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English Language and Literature at Oxford - Course Outline

First Year


Students need to take following four papers

  • Victorian or modern literature
  • An Introduction to literary studies
  • Middle English or Old English literature
  • Special topic or Special author (including Modern or Victorian literature)


First University exams unclassified Four written papers (all exams should be passed, but marks will not be counted towards the final degree)

Second Year


  • The English language
  • English literature, 1100-1509
  • English literature, 1509-1642
  • English literature, 1642-1740
  • English literature, 1740-1832
  • Shakespeare (might be studied in the third year)


Two short widen essays for The English Language paper (submitted by the end of the second year but marked at the end of the third as one of the parts of the final exams)

Third Year


Shakespeare (can be studied in the second year) Two papers to be taken from:

  • Special topic
  • Special author
  • Old English literature
  • Modern or Victorian literature

It must be noted that papers taken in the first year cannot be taken again.


Final University examinations Five or six written papers and one or two extended essays

The practice details vary from college to college. Some of the students in their first year have one tutorial a week along with some classes and lectures. It rises in the second and third years to three tutorials a fortnight. Generally, tutorials involve discussion and writing of an essay. Students will, therefore, be expected to create between eight and twelve pieces of written work each term.

Application Procedure

Candidates should follow the application procedure properly. They are required to submit one latest example of writing by the prescribed date. This must be a marked essay produced in the normal course of their college or school work and should not have been rewritten after marking.

Preferably, it must be an analytical discussion of topics or a topic in the area of English literature although an English language topic is allowable. It must not be a short timed essay, critical explanation on particular passages of text or piece of creative writing.

Written Test

Candidates required to take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT), generally, at their own colleges/schools on the prescribed date by the university. Candidates need to make separate registration for this test and the prospective applicants must refer ELAT website for a specimen paper more information.

Candidates are expected to have enthusiasm and thoughtful reading. They ought to be interested in the subject. Tutors expect that students should not be afraid to defend their views or to suggest authors whose work they would predominantly like to discuss.

Entrance Requirement

  • A-levels: AAA
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
  • IB: 38-40 comprising core points
  • Or any other equivalent

Candidates are expected to have English Language and Literature or English Literature to A-level, Higher Level or Advanced Higher in the IB or any equivalent. Students who have the knowledge of history or language may be helpful in completing this course; however, it is not required for admission.

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