Exploring Literature courses
One of the really tricky things about choosing a course as a literature lover is that you only get to meet certain kinds of texts at school. English Literature often feels like the obvious course choice and may be perfect for you, but take time to make sure, as there are lots of cultures geographically and historically that have literature, and there may be opportunities that you have not heard of or considered. When you are looking at courses, we encourage you to explore English alongside other courses so that you can make an informed decision and improve your chances of a strong application by picking the right course for your emerging interests.
- Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
- Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
- Education, English, Drama and the Arts
- Modern and Medieval Languages
- Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion
Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Look especially if you also like languages / History. This course explores the languages and literature, material culture and history of the peoples of Britain, Ireland and the Scandinavian world in the earlier Middle Ages. It's a very flexible course so you can place the focus of your studies where you please, and can concentrate on language and literature papers if you want to or choose a wider mix. If you think you might enjoy studying things like Irish sagas, medieval manuscripts, Y Gododdin (medieval Welsh poem) Viking poetry, Beowulf (epic poem in Old English), Tolkein, Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th centurty Welsh poet) and Celtic mythology, have a look at this course.
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
If you like languages and think that you might enjoy studying global cultures (including literatures, which you'll learn to approach in the original language), have a look at this degree. You can focus on Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian or combine more than one in certain cases (check the details as some pairings are possible but not all).
If you're interested in texts from the ancient world and you also enjoy language-learning you might have a look at Classics. There are options for students who've not studied Latin before so this is accessible to all, and Classics is a hugely broad varied course, probably much more so than you'll initially think. Have a look at the detail if you think you'd enjoy learning to study texts in the original Greek and Latin from authors such as Homer, Euripides, Plato, Virgil, Ovid and Cicero.
Lots of people don't know that when you apply for Education at Cambridge, you choose one of three "tracks". One of them is Education, English, Drama and the Arts, which combines the study of English Literature with key issues in education, such as debates around creativity, learning and culture, and there are options for students who like Drama too. If you are studying English Literature at A level or equivalent you would be eligible to apply for this.
If you study English, the first two years of the course give you a full historical sweep of literature written in the English language from the medieval period to the present day. Then in third year you choose topics to specialise in as well as doing guided independent research for your dissertation(s).
Modern and Medieval Languages
This course covers the languages, literatures and cultures of most European (and many non-European) countries. You study two languages (you must already be studying one for A level or equivalent), and there's a lot of flexibility so that you can purusue your interests - you can study a lot of literature in this course if you want to. If you fancy approaching texts in the original language, this course is worth exploring, and the scope is broad so you can also study cinema, art etc in your language areas if you want to.
Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion
If you like studying texts closely, what kinds of texts do you want to study? What about studying the texts of the major world religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism? This course may be particularly interesting to students who've done Religious Studies at A level, though not a required subject.