What can you do with an English Literature Degree?

Read By Mitchell Stuart

What can you do with an English Literature Degree?

What can you do with an English Literature Degree?


Whilst there’s more to an English literature degree than reading it’s fair to say that critical analysis on written works is going to feature heavily in your studies. During an English Literature degree, students scrutinise and debate a vast selection of literary works, they gain knowledge of movements within literature, time periods and critical approaches that shape the way we see literature today.


If you choose to study English Literature at university, you’ll develop comprehensive written and spoken communication skills, become accustomed to arguing a point well and have the ability to analyse various levels of meaning.


When considering a subject to study at degree level, all students will wonder at some point what opportunities will be available to them once they graduate. In the case of English literature graduates, they can be found in many industries filling a variety of roles. Although there’s no real industry that takes precedence, English literature graduates tend to be found in roles that require strong written and communication skills such as media and publishing.


Whilst an English Literature degree is the pathway into many industries, many students take the opportunity of gaining an insight into what career they’d like to do by taking part in a work experience placement during their studies. It’s a great way of getting a feel for different industries whilst boosting their employability when they graduate.


Listed below are some of the more typical industries that English Literature graduates find themselves in.


Media and Journalism


The media industry covers everything from film to television, newspapers to blogs, advertising to public relations and gaming to game reviews! Whatever part of media you want to get into there’s an opportunity for any English Literature graduate whether you want to write, edit, review, schedule, promote, manage or run.


Opportunities are very sought after and can be very competitive. Unless you have the experience to show for it, high starting salaries are hard to come by. For those who want to pursue journalism, it may benefit you to obtain a specialist graduate degree in that field.


To boost your employability, it may help to try and get an internship, create a media blog, have an active presence on social media, have a personal portfolio on things that you’ve worked on and have a proven interest in the industry you’re trying to get into.










Although also covered in the industry of media, publishing stands alone in its own sector. Thanks to the advancements of the digital world, publishing has taken a setback with traditional firms struggling to stay in business; however, others have adapted and continue to thrive and need graduates to keep progressing.

Digital publishing involves the publishing of e-books and electronic journals as well as online magazines and websites. English graduates can expect to fill vacancies for administration, production, editing, marketing, public relations and sales.


To get a job in publishing you should have an interest in books, be computer literate and have a strong knowledge of the industry. Whilst it is advantageous for graduates to gain work experience in this field, be aware that some publishers will take advantage of this and offer more unpaid opportunities. Most publishers now offer at least minimum wage for work experience placements.


Teaching and Academic Careers


Most teaching opportunities will involve gaining an extra qualification but an English Literature degree can prepare you with the academic knowledge and the communication skills that you need.


To teach at primary and secondary levels you will need to gain Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) this qualification is almost always gained whilst working in a school. To teach in a university you will need to be educated to at least a Master’s degree in the subject you wish to teach but more often you will also need a PhD as many universities offer combined roles of teaching and research.


To boost your employability in this sector, any previous teaching or mentoring work with children and adults would be advantageous.


Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations


Opportunities in advertising, marketing and PR have become increasingly popular with English Literature graduates. All three are required in many sectors and the variety of jobs available make this quite an appealing choice.


All three require high levels of creativity and excellent communication skills as well as generating a focus on increasing profit and expanding business and brand. This focus on revenue will attract a typically higher salary than what is available in purely creative roles and progression is usually more defined. With the advancements in technology, it is becoming essential for employees in these fields to be savvy with computers.






Less Typical Careers with an English Literature Degree


As well as the industries mentioned there are many others that English graduates could go into with ease. Here’s a list of some of the less typical sectors that they could go into.


  • Public Sector – The public sector is responsible for recruiting a large number of people into roles that assist society. These jobs could include; administrators, civil servants, health service workers, government workers and police/forces personnel.


  • Law – English graduates will develop the skills to have a successful career in the legal sector. Whilst you would need additional qualifications to become a solicitor or a barrister, an undergraduate would be qualified to apply for roles such as paralegal or a legal secretary.


  • Business, Accounting and Finance – If you have a talent for numbers as well as words, a career in business, accounting or finance could be the option for you! Entry level administration can provide opportunities to develop into management or strategy.

I dont have an english lit degree and its one of my largest regrets from my early 20’s not that bad I suppouse. Graphic design was my chosen career path but I do always wonder if I di dwhat would I be doing now. Do you have any qualifications you would have liked to have taken? If so what are they? Would be great to hear your gyuys thoughts. Once again thank sfor reading Mitchell Stuart. 

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