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English literature (TSM)

B.A.; 85 places

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What is English?

Students have the option of studying either English Studies (single honour) or English Literature (Two Subject Moderatorship).

English Literature (TSM joint honours)

English Literature covers a broad range of literatures written in the English language, from Chaucer to the present day. The aim of the course is to help students acquire a thorough knowledge of the history of differing literatures while also enabling them to develop a sophisticated critical consciousness and an awareness of critical and cultural theory.

While TSM students cover all the principal areas of literatures in English, the course is less extensive than that of the single honour programme, with less emphasis on the development of genres, and a greater concentration on the modern period (post-1400).

English: The course for you?

If you want to study the whole range of developments in English and related literatures, from their earliest beginnings through to contemporary studies in the language, you would enjoy either English Literature or English Studies. If you are interested in English Literature in conjunction with another field (such as History or Philosophy), TSM is probably the best option for you; conversely, if your primary interest in English, you might consider English Studies.

English @ Trinity?

Trinity is ranked 32nd in the world for English Language and Literature (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015).

Our commitment to small-group teaching means that you will benefit from close personal staff supervision, so that your writing and discussion skills develop.

Our English courses have been designed to develop independence of critical thought and the articulation of informed discussion, both oral and written. Much of your work will be undertaken independently, and you will have at your disposal the resources of one of the world’s great libraries, with rich resources in the full range of literature in English.

The School of English also co-ordinates many non-syllabus activities, such as lecture series, conferences and symposia, guest lecturers (such as Anne Enright, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and Paula Meehan, the Ireland Professor of Poetry) and visiting writers including Richard Ford, the Pulitzer prizewinning author.

The School actively supports several journals of creative and critical writing by undergraduates. Many of our students are involved in student societies, where they take part in activities such as journalism, debating and theatre. In this way we ensure that your time studying English at Trinity is exciting and intense.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

Trinity’s School of English graduates gain leading roles in intellectual, professional and public life. The skills developed by students of English are in high demand from employers, especially in journalism, broadcasting, teaching, advertising, marketing and business, arts management, publishing, law and diplomacy.

Recent graduates work in Google, the Irish Times, the Department of Foreign Affairs, RTÉ and PwC.

The four-year degree provides an outstanding platform for postgraduate study in English, and usually about 30% of our graduates go on to read for a higher degree in English (Master’s degree, PhD degree). Many well-known creative writers are Trinity English graduates, including Eavan Boland, Deirdre Madden, Michael Longley, John Connolly, Derek Mahon, Brendan Kennelly, Anne Enright and Paula Meehan.

Your degree and what you’ll study

The English courses are designed so that the first two years consist almost entirely of compulsory modules, taught mainly through a combination of lectures and tutorials. Students take a variety of modules, based on period, genre, theme and nationality. After the first two years, students are free to construct their own course in the advanced work that will lead to their degree.


Over the first and second year a range of modules provides an introduction to a variety of critical theories, practices and approaches to literature. You will primarily concentrate on selected prescribed texts.

Examples of Freshman modules may include:

  • Poetry
  • Irish Writing
  • Introduction to Literary Studies
  • American Literature
  • Fiction
  • The Beginnings of English Poetry
  • Study of a Single Author
  • Shakespeare
  • Postcolonial Literature
  • Middle English


In the third and fourth years, you will choose most of your modules from a wide range of specialist options. By fourth year, modules are taught at an advanced level in small-group seminars.

Examples of Sophister modules may include:

  • Creative Writing
  • Ulysses in Contexts
  • African and Caribbean Literature
  • Irish Crime Fiction
  • Global Shakespeare
  • Modernism
  • American Writing
  • Children’s Literature
  • Popular Literature
  • Community and Contemporary Irish Literature
  • Art Writing
  • History of the English Language
  • Dissertation


Assessment is by a combination of submitted essays, journals, dissertation and end-of-year examinations. In first and second year the weighting is approximately 50% submitted work and 50% final examinations. In third and fourth year it may vary depending on the modules chosen, although submission of a dissertation is compulsory for all final year students.

Study abroad

Students in the School of English may apply to study abroad on the Erasmus programme in Europe or on an exchange in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Singapore and China during their third year. For more information on study abroad destinations and requirements visit:



Tel: +353 1 896 1111 / 2301 / 1839

Visit us: If you are considering studying for an English degree at Trinity but want to be sure, you are most welcome to attend first and second year lectures. If you would like to avail of this opportunity, please contact us by email to arrange a visit.


What our current students say

Claudio Sansone

“English at Trinity has been everything I hoped it would be. The combination of seminars, lectures and tutorials creates a dynamic environment and lets you interact with a great mix of people. The staff are always willing to help, whether giving academic advice or just making you feel at home if you’ve come from far away.”

Course Options



Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is

When applying for a TSM/TR001 combination, TR001 must NOT be entered on the application form. Please find your correct code and read TSM here


TR001 - English Literature must be combined with one other TSM subject. An honours degree is awarded in both subjects.

For subjects that combine with English literature see TSM: possible combinations

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

Leaving Certificate H4 English Advanced GCE (A-Level) Grade C English literature (A or B) Or: Grade C English language (A or B) Other EU examination systemsSee


Click on the links below to see the available options

+ EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO

+ Non-EU Applicants

To apply to a course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

+ Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student, then select the relevant link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

+ Advanced Entry Applications

Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the relevant link below to apply.

CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is

When applying for a TSM/TR001 combination, TR001 must NOT be entered on the application form. Please find your correct code and read TSM here


TR001 - English Literature must be combined with one other TSM subject. An honours degree is awarded in both subjects.

For subjects that combine with English literature see TSM: possible combinations