Harris Manchester College
University of Oxford
Prospective students - Undergraduates

English Language and Literature

Tutors: Dr Kate McLoughlin

Number admitted: 4-6 a year (including joint degrees in Classics & English, History & English and English & Modern Languages).

Entry qualifications: Students apply to us with a variety of qualifications. Some have taken A levels, but others have studied for Access courses or Open University credits. We would advise applicants to undertake formal study of some sort before applying. There is no special type of student that we are looking for, but to study for an Oxford English degree, a keen interest in a wide range of literary works is necessary, as well as a good verbal memory and an aptitude for examinations.  

Applicants will be selected by means of interviews and a written test that includes a critical comparison of poems or passages of prose, and an essay question. A piece of written work which shows a variety of reading should also be provided.  Please see http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/english-language-and-literature for further information.

The course:  

The course comprises Prelims (examined at the end of the first year) and the Final Honour School (examined at the end of the third year). 
For Prelims  four papers are taken: 

Introduction to English Language and Literature
Early Medieval Literature, c. 650 - 1350
Literature in English 1830 - 1910 ('Victorian')
Literature in English 1910 - present day ('Modern')

The Final Honour School (Course I) comprises 7 papers:

Literature in English 1350 - 1550
Literature in English 1550 - 1660
Literature in English 1660 - 1760
Literature in English 1760 - 1830
A centrally-taught special option.  Recent options have included: The American Novel after 1945; Post-War British Drama; Postcolonial Literature; Forming Literary Character; The Icelandic Saga; Writing Feminisms/Feminist Writing; Dictionaries and Dictionary-Making; Writing of the Fin de Siècle; Film Criticism; Tragedy; From Beowulf to Lancelot; Afrofabulation; The Literary Essay; Comparative Literature.
A dissertation in any area of English Language or Literature.

There is also the possibility of taking Course II for the Final Honour School.  This focuses on earlier literature and the history of English. You can elect at the end of your first year whether to take Course I or Course II.


Most papers are taught in College through a range of tutorials and classes; for some, you may be taught by tutors in other colleges . Tutorials may be taught in pairs, in threes or one-to-one.  In the 3rd year, the special options are taught centrally.

Future careers:

English students enter a variety of careers including academia,  teaching, journalism, the media, publishing, business, law and the civil service. 

Further information from the Faculty of English Language and Literature

About the tutors: Dr Kate McLoughlin.