Best UK Universities to Study English Literature

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Hagar Samir

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07 November, 2023

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6 mins read

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Studying English literature is a fantastic experience most students enjoy, especially in the United Kingdom! With a variety of enjoyable activities and attractions, including sports, the arts, golf, and cricket, the UK is one of the best places to visit.

As a student studying abroad, it’s important to choose a good university to make the most of your years while having a smooth educational experience! You can always find the best UK universities for English literature in cities like London, Birmingham, Oxford, and Manchester.

Famous for all these exciting things, the UK is also famous for being home to English literature. There are so many things you can do if you pursue a degree in English literature, as majoring in English studies will open a wide door to some interesting fields of work, from which you can start any career you set your mind to.

That’s why if you decide to take an English language course in the UK to prepare yourself for college, many doors will open for you. English literature is quite a popular choice among students, as it’s considered one of the most enjoyable majors for those who enjoy literature and the arts.

We’ve gathered a list of the top universities in the United Kingdom that offer strong English literature programmes for you to check out!


Best Universities in the UK for English Literature 

Opening so many doors for students, journalism, PR, creative writing, fundraising, and entertainment are all in just one major!

University of Oxford 

The University of Oxford, one of the oldest universities in the world, is one of the best UK universities for English literature. Located in the city of Oxford, England, it is ranked 5th among the world's best global universities.

You will be able to study English language and literature, starting from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England to the present, so that you won’t miss anything! Also, the courses are not limited to just British literature, as students have the opportunity to choose to study translated works from other parts of the world!

You will also be studying literature in the Renaissance era, Greek or Latin literature, history, world literature, and a lot more! This will widen your perspective and help you understand literature better. In addition, the university offers several courses for postgraduate students, including:

  • MSt English Language & Literature (650–1550)

  • MSt English Language & Literature (1550–1700)

  • MSt English Language & Literature (1700-1830)

  • MSt English Language & Literature (1830–1914)

  • MSt English Language and Literature (1900–present day)

  • MSt English & American Studies

  • MSt World Literature in English

  • MPhil in English Studies (Mediaeval Period)

If you plan on joining the University of Oxford, the next step will be to search for a suitable place to stay. You can choose to stay on-campus or at one of the student accommodation options near the University of Oxford. They’re all fully furnished and come with all the amenities and features you’ll need for a smooth and comfortable stay.

Durham University

Also considered one of the best UK universities for English literature, Durham University is a collegiate public research university in Durham, England, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832. It’s the third-oldest university in England and is known for being one of the most prestigious universities in the world. 

The university has undergraduate degrees with both single honours and joint honours. There is an English Language and Literature course that delves into creative works from the Anglo-Saxon period until the present day, giving you a high-quality, comprehensive education. 

You will study introductions to drama, poetry, and novels; Shakespeare and his works; and the theory and practise of literary criticism in the first two years. Then, a dissertation project with a staff member from the department for your third year! 

All of this and more are available at the university for you to have. It’s also easy to find student accommodation close to Durham University, as Casita provides a wide range of student housing options that are all fully furnished and a few minutes away from the university!


University of St Andrews

Founded in 1410 by a group of Augustinian clergy, the University of St Andrews is a public university in St Andrews, Scotland, and is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland. It’s also the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world, following the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. 

Because of the university’s reputation in academic research and literary creativity, the English Literature and Creative Writing course at the university is one of the most famous in the world, making it one of the best UK universities for English Literature. Delivered by the University of St. Andrews and the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA, students will be offered a joint degree, a BA in English. 

You’ll be studying literature from different points of view to prepare you for the real world. A variety of courses and degrees are also available for postgraduate students (Masters of Letters), including:

  • Creative Writing - MLitt

  • Mediaeval English - MLit.

  • Mediaeval Studies - MLitt

  • Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture - MLitt

  • Playwriting and Screenwriting - MLitt

  • Postcolonial and World Literature - MLitt

  • Romantic and Victorian Studies - MLitt

  • Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture - MLitt

  • Women, Writing and Gender - MLitt

If you’re looking for student accommodation options near the University of St. Andrews, there are plenty! Casita offers a wide range of housing options for you to choose from according to your needs, budgets, and preferences. All units also have amenities designed to make your stay better!

University of Cambridge

Considered one of the most famous universities in the world, the University of Cambridge is another public collegiate research university in Cambridge, England. It was founded in 1209 and was granted a royal charter by Henry III in 1231. The University of Cambridge is the third-oldest university in the world that is still in continuous operation. 

Being on the list of the best UK universities for English literature, the English literature programme at Cambridge is unmatched; it combines full historical coverage with the chance to discover and specialise in your dreams and interests! 

A wide range of literature written in the English language, including studies that feature American and post-colonial literature alongside British literature, is available from the university.

In addition, there are great postgraduate study options provided by the university, including:

  • American Literature

  • Anglo-Saxon 

  • Norse Literature

  • Celtic Literature

  • Criticism and Culture

  • 18th Century and Romantic Studies

  • Modern and Contemporary Literature

  • Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature

You can choose either stay on campus or in one of the many student accommodation options available near the University of Cambridge. They’re all fully furnished and have all the features that facilitate your stay and make it more enjoyable!


The University of Edinburgh

Finally, the University of Edinburgh is the last on our list! The university is the 6th oldest in the UK and the English-speaking world. It is considered one of Scotland's most ancient universities! It started welcoming students in 1583, and it is considered one of the top research-intensive universities, as it’s ranked 4th in the UK for research power according to “THE” rankings!

The School of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures at the university is one of the best in the world! Many students who are interested in English join the University of Edinburgh because of the high-quality education that is offered there. 

The university is ranked 3rd in the UK for modern languages and English language and literature, making it one of the best UK universities for English literature! There are also a wide range of postgraduate programmes available if you’re interested, including:

  • Comparative Literature - MSc

  • Creative Writing - MSc

  • East Asian Relations - MSc

  • Film, Exhibition, and Curation - MSc

  • Film Studies - MSc

  • The Globalised Muslim World - MSc

  • Intermediality: Literature, Film and the Arts in Dialogue - MSc

  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies - MSc

  • Korean Studies - MSc

  • Literature and Modernity: 1900 to the Present - MSc

  • Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romantic and Victorian - MSc

  • Playwriting - MSc

  • Translation Studies- MSc

You can choose to study whatever you like and also find suitable student accommodation that is fully furnished and is near the University of Edinburgh! This will make your stay easier, as you won’t have to worry about time or money.

Studying English literature is a decision that most people never regret. If you’re passionate about the arts, it will naturally come to you. Of course, this does not mean that it’s going to be easy, but it will be enjoyable! If you decide which university you want to choose, check out our guide, “How to Apply to a UK University as an International Student,” for more information! Good luck!


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best English literature schools in the UK?

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The University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh are some of the best UK universities for English literature.

Is an English Literature degree worth it in the UK?

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Yes, it’s absolutely worth it! It gives you a chance to develop a thorough knowledge of literary history, theory, and criticism. You will also have a wider understanding of a range of cultures and intellectual traditions.

Is English Literature hard?

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Any field of study has its challenges. If you’re passionate about it enough and are interested in knowing more, it won’t be that difficult to study!