Take a deep dive into English language and literature in the honours program.

Our honours degree is an intensive program that combines comprehensive knowledge of literary periods, approaches, and cultures with the rigours of methodological and theoretical practices drawn from rhetoric, structural linguistics, discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics.

As an honours student, you’ll receive an intensive educational experience where you’ll work closely with your peers and faculty members as you participate in small-group seminars and write a graduating essay.

The 48 credits required in the honours program provide breadth and depth through area requirements exceeding those of the major. The specialized degree in honours will offer you a competitive edge in applications for law school, teacher education and graduate programs in English, as well as a strong potential for careers in communications and media, publishing and government.

You can also combine your English honours with majors and minors or even double-honours degrees in other disciplines.

Apply to the Honours Program

Application for the honours in English literature and the honours in English language and literature follow the same requirements and procedures.

Degree Requirements

You must complete a total of 120 credits to obtain your honours in English language and literature. You must take at least 48 credits in English courses numbered 304 and above (an additional six credits of elective work may be granted if a student shows that an elective provides a significant addition to their work in literature).

We strongly advise students contemplating an honours program to complete the Faculty of Arts requirements in science and language before entering the program.

Students may enter the honours program in either their second or third year of study. Admission into either emphasis in the second year requires an average of at least 76% in 3 credits of first-year English literature and 3 credits of first-year writing or UBC’s Arts One program.

Admission into the language and literature emphasis in the third year requires an average of at least 76% in ENGL 200 and ENGL 229.

Second-year honours consist of nine credits of course work. Together as a cohort, students take English 210, a six-credit seminar surveying major works of literature in English, and English 211, a three-credit seminar introducing students to the theories used in the study of literature.

48 credits in ENGL courses numbered 304 or higher, comprising:

  • 12 credits of seminars: must include ENGL 489 and at least 3 credits of ENGL 491 or 492
    • Language seminar: ENGL 489 and/or graduate seminar on language (with permission)
    • Language and/or literature seminar: ENGL 491, 492
  • 12 credits of literature:
    • 3 credits literature group A: Medieval and Renaissance literatures (ENGL 343 to ENGL 350)
    • 3 credits literature group B: 18th- and 19th-century literatures (ENGL 351 to ENGL 364)
    • 3 credits literature group C: modern, contemporary, transnational, and Indigenous literatures (ENGL 365 to ENGL 379)
    • 3 credits literature group D: media, theory, genre, and special topic (ENGL 332 to ENGL 339; ENGL 380 to ENGL 397)
  • 12 credits of language:
    • 3 credits: either ENGL 330 or ENGL 331
    • Remaining 9 credits: 3 credits from three out of five language groups A, B, C, D, E
      • Language group A: structure of English (ENGL 330, 331, 321, 3261, 4891)
      • Language group B: history of English (ENGL 318, 319, 3261 342, 343, 344, 346, 4891)
      • Language group C: approaches to contemporary English (ENGL 323, 324, 3261,328, 4891)
      • Language group D: discourse and meaning (ENGL 312, 322, 3261, 327, 4891)
      • Language group E: rhetoric (ENGL 307-311, 4891)
  • 3 or 6 credits of ENGL 499, honours essay
  • 6-9 credits of additional ENGL courses numbered 304 or higher

English honours students also need 42 credits of non-English courses and at least 48 credits in 300- and 400-level courses. Please note that upper-division courses in creative writing may not be counted towards English honours requirements.

Combined Honours Programs

Students may combine honours programs in the Faculty of Arts but only after careful consultation with the separate programs’ chairs. Typically, such a combined program involves waiving some specific requirements in each program to accommodate your particular interests. Combining English honours with theatre and film or creative writing involves all the senior requirements in both programs for what is, in effect, a double degree.


Course Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

You have two options:

  • Option A: You can apply to honours at the end of your first year; if admitted, you will take ENGL 210 and ENGL 211 in your second year as introductions to your honours degree. You can opt at the end of the second year to take either the literature emphasis or the language and literature emphasis.
  • Option B: You can apply to honours at the end of your second year, after taking (ideally) 6 credits of second-year English, including ENGL 200 (required) and ENGL 229 if you think you might want to do the combined honours in language and literature.

ENGL 210 is a 6-credit year-long course for the second-year honours cohort, introducing students to the genres, methods, and concepts of English literary culture and history. Students admitted to second-year honours all take this course together.

ENGL 211 is a 3-credit seminar focusing on literary theory for second-year honours students.

The course focuses on selected issues in the study of language.

It is not a generic overview of English linguistics; rather, it shows students what kinds of questions or methods are used in a more specifically defined English language study area (such as language in a social context, rhetoric, dialects of English, meaning in language, etc.) ENGL 229 is either required or recommended in all programs focusing on language or language and literature.

The goal of this is to make sure that students take a variety of courses while following their interests to some degree.

There are five groups of courses, divided in terms of general topics in language study (such as grammar-and-pronunciation, methodologies in language study, how we use language to express meaning, what does the discipline of rhetoric add to your understanding of language).

Students should choose three such areas and do one course in each. If the program allows more credits in English language (most of them do), students can either add more courses in groups they have already tried or expand and try other groups.

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