An English degree is a great degree to have. It opens up many diverse job opportunities (not just teaching!), is usually very flexible and also extremely enjoyable.
Although literature degrees have a reputation for being rather stuffy and traditional, a majority of English literature degrees are actually very non-traditional, forward-thinking and applicable to the world of work. Additionally, the modules available to you will differ, depending on which university you choose to go to. Therefore, if you think you might be interested in studying English at degree level, make sure you thoroughly research the modules available at each university.
Signs an English degree is right for you
If you are currently considering applying for an English degree but are unsure whether you have what it takes, here are a few key personality traits, skills and qualities that allow people to excel in an English degree.
- You have a passion for reading. Doing an English Literature degree will definitely test your love of reading to its limits. However much you currently enjoy reading, throughout your degree you will have to read long texts, hard texts and you may occasionally feel overwhelmed by the amount of reading you are required to complete. However, if you have a genuine passion for literature you will surely be able to power through those texts that less appeal to you.
- You’re self-motivated. Of course, all degrees require motivation but, because English degrees involve very few contact hours (lectures and seminars) and most of your degree will comprise independent learning, you’ll have to be keen to put in the hours and structure your own days. So, if you’re pretty hopeless at time-management you could be in danger of becoming a victim to extreme procrastination and excessive lie-ins. However, if time-management is something you’re happy to work on, then don’t let the lack of contact hours put you off an English degree.
- You enjoy discussion and debate. In order to get the most out of an English degree, you have to be willing to fully participate in seminars. Seminars are an English student’s main opportunity to listen to and benefit from their classmates’ ideas and to practise expressing their own. These seminar discussions will be crucial to developing your thinking about whichever novel, concept, context or theory you are studying that week. Therefore you’ll need to ensure you’re making the most of this valuable discussion time.
- You thrive on difficult questions and finding your own answers. Although English literature does teach you a variety of facts (indeed you never quite know what you’re going to learn next during an English lecture), your job, as you are probably aware, is not to regurgitate facts but to construct your own arguments, using the information you are taught. In English there are rarely wrong or right answers. Instead your grades will be riding on how you present, back up and develop your ideas. For some, this is a frustrating and scary prospect but equally it allows you to be an independent thinker, develop your individual opinions and to carry out your own research.
So, although an English degree isn’t for everyone, if you identify with a lot of the traits and qualities I have listed then it might just be the right degree for you! Hopefully this summary has been helpful for those of you who are considering taking your English studies to the next level.
If you think the things I have mentioned apply to you and you’re excited to step up your English game then that’s great! English literature is a varied, exciting and limitless degree that will open your mind and push you to develop your analytical, organisational and communication skills, attributes which future employers will love.