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Study Literature abroad

About this subject

  • About this subject
  • Is this the course for me?
  • Careers prospects
  • Studying Literature
  • Where to study?

For as long as there has been language, there has been literature. From the oral and illustrated stories shared in the days of mass illiteracy to more contemporary classics, the study of literature showcases the many diverse ways in words can be manipulated in order to delight, entertain and to educate.

Oscar Wilde once stated, “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are badly written or they are not. That is all.” Through the study of great literary works, students will gain an understanding of the power of the authors and the words they use, what defines a well-written piece of literature and will study the attitudes and opinions of culturally influential texts, placing their morals and attitudes into social and historical context.

Is this the course for me?

English literature is a fascinating field of study, and covers a wide range of genres from historical novels, Middle English Poetry, science fiction to Fairytales and the Oral tradition. If you’re fascinated by the written word and love to read a wide range of texts, then a Literature Degree would be something you would enjoy doing.

With a Literature Course, your level of contact time will most likely be lower than many other courses, so it is important that you are a motivated individual. As well as attending lectures, seminars and tutorials, you will also be expected to read approx 2-3 books a week during non-contact time as well as conduct critical research of your own.

You must also have strong analytical skills as you will not only be expected to write essays on a weekly basis, but you are also encouraged to have debates and discussions over key texts during smaller study sessions. It is important that you are able to absorb and analyse key information and formulate balance opinions of your own.

Careers prospects

The beauty of studying a Literature degree is that the skills you learn during your time studying are transferable to so many different industries. Although salaries may vary from country to country, the average starting salary of an English Literature graduate is £18,338 and a degree in English Literature allows graduates the flexibility to take control of their own career.

One of the most popular career options for Literature Graduates is teaching. With a strong degree and some work experience behind them, students are often actively encouraged to pursue a career in teaching; particularly due to the shortage of teachers. Many Universities offer PGCE courses that are partially funded by the government and the starting salary of a new teacher in the UK is approximately £21,588 (£27,000 if you live in London).

Of course, there are many other industries that you can enter with degree in Literature. As a result of the analytical skills you will acquire during your time at University, many firms will hire English Literature graduates to work as journalists, PR assistants, Marketing and Media Assistants and Copywriters.

Similarly, many English literature graduates take post graduate courses in Law in order to train as lawyers or barristers or opt to pursue careers in finance and banking.

Studying Literature

Despite the lower starting salary for new graduates, the competition for a course such as Literature is particularly fierce as it is a popular course for those who are passionate about the subject matter and want to study a topic that will give them a wide range of post-graduate options.

Most Universities will prefer candidates who have an A-level or A-level equivalent qualification in Literature for undergraduate courses, although some may consider applicants who have qualifications in a similar subject matter such as Linguistics or History. If you are looking to study a post-grad qualification, you should have a 2.1 degree or equivalent, and all foreign students will be required to sit an IETLS test before studying literature at any level.

The Undergraduate Literature courses available at different academic institutions will have different entry level requirements, and most courses will last a minimum of 3 years. However, some Universities offer the option of taking part in an Erasmus Exchange Scheme, where you can study for four years, and spend a year attending university or working abroad between your second and final year. A Post graduate course will last anywhere from a year (for an MA) to 3 years (for a PhD).

Where to study?

Since literature is such a popular course amongst undergraduates, the majority if universities will offer it as a degree course. While this means this means that you will not struggle for choice, sifting through your options may feel like a somewhat daunting task.

The first thing to consider when choosing a literature course is which areas of literature fascinate you the most. You will be studying literature for at least a year, if no longer, so it is important that whichever university you choose offers modules in your area of interest. Similarly, it is also worth investigating the course structure as Literature can be assessed in both assignment and examination format.

For a degree like literature, the location of your chosen university will be key to your University experience. Given the popularity of literature courses, and its diverse potential, it is important to network and gain as much experience as possible while you are still studying in order to increase employability. Universities based in and near cities with a strong literary and theatrical history reputation such as Oxford, London and Edinburgh (in the UK), Toronto (Canada) and Chicago (USA) will have key links with literary firms and events in the surrounding areas.

Of course fees and academic grades should also come into consideration when deciding where to study. Many of the prestigious universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale expect applicants to have a minimum of 3 A-levels or equivalent and grade A. If you’re uncertain as to whether you’ll get such grades, but you have your heart set on studying within a specific area, it is worth remembering that most cities have more than one University.

If you are struggling with fees, or are still applying for funding, there are a number of bursaries and scholarships available for students.

What Literature courses are there?


English Literature


Comparative Literature


Europe: Literature


Literature: Specific Periods

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