Divison of Humanities
Department of English Language and Literature
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English Language
Minor in English Studies
Minor in English Literature
Minor in Film Studies
Master of Arts (Literary Studies) by coursework
Master of Arts by research
Ph.D. by research
What is it about
The undergraduate programme in English Literature is designed to provide a broad foundation in the field of English studies. It aims to:
- impart the critical ability and theories necessary to engage with a range of cultural texts such as film, various types of written discourse, advertising and media; and
- train a student's sensitivity to language and sophisticated communicative skills developed through prolonged engagement with literary texts and criticism.
In the first year of study, the English Literature programme trains students in literary and cultural reading, and in academic writing. Subsequent years offer a wide range of options. Students will be trained in the close reading of texts taken from one of three major areas: British, American, and Film and Cultural texts. Majoring students take modules from the "British Literature" group, as these provide knowledge of the development and connectedness of English literary history. In addition, there are modules as diverse as film, writing, Southeast Asian literature, American literature and literature in relation to the other arts; and there are honours modules which deal with specialised topics at a more advanced level - examples include Modern Critical Theory; Research Methodology; Film; and Metafictions. What brings these diverse areas together is the emphasis on the training of skills in the reading and analysis of cultural texts in all their diversity and complexity. There will also be opportunities to undertake advanced research projects in special topics as part of continuous assessment.
As for graduate programmes in Literary Studies, the concentration can be defined as literatures and cultures in the Asia Pacific context. The concentration is supported and sustained by three foundational modules. Two of these are advanced topics in literary history. One concerns the representations of other worlds in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the other women novelists of the nineteenth century. A third module looks at the developing theories and practices of literary scholarship in the eighteenth century. This complements the theoretical elements elsewhere in the programme.
The interface modules attempt to extend the range of students’ exposure, and to explore the possibilities of interdisciplinary study. There are at present two of these, one which look at orientalism, and one which explores film and spectatorship. There is also the possibility for graduate students to take modules from other Departments in the Faculty.
Level 6000 modules are tailored to the needs of research students, especially those doing PhDs. One is the Graduate Research Seminar, which is designed to introduce students to the approaches and expectations of professional researchers in literary studies. Another is Advanced Critical Reading, a module which equips students with essential theoretical knowledge and analytical skills. Research MA, as well as PhD, students are encouraged to take this. Finally, we have advanced seminars in different areas, which are organized each year to reflect the interests of the students.
The Department of English Language and Literature offers its students majoring in English Literature a variety of special programmes including collaborations with writers on the NUS-FASS and The Old Parliament House (TOPH) Writing Fellowship; and a developing creative writing track.
The NUS-FASS and The Old Parliament House (TOPH) Writing Fellowship
A first for Singapore, this Fellowship was listed as one of the arts scene's top 10 important developments in 2004. It seeks to nurture and stimulate creative writing by supporting emerging writers as they develop a substantial work, and generating critical discussion through a variety of public programmes. The first recipient of the Fellowship, playwright Huzir Sulaiman, currently teaches EN2271 Introduction to Playwriting (see creative writing below).
The Department is planning to develop a Creative Writing track with three strands - poetry writing, playwriting and prose writing - and modules within each strand at levels 2000 to 4000 (introductory, intermediate and advanced). The first module to be offered, EN2271 Introduction to Playwriting , introduces techniques and genres of playwriting, equipping students with the resources needed to write for the contemporary stage.
The flexibility of the Literature programme within the modular system allows students considerable breadth in the types of courses chosen, while still retaining the rigour of the traditional English literature degree. Apart from the sensitivity to language and sophisticated communicative skills developed through prolonged engagement with literary texts and criticism, the programme also imparts the critical ability and theories necessary to engage with a range of cultural texts such as film, various types of written discourses, advertising and media. A literature student is thus well equipped for a number of jobs - typical career areas of recent graduates include journalism, television, public relations in banks and other corporations, teaching and publishing. A significant number also find places in graduate programmes in the U.S. , the U.K. and Australia . Employers and recruiters value our graduates for their training in handling the subtle nuances and complexities of all varieties of texts and discourses, and for their critical intelligence and creativity.