The Chair for English Language and Literature—currently the Department of English Language and Literature—was established in 1951 as part of the Chair for German Language and Literature and English Language and Literature. In 1961, separate Chairs for English Language and Literature and for German Language and Literature were established. Obren Vukomanović and Ljubica Vojnović were the first to teach English language courses, while Olga Humo and Ivo Vidan were the first to teach English literature courses. In 1954, Branka Bokonjić joined the teaching staff and Svetozar Koljević joined the following year. In 1957, Damir Kalogjera joined the Department as a teaching assistant. In 1955, the Chair graduated its first students.

The core teaching and research fields at the Department are branches of linguistics (morphology, phonetics, morphosyntax, syntax, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, the history of language, contrastive linguistics and linguistic theory), contemporary English language, English and American literature, including both surveys and the study of individual literary movements and periods (the age of Shakespeare, Renaissance poetry, Romantic poetry, the 18th and 19th century novel, the American Renaissance, American literature of the 1920s, 20th century British literature), the social and cultural history of Great Britain and the United States, the methodology of English language teaching in primary and secondary schools, and translation and interpreting studies. The programme is organised in two cycles (3+2).

The development of the Department of English Language and Literature can be traced through the number of graduates: In 1955 one student graduated; in 1956 two students graduated; in 1966 seventeen students graduated; seventy-two graduated in 1976; forty-three in 2004; while in 2009 there were 41 graduates from the first cycle of the Bologna programme and 43 graduates from the four-year pre-Bologna programme.

The Department and its individual members and associates have taken part in projects at various academic institutions, participated at academic and professional conferences, and published monographs and journal articles in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, as well as in English, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia, and further abroad. Members of the Department have taught at universities in Europe, America and Asia as visiting professors, and have lectured at local and foreign universities and other academic and professional institutions. They have also received various prestigious graduate and postdoctoral research grants.

In terms of its teaching staff, a high point for the Department was in 1990 when there were 24 members of the teaching staff, including 12 PhDs. In the recent past, dozens of instructors, associates and foreign lectors from the former Yugoslavia, as well as from Great Britain, the USA, France and Spain, have worked at the Department for shorter or longer periods.

During the war, only one professor, Dr. Zvonimir Radeljković, remained at the Department. During these very difficult years, Dr. Radeljković served as the dean of the Faculty, ensuring not only its survival but also its dignity.

In the post-war years, the number of faculty members and associates grew relatively quickly. Dr. Zvonimir Radeljković was joined by Dr. Srebren Dizdar, Dr. Midhat Riđanović, Dr. Lada Šestić, Dr. Snežana Bilbija, higher lector Spomenka Beus, teaching assistants Ksenija Kondali, Merima Osmankadić and Amira Sadiković, and later by Dr. Nedžad Leko, Jasminka Mehić and Dževahira Arslanagić. International visiting professors offered a lot of assistance in teaching during the war and the immediate post-war period. This was made possible by donations primarily from the Open Society Foundations (Soros Foundation) and the World University Service—Austrian Committee. Key among them were the American poet Christopher Merrill who taught English literature while the conflict was still ongoing, Dr. Dora Maček from the University of Zagreb, Noreen Skennion and Christopher Biehl from the USA, and Desmond Maurer from Ireland.

Since its establishment, leading critics and writers from Great Britain, the USA and other countries—critics such as David Daiches and Graham Hough, writers such as Chinua Achebe, Mark Strand, William Kennedy and James Hawes—as well as leading world linguists, such as Claire Kramsch, Bas Aarts and Daniel Perrin, have lectured at the Department.

The Bologna reform was an opportunity for the Department to enrich its programme by modernising its curriculum and programmes. Therefore, after the three-year first cycle, students can choose among four programmes: teaching, linguistics, literature and translation. This has shown itself to be the right decision and the Department is successfully educating new generations of teachers, translators and scholars. The Department of English Language and Literature is the only one in Bosnia and Herzegovina to offer students instruction in interpreting.

At this moment, there are two Chairs at the Department of English Language and Literature (the Chair of English Language and the Chair of English and American Literature) with 21 faculty members and associates: two full professors (Dr. Srebren Dizdar, Dr Nedžad Leko), five associate professors (Dr. Sanja Šoštarić, Dr. Shahab Yar Khan, Dr. Merima Osmankadić, Dr. Amira Sadiković, Dr. Ksenija Kondali), eight assistant professors (Dr. Selma Đuliman, Dr. Ifeta Čirić-Fazlija, Dr. Lejla Mulalić, Dr. Faruk Bajraktarević, Dr. Melisa Okičić, Dr. Nataša Stojaković, Dr. Nejla Kalajdžisalihović), one teaching associate (Davor Njegić, MA), three teaching assistants (Alma Žero, MA, Srebrenka Mačković, MA, Nermina Čordalija, MA), one lector (Vedad Lihovac) and one foreign lector (Stephen Hefford).

During its sixty years of existence, the Department has established special relations with a number of institutions abroad, especially in Great Britain, the USA, Norway, and Japan. Notable among them are the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School from Edinburgh where students from the Sarajevo Department of English Language and Literature have been participating for over a decade; Grand Valley State University from Michigan where faculty and students from the Sarajevo Department have taught and studied; the Department of English Language and Literature in Bergen, Norway where a significant number of faculty and associates from the Department have taught, studied and carried out research for their MA theses; and Smith College from Massachusetts with which the Sarajevo Department of English Language and Literature has been developing a partnership not only for a very active exchange of students and faculty, but also for  developing a programme in American Studies under the patronage of the State Department. Invitations for visiting positions at far-away universities such as Sophia University in Japan and ongoing projects with prestigious partners, such as the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) and the College of William and Mary (the second oldest higher education institution in the US) and many others, testify to the broad scope of teaching and research activities at the Department.

A contemporary curriculum with a dynamic and comprehensive teaching approach make the Department attractive to many international students and faculty who come to Bosnia and Herzegovina through various exchange programmes. The Department has hosted colleagues from various European countries each year since the introduction of programmes such as Erasmus and Mevlana.

The Department has established a biannual academic conference, “Conference on English Language, Linguistics, Teaching and Translation Studies” (CELLTTS), that brings together scholars and researchers from around the world.