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Department of English

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Why study English language and literature?

The study of English language and literature fosters self-knowledge and cultural understanding.

The department teaches students to write clearly and effectively and to read good literature with understanding and pleasure. It offers courses in 3 general divisions:

  1. Literature: Through reading, discussion, and writing, the student develops powers of appreciation and criticism.
  2. Language: Courses describe and explain the historical development of the English language and its present structure. They also may introduce the student to works written in earlier forms of the language.
  3. Writing: Through reading, discussion, and practice, the student learns to write informative and imaginative prose. Courses in the writing of fiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, and nonfiction prose are offered.

Placement in English

Advanced Placement Examination

The English literature and composition test and the language and composition test are administered by the Educational Testing Service (a subsidiary of the College Entrance Examination Board) to high school seniors. Scores range from 1 to 5.

  • 5 on the literature and composition test: Exemption from first- and second-year English and 6 hours of credit.
  • 5 on the language and composition test: Placement in ENGL 205, completion of which satisfies the English requirement, and 3 hours of credit.

For both the literature and composition test and the language and composition test, scores of 1 to 4 have the following effects at KU:

  • 4: Student receives 3 hours of credit in English and is placed in ENGL 205, completion of which satisfies the English requirement.
  • 3: No credit is awarded. Student is placed in ENGL 105, and the English requirement is reduced to 6 hours.
  • 2: No credit is awarded. Student is placed in ENGL 101 (unless ACT score in English is 31 or higher) but is eligible to take the English department’s Honors Placement Examination for possible admission to ENGL 105, which reduces the English requirement to 6 hours.
  • 1: No effect.

ACT Examinations

A score of 31 or higher on the ACT English test places students in ENGL 105, and their English requirement is reduced to 6 hours. They may satisfy this requirement by completing ENGL 105 and one of the following: ENGL 205, ENGL 203, ENGL 209, ENGL 210, or ENGL 211. An ACT score of 27 to 30 places them in ENGL 102, and they are eligible to take the English department’s Honors Placement Examination for possible admission to ENGL 105. An ACT score of 26 or lower places them in ENGL 101.

Departmental First-Year Honors Placement Committee

This standing committee consists of a suitable number of members of the full-time staff. It designs and administers a writing sample examination for students who request reassignment from ENGL 102 to ENGL 105 and from ENGL 203 (or equivalent) to ENGL 205. The committee, at its discretion, also interviews and examines the records of applicants for placement in first-year honors courses. The placement examination normally is administered a few days before the start of the fall semester and at the end of the fall semester. Information and details on time and place are available in the First- and Second-Year English office, 3001 Wescoe Hall.

English Courses Required for All Students

For the B.A. and B.G.S. degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for the Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications and Social Welfare, and for students in the School of Education concentrating in secondary education, these English courses are required: ENGL 101 and ENGL 102 (or ENGL 105 if eligible for honors), and one course chosen from among ENGL 203, ENGL 205 (if eligible for honors), ENGL 209, ENGL 210, and ENGL 211. For B.S. degrees from the College, and for other schools, see school or department listings.

Students should earn credits in the required first- and second-year courses at the earliest opportunity. All new students must enroll immediately and continuously in ENGL 101 and ENGL 102, or equivalents, until they have completed this portion of the College requirement. Admission to English courses numbered 300 and above normally is limited to students who have completed the first- and second-year requirements.

Courses for Nonmajors

A list of principal courses appears here. English principal courses under the Literature and the Arts heading are designated HL. Prospective English teachers in the public schools should consult the requirements of the School of Education. Students not required to take a 200-level English course must seek English department permission to enroll in junior/senior English courses.

Transfer Credit

English majors may take up to 6 hours out of residence with the prior approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

Double Majors

Double majors within the College or dual-degree programs are encouraged. Interested students should consult the director of undergraduate studies at an early opportunity.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.