The subject of English is one of the most wide-ranging subjects of study offered at university. Although the focus is on literature, the nature of English literature exposes students to thinking in other realms of history, politics, philosophy and more.
This makes the UK, with its world-renown education system, one of the best places in the world to study such a multi-disciplinary subject. Another thrill for English literature students, specific to the UK, is the knowledge that many of the authors studied in class were not only from the UK, but often still have remnants around the country for students to visit, such as the houses of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Wordsworth and so many more.
At the undergraduate level, students can expect an overview of English literature, ranging from Medieval to twenty-first century. Students will have the opportunity to choose optional modules (classes) alongside the required core modules, which will enable them to focus more on certain areas of interest, such as Victorian literature, creative writing, American literature, Gothic literature, children’s literature, Shakespeare, and many more.
In England and Wales the degree will consist of three years of study; in Scotland the degree is four years. In the former, students can expect to take a heaver load of core classes the first year, gradually adding more optional modules as the years progress and they learn their own areas of greatest interest. Students will usually write a dissertation in the third year, though some universities have the option to take additional classes in place of this. In Scotland the structure will be similar, but the students will have the option to major/minor or double major. Though, different to the US, the option for this is only available if the university has paired the two together, such as English and History, English and a foreign language, English and Film, etc.
At the postgraduate level students will spend one year completing a master’s program. Master’s programs in English offer the student a choice from various pathways that tend to encompass generally the areas of interest within English literature, such as Renaissance Studies, Victorian Studies, Film, American Studies, Critical Theory, and more. When a student selects one of these pathways, his core curriculum will then focus on this area of interest, but he will also be able to tailor the program to even more specifically fit his interests with the optional modules to choose from in both semesters 1 and 2. Semester 3 (usually May through September) will be used to write a final dissertation.
English graduates can go on to many different carreers. Some will continue on to a PhD, other will go into teaching, media and film, communications, journalism, editorial work, and much more.