Honours Degree

Please note that the University of the Free State (UFS) has its own minimum admission requirements for postgraduate studies. As a general rule, students are admitted to postgraduate studies and to each higher level of postgraduate study only if they fulfil the university requirements for registration, have completed the preliminary degree with a mark of 60% or more, and are accepted to the course they wish to study by the applicable academic head of department.

However, the Department of English has its own unique requirements for admitting a student to the Honours programme in English. Exceptions should be submitted to the Committee for Postgraduate Studies for deliberation. The Department also reserves the right to ask prospective student to write an entrance assessment for a more thorough evaluation.

The deadline for Honours applications is 15 October of each year

All postgraduate applicants need to provide the following:

  • Academic Background
    Applicants should provide the Department of English with their academic transcripts so that these can be reviewed. Foreign transcripts will be evaluated in terms of their equivalency to South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework.
  • A Personal Statement
    The statement should include not only the applicant’s academic goals and objectives, but also evidence of progress in the given academic/professional career. This statement should be no longer than 500 words.



Students are required to complete 128 credits selected from the modules below, with ENGL6808, ENGL6814 and ENGL6824 as compulsory modules.

Adding to the above, students are expected to select an additional 64 credits from the list of 16 and 32 credit modules below. The department limits the number of options for any given year. The course offerings for 2017 will be finalised in January 2017. Detailed course outlines will be provided by course lecturers.

Helpful links


ENGL6808: Research Methodology and Research Essay
Essay to be marked by two members of staff in addition to any external assessment.

The purpose of this course, which all students in the English Honours must complete, is to introduce students to the concept of research as it functions in the field of English literary and cultural studies, as well as linguistics. The course is divided into two sections: the first addresses some of the methodological questions that inform research in a variety of areas in English studies; the second is directed towards any research involved in the writing of the long essay, which students are required to submit at the end of the year. At the end of the first part of the course, students should be able to:


  • understand the basic processes of research in the field of literary and/or cultural studies and/or linguistics studies in English;
  • formulate a research topic appropriate for Honours or Master’s use;
  • choose a methodological approach appropriate to your chosen topic of research;
  • draw up a well-grounded research proposal outlining your intended research, and
  • produce a convincing, well-written research document such as a long essay, mini-thesis, dissertation, or thesis based on this research proposal.
Research Essay: Various supervisors
An individually supervised essay on a topic formulated in consultation with a supervisor approved by the Head of Department. The essay will be assessed and moderated. Deadlines must be strictly adhered to; late submission will incur penalties and might result in failure to obtain the Honours degree.

Deadlines for Research Essay (2018):

1. February 23rd: student must have met with potential supervisor.
2. April 16th: proposal draft due.
3. April 25th: feedback from supervisor.
4. May 7th: final proposal due.
5. July 20th: first 20 pages due.
6. September 7th: second 20 pages due.
7. October 5th: full draft of mini-thesis due.
8. Nov 2nd: Final paper due.

*Please note: Students who do not meet deadlines will not be entitled to detailed feedback from their supervisors on section drafts. No feedback will be offered in November unless students have met all their deadlines throughout the year.

ENGL6814: Literary Theory: The Beginnings - 16 credits 
Dr Aghoghovwia 

This an introductory course designed to expose post-graduate students to the rudiments of a key area of literary and cultural discourse. The course provides an overview of the major theoretical trends that have shaped the critical reception and production of literary texts both prior to and since the twentieth century. Theoretical frameworks considered in any given year might include Classical, Medieval and Early Modern Literary Theory; Romanticism; Formalism; Marxism; Phenomenology; as well as Structuralist and Post-Structuralist Theory. The theoretical discourses studied in this course focus on the fundamental assumptions and premises of various theoretical schools, with a view to establishing a platform for the study of later theoretical constructs.

ENGL6824: Contemporary Critical Theory - 16 credits
Various Lecturers

Building on the discussion of literary theory in ENGL6814, this course considers some of the additional debates that have animated cultural and critical theory during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Specifically, the course introduces students to methods of critically analysing a wide variety of texts – including literature, films and other media – in order to facilitate a rigorous questioning of our roles as citizens of our contemporary world and as critical interpreters of past and present contexts. This part of the course reflects the shift that Departments of English around the world have made in recent years from traditional methods of literary analysis to the study of a range of cultural texts and practices through the lens of contemporary critical theory, including theories of gender and sexuality, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, affect theory and postcolonial theory. The primary objectives of this course are to equip students with the theoretical tools required to bridge the gap between the cultural texts that we read and the worlds that we inhabit; to expose the links between knowledge and power; and to draw on the lessons of history so that we might better understand the present and imagine more equitable futures. The course asks of students to cross disciplinary boundaries, to invest in a study of lived political and social contexts, and to commit to the project of social and epistemic transformation.


ENGA6834: Contemporary Poetry - 16 credits
Dr Brooks

This course presents an intensive study of major contemporary poets, with special attention to questions of influence, interrelations, and diverse poetic practices. The study of these poets also aims to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the characteristic techniques, concerns and major practitioners of contemporary poetry. Apart from an in-depth study of the theoretical consideration of modernity and modernism, diverse methods of literary criticism are employed, including historical, cultural, biographical, social, political and gender criticism.

ENGC6874: Perspectives on Modernism - 16 credits
Ms Lovisa 

The focus of this course will be on the constructions of self and meaning in early twentieth-century prose fiction, with emphasis on the shift of meaning from the objective to the subjective world, subjectivity as an often isolating phenomenon, and epistemological shifts from earlier Victorian religious and moral certainties. Theoretical frameworks on alienation and identity will be explored, and the student should become familiar with the epistemology and ideology prevailing in early to mid-twentieth century European prose narratives. The texts for study will be selected from the works of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, D H Lawrence and other modernist writers.

ENGR6814 (CAPITA SELECTA): Archives of Feminist Rage and Love in South African Literature and Culture - 16 credits
Prof Strauss

This is the time of feminist rage. Feminist rage is as legitimate as feminist love (Pumla Dineo Gqola).
To love is to give and to take (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie).

This course conceives of a selection of South African creative cultural texts as archives of feminist feeling. Inspired by inventive new forms of feminist organising such as the #RememberKhwezi, #RUReferenceList and #RapeAtAzania protests, as well as a number of other recent examples of visual, literary and aesthetic feminist activism, the aims of the course are twofold: (1) to map some of the intellectual precedents to the contemporary expression of Black feminist rage and love in creative cultural production and activisms alike, and (2) to read a range of literary and visual cultural South African texts as affective archives. To this end, the course shifts the focus from the archive as a fixed, institutional site of knowledge retrieval toward what Jacques Derrida might call its feverish qualities – those absences and omissions that are both produced by and paradoxically constitutive of the archive. This is an archive, as theorists such as Elspeth Brown and Thy Phu have shown, that is particularly amenable to being read for its affective wiring. Works by theorists, artists and creative cultural workers such as Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, Ama Ata Aidoo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Lauretta Ngcobo, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Koleka Putuma, Sisonke Msimang, Simamkele Dlakavu, Panashe Chigumadzi, Redi Tlhabi, Lwandile Fikeni, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Stella Nyanzi, Sethembile Msezane, Pregs Govender, Barbara Boswell, Kagiso Lesego Molope, Zanele Muholi, Zethu Matebeni, Keguro Macharia and Zubeida Jaffer will be analysed. 

ENGN6814: Principles and Practices for Teaching and Assessing English as a Second Language - 16 credits 
Dr Du Plessis

This course is aimed at exploring current views on teaching English to speakers of other languages and how assessment can be used to inform language learning strategies. The module introduces theories of language and communicative competence and how these find application in language courses and assessment artefacts designed for specific purposes. As part of the investigative journey, important principles that guide the conceptualisation and design of language tests are discussed and the various stages in the creative process negotiated. On completion of the course, students should have a comprehensive understanding of how views of language influence teaching methodologies, and be familiar with the fundamental notions of validity, reliability and practicality in language testing.

ENGP6814: Discourse and Difference - 16 credits 
Dr Conradie

This module departs from a range of theoretical perspectives on the role that discourse plays in shaping, questioning and/or constraining our understanding of difference along lines such as gender, race and sexuality. It exposes participants to a number of discourse-based studies and theoretical works, with the aim of enabling students to analyse the discursive construction of difference and to interrogate the ideologies underpinning these discourses. 

ENGQ6814: Digital Media Research - 16 credits 
Dr Brokensha

The focus in this course is on exploring social interactions that take place through digital technologies which include social media, cell phones, email, and the Web. The main objective of the course is to give students the opportunity to learn about and then apply methods of content analysis to websites of their choice. Essentially what this means is that each week, students will be exposed to a new empirical analytical method which they will then employ to carry out their own website analysis. Each analysis will take the form of either an oral presentation or a written research paper. The empirical methods of content analysis explored and applied include, but are not limited to, feature, image, theme, video, and language analysis.

There is currently a paucity of content-analytic studies carried out in (South) African online spaces. This is where students can make a unique contribution!

ENGD6894: Reading Film: Perspectives from Film Theory and Cultural Studies - 16 credits 
Prof Strauss
Not on offer during 2018 (Bloemfontein Campus)

This course offers a critical introduction to the study of film using methods drawn from film theory, cultural studies and critical theory. We study the basic vocabulary for the analysis of film (including an introduction to methods of analyzing mise-en-scene, editing, cinematography, sound, film form and style) in addition to an overview of topics such as: early cinemas; film genre; documentary and experimental film; Classical Hollywood Cinema; Third and Postcolonial Cinemas; Italian Neorealism; German Expressionism; Soviet Montage; Black Independent Cinema; Globalization and the Blockbuster; Hindi Cinema; Queer Cinemas; Film Stardom; Race and the Production of Ignorance; and Gender Optics. We will balance our search for counter-hegemonic ways in which to read dominant US film culture with an analysis of politically alternative film production and aesthetic practices from around the globe. Careful consideration will be given to ways of writing about film.

ENGB6854: Performing the past: late-medieval and early modern drama - 16 credits 
Prof Raftery
Not on offer during 2018 (Bloemfontein Campus)

This module examines early English drama, particularly the community theatre of the mystery cycles, in its cultural and religious context. Current knowledge of performance practice, gleaned from textual and archival research as well as from reconstructed English productions and continuing performance traditions in other European languages and cultures, will be explored and critically examined using various theories of theatre and with reference to broader theories of liminality and performativity.


ENGE6844: Contemporary Literary Identities: Race, gender and the self - 16 credits
Dr Brooks

This course comprises an extensive study of the representation of contemporary identity in modern English literature. Through the study of a selection of poems, prose essays, short stories and novels, the course explores the intersecting relationship between issues of race, gender and the self. Relevant critical readings will be set alongside fictional texts to illuminate how these texts respond to and further ideas of contemporary identity.
On successful completion of the course, students will have obtained extensive knowledge of current literary theory relating to aspects of contemporary identity; be able to study and critically analyse literature in specific historic, literary and social contexts; be able to introduce pertinent theoretical contexts and debates in their oral and written presentations; be able to demonstrate their understanding of the complex aspects of contemporary identity and how issues of sexuality and gender, race and ethnicity and concepts of the human and selfhood intersect; and demonstrate the ability to conceptualise, structure and deliver academic seminars and essays.

ENGH6824: Perspectives on Epic Poetry: the religious and mock epic as visionary discourse - 16 credits
Ms Lovisa 

This course focuses on the extended poems of Pope and Milton, studying the ways in which the religious epic (Milton) and the mock epic (Pope) reveal the spiritual, moral and social vision of the respective poets. The course will focus on selected Books from Paradise Lost, and cantos from Pope's Rape of the Lock, with the emphasis on the functions, influences, and conventions of this particular poetic form. In the case of Milton, a vision of an edenic world is contrasted with the fall of Adam and Eve - the problematics of free will and obligation, the achievement of human subjectivity with its pitfalls and frailties, will be explored. In Pope's Rape of the Lock, the mock epic format will be examined as a means of understanding the 18th-century constructions of society, morality, decorum and social relationships. The weight, influence and constraints imposed by the social collective on the individual will be a key aspect of study.

ENGI6844: Intra-African Mobilities: Contemporary African Cultural Production - 16 credits
Prof Manase

This course examines contemporary African cultural texts that explore the intra-African circulation of ideas and people from the time of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present. Africa has always been marked by mobilities and displacements, whether as a result of the slave trade, colonialism, or other intra-African wars, struggles and exchanges. The pressures brought by recent processes of globalisation, such as the implementation of structural adjustment programs and the liberalisation of economies, have in turn led to new migrations and dislocations. These movements have important cultural implications. Cultural texts, as conveyors of the interests and identities of Africa’s divergent social groups, offer a unique perspective on the concerns that emerge at these intersections of power, nationality, race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. In this course we will try to identify some of these concerns. What specific contributions do African narratives of mobility and migration make to discourses of internationalism, diaspora and globalisation?

ENGN6824: Multimodal Perspectives in English Second Language Learning and Teaching - 16 credits 
Dr Els

This course is designed to provide new teachers or people interested in becoming teachers with some inspiration for the profession. It is not meant to be an in depth, comprehensive analysis of teaching English as a First Additional Language / Foreign Language, but rather an introduction to a multimodal perspective on teaching at these levels. The focus will be on only a few fundamental aspects of teaching English and will cover topics such as theories of Language Acquisition, for instance personality and affect in language learning, the use of music in ESL classrooms, and creative ways to learn language through literature and film.

ENGR6824 (CAPITA SELECTA): Studies in Anglophone West African Literature - 16 credits 
Dr Aghoghovwia 

Studying literature according to its regional formations in Africa generates its own sets of challenges, but it also offers students a peculiar insight into the particular histories and cultures that shape the literary imagination of any given region of Africa. These form part of what this module aims to explore in the study of Anglophone West African literature. The phrase is a general term used to refer to literary creativity and critical discourses produced around the shared historical encounter of British colonialism and various formations of political, cultural and economic imperialism. 

Anglophone is used to mark off the linguistic community of writings in English produced by writers from countries in West Africa that were colonised by Britain, such as Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. But it is not only British colonialism that binds these writings; we will also explore the contemporary imperative of globalisation that has generated other kinds of affiliations and shared experiences, resulting in various forms of diasporic imaginings and cosmopolitanisms in these writings. Thus the course is a simultaneous study of the history and culture of letters in Anglophone West Africa. Although the term Anglophone refers to writing in English, the linguistic manifestations are manifold depending on the particular genre in which the work is written, and as we shall see in the course of the module, there are many inflections of English in the body of writing as writers experiment with forms and styles from the African oral traditions and linguistic patterns of speaking.

The module will cover a broad range of texts covering the following areas:

  • Anti-Slave Narratives as precursor to Anglophone West African literature
  • Colonialism and Anglophone West African literature
  • Nationalism and Anglophone West African literature
  • Cultural Nationalism and the emergence of a literary “canon”
  • Military in Anglophone West Africa literature
  • War and Contemporary Anglophone literature
  • Gender Question: Feminism in West African literature
  • New Democracies and the literature of Anglophone West Africa
  • Disillusionment, Hope and Utopia in Anglophone West African literature
  • Transnational Figurations and “Afropolitanism” in Anglophone West African literature. 

ENGF6864: The Literary and Cultural Politics of Abuse - 16 credits 
Dr Brooks
Not on offer during 2018 (Bloemfontein Campus)

This course is based on a reading of Ovid’s archetypal rape narrative, Metamorphoses, and focuses on the influence of this text in terms of the introduction and presentation of women abuse and trauma in modern literary texts in English. A range of important texts from the critical perspective of trauma theory will be examined, focusing in particular on literary, historical, political, theoretical, psychoanalytic and feminist aspects. Special attention will be given to the nature of cultural and collective memory, the relationship between violence and memory, trauma and vengeance, blood, madness, rape and corrective rape, and mourning and melancholia.

ENGG6884: Medieval making: from manuscript to book - 16 credits 
Prof Raftery
Not on offer during 2018 (Bloemfontein Campus)

This module introduces students to the physical study of manuscripts and early printed books, including paleography (transcription, dating, identification of scripts) and bibliography (analysis of manuscript/incunabulum collation) – skills essential to the study of medieval and renaissance literature and culture beyond the undergraduate level. While a portion of the work is thus practical, the module is grounded in current scholarship on the History of the Book, with the advent of printing signaling the dawn of the democratisation of the discourses of knowledge and power.



T: +27 51 401 2240 or humanities@ufs.ac.za

Marizanne Cloete: +27 51 401 2592

Katlego Mabulana: +27 51 401 2495
Juanita Hlongwane: +27 51 401 3269

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