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What can I do with an English Literature degree?

A degree in English Literature could open the book into an exciting career in a whole range of areas. Read on to find out more.

What are your skills?

English Literature is a non-vocational degree – which means that it gives you some all-round skills that can be applied to different careers rather than training for a specific job. These skills include:

  • Written and other communication skills
  • Understanding complex ideas and theories
  • Research

Which job?

Media and journalism

Many journalists have an English degree, since the ability to research subjects and write clearly and concisely are essential to the job. It doesn’t just have to be writing for print or online press either, since jobs in TV and radio also require great research skills. Check out our Careers in Media section for some ideas.

To get into the media, doing some work for your student media and getting some media work experience alongside your degree will give you a big advantage. You might also want to consider studying a postgraduate course run by the NCTJ.

Starting salaries begin at around £15,000.

Publishing

If a degree in English Literature means one thing, it’s that you understand books, so English graduates are in high demand in the publishing industry. Begin as an editorial assistant and you’ll be proofing and correcting books before they’re published, and could work your way up to a commissioning role deciding which books will sell and why. There are plenty of other jobs available in publishing as well, so check out our Careers in Publishing article for more inspiration.

Starting salaries begin at around £14,000.

Advertising and PR

Being able to make and explain a persuasive argument is a big part of studying English Literature, and is crucial for working in advertising and PR. You could put your skills to good use as an advertising copywriter for example, or if you’d prefer dealing with people face-to-face, then a job as a public relations or press officer could be for you.

Getting involved with some campaigns at your Student Union or with a charity will give you some great firsthand experience, and it’s also worth thinking about getting a professional marketing qualification from an organisation like the Chartered Institute of Marketing after your degree as well.

Starting salaries begin at around £17,000.

Teaching

Teaching is a good choice if you want to share your love of literature with others. You’ll not only need to know the books you’re teaching inside out, but also have great communication skills to inspire your class, and perfect spelling and grammar for marking their work. You’ll need to study a teaching qualification after you graduate, and you can find out more about the different options in our Teaching section.

Starting salaries begin at around £21,000.

Arts

Literature is art after all, and even if you don’t end up writing a bestseller yourself, the skills you pick up studying English Literature will be useful in many parts of the arts industry. You could write programmes and publicity material for museums and art galleries for example, help to organise festivals and events, and work for arts organisations seeking funding – or the companies and other people doling out the cash. Take a look at some of the other articles in our Careers in Arts and Humanities section.

Starting salaries begin at around £15,000.

Other options

You don’t have to stick to jobs directly related to your degree either. You might have to do further study to get into these sectors, but many jobs in retail, law, business, social work and politics also need exactly the sort of skills English graduates have. And remember that creativity and initiative are some of the most important things English Literature will teach you – which are a big help when it comes to finding any job and thinking about how to apply what you’ve studied at university to the world of work.

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