Chair of Department's Welcome

Liam Semler

The Department of English at the University of Sydney is by far the largest of its kind in the country, and in the authoritative 2016 QS World University rankings for English Language and Literature the Department was ranked 20th in the world, a clear measure of its teaching and research strengths. With over 20 undergraduate units and over 20 postgraduate units taught in any one year, the Department offers the most comprehensive programme in the country. You can study literature from Anglo-Saxon classics through to the latest contemporary work, and be taught by experts in each of these periods.

The Department constantly expands it offerings. In 2016 new courses include a first year unit on the Gothic Imagination that looks at literary and cinematic representations of an inherently transgressive mode. It fits into a larger first year programme that includes Introduction to Film Studies, Narratives of Romance and Adventure, and Constructing the Fictive Self. You can find out more about these units in this guide. An exciting innovation at second and third year in 2016 will be the Creative Writing: Theory and Practice unit, the first of three Creative Writing units to be introduced over the next three years. It aims to foster students’ practice and knowledge of creative writing through interactive workshops, seminars and lectures, led by established writers and academics. A new upper level Reading Drama unit in 2016 critically considers the relationship between text and performance, and the establishment of dramatic character. Other second and third year units include The Brontës; Imagining America; Australian Stage and Screen; Myths, Legends and Heroes; Introduction to Old English; Literature and Cinema, Writing Australian Nature and The Literary in Theory. Information on these and all the other undergraduate units are contained in the following pages.

At postgraduate level your options are just as extensive. A new unit in 2016, Henry James and the Art of Fiction, examines the critical and creative work of one of modern literature’s greatest writers and critics, delving into his experiments in literary style and his exploration of the ethics of representation. The unit on Christopher Marlowe investigates the creative dramatic and poetic genius whose blockbuster plays changed the course of English drama and paved the way for Shakespeare. You can also study Middle English Romance, the Eighteenth Century novel, or Modern American literature as part of our recently-established Masters of English Studies programme, alongside theoretical approaches to Literary History, Genre, Global English Literatures, and Critical Reading. The Masters of Creative Writing programme is designed for new, established and developing writers to develop their creative practice in a stimulating university environment. It offers in-depth consideration of fiction, poetry and screenwriting, taught in small groups by respected writers and academics.

If your interests lie in the interactions between literature and film, in ancient or modern drama, in American literature or Jane Austen, literary theory or linguistics, in transatlantic, transpacific or Australian literature, in the plays of Shakespeare, in modernism, postmodernism, contemporary British poetry or in creative writing, Sydney has something for you.


Professor Liam Semler
Chair of Department