The Best Universities for English Literature in the UK

Why study English Literature at university?

English Literature is a subject that helps us understand human nature and the complexities of culture and society. It is an excellent subject choice for those passionate about reading, critical thinking, and creative writing.

Studying English Literature at university will equip students with analytical, communication, and research skills which are highly valued in multiple industries, such as publishing, media, marketing, and education.

For undergraduate studies:

If you are undertaking a full-time undergraduate English Literature degree in the UK, you should graduate within three to four years with a Bachelor of Arts (BA).

For postgraduate studies:

If you choose to continue studying English Literature after completing your undergraduate degree, you usually finish after one academic year with a Masters of Arts (MA), Masters of Philosophy (MPhil), or Master of Studies (MSt). Those who have successfully completed degree programmes like these sometimes go on to take a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

If you’re interested in studying English Literature at university but need some help meeting the entry requirements, then have no fear. Our dedicated and friendly team at The Profs can match you with expert English Literature studies tutors.

What career can I use an English Literature degree for?

English Literature is a highly respected degree and can open up a wide range of career options. English Literature graduates are sought after in various industries, including the publishing, media, education, and non-profit industries. Some popular career choices within the English Literature world include:

  • Writer or Author
  • Editor or Proofreader
  • Literary Agent
  • Publishing Professional
  • Journalist or Critic
  • Teacher or Professor
  • Copywriter or Content Creator
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Marketing Professional
  • Non-profit or advocacy work

What are the most popular English Literature programmes?

English Literature can reference a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the UK. When you select your degree, you can often choose a specialised area within English Literature. When you begin your degree, you can often select modules in specific areas that interest you. Some of the most popular degree programmes at English Literature universities include:

  • Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
  • Victorian Literature
  • Modernism and Postmodernism
  • Contemporary Literature
  • Children’s Literature
  • Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Creative Writing
  • Film and Media Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Postcolonial and Global Literature
  • 19th Century Literature

What are the best universities in the UK for English Literature?

There is a wide range of prestigious universities for Literature in the UK with impressive academic rankings and excellent English faculties.

Below is a list of the best universities for English Literature in the UK in 2023; they often perform well in university league tables and have the leading English Literature departments. They have outstanding reputations for their rigorous academic programmes, reputable faculty, and excellent research facilities. Their English Literature graduates are highly sought after in a variety of fields, such as publishing, media, education, and non-profit sectors.

If you’re interested in studying English Literature at any of these universities but feel daunted by high entry standards and competitive admissions, contact our supportive admissions counsellors at The Profs.

All that said, make the right choice for you and look beyond the league tables. Choose a university suited to you, that makes you happy. Narrow down your options by considering location, societies, activities, and learning style, to ensure that you choose an institution that can accommodate your needs and interests.

Take a look at the UK’s top ranking Universities for English Literature:

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is renowned for its tutorial system, which provides students with personalised attention and feedback. This system is particularly well-suited for the study of English Literature, where close reading and critical analysis are essential skills. Oxford’s English Literature programme is one of the most respected in the world, with a strong focus on literary history and criticism, as well as creative writing.

English Literature degrees at Oxford University are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at the University of Oxford are typically AAA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including English Literature or English Literature and Language. Further information can be found here.

Check out our previous blog on how to get into the English course at Oxford here.

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge offers a highly-regarded English Literature programme, which combines a comprehensive understanding of literary history with a focus on critical thinking and analysis. Cambridge’s English Faculty is a leading research centre that offers students unparalleled opportunities to engage in innovative research and collaborate with leading scholars in the field. Students also benefit from the university’s strong links to the publishing industry.

English Literature degrees at Cambridge University are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at Cambridge University are typically A*AA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including English Literature. Further information can be found here.

University College London (UCL)

University College London offers a highly-respected English Literature programme that is known for its interdisciplinary approach and innovative teaching methods. UCL’s English Department is a leading research centre that is known for its work in literary history, theory, and cultural studies. Students also benefit from the university’s location in the heart of London, with its proximity to many cultural institutions and literary events.

English Literature degrees at UCL are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at UCL are typically AAA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including English Literature. Further information can be found here.

Durham University

Durham University’s English programme is known for its interdisciplinary approach and focus on critical analysis and creative writing. Durham’s English Department is a leading research centre that is known for its work in literary history, theory, and criticism, as well as creative writing.

English Literature degrees at the University of Durham are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at Durham University are typically A*AA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including English Literature or combined Literature with Language. Further information can be found here.

St Andrews University

The University of St Andrews combines a comprehensive understanding of literary history with a focus on critical thinking and creative writing. St Andrews’ English Department is a leading research centre that is known for its work in cultural studies, literary theory, and creative writing.

English Literature degrees at the University of St Andrews are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at St Andrews University are typically AAA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including an A in English or English Literature. Further information can be found here.

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is respected for its innovative teaching methods and interdisciplinary approach. Edinburgh’s English Department is a leading research centre that is known for its work in literary history, cultural studies, and creative writing. Students also benefit from the university’s location in one of the UK’s most vibrant and historic cities, with access to many cultural institutions and literary events.

English Literature degrees at Edinburgh University are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at the University of Edinburgh are typically A*AA A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including English Literature or combined English. Further information can be found here.

Warwick University

The English Literature programme at The University of Warwick is known for its interdisciplinary approach and focus on contemporary literature and culture. Warwick’s English Department is a leading research centre that is known for its work in literary theory, cultural studies, and creative writing. Students also benefit from the university’s location, granting access to many cultural institutions and literary events.

English Literature degrees at the University of Warwick are currently ranked (2023):

The entry requirements for studying English Literature at Warwick University are typically AAA or A*AB A levels (equivalent qualifications are also accepted), including an A in English Literature or combined English. Further information can be found here.

Please note: Other excellent universities for English Literature studies in the United Kingdom include the University of York, the University of Surrey, Leeds University, Lancaster University, Exeter University, King’s College London, the University of Manchester, and Birmingham University. These also place among the top league tables for English Literature.

How do I get into one of the top UK universities for English Literature?

Each of the universities mentioned in this article has a difficult selection process. Hence, getting into one of the top universities for English Literature is competitive, but there are things you can do to improve your chances. Here are some tips:

  • Study hard and achieve high grades in relevant subjects at A level or equivalent e.g. English Literature, and potentially another essay-based subject like History.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities related to English Literature, such as writing for your school’s newspaper, getting involved in slam poetry, or joining a debate team.
  • Put time and effort into your university application, tasks, and interviews.
  • Consider seeking advice from The Profs.

If you are interested in studying English Literature at one of the top universities in the UK, The Profs are here to help. We offer excellent English Literature tutors, as well as expert guidance on university applications, including personal statement writing and interview preparation.

We are experienced and happy to help. After all, 95% of our clients get into their first or second choice university! Reach out to our friendly team today!

FAQ

What are the best universities to study English Literature in the UK?

The top universities to study English Literature in the UK are those mentioned in this article: the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, UCL, Durham University, the University of St Andrews, Edinburgh University and Warwick University. Check out our list of universities above, based on UK and world university rankings 2023.

Oxbridge is especially acclaimed for English, both nationally and globally. Historically and today, Oxford and Cambridge consistently place in the top rankings for Literature.

What career opportunities are available for English Literature graduates?

English Literature graduates can pursue a wide range of career opportunities, including roles in publishing, media, education, non-profit, and creative industries. Popular career choices include writer, editor, literary agent, teacher, and copywriter.

Is an English Literature degree hard?

Like any university degree, an English Literature degree requires dedication, hard work, and critical thinking. However, it is a rewarding and enjoyable subject for those who have a passion for literature and enjoy reading, writing, and analysis. With the right support and resources, students can flourish in an English Literature degree programme.

What is the teaching style like in English Literature programmes?

The teaching style in English Literature programmes varies depending on the university and programme, but many universities offer a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and workshops. Some programmes also offer opportunities for independent research and creating your own written works.

Is an English Literature degree worth studying? Is it useless?

A Literature degree is by no means useless. However, you should consider if it is suited to your aspired career path before embarking on it. Studying English Literature at university equips students with transferable skills, such as critical thinking, analysis, and communication, that are highly valued in many industries. It also provides students with a deep understanding and appreciation of literary history and culture and offers opportunities for personal and intellectual growth.

Is English Literature hard to get into?

Admissions requirements for English Literature programmes vary depending on the university and course, but they generally require good grades in relevant subjects, such as English Language and Literature. Competition for places in top English Literature programmes at prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge can be high, but there are many other excellent English Literature programs available at universities across the UK.