assignment guidance, and written feedback on assignments. Learning outcomes are assessed by means of assignments requiring reflection on study materials, text analysis, comparative discussion of texts and independent data collection and project work.

You will develop and practise your cognitive skills by interacting with the study materials, which include self-assessment questions, audiovisual materials, associated study guides, assignment rubrics and guidance notes. Cognitive skills are also taught and practised through group tutorial work, and through carefully monitored written feedback by tutors on your written essays and project work.

Practical, professional and key skills are taught cumulatively throughout the programme.

At OU level 1 you are guided through the study of pre-selected texts. At OU level 2 you are expected to make more independent use of relevant information from set books and study materials, including relevant electronic sources. OU level 3 modules lay more emphasis on the use of critical, theoretical and historical materials, and require you to present your work in a more scholarly way. Information on the importance and use of libraries and electronic resources is provided at each level.

You will be taught key skills by using printed and online teaching materials, detailed tutor feedback on written work, and participation in online tutorials. You will practise and develop your skills throughout all the modules that make up the programme, though there is more emphasis on independent learning at honours level.