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Subject Guides ❱❱ English Language and Literature Degree

English Language and Literature Degree

The English language was first spoken in early medieval times and is now recognised as one of the most spoken languages on Earth. It is not only the official language of the UK, but also USA, Australia, Canada and Ireland.

Studying a degree in English involves a lot more than solely reading and writing, and English literature isn’t only studied by bookworms. English literature includes the study of plays, prose and poetry and spans continents and centuries and is an incredibly diverse subject. The study of English literature coincides with language, social sciences and history to construct a picture of how literature influences, and is influenced by changes in society.

An English language degree will equip individuals with the knowledge of language itself – from grammar and structure, to punctuation and syntax – as well as the etymology (the origin of words and how their meanings have changed throughout time) and the way language is used within society. Therefore, degrees in English language tend to cross over with other similar subjects such as linguistics, sociology, history and politics.

What A Levels do I need?

English skills are important when applying for an English language or literature course, and most will require an A-level in the subjects either separately or in the combined A-level subject itself. Per usual accurate entry requirements will vary depending on the institution and degree course and students are advised to research their choices to ensure they understand what they need for admission.

Some universities will ask for at least 360 UCAS points and a minimum C grade in relevant subjects, whilst others may ask for AAB and a B grade.

You can also see our English Literature and Language personal statement examples, these will help you to gain an insight into what you need for your personal statement.

What are my study options?

There are many subjects that students are able to study alongside English language and literature, from theatre, modern foreign languages, film, creative writing, and screenwriting, as well as choosing to study the two subjects together, or separately as a single degree. Studying a joint degree offers candidates the opportunity to gain a broad set of skills and is perfect for those who are torn between two subjects.

English related degrees tend to last three years, unless students choose a degree that offers a year abroad which usually takes place during the second and third years increasing the degree length to four years in total.

What should I expect from studying English Language and English Literature?

Most universities offer limited modules during the first year and in some cases throughout second year for individuals to cover core topics, and after this will then allow students flexibility in module options to let them obtain a specialised and personal degree.

The majority of degree courses have core modules that students need to complete, these set the path for students and give them the insight knowledge that they must utilise when continuing with their degree. Core modules allow students to learn the ‘basics’ in certain areas and to ease the path of progression throughout the degree years.

How will I be assessed?

In terms of assessment, individuals should expect it to be mostly written coursework with essays, analysis and on some cases, presentations, projects as well as a final year dissertation.

What skills will I learn from studying English Language and English Literature?

Candidates learn professional skills of self-management and research as well as functional skills of close reading of texts, communicating ideas and forming a literary argument. University offers students a great experience to grow as individuals as well as gain confidence which can prove invaluable in interview situations.

Students who attend university will gain skills that they can use later in life, such as time-management and organisation, as well as social skills through presentations and group work.

Why study English Language and English Literature?

Studying English related degrees are for those who love language, how it is formed and received in all aspects and those who spend most of their time reading the next chapter will enjoy this course.

English language will give candidates a deep understanding of how we communicate with each other and the tools needed to entertain, persuade and inform others with the use of words. Students with good English skills or who have studied social sciences or humanities subjects at A-Level or BTEC will feel more comfortable with this degree.

English literature will give students the chance to develop their writing and communication skills and is concerned with more than just the bestsellers in the bookshops or the Harry Potter that you have on your shelf at home.  This degree combines literary knowledge with unique skills of cultural and historical understanding as well as close analysis.

What happens after I graduate?

Although English degrees do not offer students with a specific career path or job when they graduate, the broad nature of the courses will allow students to consider a number of sectors to enter.

Individuals can choose to go into research, teaching, law, or to complete a postgraduate course.

Will it help me get a job?

The skills gained through this type of course are still valuable to employers, especially the ability to conduct close analysis and impressive grammar and English skills.

What types of jobs can I get from studying English Language and English Literature?

Students may work in HR, admin, PR and marketing, as well as choosing to become an academic or to re-train in law or to become a teacher.

Specific jobs that may interest English graduates include: journalist, librarian, author, lexicographer, advertising, editorial assistant or to teach English at a school in the UK or another country.

What can I study after English Language and English Literature?

There is an exciting range of research degrees and Master’s (MA) programmes available at postgraduate level for graduates who wish to continue with their studies, including: MA in English literature, creative writing, American literature, ancient literature, linguistics, Black literature, English language teaching, Children’s literature and many more.

Famous English Language and English Literature studies alumni

Stephen King, notorious author who wrote The Shining and Carrie studied BA English at the University of Maine, USA and Sigourney Weaver, an actor who is best known for the Alien films studied BA English at Stanford University, USA. Also, David Duchovny, known for his role as Moulder in The X Files obtained a BA and MA in English Literature from Princeton University and Yale University respectively.