English Part I

Part I of the English Tripos is formally divided into Part IA (two components examined at the end of the first year) and Part IB (four components examined at the end of the second year).

Year 1 (Part IA), two compulsory papers:

Paper 1: Practical Criticism and Critical Practice;
Paper 2: Shakespeare (assessed by a portfolio of essays submitted in Easter Term).

Over the course of the first year you also start work on two of the period papers (see below), which will be examined in Part IB.

Year 2 (Part IB), four papers (two covered in the first year, two in the second year), from the following list:

Paper 3: Early Medieval Literature and its Contexts 1066-1350;
Paper 4: English Literature and its Contexts 1300-1550 (compulsory);
Paper 5: English Literature and its Contexts 1500-1700;
Paper 6: English Literature and its Contexts 1660-1870;
Paper 7a: English Literature and its Contexts 1830-1945 or Paper 7b: English Literature and its Contexts 1870-Present.

One of Papers 4 – 7b can be replaced by a dissertation.

English Part II

The final-year course – Part II – consists of five components: Practical Criticism, Tragedy, a 7500-word dissertation, and two optional components, of which one can be another dissertation. Tragedy is a wide-ranging and highly stimulating paper based fundamentally in Greek, Shakespearean, and other tragic drama in any language, but augmented by the history of critical and theoretical writing on the tragic, as well as works in such media as film, music, painting, and sculpture. Optional papers: Medieval English Literature 1066–1500; Chaucer; Medieval Supernatural; Early Modern Drama; Material Renaissance; Love, Gender and Sexuality, 1740-1824; Victorian Literature 1847–72; Lyric; Prose Forms 1936-56; The Ethical Imagination; History and Theory of Literary Criticism; Postcolonial and Related Literatures; American Literature; Contemporary Writing in English; Literature and Visual Culture.

You can find full details about the English Tripos at Cambridge and core aspects of the learning experience (Faculty lectures and seminars, small-group classes, and paired or individual supervisions in College) on the Faculty of English website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

English at Churchill College

English at Churchill College is a thriving and sociable literary community, to which we aim to admit 5 or 6 able and enthusiastic undergraduates each year. Much of the teaching and supervision is provided by the College’s Fellows. Other teaching is exchanged with Fellows of other colleges, or given by advanced doctoral students, so that your individual interests can be developed through working with subject specialists. Your Director of Studies would discuss with you the overall shape of your deepening intellectual and literary commitments.


Recent Churchill graduates have pursued careers in (amongst others) comedy script-writing and performance, law, teaching, social policy, international journalism, accountancy, the Civil Service, BBC radio, with others continuing to postgraduate studies in English, but also Psychology and Theology. In short, the highly developed powers of critical analysis, persuasive argument and stylish exposition acquired through studying English at Cambridge will provide an excellent basis for your next steps.


For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office

College and Faculty of English prizes

Details on the The John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan Poetry Prize and The Other Prize.

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Image: Albrecht Dürer, Saint John Devouring the Book, Woodcut, c. 1496–1498. National Gallery of Art, Washington