Learning Goals & Curriculum

Learning Goals

We aim to prepare all students to engage in complex thought through the interpretation of literary and critical texts and to write persuasive and original essays. In addition, we expect all MA students to acquire broad familiarity with the fields of British, American, and world literature; and MLitt students to design and master a specialization within the fields of literature, pedagogy, or creative arts. We prepare students in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network to use new technologies to understand and develop effective teaching and learning practices.


The Bread Loaf curriculum is divided into six groups:

Group 1 Writing, Pedagogy, and Literacy
Group 2 British Literature: Beginnings through the Seventeenth Century
Group 3 British Literature: Eighteenth Century to the Present
Group 4 American Literature
Group 5 World Literature
Group 6 Theater Arts


Courses at Bread Loaf are valued in terms of units: one unit is the equivalent of 3 semester hours or 4.5 quarter hours of graduate credit—the equivalent of 30 hours of class time.

U.S. campuses

Classes at U.S. campuses are valued at one unit each and run Monday through Thursday for a total of 30 contact hours.

  • At the Vermont campus, classes are scheduled in two blocks: morning classes run for one hour and 15 minutes four days per week; afternoon classes run for two hours and 45 minutes (including a 15-minute break) twice a week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday).
  • In New Mexico, classes run for two hours and 45 minutes (including a 15-minute break) twice a week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday).


Classes are valued at two units each, one of which is constituted by independent study. Tutors arrange their own schedules: ordinarily, there are two group seminar meetings per week, supplemented by individual tutorials throughout the term.

In their intellectual rigor and requirements, courses should approximate master's-level courses at the institution where each faculty member has taught or trained.

Ordinarily, students take two courses per summer at the U.S. campuses, and one course at Oxford. Returning students with an exceptional academic record (A/A+s) may take an additional one unit of credit (a course, an Independent Reading Project, an Independent Summer Project in Theater Arts, or an Oxford Independent Tutorial) with permission of the director or associate director.