Study English In The UK- A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Studying English at the university level offers a comprehensive exploration of the English language, literature, and related subjects. A degree in English can open doors to various career paths and personal enrichment. There are numerous areas of English to study, ranging from Shakespearean sonnets to the complexities of the English language, and a multitude of transferable skills that are applicable to a broad range of careers. 


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What is English?

An English degree is an academic qualification earned by completing a programme of study focused on the English language, literature, and related subjects. It is typically awarded at the undergraduate (bachelor’s) level, but it can also be pursued at the graduate (master’s or doctoral) level. An English degree programme involves the study of literature, which includes classic and contemporary works of fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction. 

Additionally, it often covers language and linguistics, which encompass the study of grammar, syntax, phonetics, and sociolinguistics. Students in English degree programmes develop critical thinking, analytical, and research skills, as well as written and verbal communication abilities. English degrees are versatile and can lead to careers in writing, editing, education, journalism, public relations, marketing, and more, while also promoting personal enrichment, intellectual growth, and a lifelong appreciation for literature and language.

Why Study English?

  • Literary Appreciation: English literature is a treasure trove of classic and contemporary works that provide insights into the human condition, cultural diversity, and historical contexts. Studying English allows you to explore profound themes, storytelling techniques, and the richness of human expression.
  • Critical Thinking and Analysis: English programmes foster critical thinking and analytical skills. You learn to dissect texts, analyse complex narratives, and interpret symbolism, which are skills valuable for evaluating information, making informed decisions, and problem-solving in various aspects of life.
  • Enhanced Writing Skills: English degree programmes require extensive writing, honing your ability to express ideas clearly and persuasively. These skills are invaluable in careers that involve written communication, such as writing, editing, and content creation.

Best Universities for English in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest Complete University Guide:

1University of Oxford
2University of Cambridge
3University of St Andrews
4Durham University
5University of Warwick
6UCL (University College London)
7University of York
8Loughborough University
9The University of Edinburgh
10University of Strathclyde
11University of Birmingham
12University of Exeter
13University of Leeds
14Newcastle University
15University of Bristol
16University of Manchester
17Lancaster University
18University of Nottingham
19King's College London, University of London
20University of Southampton
21University of Glasgow
22University of Aberdeen
23Royal Holloway, University of London
24Cardiff University
25University of Surrey
26University of Sheffield
27Queen Mary University of London
28University of Plymouth
29University of Sussex
30Aberystwyth University
31University of Bedfordshire
32University of Liverpool
33City, University of London
34University of Stirling
35University of Hull
36Queen's University Belfast
37University of Leicester
38Aston University, Birmingham
39Swansea University
40University of Lincoln
41University of East Anglia UEA
42Teesside University, Middlesbrough
43Liverpool Hope University
44University of Kent
45Falmouth University
46Edge Hill University
47Anglia Ruskin University
48Birmingham City University
49Oxford Brookes University
50University of Winchester
51University of Reading
52Liverpool John Moores University
53University of Worcester
54Staffordshire University
55University of Gloucestershire
56Bath Spa University
57Canterbury Christ Church University
58Bangor University
59Manchester Metropolitan University
60Keele University
61University of Roehampton
62Sheffield Hallam University
63University of Huddersfield
64Nottingham Trent University
65University of Essex
66Northumbria University, Newcastle
67University of Westminster, London
68Bournemouth University
69Brunel University London
70University of Northampton
71University of Portsmouth
72University of Sunderland
73University of Dundee
74University of Chester
75Bristol, University of the West of England
76Leeds Beckett University
77Ulster University
78Leeds Trinity University
79Edinburgh Napier University
80Birmingham Newman University
81University of Wolverhampton
82University of Derby
83Kingston University
84University of South Wales
85Goldsmiths, University of London
86University of Brighton
87University of Greenwich
88York St John University
89University of Hertfordshire
90Bishop Grosseteste University
91Coventry University
92De Montfort University
93St Mary's University, Twickenham
94University of Central Lancashire
95University of Chichester
96University of Salford
97Cardiff Metropolitan University

Entry Requirements for an English Degree

Entry requirements for an English degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme. However, there are some common requirements and guidelines to consider:

  • Academic Qualifications: Typically, you’ll need to have completed your secondary education, which in the UK usually means having passed A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
  • A-level or Equivalent Subject Requirements: Universities may specify certain A-level subjects or equivalent qualifications as entry requirements. For an English degree, subjects like English Literature, English Language, or a related subject are commonly required or recommended.
  • Grades: Specific grade requirements can vary by institution and programme, but competitive programmes may require high grades in A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
  • English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you may be required to provide proof of English language proficiency. This is usually done through standardised tests like IELTS or TOEFL.
  • Writing Sample: In some cases, you might be asked to submit a writing sample or complete a written assignment to demonstrate your writing skills.
  • Additional Requirements: Some universities may have specific additional requirements, such as submitting a portfolio (if the programme involves creative writing) or taking a subject-specific admissions test.

Jobs for English Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Writer or Author: English graduates often pursue careers as writers, including novelists, journalists, content writers, and technical writers.
  • Editor: Many work as editors, reviewing and revising content for accuracy, style, and clarity. This includes roles in publishing, journalism, and content editing.
  • Teacher or Professor: English graduates can become educators, teaching English at primary, secondary, or tertiary levels. A graduate degree may be required for university-level teaching.
  • Copywriter: Copywriters create written content for marketing and advertising purposes, crafting persuasive messages to promote products and services.
  • Technical Writer: These professionals specialise in creating user manuals, product documentation, and technical guides, translating complex information into understandable language.

What do English Graduates Career Prospects Look Like?

Among English graduates who have entered employment, 13% have secured positions as teaching professionals. Additionally, sales and marketing associate professionals, media professionals, and roles in artistic, literary, and media occupations also feature prominently among the top five jobs held by English studies graduates 15 months after graduating. Overall, 57.2% of English graduates are employed.

Salary for English Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £19,000

High-skilled: £24,000


Topics for English Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of English and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Analysis of Character Development in a Specific Novel: Select a novel and delve into how the characters evolve throughout the story, exploring their motivations and transformations.
  2. Exploration of a Literary Movement: Investigate a literary movement like Romanticism, Modernism, or Postcolonial literature, and analyse its impact on the works of authors within that era.
  3. Feminist Themes in Classic Literature: Examine feminist themes in classic novels, such as Jane Austen’s works, and how they relate to the women’s rights movement.
  4. The Use of Symbolism in Poetry: Select a renowned poet or a collection of poems and analyse the use of symbolism and its deeper meanings.
  5. Post-colonialism in Literature: Investigate how postcolonial themes are portrayed in literature from different parts of the world and the impact of colonisation on cultural identity.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • History: Study the past to gain insights into how societies, cultures, and politics have evolved. History graduates often pursue careers in research, education, and archiving.
  • Political Science: Explore government, international relations, and political systems. This can lead to careers in politics, diplomacy, or law.
  • Education: Prepare for a career in teaching or educational administration. Consider a degree in early childhood education, elementary education, or secondary education.
  • Philosophy: Study fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, ethics, and reality, which can lead to careers in academia, law, or ethics consulting.
  • Theatre and Drama: Study theatre arts, acting, and stage production, which can lead to careers in the performing arts and entertainment industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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