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.

Degree Requirements

You can enter the Honours in English, Language and Literature Emphasis in one of two ways: (1) apply to enter in second year and take ENGL 210: Introduction to English Honours, a small, full-year, cohort-building course introducing students to the full range of literary studies they will explore further in the program; (2) apply to enter in third year, having completed ENGL 200, our seminar-based introduction to literature studies, team-taught by some of the best faculty in the business, and 3 credits of ENGL 229, where you will explore many of the topics in language study covered in upper-level courses.

In third and fourth year, you will take a range of courses in both language and literature. You will take 12 credits in language, including the Structure of Modern English (ENGL 330 or 331), plus a range of courses on the history of English, English structure and usage, discourse, rhetoric, and meaning. You also need 12 credits from our Literature course groups in historical and contemporary areas, plus theory, media studies, or genre.

You will also take 4 seminars working in small courses with specialist instructors working on texts from their particular fields and covering topics of significant contemporary interest. Among these seminars you must take at least one version of ENGL 489, the Language Seminar. You may also apply to take a graduate seminar in language, with the permission of the language coordinator and the course instructor. You will also write a graduating essay, working closely with a faculty supervisor on a topic of your choosing. To graduate with an English major, students must complete 48 upper-level credits from ENGL 304 and above.

Students who entered English Honours prior to the 2022 academic year and who are still enrolled at UBC during the 2022 academic year may elect to complete either the old requirements in place when they entered the program or the new requirements as listed below. Honours students who choose to follow the new requirements but who have completed ENGL 211 do not have to complete ENGL 300. For more information, please contact the undergraduate assistant.

A. Medieval and Renaissance literatures: ENGL 343 to ENGL 350

B. 18th- and 19th-century literatures: ENGL 351 to ENGL 364

C. Modern, contemporary, transnational, and Indigenous literatures: ENGL 365 to ENGL 379

D. Media, theory, genre, and special topic:  ENGL 332 to ENGL 339; ENGL 380 to ENGL 397

A. Structure of English: ENGL 330, 331, 321

B. History of English: ENGL 318, 319, 342, 343, 344, 346

C. Approaches to contemporary English: ENGL 323, 324, 328

D. Discourse and meaning: ENGL 312, 322, 327

E. Rhetoric: ENGL 307-311

Note: topics covered in any of the above groups may also focus on ENGL 326 (which has no permanent title) and ENGL 489 (majors seminar-language, where the instructor decides on the topic offered in any given year).

Each course will be classed into one of the groups A-E in any given year, depending on the topic covered. Please see an advisor if you want ENGL 326 or ENGL 489 to count as satisfying group A-E requirements.

6 credits of one of the following options:

  • 100-level English
  • Arts One
  • 6 credits of ASTU 100
  • 3 credits of ASTU 100 or 101 and 3 credits of 100-level English
  • WRDS 150 or 350 and 3 credits of 100-level English

  • 6 credits of ENGL 210


  • 3 credits of ENGL 200 and 3 credits of ENGL 220-249

Students must complete 33 credits of courses numbered 304 and above including:

  • 3 credits of ENGL 300: Introduction to Critical Theory
  • 12 credits of literature comprising 3 credits selected from each of Literature Groups A, B, C, D
  • 12 credits of language comprising
    • 3 credits of either ENGL 330 or ENGL 331
    • Remaining 9 credits: 3 credits from three out of five Language Groups A, B, C, D, E
  • 6 credits of additional ENGL courses numbered 304 or higher

Students must complete 15 credits of 400-level courses

  • 12 credits of seminars including
    • 3 credits of ENGL 489 and/or graduate seminar on language (with permission)
    • at least 3 credits of ENGL 491: Honours Seminar
  • 3 credits of ENGL 499: Honours Essay

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.

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

Your options are:

  • Option A: You can apply to honours at the end of your first year; if admitted, you will take ENGL 210 in your second year as introductions to honours English.
  • 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).

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 and are registered with assistance from the undergraduate program assistant. For more information, please contact english.undergraduate@ubc.ca .

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 strongly recommended to provide basis for the language component of the English Major or Honours programs with a Language and Literature emphasis.

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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