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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
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.
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.
As 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.
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.