Faculty of English building, 9 West Road, Cambridge

The Faculty of English is a constituent part of the University of Cambridge. It was founded in 1914 as a Tripos within the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. It could be studied only as a 'Part I' of a degree course, alongside a 'Part II' either in medieval languages or from another Tripos.[1] In 1926, the course became a distinct Faculty.

The undergraduate degree course of 'Cambridge English', as well as the Faculty as a whole, is known for its distinctive focus on close reading (called Practical criticism), first championed by I. A. Richards and then later by William Empson and F. R. Leavis.[2][3] Since the course was founded in 1926, Practical Criticism, Tragedy and Shakespeare have been mandatory parts of the course; the English Moralists paper (now renamed the Ethical Imagination) has also remained as an optional paper.[1]

In the present day, its research focus is wide ranging: from Old English literature through to contemporary, and also associated themes such as digital humanities and the history of the book.[4] One of its sub-divisions is the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, the only department in the world dedicated to the Early Middle Ages.[5]

Notable staff

The faculty's senior teaching posts include a number of named professorships:

Other notable current academics:

People associated with the Faculty

Academics and public intellectuals





  1. ^ a b Zeeman, Nicolette (Spring 2021). "Things Go On..." (PDF). 9 West Road. pp. 2–4. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  2. ^ Williams, Raymond (7 July 1983). "Cambridge English and Beyond". London Review of Books. Vol. 05, no. 12. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  3. ^ North, Joseph (2017). Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 47–54. ISBN 9780674967731.
  4. ^ "Faculty Research Groups". Faculty of English. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  5. ^ "About ASNC". Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 June 2021.