English Literature degree: things you need to know before you apply

English Literature degree: things you need to know before you apply


If English Literature and hefty novels fascinate you then a degree in English Literature is perfect for you. During the course of an English Literature degree, the students scrutinize various works and debate on topics that are raised by the authors. You will study various texts from all eras, from Victorian to modern-day. This will help in understanding not only why the texts were written that way, but also the socio-economic conditions that prevailed when the texts were written.


Interested in Studying English?
Ask Us About it for Free!


What can you expect to study in an English Literature Degree

English literature courses vary from one University to another. In some courses, you may even get to choose between pop fiction and Classical Literature. (in classical literature you will read the works of Homer and such). Traditional courses will give more weight on medieval literature and Old English (which might be tough to grasp); while the newer courses focus on more pop fiction such as Alice in Wonderland and children’s fiction.

It will be good to add here a list of “the best” 10 unis (again google search and link to our directory) that teach English Literature in the world

Literary genres and specific authors

The first few years of your English Literature degree will be pretty vast. You will study various genres from Romanticism (Poets like Keats), Modernism or even Science Fiction (which may include Frankenstein). You will also go through the Victorian era in the first few years where authors like Jane Austen really flourished.  

Another type, of course, is the specific author course. Here you will study works of only a few authors which you choose. Their journey as an author, their background and the socio-economic conditions they came from; all this will be a part of your course. Studying English Literature is not just narrating a story, but also discussing ideas, facts, and various topics which shaped one era.

Medieval Languages

Though for us medieval languages was a part of the entire course, some Universities focus more on medieval languages and students can take up these authors separately. Chaucer’s long paras are a bit hard to understand and translate. You may be given a few parts from his book in the exams and may be asked to describe it. You may also expect to study some Old English and Middle English as well. These require a lot of translation before you can even begin to understand what they are saying.

Which skills are needed for an English Literature Degree

If reading a copious amount of books and diving into big books don’t scare you, but rather interests you then an English Literature Degree is perfect for you! In this course not only will you be reading the books yourself, but the teachers will deep dive into each sentence to tell you the hidden meanings that the author may have thought about.

You will require a great analytical bent of mind to understand the thoughts and discourses of each text. This degree also involves a lot of independent studies, so do expect to burn the midnight oil every other night. You will require reading the texts a couple of times just to understand the narrative only then will you be able to understand the discourses and thoughts behind it. If you love research as well, then this course will be perfect for you.

Universities to study English Literature

Here are some of the universities you can check out that offer English Literature :

  1. Yale University
  2. Cambridge University
  3. Oxford University
  4. Harvard University
  5. UCLA
  6. Stanford University
  7. Princeton University

What can you expect being an English Literature Student 

After going through each and every chapter and scrutinizing it, you will also talk about the discourses and the topics that were prevalent in that era. You will talk about feminism, modernism and more such topics to understand the depth of each.

Do expect to study a lot of independently to understand the texts better. You will also need to spend a lot of time in the library reading background texts as well. Though these may not be a part of the syllabus directly, you will gain better knowledge and the reference points you give in your exams will help you earn better grades.

In the final year, you may also require doing dissertations, these are a part of the postgraduate study and not the undergraduate. Here you can focus on one specific author and study him/her in depth along with their texts obviously. Here you will be required to engage with literature in a really critical manner and not just tell the plot.

Professions After English Literature Degree

You can try your hands in Journalism, Advertising, PR, editor or event management. If you want to get into journalism or other fields then a postgraduate degree will do you good. This will help you learn the tricks of the trade. Otherwise, in a more traditional way, becoming a teacher or a librarian is a very good option. Contrary to popular belief English graduates are highly employable.

Are you also trying to pursue an English Literature degree? Tell us if this article helped you in the comment section below! If you’re looking for universities offering courses in English Literature, feel free to check out this article on The Best Universities To Study Literature.


Featured Content
Written by
Nikita is one of the main authors at EDUopinions, specialised in Higher Education and focused on business studies analysis. She is a digital nomad who works while travelling.

Recent Posts

Get our experts advice for free.
Contact us.
This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our Privacy Policy for more details.