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Undergraduate Employability and Careers

A degree in English Studies will equip you for a wide variety of professions and employment, as well as for advanced postgraduate study of English and related disciplines.

93% of our 2019-20 leavers secured employment or went on to further study 15 months after graduating (source: HESA Graduate Outcomes). Many continue to study with us for a postgraduate qualification, taking advantage of our Durham alumni tuition fees discount.

English Literature equips students with many transferrable as well as subject-specific skills, so it's unsurprising that students advance into a wide variety of professions such as media, law, and publishing, but also translate their specialism into sectors like video games design, management consultancy, or arts organisations.

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£25,500 average earnings of Durham English graduates 15 months after graduation (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018-20)
88% of 2020-21 leavers secured employment or went on to further study 15 months after graduating (Graduate Outcomes Survey)
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 am now an Account Manager at Greenhouse Communications – a PR and communications agency that supports businesses, organisations and activists to tackle the climate crisis and drive positive environmental change. Since I joined Greenhouse two years ago, I’ve helped to amplify campaigns for charities like ActionAid and Surfers Against Sewage, and even attended the annual climate conference COP27 in Egypt last year.

Sunita Ramani
BA English Literature, 2021

The below infographic illustrates some of the graduate-level jobs into which our recent English students have progressed, according to our alumni surveys. However, this only covers early-career jobs; over the lifetime of a career, English skills are highly flexible and allow graduates to adapt to the changing economy, move between professions, and to progress in their chosen pathways. This is one reason why English is joint fourth in terms of annual average wage growth, at 6.2%, compared to Physics (5.9%), Business (5.8%) and psychology (5.6%). 

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

As you can see English opens up a variety of opportunities. Some of our graduates have shared their top tips on how to apply English skills in varied careers.

You can find out more about the wider employment outcomes for Durham English Studies graduates at Discover Uni.

What else can you do with an English degree?

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


University student
I'm now working as a trainee sports reporter with MailOnline/the Daily Mail after completing my News Associates studies. My degree taught me to read carefully, think critically, and write precisely, all skills which are essential in journalism. Studying literature provides you with interesting frames for thinking about the world we live in; you might, for example, draw parallels between Shakespearean plays and the current political landscape, or between ancient tragedies and the emotional rollercoaster of sport. Being able to think creatively is always an advantage.

Luke Power
BA English Literary Studies

A Subject for the Future

A sleek white robot holding a tabletThat English students can succeed in a varied range of professions today is not surprising - and importantly English is a future-proof skill 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 Learn through a variety of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and one to one; able to work independently
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 a Graduate Trainee at Christie’s in London. English in particular is a very independent degree and managing my research, especially when writing my dissertation, taught me how to manage my time efficiently. Being able to digest large amounts of information and then translate them into my own research is an essential part of my role and the workload at Durham prepared me well.

Emma Tucker
BA English Literary Studies

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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.
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Currently I am doing a law conversion master’s course in London on the journey to becoming a solicitor. My undergraduate degree has been extremely helpful in the skills I’ve developed – skills that have transferred comfortably into the work that I do now. My written communication is excellent, I am proficient in analysing texts for the benefit of convincing and logically based arguments, and generally a confidence in my work that I can take to any job or application that come my way.

Kai Costello
BA English Literary Studies
I work in charity marketing and communications. My degree helped me by sharpening my critical thinking, research and writing skills. I also developed interpersonal and communication skills.

Anushka (Pseudonym)
BA English Literature

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