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English language and literature courses

Do you enjoy reading and analysing books, plays and poems and sharing your ideas with others? Are you interested in how children acquire language, how English is structured and how it can be used for communication, such as in creative writing or advertising? If so, you may be interested in studying English literature or language, or combining the two. Graduates go into a wide range of careers including journalism and media as well as law, accountancy and business.

Studying english language and literature at university

Example course modules

  • Explorations in literature
  • Chaucer: texts, contexts, conflicts
  • Shakespeare in performance
  • Renaissance literature
  • Modernist fiction
  • Creative writing: drama
  • British romanticism
  • Literary and cultural theory
  • Stylistics
  • Aspects of modernism

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 78%
    Male : 22%
  • Mature : 23%
    School leaver : 77%
  • Full-time : 82%
    Part-time : 18%

What students say about english language and literature

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • English literature and language

Useful to have

  • history
  • Religious studies
  • French or another foreign language
  • Latin or another classical language

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
English is one of the most popular degree subjects and in 2012, more than 12,000 students graduated with English degrees. As good communication is so important to modern business, you can find English graduates in all parts of the economy, although obviously, you can't expect to get a job as a doctor or nuclear physicist. There isn't a lot of difference in terms of outcomes between taking English language or English literature, so choose the one that suits you and don't worry about whether one is more likely to get you the job you want than the other. About one in five English graduates went into further study last year, and apart from further degrees in English, graduates were also likely to go onto teaching, law or publishing. All in all it's a flexible option – some even changed career direction entirely and took postgraduate courses in subjects like nursing or maths.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Sales assistants and retail cashiers

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Journalist
  • Teacher
  • Editorial assistant

Other real-life job examples

  • Events manager
  • Arts administrator
  • PR officer

What employers like about this subject

If you study English, you can learn range of subject-specific skills depending on the exact modules you take. These skills can include analysis of texts, criticism and theory; how language varies and is used and, of course, how to communicate well in writing and speech. Those studying English will also learn a number of useful transferable skills including communication, time management, research, critical thinking and project management. These skills are in demand from an array of employers including schools, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, publishers, magazine and newspapers, government, banks, theatres, the film industry and market researchers.