20 April 2014
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English literature degree

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A degree in English literature can open up many doors for graduates by developing their research, writing and communication skills as well as encouraging in them a high level of cultural literacy and critical sophistication. It will teach students those valuable transferable literary skills that will allow them to clearly express in oral and written form their ideas, arguments and how they feel. Subsequently the most popular choice of careers for graduates tend to be those that are based around areas where the understanding and marketing of language is required, such as; publishing, journalism, research, teaching, theatre, TV / Radio, public relations and advertising.

Students will get the opportunity to study English from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England right through to the literature of the early 21st century. It provides them with opportunities to work on literature from many contemporary perspectives and gives them a exploratory and stimulating education in core modules. Many courses are very flexible and allow students a considerable amount of choice over which topics and periods they would like to concentrate on. Studies and lectures are geared towards encouraging students to become more questioning of written work, particularly when selecting, reviewing and arranging written material.

It is a subject that can inspire a person’s initiative, imagination and curiosity and is a unique opportunity for them to broaden their knowledge beyond the traditional boundaries of ‘English Literature’.
Whilst studying literature undergraduates will learn about language, history, English culture and at the same time develop their own creative writing skills.

English literature degree overview

The programme aims to help students develop a good knowledge of literary studies, English syntax and the nature of Language. The degree will provide you with a good all round education in creative writing, poetry & prose as well as a introduction to English grammar through time.

Explore aspects of literary traditions, syntactic theory, sociolinguistics & the sociology of language. Whatever your chosen area of practise students will undertake some core and some optional modules, all of which will encourage innovation and creativity. You can broaden your knowledge with theatre trips, poetry readings, and workshop sessions.

Much of the learning and ideas will be gained through critical debate, individual discussion and consultation with staff. A English Literature degree course will encourage you to read widely and to think critically about writing and its contexts.

Students are encouraged to develop criticisms and theories for examination and discussion. They are also pushed towards developing specialist knowledge of the way literary and cultural texts have been produced over the centuries.

On a English literature degree course areas of study will include:

  • English Historical Linguistics.
  • Introduction to language acquisition.
  • History of English.
  • The relationship between literature and other media i.e. film, radio, television and journalism.
  • Study a wide range of celebrated authors i.e. William Blake and Ted Hughes.
  • Understanding the importance of children’s literature in development.
  • The arts, past and present.
  • Shakespeare text and performance.
  • The nineteenth century novel.
  • English literature across multiple cultures and historical periods.
  • Romanticism, gender, post-colonialism and contemporary writing.
  • Critical reading which is essential for studying literary texts.
  • Interpreting drama and fiction.
  • Reading contemporary literature.
  • Classic realism and its decay.
  • Contemporary literature in a global context.
  • Renaissance literature.
  • Looking at key literacy concepts such as form, structure and metaphor narrative.
  • Examine adaptation, authorship and reviewing.
  • The use of language in children's literature.
  • How romantic writers championed and encouraged imagination.
  • Linguistics and psycholinguistics.
  • Sociolinguistics and the relationship between society and language.
  • Tools for language analysis i.e. word-structure (morphology).
  • Topics for discussion will include discussions on issues like ‘ Do men dominate conversation more than women?’.
  • Modern and contemporary poetry.
  • 18th-Century Literature 1750-1830.
  • Modern prose.
  • Bibliography, palaeography and theories of text.
  • Gender and creativity.
  • American literature.
  • The field of words and metaphors.
  • Literature, contexts and approaches.
  • English as a world language.
  • Introduction to text design
  • Studying the way in which literature engages with other forms of culture.
  • Medieval and Tudor literature.
  • The literature of terror

Skills you will learn on a English literature degree course

  • Gain a firm foundation in the necessary critical and theoretical skills required to analyse literary texts.
  • Sophisticated reading skills.
  • Modes of reading and practices of criticism.
  • Methods and approaches.
  • Developing your own intellectual independence.
  • Improve your writing, research and analysis skills.
  • The ability to express complex ideas and arguments.
  • Developing imagination.
  • How to structure arguments.
  • Preparing and writing an essay.
  • Bibliographic skills.
  • How to use learning resources.
  • Learning how to quickly and accurately describe, analyse and interpret primary data.

English literature personal statement

Below are some professionally written English literature personal statements. You can use these examples to gain an idea of how to structure and put together your own one. You are strongly advised not to copy or plagiarise them, instead use them as resources to inspire your own creative writing.

English literature personal statement example 1

"My love of the English language and literature has continued to grow since my childhood, this is primarily because I enjoy reading and writing, and have an active interest in culture, creativity and language. We all use language every day in almost everything that we do, by talking to people and explaining things about ourselves, or simply by listening. I feel that by studying it further I will be able to firstly better understand why and how we use language, and secondly learn a range of sophisticated methods that will help me to analyse the way language is used in both text or speech. Right now I am keen to study it at the highest academic levels.

It’s not just the personal enjoyment I get out of it that attracts me, I also realise that a English Degree is a qualification that is highly valued by many employers in various industries. As a graduate I will leave university with something that is both personally and academically valuable, and will demonstrates to potential employers that I have vital skills in communication and critical thought. The skills I will gain through studying English are marketable in many career areas, and a degree in this subject will definitely boost my employability. I feel it will prepare me to do anything, the analytical and communication skills I will learn can be used every day and anywhere. 

All my academic and ‘work’ experiences to date have given me a comprehensive understanding of English literature, language, culture and history. I have become quiet good at ‘analysing’ literature and text, and using my skills to strengthen or construct discussions or arguments I am having. I have excellent communication skills, both in speech and in writing, and am able to use advanced literacy skills to communicate effectively in an appropriate style, and apply sustained written and oral arguments coherently and persuasively.

At college I explored the development of literature, from its ancient roots, right up to the present day. My tutors actively encouraged me to consider all sides of an argument, which I feel is invaluable to thinking broadly and to respecting others in the event of a disagreement. I learnt how to gather, sift, interpret and organise substantial quantities of diverse information in structured ways. I developed great organisational, analytical and critical thinking skills, all while having a great time with fellow students. The tutors were incredibly supportive in many ways and I left college with terrific memories. All in all the experience helped to further develop my academic knowledge and understanding of English, as well as enhance my ability to read properly and effectively.  

To gain further practical experience I have recently taken to writing freelance articles for newspapers, magazines and online blogs. This experience has helped me to exercise independent thought and judgement, and handle information and arguments in a critical and self-reflective manner. I now consider myself to have a good writing style, and feel confident in writing product descriptions, articles, press releases and short narratives. I have good computer skills, can work quickly and accurately and am capable of working on my own initiative.

I want to study English at your university primarily because your institution has a reputation for attracting the best and brightest students, and allow me to be around people who are as passionate about English literature as I am. Your English school offers a huge range of modules to choose from,  which ensures that I can choose subjects and modules that I am really interested in. Upon visiting your campus a couple of times, I found it to be a brilliant place in which to learn and develop whether you intended to continue to study or move on to the job market. To summarise I feel that a degree from a reputable university such as yours is an excellent start to any future career. My motto is ‘you never know what you are capable of until you try it’, with this closing statement I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my personal statement, and I hope you will look favourably on my application."


English literature personal statement example 2

"I have chosen to study English Literature because I don’t as yet have a clear idea of what career I want to enter and feel it is a subject that will give me plenty of options after my education has ended. Furthermore I believe that it will provide me with the basis for the kind of innovative thinking necessary in any job as well as give me a broad range of transferable skills that many employers would appreciate.

The one thing that I really enjoy doing and would never get tired of is reading and am constantly looking out for stimulating and thought-provoking material. It was therefore only natural that I drifted towards studying English Literature at college. That experience gave me an excellent introduction to the world of academia, as well as wetting my appetite for the subject by enabling me to fully see the many literary issues and themes that were available for research, discussion and analysis. College also made me realize just how valuable good writing, researching and presentation skills are to communicating and finding employment.

I am currently looking for a university where modules are taught in a atmosphere of discussion and where independent thought and contribution is encouraged and valued. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to further my studies at your university and also because of its good academic environment and strong professional reputation. Since my first prospective email right through to when I attended your open day (where I walked around and talked to staff) I realised that your institution had a warm and welcoming environment and was a intellectually stimulating place in which to be a undergraduate. I was also pleased to discover that although it is a big university, it's very easy to get around. I firmly believe that your university is the place to be for anyone with a serious interest in English literature."

More English literature personal statement examples

University interview questions

Why do you want to enrol on a English literature degree course?

Answers

  • I have never become tired of reading and writing and want to bring these two passions of mine up to a professional standard.
  • My long term ambition is to become a professional writer, therefore obtaining this degree is a necessary first step towards reaching my goal.

What made you apply to our university?

Answers

  • It’s a very diverse environment and there are all sorts of student societies to get involved in, these are factors that greatly appeal to me.
  • I like the fact that your courses can be individually tailored allowing them to encompass areas of personal interest.
  • You library contains a huge reference only collection of books, which means that I do not have to buy every single book that I need for my studies.

How long will a English literature  degree course last?
Fully time courses are generally speaking last for three years.


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