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Postgraduate Employability and Careers

A postgraduate qualification in English Studies will prepare you for a wide variety of professions, both in academic roles and elsewhere.

Around two thirds of our taught postgraduates secure employment 15 months after graduating. Almost one third go onto further study, making a Durham MA an important academic stepping stone to higher-level PhD research.

Durham PhD graduates are also highly sought-after. The map below shows that our successful researchers have gone on to work in universities around the world, into academically adjacent careers such as publishing, and into relevant professions outside of the academic context.

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96% of our 2019-20 MA students in work or study 15 months after graduating (UK/EU Graduate Outcomes)
93% of our English Literature PhD graduates in employment or further study (average of UK/EU Graduate Outcomes 2017-20)
3rd for graduate prospects out of 92 English Departments according to Times Good University Guide 2023
85% of recent English graduates perceive their current work is meaningful (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018-20)
University student
I live in Paris and work as a communications and campaign manager at the British Embassy. I use languages every day, writing products like social media copy and email marketing newsletters. My degree gave me the confidence to apply for the job, the paperwork to start as an intern, and an understanding of literary techniques used for different audiences.

Lisa Benson
MA English Literary Studies, 2020

Training for success

Whether you are a taught or research student, you will have the opportunity to get involved in our Departmental culture in ways that will equip you with foundational skills for the future.

For example, postgraduate students run our popular Inventions of the Text seminar series, learning about the organisation and promotion of international events. A rotating team of PhD researchers edits our Postgraduate English journal, one of the longest-running online journals in our field, where they gain valuable skills in editing and working with a professional content management system. 

Taught postgraduate students will also usually take our MA Dissertation module. As well as giving you the experience in developing a longer project, preparatory seminars will introduce key transferrable skills such as digital and information management, giving oral presentations, and developing a professional profile on social media.


University student
Studying in Durham provided me with the critical thinking, leadership qualities, and initiative that I use everyday as a postdoc in Germany. I completed my first book in Germany, the fruit of my Durham PhD dissertation.

Curtis Runstedler
MA and PhD English Literature, 2014-2018

Careers Support

The Careers & Enterprise Centre is available to current students, and also offers lifelong support to Durham graduates. They will help you to make career plans and take the next steps to where you want to be.
Find out more
Two students walking into the Careers Office in teh Palatine Centre


University student
I’m currently a Data Governance AVP at Credit Suisse / UBS. Although my English degree may not seem to bear any relevance to my professional subject matter expertise…I believe the academic rigour at Durham moulded my critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities that facilitated successful deliverables in Project Manager and Business Analyst roles.

Audrie Goh
MA English Literary Studies, 2018

MA Career Destinations

An MA in English enables students to refine key skills, such as independent research or information management through the advanced dissertation module. These are valuable in a variety of sectors. The word cloud below represents some of the destinations of MA graduates from 2017-2020. Of course, many also go on to further study at PhD level.

Civil_Service London_Workforce__Strategy_Lead Paralegal Legal_Analyst_Internship Teaching News_Editor Special_Educational_Tribunal_Support_Officer Account_Executive Weighbridge_Operator Client_Success_Associate Policy_Advisor Graduate_Management_Trainee Paralegal Teaching Marketing Office_Assistant Casework_consultant Studio_Runner Administrative_Assistant Civil_Service Research_Associate Writer T

Learn more about the general employment destinations for English Studies MA graduates at Find A Masters.


University student
As an Executive Assistant, you are required to take ownership of several different projects simultaneously and meet tight deadlines, therefore organisational skills are an absolute must – doing an MA had meant this was a reality I was comfortable with. A rather specific benefit was that my company specialised in areas such as politics, philosophy and the arts, and my studies meant I was familiar with a lot of the concepts that the media content focused on. All of this hugely helped with my marketing and PR responsibilities.

Ella Mackenzie
MA Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies, 2021

PhD Career Destinations

The careers represented on the map below include university lectureships, publishing, consultancy, and more. As you can see this is not just about what careers our postgraduates move into but also where. We attract a diverse, international PhD community to come to Durham to study, and our graduates then move outward into destinations around the world.

A Global Reputation

QS World University Rankings 2023As one of the world's top 50 English Departments, according to the QS World Subject Rankings 2023, our graduates are highly sought after by employers. 

Apply now to start the next step on your journey
Two PhD graduates in red robes and hats walk out of a medieval doorway

Where are they now?

This map displays publicly accessible data showing the current destinations and roles of some of our PhD researchers, most of whom graduated between 2020-2023.

University student
I currently work as a Content Owner for an e-learning app called StudySmarter. It’s a role I fell into in 2021; I started as a Content Creator when the company had just started building its learning content library and I was quickly promoted to Subject Manager within 6 weeks...The research skills gained from Durham University helped me become adaptable and thorough in competitor market research. My research skills also meant I was inspired to learn new skills related to my work, such as Search Engine Optimization practices, advanced Excel knowledge, Python coding, and SQL.

Lily Hulyat
PhD English Literature, 2023

A Subject for the Future

A sleek white robot holding a tabletAs the map above shows, postgraduate English scholars succeed in a varied range of professions today. And importantly English is a future-proof degree as well.

In a world that is rapidly changing through technologies like AI, it's hard to predict what specialised skills will be needed in future.

In 2020 the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report tried to anticipate the skills that would be needed over the next few years. Here are their top 5 - and our thoughts on how English equips students with these.

Skills of 2025 English Students
Analytical thinking and innovation Must be able to analyse complex literary works and imagine new arguments about them 
Active learning and learning strategies Able to work independently and develop appropriate approaches to manage own learning
Complex problem-solving Decipher and interpret literature, which encapsulates some of the deepest human problems, in some of the most imaginatively complex forms
Critical thinking and analysis Evaluate existing critical ideas, and manage large amounts of information through original research
Creativity, originality and initiative Advance original opinions about topics, and come up with innovative research ideas and arguments



University student
I am currently working at a digital consultancy agency as a Graduate Digital PR Executive. I believe that many of the skills desirable for the role were facilitated by my time spent studying at Durham, such as networking, building a marketable online presence (e.g., through LinkedIn and Twitter) – alongside skills of textual analysis, critical thinking abilities and essay writing.

Leah Collins
MA English Literary Studies, 2023

What else can you do with an English degree?

For more on the career destinations of English Literature graduates, visit the Prospects website.