For majors who declared before fall 2023

The English Department has a newly revised major!  The new requirements go into effect in Fall 2023. Students who declare the major in Fall 2023 or after should consult the new requirements. Students who declared the major before Fall 2023 should follow the previous guidelines for the major, listed below.  The department wants to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible for students. If you have any questions, please contact the department Vice Chair, Jim Kearney .

Pre-2023 Major Sheet
Preparation for the Major
Foreign Language Requirement
Upper Division Requirements in English

Majors who declared prior to fall 2023 may need to make a few simple adjustments, but these adjustments should actually give you greater flexibility in completing your degree.

  • If you have not already taken English 101, you can fulfill that requirement with English 115 or any course that falls in the English 101AA-ZZ rubric. In Spring 2024, for instance, you could take ENG 101ML: British Literature before 1500
  • If you have not already taken English 102, you can fulfill that requirement with any course that falls in the English 102AA-ZZ rubric.
  • If you have not already taken English 103A or 103B, you can fulfill that requirement with any course that falls in the English 103AA-ZZ rubric.
  • If you have not already taken English 104A or 104B, you can fulfill that requirement with any course that falls in the English 104AA-ZZ rubric.

Preparation for the Major

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 Foreign Language requirement.

Students interested in petitioning a course outside the English Department to count for credit towards the major (including the Foreign Language in Translation courses) must provide the syllabus for the course. The Undergrad Chair will be able to evaluate the course to see if there is enough course content to count for an English course. Please email the Undergrad Advisor the course syllabus and they will assist you with the petition process.

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.)

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.

Elective lower division English course, lower division, 4 units (optional; excluding English 18)

Students may optionally elect to take one of their elective courses for the major as a lower division course. For example, English 38A, English 50, or English 65AA-ZZ would be considered lower division electives for the major. At most four units may count towards the lower division elective requirement.

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 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 two upper-division foreign literature in translation courses to be selected from a list available in the English department office. The literature in translation courses must be taken for a letter grade.

A list of all approved foreign literature in translation courses, as well as offerings identified for the upcoming quarter, can be obtained at the English Department office or via the following links:

Upper Division Requirements in English

44 upper division units in English are required, as follows.

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

  • English 101: English Literature from the Medieval period to 1650
  • English 102: English and American Literature from 1650-1789
  • English 103A: American Literature from 1789-1900 OR English 103B: British Literature from 1789-1900
  • English 104A: American Literature from 1900-Present OR English 104B: British Literature from 1900-Present

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, students may only take this seminar once, and it must be taken during the junior or senior year. It is recommended that students be selective about their choice of 197 seminar, since each year will see many different topics and instructors. The range of available 197 seminars each quarter is posted on the English Department website throughout the year.

Electives and Specializations (24-28 units)

Twenty-eight units of English electives are required, of which at least 24 must be upper division. 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.