What can I do with a degree in English?

English book covers

English graduates develop the kinds of skills that are required more than ever in the “information age” in close reading, textual analysis, imaginative thinking, constructing an argument, articulate writing and digital literacy. English studies also promote an active engagement with cultural values and open debates about power, knowledge and identity. English students can choose from a broad sample of courses that cover various fields or can decide to specialise.

The skills learned in studying English are essential to success not only in education, but also in a wide range of work. These skills include:

  • Analysing social and cultural phenomena
  • Close reading and careful analysis of texts
  • The ability to write clearly, concisely, creatively and persuasively
  • Making and critiquing arguments
  • Research and computing skills
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Thinking critically and challenging ideas
  • Oral and written communication.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available. For example, undertaking an internship can deepen your skillset, awareness
of others, working knowledge and employability.

A degree in English can take you to surprising places. Our graduates are found in the public and private sector, in non-governmental and not-forprofit
realms, and as self-employed freelancers. Alumni work in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.

Recent UC graduates have been employed in:

  • Foreign affairs and diplomacy
  • Journalism — broadcast and print
  • Writing
  • Policy and governance
  • Film-making
  • Museums
  • Communications and public relations
  • Event organisation
  • Cultural development
  • Art galleries
  • Theatres
  • Education
  • Publishing
  • Marketing and advertising
  • English language tuition
  • Community liaison
  • Customer services
  • Technology and digital services.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Author / writer

  • Researches and writes stories, scripts, poems, instructions or plays to entertain/inform
  • Works with a publisher or producer to promote and disseminate it

Copywriter

  • Meets with clients or colleagues to be briefed
  • Researches the product and the market
  • Develops advertising ideas
  • Writes the words and adds graphic elements
  • Coordinates the production and proofreads

Journalist / reporter

  • Researches and gathers information
  • Interviews relevant people
  • Writes reports/stories across media platforms

Secondary / primary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Communications advisor

  • Develops information, media and communication strategies
  • Researches, writes, edits and produces content for various audiences and mediums

Digital marketing executive, digital content analyst / advisor

  • Develops a digital communications strategy
  • Increases web traffic and social media engagement
  • Oversees online marketing campaigns and search engine optimisation

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Teacher of English for speakers of other languages

  • Assesses a student’s reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and needs
  • Designs and prepares learning materials
  • Presents lessons or tutorials

Publisher / editor

  • Plans and commissions content for publication
  • Edits and organises online and print materials
  • Liaises with other staff to oversee production

Community engagement manager

  • Manages stakeholder relationships and projects
  • Makes funding applications
  • Organises and promotes events

Research assistant, market researcher

  • Organises and conducts research surveys
  • Tests theories and interprets the results
  • Writes reports and makes recommendations

Marketing officer / manager

  • Collects and analyses market insight
  • Prepares and implements marketing plans
  • Works with others to promote goods or services

Librarian

  • Categorises and catalogues library materials
  • Selects materials for library use
  • Helps customers find and use materials

Customer services officer / representative

  • Provides information or advice to people
  • Starts the next steps in the process

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the English subject page