Undergraduate Handbook

Table of Contents

1. The Purpose of the Undergraduate Handbook

2. Rationale for the English Major

3. Requirements for the Major

3.1. The Major
3.2 Preparation for the Major
3.3 Upper Division Requirements in English
3.4 Planning Your Major

4. Requirements for the Minor

4.1 Requirements of the Minor in English
4.2 How to Become a Minor in English
4.3. Planning Your Minor

5. Special English Department Programs

5.1 Honors Thesis
5.2 English 199: Independent Studies
5.3 English 199RA: Independent Research Assistance
5.4 English 195I: Internships
5.5 Supplemental Seminars
5.6 English Club

6. Graduate Studies

6.1 Preparation: Course Selection
6.2 Should You Apply to Graduate Studies in English?
6.3 Teaching Credential Program
6.4 Letters of Recommendation
6.5 GREs
6.6 Researching Graduate Programs
6.7 Statements of Purpose and Writing Samples

7. Regulations and Procedures

7.1 Declaring the Major
7.2 Overall Degree Requirements
7.3 Residence Requirements
7.4 Format of English Classes
7.5 Enrollment Procedures
7.6 Adding/Dropping a Course at Enrollment or Later
7.7 Grading Options
7.8 Grade Point Average Requirement
7.9 Auditing English Courses
7.10 Double Major
7.11 Undergraduate Enrollment in a Graduate Course
7.12 Incomplete Grades
7.13 University Extension
7.14 Applying Courses Taken at Other Institutions to the Major Requirements
7.15 Foreign Study
7.16 Theater in England
7.17 Graduating from the English Department
7.18 Academic Misconduct
7.19 Procedures for Policies and Complaints

8. Library Resources

8.1 Classes in Library Skills

9. English Department Contests and Awards

9.1. William Frost Award
9.2 Outstanding Achievement as an English Major
9.3 Distinction in the Major
9.4. Kieth E. Vineyard Honorary Scholarship
9.5 Jenkins-Stark Award 9.6 William and Marjorie Frost Memorial Award
9.7 Other Awards and Contests

10. English Department Listserv and Web Page

11. Administration of the Undergraduate Program

11.1 The Chair of the English Department
11.2 The Chair of the Undergraduate Committee
11.3 The Undergraduate Committee
11.4 The Undergraduate Staff Adviser

12. Campus Services

12.1 Counseling and Career Services
12.2 CLAS
12.3 Net Stations

13. Useful Contacts for English Majors

Section 1. Purpose of the Undergraduate Handbook

This handbook is written to explain the requirements, policies, and procedures of the English Department undergraduate program. It should be used as a general departmental guideline. Remember to contact the department undergraduate adviser if you have any questions that are not answered by the handbook. For important information on College of Letters and Science & General Education regulations and requirements, which are not covered by the handbook, consult the UCSB General Catalog or the College of Letters and Science Guide to Undergraduate Studies.

Section 2. Rationale for the English Major

What does it mean to study English today? The English department engages that question by offering its students the opportunity to explore literary texts written in Old English, internet texts, American novels, Anglo-Irish literature, queer textuality, Science Fiction, literature of the body, modern poetry, Shakespeare etc.—all kinds of "literatures" written in English. We study the complex interactions between literature, culture and history. At the heart of literary study lies the simple yet striking recognition that language constitutes both a technology of thought and a constituent of human reality. The major in English transforms this recognition into a program of study that develops the critical skills required to negotiate complicated literary and cultural texts. Together, we spend time working on questions like these: (1) how do historical and cultural contexts lend written texts their intelligibility and convey their strange power? (2) How do gender and minority discourses inform our understanding of literature? (3) How does the study of English engage the public sphere in its intersection with other fields, such as cognitive science, social science and information science?

What can one "do" with a degree in English? Graduate and professional schools and employers seek people who can read, write, speak, and analyze—the basic skills acquired by our English majors. Students who study English learn how to think, and to think independently. They are trained to read a variety of literary and cultural works from across centuries and continents and to write proficient and lively arguments. English majors learn about how the past informs the present, become "keepers" of past works and present cultures, and leave college thinking and feeling more deeply about life and how to live it.

Our program is a coherent and comprehensive program of literary studies leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. The program is academically oriented, providing thorough preparation for graduate studies, and is a strong program for those students desiring a broad liberal arts background. The English major provides the opportunity to develop skills in writing and in critical reading.

Section 3. Requirements for the Major

3.1.     The Major

To access the latest official major requirement sheet for the current catalog year, please visit the College of Letters & Science website.  The major requirements below are provided with additional supplementary information pertinent to English majors, and are current as of 2011-12.

The English major requires 56 units in English, at least 44 of which must be upper-division, distributed in the manner outlined below. In addition, students must complete the foriegn language requirement.


3.2.      Preparation for the Major


3.2.1.       English 10: Introduction to Literary Study, lower division, 4 units

This is required for English majors and will also satisfy Writing Area A of the General Education Program requirement. (English 10AC, 10EM, and 10LC are also applicable to this area.)
3.2.2.       English 15: Introduction to Shakespeare, lower division, 4 units

Students entering the major with upper-division standing may substitute English 105A or 105B for the English 15 requirement. Students electing this option may not apply their English 15 substitute toward the minimum 44 upper division units.
3.2.3.        Foreign Language Requirement

The ability to read a foreign literature in its original language gives valuable insights into the operations of the English language itself and into the difference between reading a translation and the original. There are two ways to satisfy the foreign language requirement for the English major: Option 1 or Option 2. Option 1 is the recommended way to fulfill this requirement for all majors.

Option 1 develops the ability to read in a foreign language at an advanced undergraduate level (as defined below). Students who intend graduate work in literature are well advised to take Option 1. In addition, election to Phi Beta Kappa requires a foreign language at an advanced level.

To fulfill Option 1, students can either complete the fifth quarter in any foreign language taught at UCSB or demonstrate equivalent ability at the prescribed level by taking a placement exam. (Consult the
General Catalog and language departments for information on placement examinations; consult the English department undergraduate advisor about other means of satisying the requirement that may apply to a student's individual situation). Foreign languages other than those taught at UCSB may be considered by petition. Language classes taken in fulfillment of Option 1 may be taken P/NP through the fourth quarter, but the final quarter must be taken for a letter grade.

Option 2 complements the English major with the study of foreign literature in translation taught by those who are expert in the original language.

To fulfill Option 2, a student needs to complete the third quarter (or its equivalent in a placement exam) in any foreign language taught at UCSB; and also complete three upper-division foreign-literature-in-translation courses to be selected from a list available in the English department office. The third quarter of courses in a foreign language, as well as all three literature-in-translation courses, must be taken for a letter grade.

3.3.      Upper Division Requirements in English

Forty-eight units in English are required, as follows.

3.3.1.       Four Courses Offering a Broad Overview of British and American Literature (16 units)

  1. English 101: English Literature from the Medieval period to 1650
  2. English 102: English and American Literature from 1650-1789
  3. English 103A: American Literature from 1789-1900 -or- English 103B: British Literature from 1789-1900
  4. English 104A: American Literature from 1900-Present -or- English 104B: British Literature from 1900-Present

3.3.2.        English 197 - Upper Division Seminar (4 units)

This seminar is designed as a small class limited to fifteen students in which there will be opportunity for in-depth discussion and a more advanced level of scholarship. Because enrollment is strictly limited to fifteen per class, do not wait until the last quarters of your senior year to enroll.

3.3.3.       Electives and Specializations (28 units)

Twenty-eight units of English electives are required of which at least 24 must be upper division.  Four may be lower division. English 10, 108, 108T and 117E may not apply. Upper division Comparative Literature courses taught by English department faculty may apply toward these electives.

The English Department encourages upper-division students with particular literary/critical interests to pursue them formally by selecting an area of
Specialization. The English Department offers Literature and Culture of Information, Early Modern Studies, American Cultures in Global Contexts, Literature and Environment, Literature and Mind, Modern Literature and Critical Theory, and Medieval Literature specializations. To complete a specialization, students must take a minimum of four English department elective courses constellated around a specific area of study. For instance, a student interested in the interrelation between literature and digital technology might elect to pursue the Culture of Information Specialization. Or, a student interested in Renaissance and Eighteenth Century literature could study that subject within the Early Modern Studies Specialization. Or a student interested in how different aspects of American cultures interact in their regional, hemispheric, and global contexts could choose the American Cultures Specialization. The fundamental idea informing the Specializations is that students should be enabled to explore particular areas of interest through a disciplined itinerary of courses. In addition, each specialization will encourage the sense of a collaborative community of research by offering certain extra-curricular events—e.g., conferences or colloquia involving undergraduates, field trips to scholarly or other resources, etc.

Additionally, students are encouraged to develop their own particular Independent Specialization in consultation with a faculty advisor. Working together, the student and faculty advisor would tailor a Specialization from already established course offerings.

3.4.       Planning Your English Major


The English department is aware that there are many constraints on a student's ability to plan and secure a coherent major, most especially when courses are available. However, planning in advance helps to make your undergraduate experience more successful, interesting, and hassle-free. In planning your major, try to keep in mind the following:

Sequencing of courses: In general, it is wise to complete required classes early on in your program. Classes specified as requirements mean that the department considers them to be fundamental to your major and therefore useful in providing you with important foundational material. You may want to take a course in literary or cultural theory early in your progress so you can apply it to your later course. Think, as well about taking courses that make a coherent and interesting quarter (and, ideally, year). That is, try to combine courses in a particular period of English literature with a course in history on the same period, with a course in art history on the same period, and/or with a course in another language (in translation or not) on the same period. For example, a course on Renaissance drama might be combined with a history course on the English Renaissance (or Italian, or French Renaissance), with a course on Renaissance painting, and/or a literature course on the Harlem Renaissance. Alternatively, try to take courses that vary historically but address similar questions, genres, styles. For example, a course on English romantic poetry might be paired with a course on revolutions (in history or political science), and/or with a class on feminist approaches to social change.

Balance in course selection: Where possible, give some thought to the kinds of course you are taking in a given quarter in terms of workload. In terms of courses within the major, you can assume that any course will be writing intensive, but different courses require different amounts and kinds of reading. When balancing English classes with classes outside your major, try not to take 4 reading/writing-intensive courses at once. Where possible, balance large lecture courses with smaller discussion classes. Think, too, about getting to know as wide a range of English professors as possible and as early on as possible. This helps you identify the kinds of professor with whom you might wish to study in a more concentrated fashion later on.

Below is a what a schedule of courses required for the English major might look like for a student who plans to graduate in four years. Other courses taken to satisfy General Education and University requirements would be taken in addition to these courses.


  Fall Winter Spring
Freshman Foreign Language Quarter 4 English 10;
Foreign Language Quarter 5
English 15
Sophomore English 101 English 102 English 103B Lower Division English Elective
Junior English 104B or
104AUpper Division English Elective
Upper Division English Elective toward Specialization Upper Division English Elective toward Specialization
Senior English 197Upper Division English Elective Upper Division English Elective toward Specialization Upper Division English Elective toward Specialization


Section 4. Requirements for the Minor

4. The Minor

To access the official minor requirement sheet for the current catalog year, students should visit the College of Letters & Science website.  The minor requirements below are provided with additional supplementary information pertinent to students pursuing the minor, and are current as of 2011-12.

The English minor requires 24 units in English, at least 20 of which must be upper-division, distributed in the manner outlined below.

4.1.      Requirements of the Minor in English

The English Department now offers two possible plans for the upper division portion of the minor.


One lower-division course in English (4 units)

Upper Division

Plan 1 - Core Plan

20 UD units, distributed as follows:
  1. 4.0 units of literature, pre-1700, chosen from: English 101, 105A-B, 110A-B-C, 115, 119, 119X, 144, 152A-B, 156, 157, or 162
  2. 4.0 units of literature from 1700-1900, chosen from: English 102, 103A-B, 126A-B-C, 137A, 169, 172, 179, 180, or 181.
  3. 12.0 units of English electives
Plan 2 - Thematic Plan

20 UD units of English electives chosen around a central theme. Students are required to meet with a faculty member to choose a topic and course of study. Final approval required by faculty undergraduate committee.

Depending on course content the following courses may apply to area A or area B of the upper-division minor; English 114AA-ZZ, 128AA-ZZ, 131, 132AA-ZZ, 133AA-ZZ, 134AA-ZZ, 151AA-ZZ, 16SAA-ZZ. Any of these courses apply automatically to area C. Contact the department to see which courses will apply to areas A and B in a given quarter. Substitutions and waivers are subject to approval by the chair of the department.

All courses to be applied to the minor must be completed on a letter-grade basis. This includes both courses offered by the English Department and those offered by other departments and applied to the minor.


4.2.      How to Become a Minor in English

Students do not need to declare the minor. Once a student has completed the course work outlined above, he or she can pick up a Request for Certification Form at the English Department advising office, South Hall 3432. The following preconditions apply, as noted on the official minor sheet provided by the College of Letters & Science:

*Student UC grade-point average in pertinent upper-division courses is 2.0 or higher.

*No more than 5 upper-division units overlap between the English minor and the upper-division portion of a student's major(s) or other minor(s). If the overlap with a student's major(s) exceeds 5 upper-division units, then completion of the English minor will not be formally recognized; if the overlap with other minor(s) exceeds 5 upper-division units, then only the first minor reported will be noted on the student's transcripts.

*Students must have completed at least 12 of the upper-division requirements for the minor while registered as a UCSB student. Substitutions and waivers are subject to approval by the chair of the department.

*Students may petition only one course from outside the department to satisfy either a lower division requirement or an upper division elective. No non-department substitute petitions will be approved for area A. Pre 1700 Literature or Area B. 1700-1900 Literature.



4.3.      Planning Your Minor

The English Department welcomes students majoring in other programs who feel they would like to complement their studies, and enrich their cultural lives, by minoring in English. Such crossing of disciplines makes even more sense today because the field of literary studies like many other humanities fields—has in recent decades actively fostered relations with the arts, social sciences, and science and technology. (See, for example, the department's
Voice of the Shuttle: Web Site for Humanities Research for a conceptual map of how literature currently intersects with other disciplines.)


Section 5. Special English Department Programs

5.1.      Honors Thesis

The Honors Program in English provides the opportunity for qualified majors to undertake advanced literary research or creative work. Successful performance in the Program leads to graduation "With Distinction in the Major." This program is especially recommended for students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in literary studies.

Majors who have completed the sophomore year with a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.5 (overall and in the major) may apply for admission to the Program. Junior transfer students and students interested in the Honors Program should inquire of the Staff Adviser for further information.


5.2.      English 199: Independent Studies

As defined by the guidelines set by the College of Letters and Science, English 199 is intended for qualified students who wish to pursue a directed and advanced study of a particular subject in British or American literature. English 199 may NOT be used for internships, general interest reading, fulfillment of any part of the Option 2 language requirement, the exclusive or preponderant study of foreign literature in translation, or study that is normally available in regular classes. In special cases, a creative writing project may be accepted by the Department, usually under the direction of those teaching creative writing in the Department.

English 199 is likely to be your experience closest to individual, original research at the graduate level. Inasmuch as this study is to be directed reading at an advanced level, you should have completed an upper division course relevant to your subject. You should have a good idea of the area you wish to study, the problems you wish to solve, and the methodology to solve them. For a 4-unit course, the departmental norm for the writing requirement is 15 pages (approximately 4,000 words) of sustained writing.

The requirements of the independent study program are as follows:
  1. Overall Grade Point Average must be at least 3.0 for the preceding three quarters.
  2. At least 84 units must have been completed overall.
  3. At least two upper division English courses must have been completed, one of which should be relevant to your subject.
Approval for a 199 cannot be rushed and is to be completed within the quarter before you undertake your project. Do not begin your project without full approval.

If you decide on a particular area of study that is not normally available in departmental courses, and if you believe that you meet with all of the above requirements, then approach a regular faculty member whose area of specialization corresponds with this study. If the instructor agrees, then discuss readings, bibliography, and writing requirements. During the project, the instructor will meet with you once a week for 1-2 hours to direct your reading and research.

To apply, ask the Staff Adviser in the English office for a 199 petition form.


5.3.      English 199RA: Independent Research Assistance

This course gives qualified undergraduates the chance to take part in a faculty research project. It is designed not only to forward the instructor's research interests, but also to give you a significant learning experience, comparable to what you would receive in an ordinary course. It is a good opportunity to learn in a practical way what is involved in academic research.

For each four-unit course, you can expect to do ten to twelve hours of work per week, including a one-hour meeting with the instructor and a significant amount of reading and writing. Professors actively seeking assistants will include a description of their projects in the quarterly course outline booklet. If you are interested in working with a regular faculty member whose area of specialization corresponds with your interests, but he or she has not included a description in the quarterly course outline booklet, you may wish to ask if they would be interested in sponsoring you as a research assistant.

The requirements for the research assistance program are the same as those listed above for English 199: Independent Studies. Once an instructor has agreed to work with you, a 199RA petition, available from the staff advisor, must be filed with the department. The petition will then require the approval of the faculty chair of the undergraduate committee. This approval process should be completed within the quarter before you begin the work.


5.4.      English 195I: Internships

This course provides qualified students the opportunity to experience a period of training in a real working situation.

Majors who have upper division standing and a GPA of 3.0 may apply for an intership. The application requires a form available from the Department office, a written explanation of work to be performed, a faculty sponsor signature, a Company Supervisor signature and the Department chair signature.

Under supervision of English Department faculty, English majors may obtain credit for work with/without pay in publishing, editing, journalism, or other employment related to English literature. Before the beginning of the quarter, the student and supervising faculty member must submit a course description (form available from the Undergraduate Advisor) detailing the internship site and the kind of work expectedthere, the supplemental reading and writing for the course, and the contact hours with the supervisor. The Undergraduate Staff advisor will notify you after the Undergraduate Committee has reviewed and approved the application.

Credit for an Internship can range from 1 to 4 units. This course may be repeated for credit to a maziumum of 8 units, but only 4 units may count for the major.

English 194I may be taken for a letter grade or pass/not pass, but may only qualify for elective credit with a letter grade.


5.5.      Supplemental Seminars

Qualified students may take advantage of special seminar course that are often offered in conjunction with large lecture courses. These one-unit seminars provide an opportunity for motivated students to work closely with faculty members while enriching their large lecture experience. The requirements of the seminar will include reading and/or writing beyond that already assigned in the lecture course. The seminar does not take the place of the regular discussion section for the lecture, which is conducted by a teaching assistant.

If a special seminar will be offered, the faculty member will announce the course on the first day of lecture, along with his or her criteria for admitting students. If you are admitted to the seminar, the instructor will give you a course approval code that will allow you to add the course to your schedule.  Seats in Honors Seminars are normally reserved for students in the Letters & Science Honors Program, but other students may be admitted based on available space.


5.6.      English Club

Sponsored by the Department, the English Club is organized to provide students with an opportunity to meet with one another outside of the classroom, to discuss academic subjects in an informal setting, to consider career options, and to meet with writers and journalists. The Club holds meetings about four times during each quarter; anyone may attend. Notices announcing Club activities will be posted on the bulletin board by the English Office, and a newsletter will be mailed to you once a quarter. See the Academic program adviser if you would like to make any suggestions about Club activities.


Section 6. Graduate Studies

Many English majors enter graduate and professional schools in preparation for such careers as law, business, management, journalism, and public service. Other English majors continue their literary studies in graduate school in preparation for teaching and research. Selecting an appropriate graduate school according to your interests and career plans requires thought. For further information and tips on applying to graduate school, see the Important Things to Consider When Applying to Graduate School page on the Department website.

6.1.      Preparation: Course Selection

If you are considering graduate studies, see the Staff Undergraduate Advisor or Faculty Undergraduate Advisor for recommendations on courses and programs offered at the undergraduate level that will effectively prepare you for your desired path of graduate study.


6.2.      Should You Apply to Graduate Studies in English?

How can you tell if you should apply to graduate studies in English literature specifically? Be sure that you are significantly committed not only to reading literature, but to learning about how the academic community analyzes and teaches literary texts. Indeed, in entering graduate school, you are making a commitment to enter a community of scholars and thinkers who have chosen to work towards uncovering new and exciting ways to read and understand written texts, social movements and cultural events. Once you enter graduate school, you will be asked to become a contributing member of that community. Deciding to apply to graduate school in English involves its own significant commitment in terms of time and energy. Think of the application process as another course-one that runs from about June to December. To best prepare your application, you should focus on four elements: Letters of recommendation, GRE exams, Researching Programs, and Statements of Purpose/Writing Samples. Following is a brief discussion of how to best prepare those elements.


6.3.      Teaching Credential Program

If you plan to pursue a teaching career, you should discuss your plans as soon as possible with the credential adviser in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, which maintains various advising programs for your differing career plans. The Graduate School of Education offers a program of graduate studies leading to a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English or a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Master of Arts in Education.  At the undergraduate level, they offer an Education Minor which helps further prepare interested students for the Teacher Education Program.


6.4.      Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate programs require 3 letters of recommendation with your application. Letters should come from faculty, not from a TA (though a TA is sometimes asked to assist in providing a faculty member information for a letter). Letters of recommendation should ideally come from faculty who are familiar with your work and who are enthusiastic about your chances in graduate school. One way to make sure that this is the case would be to visit professors in their office hours on a regular basis, discuss with them your interest in graduate school before you ask them for letters of recommendation. Have them help you in deciding which schools would be best for you considering your interests. Provide your letter writers with lots of time to complete a letter-do not give them forms a week before the application is due. Provide your letter writers with samples of your written work from classes here, a copy of your statement of purpose, a copy of your writing sample, and a copy of your transcript. You will want to ask them if they need anything else from you well in advance. Again, meet with your letter writers early and often to ask about their suggestions for programs, to talk about your statement of purpose, and to generally establish a good rapport. Always provide a stamped, addressed envelope for your letter writers, fill in recommendation forms with your name, etc., and present materials in an organized way. It is a good idea to remind them of application due dates well in advance. Getting a good letter of recommendation is a privilege, not a right.


6.5.      GREs

You will likely need to take both the GRE general and the GRE subject test. Each school is different though, so make sure you know what exams are required for each application. In some cases, schools do not require the exams at all, though that is a rarity. Check the GRE web site (www.gre.org) for information on dates and scheduling. In some cases, the exam will not be offered near you. You need to be ready to travel to take the exam. The general test is very similar to the SAT in that it has a verbal and a math section. In addition, the GRE also includes a logic section. It is very useful (but costly) to take a preparation course. If you cannot take a course, do be sure to buy one of the preparation books and practice ahead of time. The subject exam is now only given on the computer, so make sure you are comfortable with that environment. The subject test is still paper-based. It is very important that you take the exams on time —otherwise your scores will not be sent to the schools to which you are applying, and your application will be void. (Because the deadlines vary for different tests, it is important to confirm the deadlines required for both the general and subject tests far in advance at the official website of the GRE.)

Be sure you prepare yourself for any required exams as best as possible. For literature programs, the subject exam in Literature in English is a comprehensive exam, which covers British and American literature (prose and poetry), as well as a significant number of questions about literary theory. A good strategy, if you have the time, would be to take elective courses in the major that increase your breadth of knowledge. Realize as well that these exams are costly; check the official website for most current pricing.  You can take each of the exams more than once. The most recent score will be reported to schools.


6.6.      Researching Graduate Programs

Researching programs is one of the best and most useful things you can do to prepare a successful application. You want to make sure you end up at a program that fits your interests and strengths-one at which faculty is enthusiastic about you as a student and as a future colleague. If a program doesn't seem interested in what you have to offer it, you should not be interested in spending your time and money there. Begin by asking faculty members here about their recommendations on programs. Visit web-sites and give yourself lots of time to look at them. Ask lots of questions! Try to talk with faculty and current graduate students in each program. Find out about program requirements (exams, language requirements, teaching duties, course work). Ask about recent graduates: What is the job placement rate? Ask schools how many new students they admit every year. This will give you a sense of what the faculty/student ratio is. The lower the ratio, the better chance you have for the sort of personal attention you will need in finishing the degree. Does the department seem friendly? Do they sound excited about you and your interests? Do they put you on hold a lot? Find out about the area. Is it a place you could imagine living? Remember that you will likely be spending a good number of years of your life there. Find out about funding options. Will you be expected to teach? How many years of guaranteed funding do most incoming students get? Find out how much applying to the program costs. Application fees range from $30-$60. Find out about admission requirements. Some schools are very clear about GPAs and GRE scores. Don't apply if you don't qualify. Finally, explore the research faculty with whom you might be interested in working. Read what they have written. Does their work seem to fit with your interests? Again, you want to end up at a program that will nurture you and your individual project. Be sure there is someone there who you might like to have as a mentor in that respect.


6.7.      Statements of Purpose and Writing Samples

All schools will ask for both a statement of purpose-a one to two page explanation of your interest in graduate school in general and your expected specialization-and a writing sample-a 10-25 page formal essay you have written while getting your BA. Spend lots of time on both! The statement of purpose is one of the things in your application that will set you off from the other applicants. You should think hard about why you want to go to graduate school, and why a particular program seems to be a good fit. In general, you should avoid the "I love literature" statement. Be ready to outline your interests as closely as you can. Explain what you want to work on and why a particular program's faculty is exciting to you. If possible, have current faculty members (especially those writing your letters of recommendation) read your statement. Begin working on it early so you can revise! It might be worthwhile to ask a TA you trust to read it over as well, be sure to give them plenty of time to do this. Your writing sample should be a research paper from a class you have taken here. It should usually be from 10-25 pages long (again, check the requirements of each individual program, as they all differ) and should represent your best intellectual work. If it is in the field you want to pursue, all the better, but it need not be. Revise that writing sample substantially! Again, the revision is best done with the help of those faculty members writing you letters. You may want to ask (well in advance) what sort of changes might move the paper towards graduate level and work on those revisions for your applications.

Finally, you should be extremely organized. You might want to plan a 6-12 month schedule for this process, keeping in mind the deadlines of the various schools, exams, and a timetable for compiling your application materials. Also, be aware that each program has different requirements and different due dates for applications. Be sure you are aware of the nuances and are prepared to present your best application.

Section 7. Regulations and Procedures

7.1.      Declaring the Major

To declare as an English major you must have at least a 2.0 Grade Point Average in your overall academic record, in your overall English major record (preparation and upper division), and in your upper division major record.  Students who have not established a UC GPA may petition to declare after one quarter of study at UCSB.

Pick up a petition to change or declare a major from the
Staff Undergraduate Advisor in the English office, or from the College of Letters and Science, 1117 Cheadle Hall (hereafter L&S). Fill out the petition and bring it to the Staff Undergraduate Advisor who will help you with program planning and, if you have transferred from another institution, with petitioning to have any eligible classes applied towards the requirements for the English major. Also bring an unofficial transcript from any prior colleges if you have completed course work which may not yet be reflected on your UCSB record.

7.2.      Overall Degree Requirements

You need to know about the General Education, General University, and unit requirements, as well as the major requirements. Study the General Catalog and the bulletins available from L&S about these requirements. Students who need telephone assistance with any academic matter may call the Academic Advising Hotline at 893-2038. Students who wish to meet with a general college adviser may call 893-3201 for an appointment. A one-time junior progress check is available upon request from L&S, as is a one-time senior progress check from the Registrar. These progress checks touch on all requirements except English major requirements.

Some of your English classes may also satisfy General Education or American History and Institutions requirements, but you must check with L&S to find out how the two sets of requirements will interact.


7.3.      Residence Requirements

You must complete at least 3 terms in the University of California; 35 of your final 45 units in resident UCSB courses; 27 UD units in resident UCSB courses; 20 UD units in your major in resident UCSB courses. Courses taken in the university's Education Abroad Program do not apply toward the residence requirement. See the General Catalog and the L&S Guide to Undergraduate Studies for further information.


7.4.      Format of English Courses

The English Department offers classes in a variety of formats, for example: large lectures with small discussion sections, small lecture classes limited to 38 students, Upper-division Seminars limited to an enrollment of 15, and other formats of various sizes depending on the class, quarter, and instructor.

Enrollment in most classes is limited to 38 students, and priority is usually given to English majors. Some courses, including required ones, will be given in large lectures, with required discussion sections taught by teaching assistants. These large lecture classes are also open to students fulfilling General Education requirements. Because this same course may be offered only once more per academic year in a smaller class limited to 38 students, you should insofar as possible take required courses in large lecture sections.

The maximum number for enrollment in each class is a limit set by the department for instructional reasons. The maximum number for large lectures is set by also taking into consideration the room capacity (established by the Fire Marshall) and the number of teaching assistants available. An instructor is not allowed to enroll more students than the set maximum number.


7.5.      Enrollment Procedures

During registration on GOLD, some classes will be open to English and related majors during the first pass, opening up to all majors during passes two and three.  Other classes, such as large lectures, will be open to all majors from the first pass onward.  The Upper-division Seminar is an exception and is open only to English majors during all pass times.

Many courses may have online wait-lists established at waitlist.ucsb.edu.  Check the website for details.  Courses without wait-lists may be open, or the instructor may be keeping a wait-list offline.

Once you are enrolled in a class, do not assume that attendance at only the first roll call will be sufficient to hold your place. You may be dropped from the course for missing two consecutive meetings. Ask your instructor for individual policies on attendance.

If you have enrolled in a large lecture class with discussion sections, you must attend the first two sections, even when the first section falls before the first scheduled lecture. Failure to attend both sections may result in your being dropped from the class.


7.6.      Adding/Dropping a Class at Enrollment and Later

You may also try to enroll by attending the first meeting of the class and speaking with the instructor. If your enrollment is approved you will be given a course approval code to be used through the GOLD system. These course approval codes are available only from the instructor.  Generally, if there is a wait-list for the class, students from the wait-list will have priority for add-codes.

Students must do their share in improving the enrollment process. The faculty needs to know the first day of class just how many spaces are available. Student courtesies on which the success of enrollment depends:
  1. If the instructor gives you a course approval code, add the course to your schedule immediately. The faculty will know all the more quickly how many students they may add (and so will students on waiting lists).
  2. If you do not intend to take a course you received in registration, drop the course immediately at the Registrar's Office or through GOLD. Do not keep those who want the class from enrolling. (Once you have been enrolled in a class, you are accountable for completing the course work; it is your responsibility, not the faculty's, to see that your official records are accurate.)


7.7.      Grading Options

All courses required for the major must be taken for a letter grade. There is one exception: the P/NP grading option is allowed through the next to the last quarter of foreign language study. The last quarter must be taken for a letter grade (quarter 5 with option 1, and quarter 3 with option 2). 

You will be able to change your grading option up to a certain point each quarter for classes with optional grading.  Make sure that you do not leave a required major course P/NP if you intend to use it for the major!


7.8.      Grade Point Average Requirement

At the time of graduation, you must have a 2.0 GPA in the University of California in each of the following categories: a) All courses attempted; b) All courses required or acceptable for your major (Prep. for major + UD major); and c) All upper division courses required or acceptable for your upper division major. (Note: UC Extension courses are excluded from these computations.)


7.9.      Auditing English Courses

For unusual reasons, it may be desirable to audit a class, that is, to sit in on lectures without enrolling officially. This arrangement can be made only with permission of the instructor before the quarter begins. Because enrollment space is limited, permission to audit will be given only in special circumstances.


7.10.      Double Major

If you have declared a double major, you may be allowed to apply simultaneously to both majors a total of eight units of upper division elective credit.  You must have approval from each department by petition. See the Staff Undergraduate Advisor for guidance in determining which classes might be used for this allowance.  In general, such petitions are wise to pursue if you have taken a course that you feel could conceivably apply to either of your double majors.


7.11.      Undergraduate Enrollment in a Graduate Course

In special cases it may be possible to enroll in an English Department graduate course. You must have the following in order to enroll: an overall "B" Grade Point Average, and the appropriate background for the course.

If you are encouraged to enroll, consult with the instructor. If the instructor will permit you to take the class, you will need two petitions. The Petition for an Undergraduate to Enroll in a Graduate Course is available from the Registrar's Office. It is your responsibility to obtain the required signatures before the quarter begins (Instructor, Chair of English Department, Dean of Graduate Division). Once you have all the required signatures, return the petition to the Registrar's Office. You will also need a petition, available from the
Staff Undergraduate Advisor, for the graduate course to count as an upper division elective in the major.


7.12.      Incomplete Grades

Students are expected to finish the course work according to the deadlines set by the instructor. If for any reason you believe that you will not be able to finish the course requirements on time, consult with the instructor as quickly as possible. With the instructor's permission (which will be granted only in unusual circumstances) you may file for an incomplete grade for the course. This option should be used only in the event of illness or serious problem.

If you must take an incomplete, get an Undergraduate Petition for an Incomplete Grade from the Registrar's Office. Ask your instructor to sign it; you must return the form to the Registrar's Office by the last day of the quarter. With your instructor you will determine a new due date for the completion of any unfinished work; this deadline may not be later than the end of the following quarter. If work has not been completed by this time, the incomplete grade automatically becomes "F." An extension to this deadline may be granted with the permission of your instructor and the department chair. See the undergraduate advisor for the appropriate form.


7.13.      University Extension

Courses or Courses at other Colleges Before you enroll in any courses offered by other Colleges or programs, you should see the Staff Undergraduate Advisor to file a petition to accept the course for the English major. If approved, the petition will then be forwarded to L&S for final approval. You must take the class for a letter grade.

In unusual circumstances, you may need to take a course through University Extension, or "Open Enrollment." This is a different enrollment procedure, but you will be attending class and doing the work just as you would in regular enrollment. The University Extension office has brochures describing these procedures.

You should see the
Staff Undergraduate Advisor to file a petition before taking a class through Extension. If the class is approved through the petition, credit will be given towards satisfying the major requirements. The class must be taken for a letter grade, which will not, however, be entered into the GPA. Courses taken through Extension will not count towards the residence requirement of 20 upper division units in the major, nor will they be a part of the UC GPA.


7.14.      Applying Classes Taken at Other Institutions to the Major Requirements

If you have transferred to UCSB from another institution, you may be able to apply some of the classes already taken to the major requirements.  Usually you must petition for credit, unless UCSB has an articulation agreement with your former institution that explicitely approves the courses you wish to apply for the major.  Additionally, if you decide to take classes for the major through a program outside of the English Department after having been admitted to the department, it is your responsibility to be sure that the other program will successfully interact with the English major.  See a department adviser before you enroll in any other programs.

As soon as you become an English major, or when you are seriously considering declaring, you should see a department adviser bringing unofficial transcripts and the full syllabus for each course you wish to have considered as applying towards your English major requirements.

After reviewing the related course materials with the Undergraduate Staff Adviser, you will then fill out a Petition for Degree Requirements for any classes that could be counted towards the major.  This petition will be evaluated by department faculty and forwarded to the College once a decision is reached.  This process can take up to a month in some cases, so please be patient.
  The College will send an E-mail to students once petitions have been finalized.


7.15.      Foreign Study

Studying abroad can be a valuable academic experience, while often still allowing you to make progress towards your degree from UCSB. Programs most frequently used are Education Abroad Program (EAP) and American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). Other programs for foreign study may also be acceptable. EAP is an overseas study program in cooperation with more than 80 host universities and colleges in countries throughout the world. Participating students remain registered at UCSB while studying abroad. Full-year as well as short-term and special focus programs are available through EAP.

Inquire carefully into any program before enrolling. Make sure you understand the admission requirements and the arrangements for study. You may wish to ask for the names and phone numbers of several students who have recently completed foreign study who would discuss the program with you.

The most important part of foreign study is your intellectual growth. Choose a host country where you will find a course of studies in the major with an established faculty and library. In many non-English speaking countries it will be difficult to study your English major subject and thus progress towards the completing your degree. We do not accept British and American literature read in Spanish, French, Italian, etc., for the major -- however, we can accept up to 8.0 units of foreign literature in english translation, or in the original language, toward the upper division elective requirement by petition. Most English majors reasonably apply for study in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

If you plan to study abroad, consult first with the foreign study office of the programs you are considering; ask for forms, instruction on application procedures, and the date applications are due. (NOTE: EAP applications for UK/I are due early: usually the first week of November for UCSB students.)

Well in advance of the application date see the
Staff Undergraduate Advisor or the Faculty EAP advisor for guidance on how to plan an integrated program of study at your host institution. Bring course descriptions from the host school; look for courses that will be consistent with the academic standards and requirements in the English major. The principal criterion is that courses are acceptable as substitutes for the Department's required courses only if they cover essentially the same readings. With electives, there is more flexibility in subject matter. The Upper Division Seminar is to be taken within the English Department.

When you return, make sure you bring copies of the course description, syllabus, and assignment sheets for each course you studied.  Keeping copies of your papers can also be very helpful in getting your work approved for the major, if possible.  See a department advisor to petition for eligible classes to be applied to the major. EAP students must use the official EAP petition form.


7.16.      Theater in England

After successful completion of the "Theater in England" summer program, six units of credit can be issued through University of California Extension as upper division English. You must file a petition, available from the Undergraduate Staff Adviser, for the English units to apply to your major as electives. These units are not accepted in substitution for the required Shakespeare course in the major.


7.17.      Graduating from the English Department

It is your responsibility to review your academic record regularly to determine that you are making satisfactory progress toward graduation.

You need never be in doubt about the requirements still to be met in your program. The Undergraduate
Staff Adviser will evaluate your progress toward completion of your major requirements during any point in your academic stay. It is especially recommended that you request a progress check early in your senior year.

English major progress checks are now available on GOLD for non-double-majors.  Double-majors should still consult with a department and college adviser for a progress check in each set of requirements.

Remember that it is very important that you also work with the College of Letters & Science regarding your non-major requirements such as minimum units, general education, and academic residency requirements.  The English adviser only advises students for English major requirements, which do not always represent the full extent of what will be required for your degree.


7.18.      Academic Misconduct

A professional attitude towards your work in English of course includes avoidance of "academic dishonesty": plagiarism and cheating. These dishonest practices lower the educational standards for everyone, and carry severe penalties, including suspension or dismissal from the University.

Commitment to academic integrity is an important part of your dedication in the major. The UCSB Campus Regulations state University policy:
It is expected that students attending the University of California understand and subscribe to the ideal of academic integrity, and are willing to bear individual responsibility for their work. Any work (written or otherwise) submitted to fulfill an academic requirement must represent a student's original work. Any act of academic dishonesty such as cheating or plagiarism will subject a person to University disciplinary action.
Using or attempting to use materials, information, study aids, or commercial "research" services not authorized by the instructor of the course constitutes cheating. Representing the words, ideas, or concepts of another person without appropriate attribution is plagiarism. Whenever another person's written work is utilized, whether it is a single phrase or longer, quotation marks must be used and sources cited. Paraphrasing another's work, i.e., borrowing the ideas or concepts and putting them into one's "own" words, must also be acknowledged. Although a person's state of mind and intention will be considered in determining the university response to an act of academic dishonesty, this in no way lessens the responsibility of the student.

If you are unsure about how to give correct references and footnotes for material gathered from sources other than your own thought, ask your instructor or section leader for clarification.


7.19.      Procedures for Policies and Complaints

If you have a particular problem or complaint about some aspect of your experience in the English major, see the Undergraduate Staff Advisor or Student Services supervisor. If your problem is in a particular class, you may wish to start by talking with your instructor or your teaching assistant. After speaking with these members of the department, you can also discuss this problem further with the chair of the undergraduate committee.

The University of California has called for an active policy of education and complaint resolution to ensure an atmosphere free from all forms of harassment, exploitation, and intimidation on the basis of age, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and physical handicap. Sexual harassment is an illegal form of discrimination and a violation of professional ethics. UCSB has defined sexual harassment as unwanted sexual attention in a situation of unequal power, and has adopted a specific policy and grievance procedure to provide for the hearing of complaints and the resolution of grievances. The Staff Undergraduate Advisor has further information on these policies.

Section 8. Library Resources

Knowing how to use the resources of the library is an important part of a successful undergraduate program. As early as possible, learn how to find and use books, periodicals, and reference materials.

The library offers many special services, almost all of which are free:

  • Library Tours: At the beginning of each quarter, short library tours are given by reference librarians. This is an excellent way to quickly familiarize yourself with the main services of the library.
  • Reference Desk: On the second floor just beyond the main stairs is the Reference Desk, almost always staffed by reference librarians who will help you with any question about your use of the library. They can direct you to special reference books or to sections of the library that will be especially helpful to you.
  • Melvyl Demonstrations: Short introductions to Melvyl, the on-line computer catalog, are given throughout the school year. In addition, you can ask a reference librarian for help at any time.

8.1.      Classes in Library Skills

Taught by librarians, these classes, which can be taken only P/NP, will quickly teach you how to be a sophisticated user of library resources.

  • Interdisciplinary Studies 1: Introduction to Library Research. This course is designed to assist entering students in learning to use essential facilities and resources of the library. Classwork emphasizes applied experience with finding and evaluating information, especially through use of library catalogs, journal indexes, and Internet resources.
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 100AA-ZZ: Topics in Advanced Library Research (Bibliography). Students critically examine the complex range of research tools within a specified area. A critically annotated and extensive bibliography is a central course requirement. The course is recommended for students concurrently registered in any course that has a research project requirement, such as English 197: Upper Division Seminar. It is also strongly recommended for anyone considering graduate studies.

Section 9. English Department Contests and Awards

The English Department offers several kinds of awards to deserving students. Specific requirements may apply; see the Prizes and Awards page of the Department website for details on these and other awards.

The English Department offers several kinds of awards to deserving students. Specific requirements may apply; see the Undergraduate Staff Advisor for further details on each award.


9.1.      William and Marjorie Frost Award

This award, which carries a substantial stipend, is given each year to senior or upper division English majors who demonstrate significant achievement and academic promise. The recipient will be chosen on the basis of both an outstanding paper and a strong academic record. The Department annually announces the requirements and date when applications and papers are to be received for judging, usually early spring quarter.


9.2.      Outstanding Achievement as an English Major

A small number of graduating seniors are selected each year for excellence in scholarship and service to the Department.


9.3.      Distinction in the Major

Given only to students who have successfully completed the English Department Honors Program. (See section 5.1 above.)


9.4.      Kieth E. Vineyard Honorary Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded annually during spring quarter to an undergraduate in recognition of outstanding skills in creative writing. Entry dates are announced during the winter quarter.


9.5.     Jenkins-Stark Award

This award is given each year to senior English majors who demonstrate exceptional achievement, scholarship, and academic promise. The recipient will be chosen on the basis of both an outstanding paper and a strong academic record. The Department annually announces the requirements and date when applications and papers are to be received for judging, usually early spring quarter.


9.6.     William and Marjorie Frost Memorial Award

This award is given each year to a junior or senior English major who demonstrates exceptional scholarship through a critical or scholarly essay.  The Department annually announces the requirements and date when applications and papers are to be received for judging, usually early spring quarter.


9.7.      Other Awards and Contests

Entry dates for other contests & prizes either sponsored by the English Department or held by affiliated departments, such as the annual UC-wide Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize, are announced throughout the year.  Be sure to subscribe to the Undergraduate Listserv to get the latest news on these opportunities for majors & non majors!

Section 10. English Department Listserv and Web Page

English majors and minors are encouraged to subscribe to the department e-mail listserve to receive up-to-date information about the English major and other opportunities. As a member of the listserve you will automatically receive e-mail messages about scholarships, research opportunities, writing contests, internships, lectures, registration deadlines, scheduling changes, and more. To sign up, follow these steps:

  1. From your e-mail account, address a message to listserv@listserv.ucsb.edu
  2. Leave the subject line blank
  3. In the message area, type: SUBSCRIBE SBENGL-L your full name (write your name)
  4. Send the e-mail message

You will receive a welcome message that you should save since it will contain information on how to remove yourself from the list. You may access a copy of this handbook, and much more on the English department webpage at www.english.ucsb.edu.

Section 11. Administration of the Undergraduate Program

Please see the faculty and staff directories at the Department website for specific contact information for the positions described below.

11.1.      The Chair of the English Department

The chair is responsible for overseeing both undergraduate and graduate education in English at UCSB.


11.2.      The Chair of the Undergraduate Committee

The undergraduate chair is responsible for overseeing the undergraduate program and for steering the undergraduate committee.


11.3.      The Undergraduate Committee

The chair of the undergraduate committee meets on a regular basis with appointed faculty members to discuss and administer the undergraduate program. The chair and the committee review recommendations made by the undergraduate staff adviser, and supervise student honors projects. Decisions concerning curriculum and general policies are taken to the chair of the department and the faculty for final approval.


11.4.      The Undergraduate Staff Adviser

The undergraduate staff adviser answers questions of undergraduates regarding major requirements and registration, oversees the application process for independent studies and honors program, accepts petitions for substitution for major requirements, maintains student records, and performs progress checks in the major.  The staff advisor meets with new freshmen and transfer students to orient them to department services and their major requirements. You can see this adviser to talk about the graduate school application process and about careers for English majors.

The staff adviser consults with the faculty undergraduate chair and the
undergraduate committee concerning all areas of the undergraduate program. This adviser holds daily walk-in advising hours, which you can find, posted on the department bulletin boards.  Appointments can be made by signing up at the front desk.


Section 12. Campus Services

UCSB offers a number of useful and often free services. Some of the most frequently consulted are:

12.1.      Counseling and Career Services

Located in Building 599, this center offers a range of programs and services designed to help you achieve your personal, social, academic and career goals. These confidential services, provided by professionals or (when appropriate) by peers, are free to all registered students.


12.2.      CLAS

Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) offers free tutoring in composition and foreign languages to UCSB undergraduates. Sign up for an appointment at 3210 Student Resource Building (SRB). CLAS also offers general workshops on such subjects as time management, essay exam preparation, note taking, etc. A schedule is available in the CLAS office.


12.3.      Net Stations

Net Stations are computer stations located across campus, which allow students to perform a variety of tasks, and to access information, from the campus computing network and GOLD (Gaucho On-line Data system). You can activate your own e-mail account assigned to every undergraduate student, send and receive e-mail messages, use library services like Pegasus, view a schedule of campus events and access your own student record including your course schedule, grades, billing information, and personal address. Students can also access an on-line current Schedule of Classes as well as the General Catalog. Among other places, you can find net stations at the Bookstore, the library, the MCL, at CLAS and at the UCEN information desk.

Section 13. Useful Contacts for English Students

All numbers are area code 805:

  • South Academic Support Center, Student Services (English advising), 893-7488 (web page)
  • CLAS, 893-3269 (web page)
  • College of Letters & Science (General advising), 893-2038 (web page)
  • Career Services, 893-4412 (web page)
  • Counseling Services, 893-4411 (web page)
  • Education Abroad Program, 893-3763 (web page)
  • Extended Learning Services, 893-4200 (web page)
  • Graduate Division, 893-2277 (web page)
  • Graduate School of Education, 893-2137 (web page)
  • Teacher Education Program, 893-2084 (web page)
  • Instructional Computing 893-5252 (web page)
  • Library, 893-2478 (web page)
  • Lost & Found, 893-3843
  • Registrar 893-3592 (web page)
  • Transcript Services, 893-3135
  • UCEN Bookstore, 893-3271 (web page)