What Our "Levels" Mean

The English department’s courses are organized by level (100, 200, 300, 400) and each level houses a certain kind of course.

100-level courses are focused on learning how to participate in small seminars and how to write in college classes. Many of the students in these courses are prospective English majors—especially in “Engaging Literature,” which is taught by a rotating group of English professors and is offered frequently—but all courses at the 100 level are entirely open to students from across the college. (Most students in 100 level courses are first years, however.)

200-level courses are focused on specific ways of approaching literature, art, and culture, with each course finding a unique point of entry. Some focus on a specific literary genre, such as poetry, drama, or the novel. Others show how the discipline of English relates to other, adjacent fields, such as film, Black studies, Indigenous studies, media studies, or the digital humanities. Several others use the practice and study of creative writing to illuminate similar, foundational questions about English. All courses at the 200 level are entirely open to students from across the college. 200 level courses are often associated with sophomores, but they are actually taken by many first years, juniors, and seniors as well.

300-level courses are “topics” courses, which means that the list of 300 level courses each semester is an eclectic array of highly specific options. There really is no way of describing these courses in advance, other than to say that they are narrowed-down investigations that are meant to immerse the students in a particular subject. All courses at the 300 level are entirely open to students from across the college. Because these courses are focused more on depth than on breadth, they are often associated with juniors and seniors, but they are actually taken by many first years and sophomores as well.

400 level courses are advanced seminars for English majors—and sometimes for advanced students in other arts and humanities fields. They focus on specialized topics and introduce students to the skills they would need to complete an honors thesis in English.

Skills are Required (and Taught) at Each Level

100-level courses assume no prior experience in college-level English. They focus on teaching you how to read closely, and they typically involve frequent, short writing assignments.

200-level courses have no formal prerequisites, but they do presume some preliminary comfort with college-level writing and close analysis of literature, culture, or art. They typically involve a smaller number of larger-scale writing assignments.

300-level courses presume comfort with college-level writing and aesthetic analysis, but we acknowledge that this comfort can come from different places for different students (e.g., from courses offered in other departments). If you are unsure whether a 300-level course is right for you, just write to the professor and they will help you assess your readiness.

400-level courses presume a high level of achievement in college-level writing and aesthetic analysis. They typically require a substantial final project, which prepares students to write a thesis and/or fulfill their capstone requirement in the English major.

A list of courses by level

A Note on Creative Writing

Creative Writing courses are a popular component of the English Department and have limited enrollment to facilitate the workshop experience.

Information about Creative Writing courses and enrollment