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Study English at Otago

Shaping the world with words.

Writers of literature take us on pleasurable and challenging journeys of the imagination. Studying English helps you read more deeply, in fiction, poetry and critical prose, and take in the sounds and signs of language in the world around you.

Studying English also helps to develop writing skills for your own communication, whether for creative pleasure or for your profession.

At Otago you can study literature from Old English to contemporary poetry and prose, New Zealand literature, post-colonial literature, popular literature such as crime fiction, and critical theory.

We also offer courses in Writing – creative writing, and writing for professional purposes.

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Why study English?

Language is power. We use language for the whole range of activities  that make us human, from passion to politics; we negotiate through  language in every waking moment of our lives. Literature is language  at its most effective.

English at Otago is designed to fulfil three main aims: opening  up the vast and delightful range of literatures written in English;  providing a grasp of the concepts and techniques for analysing texts;  and improving communication skills of every kind.

By taking English you will find your perceptions sharpened, your  understanding deepened and your enjoyment enhanced - for life. Above  all, you will equip yourself for a career in almost any sector of  society.

Literature in English embodies a high level of creative insight into human behaviours, preoccupations, politics and passions. By learning about language from its best practitioners, students gain critical skills that are valued by employers, governments and educationalists; skills that are essential for people taking an active role in an open society.

By immersing yourself in literature, you will gain a unique understanding of the roots of society and its cultures and also develop your own powers of analysis, creativity and imagination.

Career opportunities

English develops key skills in critical thinking, cultural awareness, and communication, which are essential in all workplaces, and are increasingly sought after by employers.

Our graduates are working as editors, copy-writers and in publishing, as creative writers or journalists, teachers, librarians and educational administrators.

English graduates may be found in the public service, as analysts, diplomats, politicians, and policy-makers. Others have become ministers of religion, arts administrators, and broadcasters.

Otago has an excellent record of preparing students for postgraduate study in English and related disciplines, both in New Zealand and overseas. Recent Otago graduates have gone on to study at top Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, and Harvard, and Otago graduates hold positions at universities in Britain, Australia, and North America.

English at Otago

Teaching style

English at Otago teaches the arts of reading and writing in an integrated way, by studying and discussing literary texts, and by practising the techniques of writing.

Our courses involve a combination of small-scale, discussion-based classes (tutorials) and larger-class teaching (lectures), which generally involve a variety of staff.

In upper-level courses, class sizes are usually smaller and opportunities for discussion greater. At second and especially third year, there is generally a greater emphasis placed on independent and exploratory learning  and research.


English as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


Two of:
ENGL 121 English Literature: A Survey
ENGL 127 Essentials of Writing
ENGL 128 Essentials of Communication
ENGL 131 Controversial Classics



Two papers from 200-level ENGL papers

Note: EURO 202 or EURO 302 may be substituted for one 100- or 200-level ENGL paper



One 300-level ENGL paper

Total 90

ENGL papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
ENGL120 2024 Creative Writing: How to Captivate and Persuade 18 Semester 1
ENGL121 2024 English Literature: The Remix 18 Semester 1
ENGL127 2024 Essentials of Writing 18 Semester 1
ENGL128 2024 Essentials of Communication 18 Semester 2
ENGL131 2024 Controversial Classics 18 Semester 2
ENGL216 2024 A Topic in English Language 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL217 2024 Creative Writing: Poetry 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL218 2024 Shakespeare: Stage, Page and Screen 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL219 2024 Poetry and Music 18 Semester 1
ENGL220 2024 Creative Writing: Reading for Writers 18 Semester 2
ENGL222 2024 Literature and Activism: The Art of Protest 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL223 2024 Fantasy and the Imagination 18 Summer School
ENGL227 2024 Essay and Feature Writing 18 Semester 1
ENGL228 2024 Writing for the Professions 18 Semester 2
ENGL233 2024 Literary Theory: From Marxism to Ecocriticism 18 Semester 1
ENGL241 2024 Irish-Scots Gothic and the Gothic as Genre 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL242 2024 New Zealand Literature: Connecting Worlds 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL243 2024 Tartan Noir: Scottish Crime Fiction 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL251 2024 Special Topic: Creative Writing for Games and Interactive Media 18 Semester 2
ENGL254 2024 Magic and Treachery in Medieval Literature 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL311 2024 Renaissance Literature 18 Semester 1
ENGL312 2024 Literature in the Age of Invention 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL313 2024 Victorian Literature 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL319 2024 Poetic Revolt from Soho to Social Media 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL320 2024 Creative Writing: Crafting Voices 18 Semester 2
ENGL323 2024 Fantasy and the Imagination (Advanced) 18 Summer School
ENGL327 2024 The Essay: Creative Non-Fiction 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL332 2024 Postcolonial Literatures 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL334 2024 Textuality and Visuality 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL335 2024 Romantics, Revolutionaries, and the Imagination 18 Semester 1
ENGL337 2024 Creative Writing: Travel Narratives 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL340 2024 Modernism: Joyce 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL341 2024 Irish-Scots Gothic and the Gothic as Genre 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL342 2024 Digital Literature: Technologies of Storytelling 18 Semester 2
ENGL350 2024 Special Topic: Contemporary Irish and Scottish Poetry 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL351 2024 Special Topic: 21st Century Fiction: Reading Today's World 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL353 2024 Reading Minds: Literature and Psychology 18 Semester 2
ENGL354 2024 Monsters and Monstrosity in Medieval Literature 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL368 2024 Engaging Literary Stories 18 Not offered in 2024
ENGL404 2024 A Topic in English Language 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL454 2024 Medieval Misogyny: Subverting the Antifeminist Tradition 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL465 2024 A Topic in New Zealand Literature 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL467 2024 Special Topic 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL469 2024 Writing Revolutions: How Modernism Changed the World 20 Semester 2
ENGL470 2024 Storyworlds and Cognition 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL471 2024 A Topic in Romanticism 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL473 2024 A Topic in 19th Century Literature 20 Semester 2
ENGL474 2024 Special Topic 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL476 2024 A Topic in English Literature 1660-1800 20 Semester 1
ENGL477 2024 A Topic in American Literature 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL478 2024 A Topic in Postcolonial Literatures 20 Not offered in 2024
ENGL490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year
ENGL590 2024 Research Dissertation 60 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

More information

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English and Linguistics Programme
School of Arts

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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