What it will mean for the great writers like Shakespeare, Dickens and Chaucer is unclear but Cambridge University's world renowned English faculty could face a major shakeup if proposals to replace white authors with black writers are implemented.

Academic staff have put forward the proposals to "ensure the presence" of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) writers on courses.

A letter that spurred the plans being discussed by the English Faculty's Teaching Forum was signed by over 100 students.

It stated: "For too long, teaching English at Cambridge has encouraged a 'traditional' and 'canonical' approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others.

"What we can no longer ignore, however, is the fact that the curriculum, taken as a whole, risks perpetuating institutional racism," said the open letter, written by Cambridge University Student Union's women's officer Lola Olufemi, according to the Telegraph.

While there is no suggestion they want white male authors excluded, the limited time of a course would mean that any introduction of BME texts would mean existing authors would have to drop off reading lists.

The paper reported how a meeting by the Teaching Forum prioritised a move for academic staff to actively encourage reading of BME texts and topics. Priyamvada Gopal, a member of the forum told the Telegraph she welcomed the move.

"Currently teaching of BME topics is largely restricted to the contemporary papers. In my view, such texts and topics need to be integrated much earlier and much more centrally," she said.

But Gill Evans, emeritus professor at Cambridge University, criticised the move which had "major problems".

"If you distort the content of history and literature syllabuses to insert a statistically diverse or equal proportion of material from cultures taken globally you surely lose sight of the historical truth that the West explored the world from the sixteenth century and took control - colonially or otherwise - of a very large part of it. It is false to pretend that never happened."

"It goes with the calls to stop teaching predominantly Western or European history as well as literature," she said, according to the Telegraph.