Coronavirus information and guidance

About the School of English

The study of English at the University of St Andrews has a long and distinguished history that is sustained in the scholarly, critical, and creative dynamism of today's School of English.

Kennedy Hall and Castle House

In the present day, the School enjoys an international reputation as a centre for both academic research and literary creativity. The School's richest inheritance, however, is its collegiality: we pride ourselves on our friendliness, and on our common enthusiasm for great literature.


The School of English has a lively research culture, which involves staff, postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows. The school's research work is divided into four groups:

In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the school ranked first in Scotland and sixth in the UK for English language and literature.  86% of our research has been rated as world leading and internationally excellent. In the previous research assessment exercise (2008) we were also ranked in the top ten - making the School one of the UK's consistently outstanding research departments.


Amongst UK institutions offering English Literature, the School of English has recently been ranked first in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, second in the Complete University Guide 2019, and first in The Guardian league tables 2018.


The school is located within Castle House and Kennedy Hall on The Scores with views of the sea front and the historic St Andrews Castle ruins. Please see our contact page for more information.

The school has a dedicated postgraduate building with computer and kitchen facilities, located in the centre of St Andrews at 66 North Street.  Students also have access to the library's Special Collections library, which houses many of the University's rare books.


St Andrews was one of the first universities in the world to teach English literature. The University discussed founding a Chair of Eloquence in 1720, in part to educate young Scots in the proper use of the English language. It was thought that the best way to learn 'correct' English was to study 'correct' English texts.

The arrival of Robert Watson as Professor of Logic, Rhetoric and Metaphysics in 1756 brought lectures on rhetoric delivered in English, rather than the traditional Latin. Between 1710 and 1837, the University library had rights to the copyright deposit of all books published in Britain and now holds rare books such as Anna Barbauld's Poems (1773), Percy and Mary Shelley's Journal of a Six Weeks' Tour to the Alps (1816), John Keats's Endymion (1818) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). These can still be found in the University's Special Collections division.

A group of University of St Andrews women graduates in 1896
A group of women students, circa 1896. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library. Image reference: Group-1896-4a

In 1877, the great Wordsworthian scholar, William Knight (Chair of Moral Philosophy from 1876 to 1903), helped pioneer one of the first systems of women's university education, the Lady Literate in Arts (LLA), a distance learning scheme which extended around the globe. Knight called for literary, scientific and medical studies to be open to women before they were admitted as full students to British universities. He initiated a commitment to gender equality which the School is proud to uphold today.