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English Language and Literature

“I learned to love literature at school. I learned to understand it at St Edmund Hall." (Stewart Lee - writer, comedian, Honorary Fellow)


Why English at St Edmund Hall?

St Edmund Hall has a long tradition of outstanding scholarship in the field of literary studies as well as a creative and imaginative approach to the study of English. We admit around eight students per year to the Single Honours Program as well as English and Modern Languages. Our students are diverse and come from a wide range of backgrounds both within the UK and around the world. We are proud of their intellectual curiosity, dedication to their studies, and creativity.

Students are taught by several dedicated and experienced tutors who cover a range of subjects across the course - from Anglo-Saxon poetry to contemporary writing in Britain and America and everything in between. One great benefit of the tutorial system is that it responds to the individual needs and aspirations of students. At St Edmund Hall, we place a strong emphasis on the craft of writing in particular. During the three year course, students mature into sophisticated critics with their own distinctive style and approach.

Meg, on her experience of studying English at St Edmund Hall and at Oxford University

"Liberating and supportive": Current student Meg Harrington talks about studying English at St Edmund Hall.


Creative Writing

Creative writing is a special strength at the Hall, and our students enjoy a great number of extra-curricular opportunities related to it:

  • The popular, student-run Wednesday Workshops, which provide an opportunity to share new writing and receive constructive feedback from peers.
  • The St Edmund Hall Gallery, an annual collection of creative writing and visual art by members of the College (completely organised and published by current students).
  • The 'Meet the Poet’ reading series, which brings a well known poet to the College every term to read and meet with students.
  • The Hall Writers’ Forum, which provides an online community for current students, academics, staff, as well as alumni and encourages new writing and cross-disciplinary discussion.

Teddy Hall also has numerous awards and prizes for writing, including several prizes for journalism, poetry and theatre.

Old and Middle English tutor Jenni Nuttall reflects on her experience as a writer


Our Tutors

Professor Erica McAlpine teaches 19th-, 20th- and 21st- century literature and has special interests in British Romantic and 20th-century American poetry.  John Keats, John Clare, Robert Frost, and Elizabeth Bishop are a few of her favourite writers. Her current book project is about mistakes in poems.


Dr Tom MacFaul teaches English literature from the 16th to the 18th Century: he has particular interests in Shakespeare and other dramatists of his time, and Renaissance poets such as Donne, Spenser, Herbert and Milton. His research focuses on issues such as gender and sexuality, ecocriticism, and the representation of space. He also teaches dissertations on a wide variety of topics, from Renaissance poetry to contemporary fiction. 

The St Edmund Hall Research Expo is the annual showcase of the College’s latest research. As a part of the Expo’s Teddy Talks series, Tom MacFaul gave a short talk about Shakespeare’s animals.


Dr Jenni Nuttall teaches Old and Middle English Literature and the Language and Linguistics papers. Jenni specialises in later Middle English and Middle Scots poetry and, among other things, is currently hunting down all of the technical terms for poetry and its forms in the languages of medieval Britain.

Jenni’s blog, stylisticienne.com, is a popular resource for undergraduate students as they study the medieval papers. It also provides invaluable advice on the process of applying to Oxford for English.


Dr Tom White is a Junior Research Fellow and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the College and teaches various topics in Medieval literature and literary theory. He has particular interests in Medieval and Early Modern literature and ecology.

Mr Timothy Bourns teaches the Early Medieval Literature and the Language and Linguistics papers. His primary field of research at present is Old Norse-Icelandic and he is also interested in animal studies, environmental approaches to literature, and wilderness writing.


The Course

The English course spans the range of literature in English from its earliest roots in Anglo-Saxon to 21st century texts. Students learns through a combination of tutorials, which are one-to-one or one-to-two meetings, and classes with the other St Edmund Hall English students in their year group. Students also attend lectures by faculty members from across the university. The tutors at Teddy Hall offer comprehensive coverage of the course, meaning that almost all teaching is done “in house.”

More information about the English course can be found on the University website.


Applying: Course Requirements and Information

  • A typical A-Level offer: AAA (or equivalent)
  • An A Level in English is required. A Language or History may also be useful
  • Other Application requirements before your interview:
    • ELAT exam - sat the November after your application
    • A sample of written work - such as a marked essay from school
  • UCAS Code: Q300
  • Places available: 8
  • Department: Faculty of English
  • More information on requirements

English Interviews at St Edmund Hall

Shortlisted applicants have two separate twenty-minute interviews with the English tutors. In both interviews, they are asked to consider a poem (which they have received thirty minutes in advance of the interview itself). The first part of the discussion focuses on the text, and candidates are encouraged to “close read” the poem in order to comment on its form, language, tone, and other aspects of style. At the end of each interview, the discussion may turn to broader topics in literary study as well as material found on the students’ UCAS forms.