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What can you do with a degree in English?

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While the career paths for other degrees are often more narrow, English is a subject that can be applied to a huge number of industries and careers, as well as being a well-proven route into graduate training schemes. On a personal level, it can help you develop some very important skills, and since there are very few jobs in which English is not applicable, you’ll find that those skills can help you find your dream job after you graduate, whatever that might be.

Here are just a few things that you can do with a degree in English:

Teacher with students

Teaching is just one of the many careers you could choose to pursue with an English degree

Enjoy a varied career

Some of the typical areas you could expect to be working in after completing an English degree include:

  • Media and Journalism
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Administration and Research

This list is far from exhaustive, which is part of what is great about studying for a degree in English. You won’t find yourself restricted to looking for jobs in certain sectors, and once you do find yourself a graduate job, if you fancy a change, you can.

Dr Alison Younger, a Senior Lecturer in English here at the University of Sunderland, adds: “Many of our students go on to become teachers, (from primary to postgraduate levels), we also have students who have become researchers, editors, political aides, speech writers, proof-readers, editors, and journalists. Some students have used their linguistic and rhetorical skills to progress on to Law Conversion courses, and have become solicitors and senior civil servants.”


During your degree in English, you’ll pick up strong communication skills and a grasp of the written word that will make you highly employable in many different jobs. Communication is an integral aspect of most jobs, whether it be relaying information to colleagues or communicating a message to customers, and so demonstrating an ability in this area will often make employers look upon you favourably.

“English is about written and spoken communication so the field is wide open to our graduates. We factor professional writing skills into our provision, so our students are, in many ways, ahead of the field in this respect,” says Alison.

Dr David Fallon, another Senior Lecturer in English adds: “I think the strongest skill that subjects like English give you is being able to deal with lots of information and draw out what’s important. You have to make sense of a huge amount of information, not all of which might be relevant, and that’s a very transferable skill.”

Express yourself

The writing style you will develop with an English degree will mean that you will be able to express yourself eloquently to potential employers, as well as being able to write in a professional manner across many platforms. Your ability to understand how to convey a message most effectively or efficiently can also be a very useful talent, helping you on a personal level but also in a great number of careers.

Sunderland Futures
The Careers and Employability Service will be able to help you make the most of your English degree

Alison believes that English can help you in a number of ways: “English teaches us context, concept, and a love of language which encourages us to read into texts, and beyond them. It teaches us about history, politics, class, countries and times other than our own. We learn to read for allusion and metaphor, and we learn how to think critically, and this changes us. Above all, we are encouraged to read, interpret and respond. It’s exactly what people were being asked to do in the earliest universities. What’s not to love about that?”

Continue your studies

There is a strong focus on criticism and research in English degrees, skills that are highly relevant should you choose to do a postgraduate degree or continue on an academic pathway. Many of our undergraduate English students at the University of Sunderland go on to study for an MA in English, a course which has proven to be very popular, and key to gaining the skills needed if you wish to go into higher education teaching.

David adds: “A lot of students talk about the contact hours being high in English, which means we get to see a lot of the students and get to know them. The fact that so many of them stay on to study MA English suggests that they like the atmosphere here.”


Published: 11 September 2017

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