English literature and creative writing

We’re all natural storytellers, and studying English literature and creative writing offers a way into the human imagination and the key to creative expression.

Studying English literature and creative writing engrosses you in literary masterpieces and builds essential skills that are sought after in the professional world. It encourages critical thinking, analytical skills, and effective communication, creating storytellers and perceptive interpreters of cultural differences.

The comprehensive understanding of language, narrative structures, and different genres equips graduates for a variety of career paths. Whether looking at roles in publishing, journalism, content creation, marketing, or education, graduates will have the ability to craft compelling narratives and adapt to different communication styles.

Beyond traditional careers, the creative and analytical skills gained prepare you for roles in digital media, advertising, and even entrepreneurship, where the power of persuasive storytelling is essential. 

The impact you could make
  • Be a social commentator, addressing issues such as social justice, inequality, and human rights.
  • Bring fresh perspectives to the world by inspiring innovative solutions and encouraging others to think creatively.
  • Share stories and build connections that contribute to the overall wellbeing of society.
What you could study
  • Literature in theory
  • Modern world literatures
  • Creative thinking
  • Shakespeare
  • American poetry
  • Modes of reading
  • Contemporary fiction

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Chat to a current English literature and creative writing student

Chat to a current English literature and creative writing student using UniBuddy.

Some conversation starters for you:

  1. Ask which modules they really enjoyed.
  2. Find out how easy it was for them to make friends on their course.
  3. Do they have any tips on your personal statement?
  4. Did they do anything to prep for uni before they went?
  5. Are there books, podcasts or YouTube channels they would recommend?

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Example module
“I love studying feminist and gothic literature. I have also loved looking into the works of Shakespeare.”
Second year English literature student, Swansea University
Example assignment
“I enjoy getting to write creative pieces for creative writing modules, because even if there's little variety in lecture content and reading, I can write whatever I want.”
Second year creative writing and history student, University of Chichester

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77% of students
studying English literature and creative writing would recommend the subject to others
(UCAS subject guide survey 2023)

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some English literature and creative writing courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Second year English literature and creative writing student, University of Lincoln

I love the freedom of expression, I love the dual opposition between reading and writing and how closely related they are and how they work in conjunction with one another. I love how you cannot have one with the other; to read is to write and to write is to read.
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Ability to critically analyse and interpret literary texts
  • Close reading skills
  • Development of characters, plot structures and dialogue
  • Analyse arguments and evaluate evidence
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Written communication
  • Storytelling

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying English literature and creative writing. The following information is based on a typical author, writer or translator role.
Available jobs
32,773 vacancies in the past year
7.13% growth over next eight years
Average salary
Up to £57,162

What is a… story consultant?

Story consultants are often the ones weaving magic behind the scenes in TV and film. They collaborate closely with filmmakers and producers, reading scripts and narratives to make them better. Drawing on their knowledge of storytelling techniques and genre dynamics, they enhance plot structure and character development. Whether working on a gripping crime thriller or a heartwarming family drama, they craft compelling stories that resonate with audiences. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study English literature and creative writing at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from English literature and creative writing applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

The expert view

Toni Morrison, novelist (1931 – 2019)
If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around English literature and creative writing with the following:
  1. Watch film adaptations

    If your favourite book has been turned into a film watch it to see how the words and script have been adapted to fit the new medium. 
  2. TED Talks

    A playlist of talks and articles exploring many topics around literature and writing.
  3. Get inspired

    Visit the National Centre for Writing website for useful advice, practical tips, and short writing exercises.

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our advice will help you get ahead in your English literature and creative writing journey.
  • Don’t be afraid to shout about your love for literature by sharing specific books, authors, or literary movements that have inspired and influenced you.
  • Highlight any experiences you have in creative writing. Mention workshops, writing groups, or personal projects that showcase your dedication to improving your craft. Share insights into your writing process and the genres or styles you’re drawn to.
  • Share the breadth of your reading habits by mentioning a diverse range of genres, cultures, and time periods.
  • Prove your strong communication skills, both written and verbal. This is crucial for success in both academic writing and creative expression.
  • Have you explored your creativity outside of writing? Maybe you’ve acted in a play or experimented with visual arts.

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