History & English

This joint degree enables students to combine the study of history with that of English language and literature. The intersection between language, culture, and history is currently the focus of active debate within both the disciplines and you are encouraged throughout your course to relate literary and historical ideas in the investigation of your chosen periods, topics, or authors.

The course is centered around the twin assumptions that historical documents are just as much ‘texts’ as are poems, plays or novels, and are therefore subject to literary interpretations, and equally that poems, plays and novels represent historically grounded ways of interpreting a culture.

The course often allows you to focus on your own interests within both disciplines, providing you with a greater degree of autonomy over what you study and the opportunity to generate new ideas about the ideas about the areas that you are most interested in.

At Pembroke, the English and History tutors are very committed to the development of the subject, and expect to admit students in this joint school each year: the tutors work closely together to guide History and English students through the joint course, and to ensure that a wide range of options and approaches are available to students.

The joint school in History and English offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: the tutors will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.

A History course already enriched by a strong cultural input is an ideal companion to the study of English literature. Whether your interest is in early or Middle English, the Renaissance, or the later periods, intellectually fruitful combinations are possible. The joint degree includes two explicitly interdisciplinary papers taught jointly by specialists in the two subjects.

In your first year, you will take introductory and methodological courses in both subjects (on the History side, there is some choice in which course you take here). Together with these, you will choose one History course from a selection of periods of British history ranging from 300 A.D. to the present day, and one English course from a selection of periods of literature, namely Early Medieval Literature, 1830-1910, or 1910-present.

In your second and final years you can weight the degree slightly towards either school, if you would like. You will choose two papers from each ‘parent’ school and one further subject from either school. There is a huge degree of choice in these papers; students can either choose to specialise in a specific period or topic, or can pick and choose from the wide range of options. In addition, you will take one interdisciplinary paper and write a dissertation which will also be a piece of interdisciplinary work. Up to four of the papers you offer can be assessed by coursework rather than exam.

The History and English degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.