English and Joint Schools

Are you a reader…?

The English School at Somerville is thriving, and continues to attract able, enthusiastic and energetic readers and writers.

Critical and creative

Somerville has a twin tradition of excellence in literary studies and creative writing. Many famous novelists and poets studied English here, including a number of leading contemporary children’s writers. English tutors past and present have been influential voices in their fields of expertise, winning prizes for their books and articles about English literature and language.

Well equipped

The College has exceptional resources for English students, including the second biggest undergraduate library in Oxford (English is one of the largest sections). We also have a number of generous funds, scholarships, and prizes to help with trips, books, and equipment.

A literary community

Somerville’s community of English students is large and multifarious. Every year we take twelve undergraduates, who come from all parts of the UK as well as from other countries including (in recent years) France, Germany, Egypt, Australia and New Zealand. Somerville English students come from all sorts of backgrounds and schools too, and their range of interests and enthusiasms lead to a stimulating and exciting mix of people. Many lifelong friendships have begun in Somerville English tutorials!

Read what current students and recent graduates say about the English community at Somerville.


Our three full-time teaching Fellows are Professor Fiona Stafford, Dr Annie Sutherland, and Dr Philip West. They are responsible for teaching most of the first two years of the course: Old and Middle English (Dr Sutherland), Renaissance poetry and language (Dr West), and Romantic literature and modern poetry (Prof. Stafford). Our lecturer in modern English literature is Dr Alison Lutton, who is a specialist in American fiction and also teaches literary theory. Among our Emeritus Fellows, Professor Katherine Duncan-Jones continues to publish her work on Shakespeare and regularly reviews productions in the Times Literary Supplement.

What Somerville English students say about working with their tutors.

An English student’s day

English students attend lectures at the English Faculty in the morning; few are compulsory, but they enormously beneficial and enjoyable. Some college tutorials and classes fit around morning lectures, but many are held in the afternoon. When students are not in lectures or tutorials, they spend their working day in a variety of places – their room, the College Library, the English Faculty Library, the Bodleian Library, or one of Oxford’ innumerable coffee shops. In a given week, first-year students might be expected to write a tutorial essay of around 2,000 words (occasionally they might be asked for two essays) and to do one or two commentary exercises for the language or Old English papers. In the second year students typically have one tutorial (for which they write essays) and one or two classes (for which they prepare presentations) per week. The final year of the course presents a more flexible timetable, as students work on their choice of Dissertations and Special Topics.

Read students’ thoughts on the freedom and flexibility of the English course at Somerville.



Somerville English students go on to work in a huge range of professions and jobs: publishing, journalism, writing, higher education, the law, medicine, teaching, charity work, banking.

Read more about the careers of former English students, and learn how their English degree helped them achieve their success.



Graduate students are an important part of the community at Somerville. In any given year there are usually about six students working towards the MSt in Old or Middle English, early modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic literature, and a number who are working towards the DPhil. We also admit students for the part-time MSt in Creative Writing

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