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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Why study English?

Want to break into journalism, publishing or editing? An English degree will equip you with the right skills for these careers.

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English is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages with 15 billion people conversing in English every day around the globe. A total of 60 countries use English as their official language including Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Canada and of course, the UK. It is predominantly used in entertainment, business, publishing, diplomacy and so on. This makes studying English particularly beneficial, whether that’s at the undergraduate level and beyond, or as a foreign language. 


Types of English degrees


English degrees typically come under the category of English literature or English language. Most English courses are awarded as a Bachelor of Arts (BA). There are several types of English degrees that you can study at university. These include:



English can also be combined with other subjects if you decide to do a joint honours degree. For example:



What will you study during an English degree?


As you can see, there are different variations of English courses on offer at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. The exact course content will depend on the programme you choose. It also depends on whether you choose a literature or language-focused course.


Essentially, English literature is the study of different texts written in the English language. You will analyse the language and structure of novels, poems, plays, fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies and so on. If you enjoy reading, writing and theatre, English literature is a suitable degree for you.


English literature modules


  • Poetry
  • Novel writing
  • Romanticism
  • American literature
  • Screenwriting
  • Feminist literature
  • Shakespeare

reading in English

English language on the other hand is more concerned with the history of the language and the current use of English. Depending on the degree, you may also study linguistics modules to learn about syntax, pragmatics, and the evolution of language. 


If English has always fascinated you and you want to learn more about the use of this language over time, it's definitely worth considering English language at university level.



English language modules


  • Media and society
  • Language and culture
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Multilingualism 
  • Old English
  • Child language development
  • Language of advertising
  • Language and the mind



What are the entry requirements for English degrees?


Make sure you check each university website for specific entry requirements as they can vary according to the country, university, and course. However, common requirements for English literature courses include:


  • Universities may ask you to study English literature or language at A-level (or equivalent)
  • Typically, an IELTS score of 5.5 to 6.5 with no section lower than 5.5 to 6.0 (this can vary)
  • Personal statement outlining your suitability for the course (you will need to demonstrate your passion and interest in the field). 


Check out our other guide on understanding English language test scores.


Skills gained from studying English


An English degree will equip you with a wide range of useful and highly employable skills such as:


  • Critical and evaluative thinking
  • Forming arguments
  • Critical analysis 
  • Excellent communication 
  • Presenting
  • Creativity
  • Independent thought
  • A keen eye for detail
  • Awareness of spelling and grammar
  • Research 
  • Organisation


Where can you study English?


English is offered as a degree not only in the UK but also in many other English-speaking countries. 


Check out the following institutions for English degrees in the UK:



What to do after an English degree?


With a degree like English, there is no specific route you have to take once you graduate. That’s the beauty of studying for a degree like this because you will gain a wide variety of knowledge and skills that are highly transferrable across an array of different professions. Common careers to follow an English degree include:


writing in English

However, having great communication skills is a widely valued skill among employers and so you are not limited to the careers outlined above. You can use the skills gained from an English degree in pretty much any role. You will just need to demonstrate your suitability for the position. 


Study English as a foreign language 


For international students, English language proficiency is a common requirement for admission to a university. So, if studying English at the undergraduate or postgraduate level isn’t for you, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve your English before or during your chosen degree subject. 


Having a decent level of English will provide you with opportunities to travel, study and work abroad as it is such a widely spoken language. You can take one of several English language tests including:


  • Pearson Test of English Academic 
  • Cambridge English test

English test

You can also choose to study a pre-sessional English course to ensure that your language skills are up to scratch before you start your undergraduate course. This means that you can still travel for your studies, but you will need to do an additional year of English language study you start your course.


Interested in studying English in Australia?



Studying English at degree level is perfect if you love literature, language, reading, writing, poetry, storytelling, theatre and so on. We’ve shown that many jobs value the skills of English graduates in addition to the benefits of improving your English proficiency as a second language. 


Want to find the right English degree for you? Use our course matcher tool now to see what you could apply for based on your qualifications and preferences. 


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