5 brilliant things about being an English Literature student

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to study English Literature at Surrey.

I could gush for hours about the brilliant aspects of studying English Lit, but here are just 5 of the reasons why I think my degree is brilliant, and why I think prospective students who are interested should consider the degree too…


Showing my respect to the Bard in Budapest in my second year.


  1. There’s so much choice!

English Literature students are spoilt for choice compared to lots of other degree subjects.

Throughout my degree I’ve got more and more options of what modules I take, to the point where currently in my final year, all my modules are optional (yay!).

Even for the compulsory modules, I’ve always had the option to choose from different essay questions and what texts to write on. For example, in a module where you read twelve texts (one text a week, whether that’s a play, novel, or a critical reading for example) for the final essay you may just need to choose two books to write on.



For a taster of the sort of modules at Surrey, here are the modules I studied in second year!


  1. You get to discover amazing books you’d never have read otherwise

Some of the books on an English degree I’d never have picked up if they hadn’t been on the syllabus. Whilst the occasional book or style of writing may not resonate with you, it’s really interesting and important to read books out of your comfort zone.

Some of the books I have studied and referenced in my final year of English Literature, that I have also talked about in my blog post on How to choose a university.


  1. An English degree encourages you to think for yourself

There’s a reason one of the key ‘transferable skills’ Eng Lit grads get labelled with is ‘analytical’.

Studying English literature opens you up to different perspectives and gives you the skills to analyse, and not just accept blindly, what you see on the page.

“In just two years I have learned an incredible amount, not only about literature and academia, but also perspectives on the world and its issues, and this has granted me a whole new perspective and way of thinking.” Elle Morley, BA English Literature on her experience.

  1. Eng lit degrees can lead to some really cool jobs…

One of the questions I often get asked as an English Literature student is what job my degree will lead to, considering the career path may seem less obvious than a vocation-based course like Nursing or Law.

I like to think that choosing to study something you enjoy is the best way to work towards a career that you will enjoy.

The communications industry holds some really exciting and creative jobs that a lot of Literature students find themselves drawn to. Journalism, public relations (PR), advertising and teaching are just some of the common jobs English Lit grads go on to do.

Just like any degree, students have to work hard to get those interesting jobs. At Surrey lots of people I know (including myself) went on a placement year, where we worked for a year and applied our degree knowledge to jobs in some really interesting organisations.


Visiting the BBC South Today’s studio and their famous red news couch on my placement year in PR.


  1. You chose a subject that you love

At a free outdoor art exhibition in 2014 (again in Budapest), 30 years on from the year Orwell chose to set his dystopian novel 1984. Big Brother is watching you.

Whilst essay and exam deadlines are never fun, at least you know that you chose a subject that you enjoy working on.

English Literature at degree level is very different from A Levels. Degree students have the opportunity to develop ideas in essays and critically engage with texts in fulfilling ways. There is a big focus on ‘originality of thought’ and contributing something new to your field of study.

It can be quite a bold move to choose a degree because you love the subject when your peers are going off to study career specific or practical jobs. I still hear now, when I tell people I study English, ‘well, what are you going to do with that degree?’.

While English students may not jump into a secure career path (although what career path is truly safe nowadays?), I do think that choosing a subject you love has got to be the best way to find a career you enjoy doing.

More practical and career focused degrees are also great, but it’s wrong to undermine the value creative and humanities students bring to society and business.


If you are considering studying English Literature, take a look at Why study for an English Literature degree? or there is more information on Surrey’s English Literature and Creative Writing Courses.

There’s more information on starting university and how to choose the right uni or degree for you on Surrey Student Experience blogs.