First-Year English

First-year English is the gateway to brilliant courses in English literature and language, whether you are getting ready for an English major or meeting a degree requirement at the University of British Columbia.

The Department of English Language and Literatures offers an exciting variety of first-year English courses in literature and writing, including a unique course for students who think they might want to major in English.

Most UBC faculties require students to take 3 or 6 credits of first-year English. Check your Faculty requirements before registering to ensure that you are taking the right course(s) for your program.


For Students in the Faculty of Arts

You can choose between four 100-level English courses: ENGL 100, ENGL 110, ENGL 111, and ENGL 140.

ENGL 100 (Reading and Writing About Literature) can be applied towards your Writing Requirement; please note that this course is reserved for students in the Faculty of Arts and is recommended for students interested in an English Major, Minor, or Honours degree. As each section of this course covers different topics and texts, we recommend that you consult the course listings.

Either ENGL 110 (Approaches to Literature) or ENGL 111 (Approaches to Non-Fictional Prose) may be applied towards your Literature or Communications Requirement. In ENGL 110, students will study selected examples of poetry, fiction, and drama; in ENGL 111, students will study a selection of prose texts. As each section of these courses covers different topics and texts, we recommend that you consult the course listings to find a section that aligns with your interests.

ENGL 140 (Challenging Language Myths) is considered an elective that examines a broad range of commonly held beliefs about language and its relation to the brain and cognition, learning, society, change, and evolution. It is recommended (but not required) for students interested in our Language and Language and Literature streams.


For Students in Other Faculties

You can choose between two 100-level English courses to fulfill your literature or communications requirement: ENGL 110 or ENGL 111.


First-Year Requirements for English Degrees

Please review the program requirements for each of our undergraduate programs if you are considering taking a major, minor or honours degree in English language, English literature, or English language and literature.


Faculty of Arts English Courses Requirements

As an Arts student, you are required to fulfill the faculty-wide requirements for your degree, as well as the requirements for your specific program. Learn how you can take courses from the Department of English Language and Literatures to complete the Faculty of Arts requirements.


The English Exemption Examination

If you have been accepted to UBC and you have earned a previous degree at a North American university (where English is the language of instruction) but have not taken the equivalent of 6 credits of UBC's First-Year English coursework, you may be eligible to write the Exemption Examination. Proof of completion of a previous degree must be presented when the test is written.

The department does not charge a fee for this test, but out-of-province students must arrange for the required invigilation and pay for the courier costs if they plan to write at another institution (applicants to the Faculties of Education and Medicine should note that they are not permitted to write this test in lieu of completing required First-Year English courses).

The English Exemption Examination is a two-hour test that requires candidates to write two essays.

The first essay question (1 hour) requires the candidate to read a brief prose passage (approximately 500 words in length) and to write an essay that responds to one of several suggested topics. The topics do not require highly specialized knowledge, but the writer will be assessed according to his or her ability to form a clear thesis or argument, use evidence to support logical claims, create coherent links between paragraphs, and employ the conventional elements of style and grammar in accordance with university level standards of discourse.

The second essay question (1 hour) requires the writer to compose an analysis of a brief poem (usually fewer than 25 lines) that explains the relationship between form and meaning. This essay should not consist of a mere summary but should explain how the poem's formal elements (style, meter, rhyme schemes, figurative language, narrative structure, etc.) contribute to the shaping of its themes. If you are a candidate who has not studied poetry since high school, we recommend that you consult either Sylvan Barnett's A Guide to Writing About Literature or an introduction to poetry text from a major publishing house (Penguin, Norton, Broadview, etc.).

The examination is marked as either a pass or a fail, and the decision cannot be appealed. The First-Year English Coordinator will mark the exam. Results are usually announced within two weeks after the sitting of the test. Candidates who pass the first essay are granted an exemption from 3 credits of English Composition; candidates who pass the second essay are granted an exemption from 3 credits of English Literature. Those who fail one or both sections of the exam should enroll in the required First-Year English course(s).

BC students are expected to write the test in the English department at the UBC Vancouver campus. Our office is located at the north end of campus on the third floor of the Buchanan Tower. The test must be written during our regular office hours and will be invigilated by a member of the First-Year English staff. Due to the volume of work that occurs at the beginning of a new term and during final examination periods, the Exemption Examination is not offered during the months of April and August, or in the first two weeks of January, September and December.

Students should contact the First-Year English Assistant, First-Year.English@ubc.ca to arrange for a test sitting.

Candidates should fax or mail an official transcript confirming that a previous degree was granted. They should make arrangements to have the exam invigilated by a university professor or administrator at an alternate institution. Candidates will be expected to pay for courier costs for sending the examination back to UBC for marking.


Exchange Students

First-year (100-level) courses are not available for exchange students. Please see the Go Global website for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions

Inform yourself about your Faculty's communication requirements and find out which courses are required or recommended for your degree program.

Check the sections and schedules for the first-year English courses being offered in the term(s) for which you are registering

Register for your first-year English course(s) on your registration date. If you would like to register for 6 credits of first-year English in the winter session, be sure to register for one course in term 1 and one course in term 2. You are only permitted to register for one first-year English course per term.

Students may only take 1 100-level English course per term, but can choose to take them in any order they wish. It is recommended that students take these courses during their first year at UBC, as the pattern of registration priority by year-level makes it more difficult for students to register in first-year courses after being promoted out of first year.

If you find that the course you want is full, you may want to consider:

  • Switching the order of your courses to see if there might be space in the other term. Remember: you can take First-Year English courses in any order, as long as you only take one at a time.
  • Whether a different First-Year English course or format might meet your needs. English 110 and 111 are both options as First-Year courses.
  • Confirming with your Faculty’s website or advising office whether they require specific English courses, or if they allow any combination of English courses adding up to the correct number of credits.
  • Confirming that you are registering in the correct course.
  • Try registering in a waiting list: most students who register in a time-specific waiting list are eventually placed in a course. Our office monitors these waiting lists and will move students into courses as space becomes available (usually in the final week before term begins and during the first week of class).

Remember: students in the Faculty of Arts are required to take ENGL 100 or WRDS 150 to fulfill their Writing Requirement.

Students with an AP English mark of 4 OR 5, a Higher-Level IB English mark of 5, 6, or 7, or an Advanced-Level English literature mark of "B" or "A" from the British system are eligible for advanced credit in first-year English. Advanced credit for AP, IB and British-system Advanced-level courses is assigned by Enrollment Services.

If you receive AP or IB credit, you are eligible to skip over 100-level English courses and jump into our exciting 200-level offerings (though if you are in Arts, you may still have to take a Writing Requirement course in one term, so do double-check!). You’ll need a bit of technical help registering, email english.undergraduate@ubc.ca for registration help!

For further inquiries, please contact the Admissions Office at 604-822-3014 or at admissions.inquiry@ubc.ca. AP, IB and British-system A-level credits are based upon final grades only; predicted grades cannot be considered.

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