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English Studies

English Studies is the scholarly investigation of the English language and its many uses in social and historical contexts. It prominently includes the study of literature(s) written in English, as well as creative writing. Both the language and the literatures are studied from multiple perspectives, linguistic ones and literary ones, and also including critical and cultural theory. Our English Studies programme has a strong cross-cultural orientation, recognizing English as a language of global communication and world literature, a language which people make their own, creatively and habitually, all over the world. It offers students both a solid foundation and a wide range of choices in various concentrations. Introductory courses emphasize the practice of critical reading, analysis and writing, as well as the development of historical and theoretical knowledge. Advanced courses focus on English language and literature as representations of culture and society in diverse historical contexts, on the production of meaning in different discursive contexts, genres and media, and on the place of English in relation to histories of colonization and globalization with special reference to Hong Kong and the region. A range of capstone courses, including research seminars, internships and senior colloquia, offer students opportunities to integrate and deploy their learning in the major while considering their options upon graduation.

The courses of the English Studies programme incorporate a variety of teaching and learning methods, including formal lectures, seminars, small group tutorials, workshops, and online learning. They are mostly assessed by coursework, including oral presentations, in-class tests and quizzes, essays and research projects and portfolios. They are designed to provide students with skills of accurate and historically sensitive analysis, critical reading and thinking, and clear and coherent argument in both writing and speaking.

Students are encouraged to discuss their study plans and course selections with the UG Coordinator, their Academic Advisers, or any teachers in the English Studies programme.

Major students who have successfully passed at least seven courses (three introductory courses and four advanced courses) with a literature OR language and communication focus, respectively, will be given a School of English certification, upon request, which attests to this specialization in the “Literature Stream” or “Language and Communication Stream.” If applicable, a dual recognition in both the “Literature Stream” and “Language and Communication Stream” is possible.

Please note that the declaration and certification of specialization stream(s) is optional and students can graduate with a major in English Studies without declaring any specialization stream(s).


  1. Courses affiliated to specialization streams are listed on the School’s website.
  2. Neither the transcript nor the graduation certificate will show the specialization stream(s). If applicable, students may approach the School for certification of their specialization stream(s).
Programme Outcomes

On successful completion of the major or minor in English Studies, students should be able to: 

  • identify and analyze issues and topics in the study of English literature and linguistics through various approaches;
  • formulate critical questions and investigate topics through research, analysis and writing;
  • identify and express their own perspectives regarding disciplinary issues and compare them to those of others;
  • demonstrate an appreciation of the global dimensions and cultural diversity within English language and literature;
  • recognize and make use of various rhetorical and discursive features in the presentation, organization and discussion of ideas, observations, and arguments; and
  • understand and articulate the relevance of English Studies in providing insight into the role of language and literature in culture and society. 
Syllabus for students admitted in 2021-22

Below is a summary of the full syllabuses. For the full syllabuses with course descriptions, please click here.

*New courses added to the relevant course list shall also be counted towards the major/minor for students admitted in the earlier cohort(s).

First-year Prerequisite

Students intending to declare a major or minor in English Studies in the second year must pass at least one introductory ENGL course from List A “Historical and Theoretical Foundations” (6 credits) in the first year.

Admission to all introductory courses is on the basis of academic record including a minimum Level 5 in English Language in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination, or an equivalent score in another recognized English proficiency test.

Major in English Studies (78 credits)

To complete the requirements of the major, students must take:

1. 30 credits of introductory courses (including the first-year prerequisite), normally taken in the first two years of study, which consist of:

  1. 12 credits from List A “Historical and Theoretical Foundations” (including the first-year prerequisite);
  2. 12 credits from List B “Critical Reading, Analysis and Writing”;
  3. 6 credits from either List A or List B; and

2. 48 credits of advanced courses, which must include a capstone course to be taken preferably in the final year.

Minor in English Studies (36 credits)

To complete the requirements of the minor, students must take:

1. 18 credits of introductory courses, which consist of:

  1. 6 credits of the first-year prerequisite from List A “Historical and Theoretical Foundations”;
  2. 6 credits from List B “Critical Reading, Analysis and Writing”;
  3. 6 credits from either List A or List B; and

2. 18 credits of advanced courses.

Introductory Courses

List A: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
The courses in this list will introduce students to the history and organization of diverse areas of literary and linguistic scholarship. Students will acquire a general overview of selected areas and issues, including major theoretical distinctions or classifications and their historical development over time.

ENGL1011   An introduction to the study of meaning (6 credits)
ENGL1013   Exploring the modern: Reading early 20th century British writing (6 credits)
ENGL1015   Introduction to English linguistics (6 credits)
ENGL1016   Introduction to life writing (6 credits)
ENGL1017   Introduction to sociolinguistics (6 credits)
ENGL1018   Language and gender (6 credits)
ENGL1020   Nineteenth-century literature and culture (6 credits)
ENGL1022   Poetry past and present (6 credits)
ENGL1023   Experimental prose (6 credits)
ENGL1024   Topics in world literature (6 credits)
ENGL1025   Understanding narratives (6 credits)
ENGL1037   Persuasion (6 credits)
ENGL1044   Introduction to literary theory (6 credits)
ENGL1045   “Community” in Sociolinguistics (6 credits)
ENGL1051   English sounds (6 credits)
ENGL1056/ LCOM1001*   Introduction to language and communication (6 credits)
ENGL1057/ LCOM1002*   Language, communication, society, field (6 credits)
ENGL1058/ LCOM1003*   Theorizing communication (6 credits)
ENGL1059/ LCOM1004*   Introduction to pragmatics (6 credits)

*Note: Students admitted in 2020-21 or before may choose either the ENGL/ LCOM course codes according to their study plans. Students admitted in 2021-22 and thereafter may only choose the ENGL course codes.

List B: Critical Reading, Analysis and Writing
The courses in this list will introduce students to the practice and methods of critical reading, analysis and writing, focusing on different areas of literary and linguistic study. Students will acquire a basic grasp of analytical distinctions and terminology, and learn to ask questions and construct critical arguments.

ENGL1014   Imaginary geographies: The art of writing place (6 credits)
ENGL1026   Adaptation: From text to screen (6 credits)
ENGL1027   Analyzing discourse (6 credits)
ENGL1028   Awakenings: Exploring women’s writing (6 credits)
ENGL1030   Dramatic changes: Versions of Renaissance literature (6 credits)
ENGL1031   English grammar(s) (6 credits)
ENGL1032   Late Victorian Texts and Contexts (6 credits)
ENGL1033   Intercultural communication (6 credits)
ENGL1034   Language and prejudice (6 credits)
ENGL1035   Language crimes (6 credits)
ENGL1036   Meaning and metaphor (6 credits)
ENGL1038   Practice of criticism (6 credits)
ENGL1039   Realism and representation (6 credits)
ENGL1040   Rewriting and writing back (6 credits)
ENGL1041   Modernity and literary modernism (6 credits)
ENGL1042   World Englishes (6 credits)
ENGL1043   An introduction to 20th-century English poetry (6 credits)
ENGL1047   The English lexicon (6 credits)
ENGL1048   Crime stories (6 credits)
ENGL1049   Early English sonnets (6 credits)
ENGL1050   An introduction to qualitative research methods in sociolinguistics (6 credits)
ENGL1052   Introduction to theatre studies (6 credits)
ENGL1053   Eighteenth century drama: The rise of celebrity culture (6 credits)
ENGL1054   Writing disaster: Literature, trauma, memory (6 credits)
ENGL1055   Language myths and realities (6 credits)
Advanced Courses

In order to enroll in any advanced course in English Studies, students must normally have completed 18 credits of introductory courses, with at least 6 credits from both List A and List B.

ENGL2002   Language in society (6 credits)
ENGL2004   English syntax (6 credits)
ENGL2007   Literary linguistics (6 credits)
ENGL2010   English novel (6 credits)
ENGL2012   Contemporary literary theory (6 credits)
ENGL2030   New Englishes (6 credits)
ENGL2035   Reading poetry (6 credits)
ENGL2039   Gender, sexuality and discourse (6 credits)
ENGL2045   Travel writing (6 credits)
ENGL2047   English discourse structures and strategies (6 credits)
ENGL2048   Language and jargon (6 credits)
ENGL2050   English corpus linguistics (6 credits)
ENGL2055   American Gothic: Haunted homes (6 credits)
ENGL2057   Text and image (6 credits)
ENGL2074   Postcolonial readings (6 credits)
ENGL2075   The idea of China (6 credits)
ENGL2076   Romanticism (6 credits)
ENGL2078   The novel today (6 credits)
ENGL2079   Shakespeare (6 credits)
ENGL2080   Women, feminism and writing (6 credits)
ENGL2085   Creative writing (6 credits)
ENGL2089   Making Americans: Literature as ritual and renewal (6 credits)
ENGL2097   Imagining Hong Kong (6 credits)
ENGL2103   Language and digital media (6 credits)
ENGL2104   Language in the USA (6 credits)
ENGL2112   An introduction to the history of English (6 credits)
ENGL2115   Theories of language acquisition (6 credits)
ENGL2117   English phonology and morphology (6 credits)
ENGL2118   Law and literature (6 credits)
ENGL2119   English in Hong Kong: Making it your own (6 credits)
ENGL2120   Science fiction (6 credits)
ENGL2122   Global Victorians (6 credits)
ENGL2123   Language and identity in Hong Kong (6 credits)
ENGL2125   English construction grammar (6 credits)
ENGL2126   Law, meaning, and interpretation (6 credits)
ENGL2127   Language and the law (6 credits)
ENGL2128   Modernism (6 credits)
ENGL2129   English as a language of science (6 credits)
ENGL2130   Signs, language and meaning: Integrational reflections (6 credits)
ENGL2131   The critic as artist (6 credits)
ENGL2134   World literature (6 credits)
ENGL2135   The cosmopolitan imagination (6 credits)
ENGL2136   Cross-cultural discourses (6 credits)
ENGL2137   The profession of playwright in early modern England (6 credits)
ENGL2138   Language and globalization (6 credits)
ENGL2139   American modern (6 credits)
ENGL2140   Ideologies of language past and present (6 credits)
ENGL2141   Doing discourse analysis (6 credits)
ENGL2142   Milton (6 credits)
ENGL2143   Religion and the flourishing of English (6 credits)
ENGL2144   Forms of contemporary literature (6 credits)
ENGL2145   Post-1945 English drama (6 credits)
ENGL2146   Cognitive semantics (6 credits)
ENGL2147   Joyce’s voices (6 credits)
ENGL2149   American dreaming (6 credits)
ENGL2150   The city and modernity (6 credits)
ENGL2152   Theory of the novel (6 credits)
ENGL2153   Literary London (6 credits)
ENGL2156   Eighteenth-century British literature (6 credits)
ENGL2157   Representations of justice in law and literature (6 credits)
ENGL2158   Language processing and learning (6 credits)
ENGL2159   Twenty-first century English poetry (6 credits)
ENGL2160   Sovereignty in law, theory and culture (6 credits)
ENGL2161   Language rights and linguistic justice (6 credits)
ENGL2162   Where the wild things are: Children's literature and the law (6 credits)
ENGL2163   Comics, graphic novel and theory (6 credits)
ENGL2164   The beginnings of English law and literature (6 credits)
ENGL2165   Legal fictions: United States citizenship and the right to write in America (6 credits)
ENGL2166   English phonetics (6 credits)
ENGL2167   Theatre and the world (6 credits)
ENGL2168   The law of signs: Interpretative controversies in legal semiotics (6 credits)
ENGL2169   Writing and violence (6 credits)
ENGL2170   Cringy: The aesthetics of discomfort (6 credits)
ENGL2171   The right to the city: Cultural politics in Hong Kong and London (6 credits)
ENGL2172   The police in literature and culture (6 credits)
ENGL2173   Magic, Monsters and Maidens Fair: Medieval English Literature (6 credits)
ENGL2174   Shakespeare and the law (6 credits)
ENGL2175   Bad identities (6 credits)
ENGL2176   Writing Asian diasporas (6 credits)
ENGL2177   Reading and rereading Jane Austen (6 credits)
ENGL2178   Language and art (6 credits)
ENGL2179/ LCOM2001*   Theories of language and communication (6 credits)
ENGL2180/ LCOM2002*   Language in the workplace (6 credits)
ENGL2181/ LCOM2003*   Language and politeness (6 credits)
ENGL2182/ LCOM2004*   Language, communication and the media (6 credits)
ENGL2183/ LCOM2005*   Language, communication and globalization (6 credits)
ENGL2184/ LCOM2007*   Visual communication (6 credits)
ENGL2185/ LCOM2008*   Health communication, ‘healthy’ communication (6 credits)
ENGL2186/ LCOM2009*   Language and religion (6 credits)
ENGL2187/ LCOM2011*   The language of news media (6 credits)

*Note: Students admitted in 2020-21 or before may choose either the ENGL/LCOM course codes according to their study plans. Students admitted in 2021-22 and thereafter may only choose the ENGL course codes.

Capstone Courses

ENGL3040   Internship in English studies (capstone experience) (6 credits)
ENGL3041   Senior colloquium in English studies (capstone experience) (6 credits)
ENGL3042   Extended essay in English studies (capstone experience) (6 credits)
Course offerings and time-table

Please check here for course offerings and time-table of 2021-22.

UG Coordinator

Dr Elizabeth Ho
School of English
The University of Hong Kong
Tel.: (852) 3917 2766
Fax: (852) 2559 7139
E-mail: lizho@hku.hk