The BA (International Hons) in English will provide you with the opportunity to explore a range of historical periods and critical approaches to literature, across a wide variety of genres. Through this course, you will develop your writing skills, sensitivity to language, awareness of the intellectual challenges and aesthetic pleasures offered by literature, as well as understanding the cultural values it reflects. You can also choose to take creative writing classes.
The BA (International Hons) is a joint degree delivered by both the University of St Andrews and the College of William & Mary in Virginia, USA. This joint degree allows you to spend two years at each institution.
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 8.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.
How to apply
You can only apply for the programme through one institution, and each institution will honour the admissions decisions of the other. You must specify which subject area you wish to apply for on your application form.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The School of English at the University of St Andrews enjoys an international reputation as a centre for both academic research and literary creativity.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students were satisfied with the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
The BA (International Hons) in English is a four-year course run jointly by the School of English at St Andrews and the Department of English at the College of William & Mary.
You will study for two years at both St Andrews and William & Mary, spending the first year of the programme at one institution and the second year at the other. You will then be able to choose where you wish to spend your third and fourth years of study and graduate from either university.
You will apply to the university where you intend to spend your first year, and then you will transfer to the other institution for your second year.
What you will study
If you study the BA (International Honours) in English, you will learn to:
read, discuss, and reflect with clarity on a wide variety of texts and to develop analytical, descriptive and evaluative skills
communicate more fluently and persuasively
write creatively and engage critically with a wide range of English-language texts, including plays, novels, poems and short stories.
The BA (International Honours) is a single Honours degree, and other combinations – such as joint Honours degrees – are not available with this programme. However, during the programme you will have opportunities to study a range of other subjects alongside your major at both institutions. Find out more about the St Andrews – William & Mary joint degree.
The BA (International Honours) is a four-year undergraduate degree that combines the best of the Scottish and American educational experience.
Teaching in the School of English at St Andrews covers writing in poetry, prose, and drama from Old English up to the present day, as well as creative writing.
While the St Andrews degree shares many interests with William & Mary, such as Romantic and Victorian literature, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, the emphases of the two departments differ. William & Mary has particular strengths in American literature and offers specialist strands, for example, on African American literature. St Andrews, meanwhile, has expertise in Scottish and Irish writing and offers research-led teaching on a broad range of classic and innovative topics. In general, the American side of the degree has more general components while the British side offers more in-depth study in the latter two years of the programme.
At both universities, the International Honours degree in English aims to offer students a comprehensive introduction to literary study, to teach effective writing, and to develop skills in critical analysis. At St Andrews, these aims are supplemented by a range of other activities and events, including:
a rich programme of academic symposia and visiting speakers
At St Andrews, the compulsory modules in first year are:
Culture and Conflict: An Introduction to Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature: introduces a small number of texts, in prose and verse, from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Explorers and Revolutionaries: Literature 1680-1830: examines travel, colonialism, and different constructions of man’s natural estate in the early 18th century.
At St Andrews, the compulsory modules in second year are:
Medieval and Renaissance Texts: introduces early forms of English language and literature, using specially edited texts from Old English, Middle English and Older Scots.
Drama: Reading and Performance: introduces a number of representative plays from the Renaissance period and from the 20th century. Emphasis is placed upon the context in which these plays were first created and those in which they are now received.
Students will spend either their third or fourth year in St Andrews. You will be able to choose from a wide variety of advanced options.
Here is a sample of Honours modules that have been offered at St Andrews in recent years:
Black and Asian British Writing
Civil Wars on Page and Screen
Contemporary British Fiction
Literature and Culture of Sport
Literature and Ecology
Postcolonial Literature and Theory
Poetry and Cinema
The Novels of Jane Austen in Context
The Younger Romantics: Poetry and Prose (1810-1830).
All English majors in the joint programme have the opportunity to work on an independent research project as part of their degree. You will either write a dissertation at St Andrews or take a senior research seminar at William & Mary.
The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
At St Andrews, modules are delivered through lectures which are supported by smaller seminar groups or tutorials.
Typical English class sizes at St Andrews are:
First year: lectures – 240, tutorials – 5 to 9
Second year: lectures – 150, tutorials – 5 to 9
Honours: classes generally have no more than 20.
Though a good deal of the study of English involves individual effort, group work provides a sense of confirmation, fruitful disagreement, and community to complement the sometimes solitary business of reading and writing.
In addition to these classes, students at St Andrews are expected to undertake substantial independent, but guided, work outside of the classroom. Typically, this will involve:
working on individual and group projects
undertaking research in the library
preparing coursework assignments and presentations
preparing for examinations.
At St Andrews, you will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of English. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of classes and seminars under the supervision of the module coordinator.
You can find contact information for all English staff on the School of English website.
In addition to your studies in the School, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.
Modules in English at St Andrews are assessed by a balanced combination of coursework and written exams. In each compulsory sub-honours module, there are two essays and two examination questions, each worth 25%. Assessment at Honours level varies, although essays and examinations remain a central component.
Coursework takes the form of essays, along with other kinds of assessed work including oral presentations, electronic projects and creative writing portfolios.
Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.
Several Honours-level modules involve creative coursework, such as:
literary journal keeping
writing a short play
The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.
Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale webpage.
Visit St Andrews
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.
The tuition fee for all students on the BA (International Honours) is the same regardless of domicile, and will always be the pound sterling equivalent of the US dollar amount per year, as converted on 1 June preceding the start of each academic year.
If you commence your studies at the University of St Andrews, you will pay your tuition each year to St Andrews regardless of which institution you are studying at for that year.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of English may be interested in joining the following student society:
Inklight is a creative writing society which runs poetry slams, open mic nights, workshops and an annual journal of student writing.
The School of English is situated in Castle House, a beautiful Victorian building situated directly in front of the St Andrews Castle ruins on the coast. English students will usually attend lectures, seminars and tutorials here.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh makes it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
"When I first arrived in St Andrews, the thought of attending university in a different country seemed terrifying. Within a few days, I became part of a close-knit community fostered by the University. St Andrews inspired me to expand my interests and to take advantage of the many opportunities the University has to offer. In my time at St Andrews, I competed with the Women’s Squash Team, worked as the BA (International Honours) intern, collaborated with the WaMStA Student Partnership and organised a dinner group in my hall."
Julia (New Jersey, USA)
Admissions University of St Andrews St Katharine's West The Scores St Andrews KY16 9AX
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).