Career Opportunities with an English Literature Degree


Unlike a more vocational degree course an English Literature degree doesn’t prepare you for a specific career path. Students often find this incredibly appealing and look forward to gaining skills that will benefit them in any career they choose.

There’s far more to an English Literature degree than just reading books, although of course reading and analysing written work will be central to your course, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to develop valuable transferrable skills.

Here’s more about what gives English Literature graduates a strong CV and the career opportunities with an English Literature degree.

What skills will I gain during my English Literature degree?

The obvious skills you’ll gain from a degree in English Literature are comprehensive written and oral communication skills. You’ll also be more than capable of arguing a point and analysing various levels of meaning in narratives and other text.

However, there are also plenty of other skills that will boost your employability, including the skill and ability to:

  • Articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories
  • Critically reason and analyse
  • Effectively convey arguments and opinions
  • Think creatively
  • Work independently
  • Lead and participate in discussions
  • Work in a team to present ideas and information
  • Plan and research written work
  • Time management and organisation
  • Use IT
  • Use your judgement to weigh up alternative perspectives

These all-round skills make you highly attractive to prospective employers in a range of industries from media and publishing to law and politics.

Where can I study English Literature?

English Literature is an incredibly popular course so universities all over the UK offer it. Look carefully at the syllabus to ensure that your course is going to cover the areas or periods of literature that you want to study.

You don’t want to find yourself on a three year course having to read book after book that you hate!

Here are some of the top UK universities that offer English Literature degrees:

  • University of Bristol
  • University of Nottingham
  • Newcastle University
  • University of York
  • University of Exeter
  • University College London
  • University of Oxford
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Cambridge
  • Durham University

Common job prospects for English Literature graduates

Here are some of the more common career paths for English Literature graduates:

Media and Journalism

The media sector covers a wide range of small industries including film and television, newspapers and online news, and advertising and PR.

Media careers are ideal for English Literature graduates as there is a niche for just about any area of interest.

However, jobs in the media are also extremely competitive and the majority of employers are looking for graduates with work experience as well as a strong academic record.

If you’re particularly interested in a career in journalism then you might find a dedicated Journalism degree more useful that a general English Literature degree.


Although this sector often works with the media sector, it’s very much a separate world.

Whether you choose to work for a smaller, more traditional publishing company or choose a company that has adapted to the world of digital publishing, there are plenty of roles available to English Literature graduates.

You role could be in a variety of areas including marketing, advertising, production, editorial, administration, public relations, or sales.

Teaching and Academic roles

One of the most obvious career paths for an English Literature graduate is to undergraduate postgraduate qualifications and become a teacher or lecturer.

If you want to teach at primary or secondary school level you’ll need to take a one year PGCE course. If you want to teach at a higher level then you’ll at least need a Master’s degree.

Some universities also ask for a PhD and combine teaching and research roles so you can achieve this.

Advertising, Marketing and PR

These careers also tie in with media roles and are a great way to use your strong communication skills and creativity.

Whatever your day to day role involves you’re likely to be focussing on generating profit and increasing the business or brand reach of the company you work for or their clients.

These roles often have higher starting salaries and the career progression possibilities are more clearly defined that in a solely creative role.

Less common job prospects for English Literature graduates:

Jobs where your English Literature degree would be useful, but not essential, include: