Seven reasons why you should be an English student

There’s no denying it – English degrees are under attack. Like a lot of humanities or arts subjects they are often deemed by the press as less worthy than a science or engineering course. And if you believe the likes of commentator Katie Hopkins, then anyone who studies them is about as useful to an office as a “giraffe is to a Copenhagen zoo”.

But Hopkins and the other naysayers are just plain wrong.


An English degree might not lead you down a direct career path like dentistry or medicine. But it doesn’t automatically condemn you to unemployment or a life of shelf stacking either. Quite the opposite in fact. According to Plymouth University, an English degree can give you lots of transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers and can lead to a whole heap of exciting jobs.


  1. Varied career opportunities


Contrary to popular belief, employers aren’t always looking only for technical skills and quite often look for graduates who can think critically, communicate well and solve problems. They can teach you any technical stuff on the job.


Although there’s no one industry which takes precedence, English degree graduates are often found where strong communication and written English skills are top priorities. For example, within the worlds of media and publishing, journalism, teaching, advertising, marketing and PR. 


  1. Opportunities to study abroad


You can travel with an English degree. Yes, you read that right. Plenty of degrees offer you the opportunity to study abroad and Plymouth’s degree has two modules where this is possible. You can fit your degree around your own ambitions to see the world.


Ashleigh, a BA (Hons) English graduate from Plymouth says: “I went to the Shanghai business summer school. It was a life changing experience and taught me many skills, I use these skills every day in my work with foreign clients.”


  1. Work closely within your community


Ever wondered if your local was graced by a literary great? Or where Thomas Hardy was talking about when he wrote Far from the Madding Crowd? Studying English is a great way to find out. You can get to know the history of where you grew up and gain fascinating insights into what life was once like. Who knows, you might even walk in the same footsteps as Keats, Dickens or Shakespeare.

      4. Novels are your textbooks


Textbooks are a necessary evil of any degree but your textbooks will be novels. Yes! You actually get to read stuff you enjoy rather than force yourself to pour over dusty tomes about particle physics.


You’ll spend lots of time digesting some of the greatest works of literature of all time. The range of texts studied will mean that there is something for everyone and they will definitely broaden your horizons.


  1. Study another subject alongside English


Many English degrees offer the chance to study joint honours programmes. You’ll be able to explore a combination of literature with another passion like publishing, history or a foreign language. It’s a win win really – you get extra skills employers love, plus you get to study another favourite subject too.


  1. Transferable Skills


Okay, so you’re not going to learn to create the next Apple computer with an English degree but that’s not exactly the point is it? What you do get are loads of really great skills that can be used across a wide range of jobs.


The skills gained from an English degree are unique and in high demand. These include learning how to investigate and obtain information, communication, analytical skills, writing ability and self-sufficiency. These skills leave the door open to a wide arrange of careers and postgraduate study options.


Kitiara, a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing graduate from Plymouth says: “I learned how to take feedback, which is a crucial skill for any writer. I also developed the research skills that have helped me in my copywriting work.”


  1. Great Graduate Prospects


Most graduates will be in a professional job, utilising skills learnt on their degree within six months.


You could go into marketing, become a school teacher, train to be a journalist, copywriter or proof reader. Work in newspapers, magazines or online, producing up to date and relevant content. Try your hand as a social media editor, librarian, arts administrator or advertising copywriter. The broad nature of an English degree means it opens doors to a wide range of careers.


And if anyone tells you again an English degree is a waste of time you can say Martin Scorsese, Sting, Mitt Romney, Emma Watson and Stephen Fry are just a few of the celebs who studied it and they’ve all done all right…


For more information about studying English at Plymouth visit