Study this programme anywhere in the world and receive a fully accredited University of London degree

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BA, DipHE, CertHE

Available to study anywhere in the world

Study and enjoy some of the world's greatest literature, immerse yourself in a range of works from the Middle Ages to the present day. Expand your knowledge and understanding of cultural, historical and regional evolutions in literature with a flexible degree from the UK's leading creative university.

Thinking about reading lists
Expand your knowledge and understanding of cultural, historical and regional continuity and change in literature.

By studying this programme, you will:

  • expand your knowledge and understanding of cultural, historical and regional continuity and change in literature;
  • develop your understanding of the diverse and sometimes conflicting ways in which literary texts are received;
  • discuss texts effectively and with confidence.

Programme details

The programme covers a broad chronology, and offers interdisciplinary options with fields including linguistics, media, and gender studies. Popular courses such as 'Postcolonial Literatures in English' and 'American Literature' reflect exciting new approaches to English studies.

View programme structure

April 2020 intake
Application deadline 15 September 2020
Registration deadline 09 October 2020
Programme starts November 2020

New updates to the programme are taking place for the 2020–2021 academic year, including substantial online supplementary reading lists, course convenor updates to subject guides and the launch of course convenor support.

Independent study

Distance learning offers you the flexibility to balance your studies with your existing commitments. For the BA English, we supply learning materials which are specially designed for independent study. You will also have access to a significant range of online resources, including a fully supported Virtual Learning Environment and online library.

Study materials

We provide the core study materials you need to complete the programme. These include a Programme Handbook of practical information (such as how to enter exams), subject guides for each course you choose, and past exam papers and commentaries, which give you valuable tips for performing well in exams. Sample study materials are available on Level 4 course pages.

Online support

When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Here, you can access electronic copies of all printed study materials, resources including audio-visual and revision guides, and forums to discuss course material and work collaboratively with others.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Tutor groups

When you begin your studies, you will be assigned a tutor group for each Level 4 course. The tutor provides monthly online discussion forums, which run over the course of five months.

For Levels 5/6, you receive a more flexible pattern of support to suit your interests. You’ll be able to participate in subject-specific e-seminars and submit up to four practice essays per year for feedback.

Student Support

We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently or with a Recognised Teaching Centre.

You will have access to support through:

  • The Student Advice Centre – provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
  • TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.


All courses are assessed by an unseen written exam (except ‘Introduction to Creative Writing’, which is assessed by coursework). You also submit a formative piece of work for all Level 4 English courses.

Exams are held in May each year. You can sit these when you are ready at one of our 400 examination centres. A fee is payable to your local centre for hosting the exams.

More about exams.

What qualifications do you need?

For access to the BA English and DipHE English, you will usually meet the following criteria:

For access to the CertHE English:

  • Age 18+ by 01 September in the year of registration.
  • Three GCSEs (at Grade A*-C / 9-4) or equivalent.

For access to individual courses:

  • As CertHE except minimum age requirement (17+ by 30 November in year of registration).

Even if you do not meet the standard requirements, we will consider each application on its own merits. Our Admissions Panel will consider whether any alternative/incomplete qualifications or work experience you have are suitable for entry to the programme. If we are unable to issue you an offer for either the BD, DipHE or CertHE routes then if available we will advise on further alternatives such as our International Foundation Programme or on additional qualifications you need to take in order to meet our minimum entrance criteria.

I don’t meet the entry requirements. What can I do?

English language requirements

You need to demonstrate a good level of English to be admitted to our programmes. We accept a range of evidence, including proficiency test scores. If you don’t have evidence but believe you can meet the standard, we may consider your case.

Do I meet the language requirements?

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. For this degree, you will also need Adobe Flash Player to view video material and a media player (such as VLC) to play video files.

More about computer requirements.

Can I transfer credits from other awards?

If you have studied material as part of a previous qualification that is comparable in content and standard, you might be exempted from the equivalent course for the University of London degree. This is known as Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Credit Transfer or Exemption. You may apply for recognition for up to four full courses at Level 4.

Please note if you wish to be considered for discretionary recognition of prior learning for the October 2020 session then you must formally apply and submit your request by: 01 September 2020.

More about Recognition of Prior Learning.

The programme fees below refer to the 2020–2021 session and apply to new students who initially register for the programme in 2020–2021. These are subject to annual review. Students who registered for the first time in 2019-2020 or earlier can view their programme fees here.

Academic year 2020-2021
BA / DipHE / CertHE  
Application fee (non-refundable) £101
Registration fee £1672
Continuing registration fee £1045
Examination fee per course £314
Accreditation of Prior Learning application (per course) £108
Indicative total: BA English £ 7981
Individual courses (Standalone)  
Application fee (non-refundable) £ 101
Composite fee (registration plus one exam entry) £732

The indicative totals reflect average fee increases and assume that you complete the qualification within the minimum time (without resits).

More about programme fees.

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for:

  • Textbooks (could extend to around £400 per year)
  • Exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams.

How to pay your fees.

Please note: all student fees shown are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.

Further information on GST.

Studying English equips you with transferable skills that can be used in a wide range of contexts. You will be able to understand and analyse complex ideas and to present your ideas clearly and logically.

This will give you a sound basis for a career in areas such as teaching, research, advertising and marketing, media and journalism (including radio and television).

What do employers think of our graduates?

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

Goldsmiths brings creative and unconventional approaches to its teaching. Graduates of the University include Damien Hirst, and four other Turner Prize winners.

The Department of English and Comparative Literature draws on the energies and high standards of its academic team, who combine a core of modern specialisms with coverage of literature down the centuries. 

Programme Director

Dr Sarah Barnsley is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths. Her teaching and research interests lie in American literature, modernism, poetry and creative writing. Dr Barnsley’s current projects include an edition of Mary Barnard’s Complete Poems, a literary biography of May Swenson, and a collection of her own poems.

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

More on funding your study.

Anna Morton BA English, Canada

Anna Morton from Canada studied for a BA English by distance learning

"Studying was surprisingly accessible, with quick, responsive help on the website and useful suggestions in the course book for study resources".