Rice University

Department of English

Degree Requirements for the B.A. in English

Please direct undergraduate program questions to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, English department, Tim Morton at tbm2@rice.edu.

1. A minimum of twelve courses (36 credit hours), eight (24 hours) of which must be at advanced levels (numbered 300 or higher). Double majors must have ten courses (30 hours), six (18 hours) of which must be advanced. AP credits do NOT count towards the major.

2. Required for the major, ENGL 200 Critical Reading and Writing (formerly titled Seminar in Literature & Literary Analysis)

3. Required for the major, ENGL 300 Practices in Literary Study

4. Required for the major, a 400-level department capstone seminar which is not a Creative Writing course 

5. For field distribution, 9 hours at the 300 level or above in periods before 1900; 6 of the 9 hours must be in periods before 1800, only one of which can be a Shakespeare course.

6. For field distribution, 3 hours at the 200 level or above in a course that focuses on non-canonical traditions (defined as courses in ethnic and minority literatures; non-western and postcolonial literatures; gender and sexuality studies).


1. Depending on the content, 400-level capstone courses can, at the same time, serve to satisfy a field distribution requirement, such as pre-1800, or a non-canonical requirement.

2.  Students may petition the Undergraduate Committee of the English department for permission to substitute two courses from outside the department. In no case may the total number of courses to be substituted exceed two. Humanities 101 and 102 may be counted toward the English major.
3. It is recommended that all English majors take some formal instruction in English or American history. If the student anticipates doing graduate work, he/she should consider courses in historical periods of literature and in criticism and literary theory, as well as advanced courses in Latin, French, German, Spanish, etc

4. The student has the primary responsibility to understand and satisfy all the requirements for the major, as well as for the university degree.


Descriptions of Required Courses for the English Major

1. English 200: Critical Reading and Writing (formerly Seminar in Literature & Literary Analysis)

This course serves as an introduction to the English major. It is required of all majors. It is open to non-majors, but has a limited enrollment (15). Majors should take the course in the freshman year or the first semester of the sophomore year. Sections will be offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters. It emphasizes the close reading of literature and critical writing about literature, as well as familiarizing students (at a basic level) with the extra-literary contexts within which imaginative works are produced and interpreted. While the central aim is to analyze the formal principles of literary productions, the course will also introduce students to literary criticism.

2. English 300: Practices of Literary Study

This course serves as an introduction to methods of literary interpretation. It is required of all majors and preference will be given to majors (although the course will be opened to non-majors.) Enrollment will be limited to 18. Ideally, majors should take the course in the second semester of the sophomore year or the first semester of the junior year. Sections of the course will be offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Practices of Literary Study will emphasize a range of theoretical and critical approaches brought to bear on a selection of literary texts (approaches might include literary and critical theory, cultural studies, postcolonial theory and theories of globalization, race theory and ethnic studies, queer theory, feminist theory, and historicism).

3. A 400-level capstone course (one is required)

ENGL 200 and 300 are prerequisites for work at the 4xx capstone level.

Capstone courses bring together the various skills of analysis, close reading, critical writing, and methodological sensitivity cultivated in the first 2-2 1/2 years of the major.

The content of these courses will vary according to instructor and semester, but each section will build towards a longer seminar paper (15-20 pp.) that requires students to do independent research on a specified topic, defined by them in consultation with the instructor.

This paper will include a combination of close analysis of a body of literary material with a critical approach informed by reading in secondary literary criticism/theory and/or primary research in literary and/or historical contexts. Majors should take capstone courses in the junior or senior year.