Introduction

English at Aberdeen gives you all the advantages of a highly-rated teaching, research and creative hub, taught by acclaimed writers and poets at Scotland's top centre for creative writing. You will be inspired in the wonderful environment of a historic university with an award-winning library, outstanding literary treasures and a vigorous calendar of literary events.

This programme is studied on campus.

Aberdeen is a leading centre for the study of literature, language and creative writing and assessed as second in the UK for the quality of its research output and top in Scotland for creative writing.

You will study poetry and prose through considering the dynamic relationship between author, reader and literary text, study every period from Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton to contemporary English, Scottish, Irish, European and American writing and examine the cultural and critical impact of powerful and controversial modern works.

You will be inspired by enthusiastic teachers and researchers, themselves acclaimed authors and poets and be encouraged to develop your own creative writing skills inspired by our published, creative writing team.

Our flexible, modular curriculum gives you the core writing, research, computational and presentation skills vital to many careers. You will also be encouraged to pursue your particular interests while ranging widely across the many exciting areas of English studies, with career options as diverse as publishing, teaching, research, journalism, business, or speech therapy.

And you will thrive in our friendly and vibrant international community, on our beautiful medieval campus with great facilities for learning, sports and leisure and many opportunities to develop extra skills and interests and to broaden your horizons through study abroad.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
Q300

What You'll Study

English at Aberdeen offers a diverse programme that covers all periods of English Literature. The range of courses on offer will enable you to specialise in specific areas of study in your final years. You will gain an in-depth understanding of English by studying topics such as poetry, prose, controversial classics, Shakespeare, Medieval and Renaissance literature, Victorianism and Modernism, including contemporary Scottish and Irish literature.

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Academic Writing for Language & Literature (AW1008)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students and above, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year

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Acts of Reading (EL1009) - 15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the study of English by exploring the dynamic relationship between author, reader and text in a series of classic works of fiction and poetry. It covers a broad historical range (from Folk Tales and ballads to 21st century postmodernity) and offers a basic grounding in key elements of literary theory, literary history and the varieties of literary form.

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Controversial Classics (EL1513) - 15 Credit Points

Literature can provoke, offend and disturb as well as entertain. This course considers some of the most powerful and controversial works of modern literature. It examines the circumstances of publication, the nature of the controversy, and the cultural and critical impact of each work. The course shows how poems, plays and novels can raise searching questions about national, racial and personal identity, and looks at the methods used by writers to challenge their readers, as well the responses of readers to such challenges.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice
Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Encounters with Shakespeare (EL2011) - 30 Credit Points

So you think you know Shakespeare? This course invites you to think again. Studying a range of plays we get behind the mythology of Shakespeare, and rediscover the dynamic inventiveness of the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare and his contemporaries were the principal players in a period of literary experimentation that reinvented the possibilities of literature. Encounters with Shakespeare is your chance to find out more.

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The Tragedy of Knowledge (EL2512) - 30 Credit Points

This course traces the use of key Western myths from antiquity to the present to examine the way knowledge is often presented as both dangerous and compelling. As well as introducing students to a range of historical, social, and formal variations on the theme of knowledge, the course also highlights the role of storytelling and adaptation in the formation of knowledge and understanding.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice
Year 3

Year 3

Optional Courses

Select one course from each of the following categories

Medieval/Renaissance

  • EL30DQ: Knights, Virgins and Viragos, Chaucer and Medieval Writing
  • EL35CP: Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500-1640

Romantic/Victorian

  • EL30GK: Mind and Monstrosity: Realism and the Gothic in the Long 19th Century
  • EL3009: American Innovation
  • EL35XR: Romanticism

Contemporary/Modern

  • EL30IH: States of Mind: Contemporary Irish and Scottish Writing
  • EL30JS: Anglo-American Children’s Literature
  • EL30FF: Modernism: Make it New
  • EL35KM: Perversion of the Interior: Women’s Fiction 1925-1975
  • EL35UT: Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma

Group 4

  • EL3008: Writing Revolt: Literature and Politics in the 17th Century
  • EL35YB: Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft
  • EL35EH: Classical Epic

Plus, select further credit points from courses of choice to a total of 120

Knights, Virgins and Viragos: Chaucer and Medieval Writing (EL30DQ) - 30 Credit Points

An introduction to late medieval-literature, challenging modern assumptions about the medieval and exploring the diverse range of medieval literary culture, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the autobiographical narrative of Margery Kempe and surprising profanity of medieval lyric.

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Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500 - 1640 (EL35CP) - 30 Credit Points

This course explores the poetry, drama and prose of a period often referred to as the golden age of English literature. The period saw Shakespeare and his contemporaries produce innovative new literary works in which the language of desire took centre stage.

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Mind and Monstrosity: Realism and the Gothic in the Long 19th Century (EL30GK) - 30 Credit Points

Exploring connections between Gothic monstrosity and psychological realism, this course investigates an exciting range of texts and contexts from the long nineteenth century. Focusing on novels from 1789-1914, with some attention to other genres and adaptations, we ask what it means to be human, and how cultural anxieties and scientific/technological developments have affected literature (and vice versa). From doubling to degeneration, madness to the metropolis, villain to vampire, empire to the threat of extinction, we examine the work of writers such as Mary Shelley, Dickens, Poe, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Bram Stoker and H.G. Wells.

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American Innovation (EL3009) - 30 Credit Points

This level-three course offers an introduction to American literature and culture between 1850 and 1950, a century in which the United States was transformed from a rural economy to an industrialised super-power. You will learn about the key writers of this period, the issues that sparked their imaginations, and the literary strategies which they adopted, or at times invented, to express their response to the changing world around them. This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars.

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Romanticism (EL35XR) - 30 Credit Points

The Romantic movement swept Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and produced some of the most innovative and exciting literature that has ever been seen. This rule breaking art helped shape the way that we consider art today and underpins many of our ideas about imagination, originality, creativity and self-expression. This course will explore the ways in which the Romantic movement manifested itself across Britain and Ireland and will consider writers such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Austen and Byron.

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States of Mind: Contemporary Irish and Scottish Writing (EL30IH) - 30 Credit Points

This course explores a range of contemporary Scottish and Irish texts and looks at the key developments in the literatures of the two nations; indeed, new modes of urban writing, working-class writing and women's writing have altered the landscapes of Scottish and Irish literature. The course looks at 'states of mind' in a dual sense: imaginative projections of the 'nation' and psychological explorations of the mind.

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Anglo - American Children’s Literature (EL30JS) - 30 Credit Points

From the picture book to the dark fairy tale, literature for children offers a wide range of literary (and visual) modes of engaging with questions of human becoming and beguiling. This course explores American and British children’s literature from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century (with a focus on the twentieth century). We will look at a range of genres including poetry, the school story, the adventure story and fantasy, as well as examining the construction of children’s literature as a genre of its own, including issues of authorship and readership. We will engage in close reading, examining literary features of the texts, and consider historical and social context and questions of gender, race and sexuality. Authors studied include: Louise May Alcott, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sherman Alexie, Ursula K. Le Guin, E Nesbit, Frances Hodgson Burnett, R. L. Stevenson, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Neil Gaiman, Melvin Burgess, Jamila Gavin, Jackie Kay and others.

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Modernism: Make IT New (EL30FF) - 30 Credit Points

The early twentieth century was a time of great literary experimentation as literary modernists rose to the challenge to make it new. We will explore modernism’s stylistic experimentation while also considering the social contexts and changes that shaped this literature. The course will examine a range of writers, genres, movements and locations which prompt us to consider what, when and where was modernism.

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Perversion of the Interior: Women's Fiction 1925 - 1975 (EL35KM) - 30 Credit Points

Gothic, Romance, Autobiography: these are the central topics of mid-twentieth-century fiction by and for women, and yet have often been critically neglected. Looking at a range of women's fiction in this period, including popular and middlebrow titles as well as literary classics, this course looks at what women wrote, what women read, and who deemed these works important. This course especially focuses on the relation between physical space (the home, the village) and psychological space (including representations of mental illness) in order to discuss the space of women's writing.

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Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma (EL35UT) - 30 Credit Points

How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.

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Writing Revolt: Literature and Politics in the Seventeenth Century (EL3008) - 30 Credit Points

Literature has the power to reimagine society. The course will explore how poetry, drama and other literary forms across the century sought new literary approaches to meet the challenges of these times. We will examine different literary strategies adopted by authors to engage with their times, from those who drew upon classical precedent to others who brought new voices, and new publics, into the forum of literature. Texts on the course will vary each year, but will feature such authors as Ben Jonson, John Donne, Katharine Philips, John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson and Samuel Daniel.

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Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft (EL35YB) - 30 Credit Points

This course offers students the opportunity, through lectures and interractive workshops, to develop their understanding of, and practical skills in, the writing of prose fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. Taught by widely published, award-winning writers, it provides a thorough, practice-based understanding of creative process and of the technical challenges involved in developing an original idea into a completed literary artefact, presented to a professional standard. It also contributes to students' future career potential, whether as ‘creative’ or other kinds of professional writers/communicators.

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Classical Epic (EL35EH) - 30 Credit Points

This course is your opportunity to study four of the most influential and gripping texts of world literature. We begin in the oral culture of ancient Greece, with the Iliad's stark meditation on war and death, and the Odyssey's consolatory reflections on divine justice, poetry and love. In imperial Rome, we see the genre transformed into a monument to political power in Virgil's Aeneid, then thrown into disarray by Ovid's irreverent anti-epic, the Metamorphoses. We end by considering some of the ways these texts have been exploited and adapted across the intervening centuries, in poetry and prose, art and film.

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Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

English Dissertation (EL4502) - 30 Credit Points

Students will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their choosing within English literature.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 90 credit points from the following courses:
Staging the City: Renaissance Urban Drama (EL40AD) - 30 Credit Points

Drama was the entertainment phenomenon of the early modern period: a popular art form that developed swiftly and attracted mass audiences. London was both the city that played host to this new cultural form, and the subject of much of its output. The course will examine the relation between life in the early modern city and the great flowering of drama by celebrated authors of the period. Using works by well-known writers such as Middleton, Jonson and Shakespeare, as well as lesser known authors, we will explore how the plays of the period engage with key concerns of urban living.

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Controversy and Drama: Marlowe to Revenge Tragedy (EL40CT) - 30 Credit Points

This course begins by considering the theatre that gave us Marlowe and Shakespeare, among other major dramatists, as an institution actively engaged in the controversies of politics and religion of the age. Part 1 of the course focuses on the plays of Christopher Marlowe, whose controversial life is unusually well documented and whose plays starkly anticipate later tensions in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama . Part 2 considers how those tensions in politics and religion developed in later drama, giving particular attention to the genre of revenge tragedy.

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The Short Story as A Literary Form (EL40DR) - 30 Credit Points

This course examines the development of the short story during the last two hundred years, e.g. from Washington Irving, Hawthorne, and Melville, through Hemingway, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf and Mansfield, to Raymond Carver and a selection of contemporary writers. The course will consider the distinctiveness of the short story as an art form, its techniques and applications, and the factors that have influenced its evolution.

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Spenser (EL40ES) - 30 Credit Points

The module looks at a wide range of Spenser's work in different genres, including a substantial proportion of his epic poem, and studies this in the contexts of contemporary political history, Spenser's biography, and the literary traditions stemming from Virgil and Petrarch.

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Writing in A Free State (EL40FI) - 30 Credit Points

This course addresses Irish writing produced, in or out of the country, between the revolutionary period (1916-1922) and the establishment of the Irish Republic in 1949. Political ferment was matched by a remarkable surge in literary production, in drama, fiction and poetry. We will examine the ways in which writers responded to (and helped shape) political change, while also staging literary revolutions of their own in the bold experiments of Ulysses and other landmark texts.

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Horrible Histories: Violence and Trauma in the Scottish Novel (EL40QV) - 30 Credit Points

Scotland's history is one of violence, bloodshed and trauma. This is reflected in its literature, above all in the fiction of the nineteenth century. Focusing on pivotal moments of upheaval in Scotland's past such as the Covenanting Wars and the Jacobite Risings this course will explore the ways in which these violent events are reflected in the works of writers such as Walter Scott, James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson and those in the modern period who have inherited their legacy. Exploring key concepts such as how the novel might approach and engage with the past, the extent to which it may operate as a form of commemoration and the limits which traumatic events place upon forms of narration, the course will examine the ways in which we can comprehend and remember a nation's violent history through the form of the novel.

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Amnesty, Amnesia, Archive (EL40UU) - 30 Credit Points

From 1968-1994, Northern Irish writers and visual artists found themselves addressing key questions: what is the role of the artist in a divided society, and must s/he engage with political events? This course considers how the artists framed these dilemmas and how they have been framed by them. Following the outbreak of peace in the province, the role of artists changed: their work now focused on the victims of violence and to demand justice. This course examines the different approaches taken to remembrance by writers/artists and explores the ways in which memory and trauma are framed in their work.

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All for One: the Politics of Love and Friendship in Medieval and Early Modern Literature (EL40WH) - 30 Credit Points

This course focuses on the emphasis on sameness in conceptions of love and friendship within medieval and early modern literature, exploring its implications for the history of sexuality, and its impact on political ideology.

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Creative Writing: the Writer's Voice (EL40YL) - 30 Credit Points

Creative Writing: The Writer's Voice will focus on the crucial and often complex role of voice in fiction and poetry, considering both theoretical and practical aspects. It offers students the opportunity to develop their creative processes and practical literary skills in a supportive, constructive learning environment. Teaching consists of carefully targeted critical advice and guidance from the class tutor and peer evaluation from class members in a workshop environment. Examples of writing by recognised authors and class members will be used to enhance students' awareness of the key role of voice in imaginative writing, leading to practical application in their own creative work.

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The Gilded Age: American Literature 1865 - 1929 (EL45BT) - 30 Credit Points

The Gilded Age was a time of glamour, hardship, renewal and corruption in American society. This fourth-year course looks at the literature of this formative period in the history of the United States, between the Civil War in the 1860s and the Great Depression in the 1920s. It explores how the writers of this period helped to shape, but also at times resisted the formation of a modern American identity.

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All too Human: Animal and Posthuman Relations (EL45KP) - 30 Credit Points

The question of the human is at the forefront of contemporary philosophical and cultural enquiry. Looking at a range of popular and literary texts, as well as recent theoretical writings, this course investigates the relation between the human and animal and the representation of human transformation and adaptation in order to study contemporary approaches to the body, language, and suffering.

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A Tale of Two Thomases: the Poetry and Prose of Dylan Thomas and R S Thomas (EL45SU) - 30 Credit Points

This course takes a look at the contrasting visions of Dylan Thomas and R. S. Thomas, two Welsh writers born a year apart who made a major contribution to twentieth century poetry but whose achievement as prose writers has perhaps been undervalued. Between them, these profoundly different writers display not only contradictory aspects of their own small country but intriguingly divergent understandings of the possibilities of literature in the modern world.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

For each course, you will typically be studying one literary text per week. You will be encouraged to read relevant critical and contextual material on the texts you are studying and also be introduced to some important theoretical approaches to literature. From first through to third year you will follow a programme of lectures supported with a weekly small group tutorial or seminar.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Further Information

View detailed learning and assessment information for this programme

How the programme is taught

The typical time spent in scheduled learning activities (lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals), independent self-study or placement is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.

How the programme is assessed

The typical percentage of assessment methods broken down by written examination, coursework or practical exams is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.

Year 1

Learning Method
scheduled: 22%
independent: 78%
placement: 0%
Assessment
written: 38%
coursework: 58%
practical: 4%

Year 2

Learning Method
scheduled: 13%
independent: 87%
placement: 0%
Assessment
written: 24%
coursework: 68%
practical: 8%

Year 3

Learning Method
scheduled: 11%
independent: 89%
placement: 0%
Assessment
written: 10%
coursework: 88%
practical: 2%

Year 4

Learning Method
scheduled: 5%
independent: 95%
placement: 0%
Assessment
written: 0%
coursework: 98%
practical: 2%

Why Study English?

  • The UK's number two centre for the quality of research in English language and literature (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and top in Scotland for creative writing (Complete University Guide 2017).

  • The WORD Centre for Creative Writing, promoting creative projects in fiction, non-fiction and collaborative mixed-media in all the languages of northeast Scotland (from Doric to Polish).

  • Research centres including the Centre for the Novel, the Centre for Modern Thought and the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.

  • An international profile through major literary projects such as the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen and the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott.

  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, with over a million volumes, state-of-the-art technology and home to literary treasures collected over 500 years charting the power of the written word from ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-books and other media.
  • Historic collections including a quarter of a million rare printed books, the 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary, MacBean Stuart and Jacobite Collection of international importance, the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and an exceptional collection of Charles Dickens’ first editions.
  • A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which welcomes internationally acclaimed authors, broadcasters and public figures to campus every spring.

Entry Requirements

You will find all the information you require about entry requirements on our dedicated 'Entry Requirements' page. You can also find out about the different types of degrees, changing your subject, offers and advanced entry.

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

SQA Highers - AABB
A Levels - BBB
IB - 32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

Further detailed entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £14,600
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

Studying English at Aberdeen will provide you with a thorough grounding in English Literature in both historical and modern contexts. The writing, research and presentation skills that you will develop are vital to many careers. Our previous graduates have gone on to work areas such as publishing, teaching, research, journalism, banking, speech therapy and television and radio broadcasting.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Study Internationally Recognised English

Many of our English teaching staff are internationally recognised researchers.

Facilities

As an English student at Aberdeen, you will have access to excellent library resources built up over 500 years and located in the Sir Duncan Rice Library. You will also have access to state-of-the-art IT facilities whenever you need.

Unistats

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX