Do you enjoy reading and writing? Novels, plays, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction help shape and reflect our individual identities and collective culture. Studying literature opens up worlds and times beyond our experience. It also helps us understand – and question – our own social, natural, and technological environments.
Students of English develop skills in research, interpretation, analysis, formulating an argument, and writing clearly and precisely. This skillset is useful for a huge range of occupations, such as journalism, law, communications, publications, and creative writing.
- UC is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world for English Language and Literature (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019).
- In addition to teaching the core areas of our discipline – the novel, theatre, 20th century literature – the Department of English offers courses in exciting new fields such as children's literature, human-animal studies, digital literary studies, and popular fiction (including science fiction, horror, and fantasy fiction). We also have a variety of courses that teach writing, both academic and creative, both fiction and non-fiction.
Prior study in English is helpful, or in classics, theatre and drama, history, or media studies at school – but the best background is simply a love of reading and writing, and an interest in the cultures, stories, and ideas that surround us every day.
If you want to major in English it is recommended you take 30 points in the subject at 100-level, of which you are required to take one of these three first-year courses:
- ENGL 102 Great Works (focus on key concepts such as why and how we read, what narrative is, and how stories have shaped cultures)
- ENGL 103 The Outsider (apply a range of critical reading skills to a host of texts (novel, poetry, film, television) taken from American and Aotearoa New Zealand culture)
- ENGL 117/WRIT 101 Writing for Academic Success (learn how to write well for academic purposes, and focus on how to form an argument based on your reading and research – an essential skill for English and a great many other subjects).
Other first-year English courses are available. Please note that not all courses are offered every year or during every semester.
200-level and beyond
As you move into 200 and 300-level courses, your classes will become smaller and you will develop stronger skills in reading, analysis, and writing. You will be required to participate more in class discussions, and your ability to read carefully and to make closely reasoned arguments in your essays will be tested.
At 300-level, you may decide to specialise in one particular area.
A degree in English can take you to surprising places. The skills learned in studying English – the close reading and careful analysis of texts; the ability to write clearly, concisely, and creatively; and the skill to both make and critique arguments – are essential to success not only in education, but also in a wide range of work environments.
Among our graduates are an Aotearoa New Zealand ambassador; a former chief political reporter for TVNZ; a political commentator for a national newspaper; a couple of prize-winning novelists (including Eleanor Catton of Man Booker fame); a prize-winning film-maker; a museum curator; a cultural event organiser for Te Papa; an art gallery manager; a theatre director; a local television presenter; a number of publishers' editors; members of parliament; and policy advisors in the Treasury, the Education Ministry, and the State Services Commission.
What these people learned in their English degree impressed employers looking for people who could read, write, speak, and think clearly, effectively, and creatively.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in English.
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College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
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