English literary studies

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Study at one of the world’s top 40 departments of English literature  

UNSW English literary studies was ranked in the world’s top 40 departments of English literature in the QS World University Rankings in 2018.

In this subject area, you’ll study with teachers and researchers who are deeply passionate about their work and believe that English is more than an academic discipline. We’ll encourage you to see it as an opening onto the world, an electric current binding people together, a passport to alternate realities and a stick of dynamite to blast through prejudice and narrow-mindedness.   

Learn from world-renowned researchers at the top of their fields  

Our teachers are world-renowned researchers at the top of their fields. We work in Australian literature, world literature in English, modernism, literary theory, Victorian literature, animal studies, gender and queer studies, race and literature, poetry and poetics, and a range of other areas.

In a culture filled by instant gratification and transient tweets, you’ll argue for the durable signs of literature: memorable stories, poetic patterns, ringing phrases, eloquent cadences and imaginative landscapes.  

Build a career with excellent communication skills 

Our graduates work all over the world in many fields, from careers in writing, academia, publishing, media and law, to acting and other creative industries. What binds us all is the experience of diving deeply into literary texts and finding an image of our true potential.

Whether you want to immerse yourself in literature, become a writer, or equip yourself for a flexible working life with communication skills that are highly valued across industries, English literary studies are for you.

In addition to the major and minor in English, we also offer a year of honours for those wishing to probe deeper and pursue a higher-degree research pathway to a PhD.   

Study with us

  • Our undergraduate degrees cover a broad range of literary periods, locations, and styles. Working extensively in the ‘long modern’ period extending from the Renaissance to today, you can specialise in several established academic specialisations including Australian literature, creative writing, modern and postmodern literature, and the generic understanding of texts.

    Through your study you'll come to understand the intersections between literature and social justice. Many of our courses tackle the worldly, political entanglements of the literary tradition.

    Our degree options include:

  • An honours degree is an extra year of study that combines aspects of undergraduate study with elements of postgraduate research and is available to students who have a grade average of 70% in a particular degree. Guided by professional staff, you’ll develop your research skills and strengthen your argumentation and written expression.

  • Postgraduate research candidates in English literary studies undertake original research that answers difficult and timely questions about national identity, place, culture, narrative and aesthetic achievement. We offer supervision in English in the Doctor of Philosophy and Masters by Research (MRes).

    You'll benefit from interdisciplinary approaches to postgraduate study that links literary studies with film, music, the visual arts, cultural studies, theatre, history, politics, philosophy, creative writing and linguistics.

    The school’s postgraduate research cohort is one of the largest and most vibrant at UNSW. Our dynamic and diverse graduate students research across a wide range of topics, contribute to the school’s annual postgraduate conference, publish in reputable journals, conduct archival research internationally, and regularly present at national and international conferences.

Our people