Frequently Asked Questions – Language and Literature

Some courses improve your skills in academic research and writing (ASTU or WRDS), others focus on the basic skills in the discipline of English (100 level English). Arts One gives you a broad introduction to liberal arts and humanities. Only ENGL 140/LING 140 is specifically designed to address issues of language and approaches to language study.

ENGL 200 is a collaboratively-taught exploration of key scholarly, theoretical, and critical approaches informing the study of literatures in English at UBC. Students in the course work closely with one faculty instructor in a small-class setting; these small classes join together for one lecture on each week’s designated texts and topic. ENGL 200 is a graduation requirement for students declaring an English Literature Major, though the class is open to all students interested in exploring the fields of literary study.

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 area of English language study (such as language in 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 being able to follow 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 language (most of them do), students can then either add more courses in groups they have already tried, or they can expand and try other groups.

The goal of this arrangement is to make sure that students take a variety of courses while also being able to follow their interests. Three of these course groups (A, B, and C) cover historical fields of literary studies: Medieval and Renaissance Literatures (primarily British writing up to 1660), 18th and 19th-Century Literatures (from 1660 to 1900, including British, early American, and early Canadian writing), and Modern, Contemporary, Transnational, and Indigenous Literatures, featuring writing from Canada, the UK, the United States, Africa, and Asia. Group D comprises courses in media studies, literary theories, literary genres, and special topics including children’s literature, science and literature, and environmental writing. Majors in language and literature complete 12 credits in literature: 3 credits from group A or B, 3 credits from group C, and 6 credits in any course from groups A-D. A course in Canadian literature is recommended.

The Honours program has admission criteria and requires more credits (48 rather than 30). It also allows students to take more than one seminar (all students take one seminar as a requirement for the Major) and has an independent research component – an honours thesis.

Only in exceptional circumstances.

You should design your schedule to meet upper-level English requirements with upper-level English courses. For advising related to your English program requirements, contact the English Undergraduate Office (

Generally no. All 300-level courses have the same pre-requisite, and you can meet your program requirements in whatever order makes the most sense for you.

That said, we encourage Literature program students to complete the required course ENGL 200 in their second year, or as early as possible after deciding on an English Literature or Language and Literature degree program; the same is true of ENGL 229 if it is required for your program in English Language or Language and Literature. For Majors, ENGL 489 or 490 should be taken in the last year of your program. In the Language Program(s), it is generally better to take ENGL318 before ENGL319, and ENGL330 before ENGL331, but it is not required.

A seminar course is an opportunity to participate in research, even on a limited scale. It is also a student-driven scholarly environment. Readings required are typically of a scholarly kind (rather than textbook-like). Students are expected to propose a small research question, collect appropriate readings and discuss possible ways of answering the question from the perspective of frameworks learned. The seminar often requires the ability to present scholarly work in class and typically ends with writing a research paper.