The study of English literature is important both for the understanding of particular literary texts and for the insight it provides into how we interpret the world and our place in it. English helps you develop skills in research, analysis, critical thinking, interpretation, and persuasive writing.
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Degree options: BA honours or major; Any degree, minor
While the curriculum focuses on literary study, students are encouraged to develop an appreciation for the English language, which will prove invaluable not only in your studies, but in any future career or profession.
First-year English courses offer you an introduction to different approaches to reading and writing about literature, using texts from a range of genres and time periods.
In second year you may choose from courses focusing on:
- introduction to literary periods
- Canadian literature
- American literature
Third-year courses expand on your second-year choices, including studies in:
- British literature in different periods
- Canadian and American literature
- gender and literature
- postcolonial literature
- dramatic literature
- creative writing
- film, genre, and cultural studies
In fourth year you will be able to pursue “selected topics” courses, which allow you to pursue special interests, either through the particular courses offered that year or through individual study and research under the supervision of a faculty member.
If you choose to do an honours English degree, you will have the opportunity to write a thesis under the supervision of a faculty member.
You will also have opportunities to present and publish creative and critical work.
Find a list of English courses in the academic calendar – English.
Popular career paths for English graduates include:
- creative writer in the video game industry
- public relations specialist
- human resources specialist
- advertising copy writer
- legal editor
- advertising executive
- academic researcher/teacher
“The professors are amazing. When I arrived as a first year student I
was terrified to ask for any help, but if you go to them with a
question they really will go out of their way to make sure you
understand. Not to mention, their enthusiasm is contagious. And you can
personalize your degree. Want to concentrate on post-modern literature?
Go ahead. Prefer the Romantics? There are courses for that. Want to
devote an entire class to Tennyson? Talk to a prof and see what
English, minor in classics (’15)
“The curriculum is really diverse: it gives you a solid grounding in
classical literature, but it also offers courses on work that is often
left out of the canon. The program offers traditional period
courses, but there is also the opportunity to take courses on literary
theory or seminars for creative writing.”
Honours English (’14)
“I know you’ve read this a million times, but get involved.
Seriously. With the English department alone, I’ve done a summer
research project, been a teaching assistant and a teaching intern in
addition to helping organize a conference. I have the opportunity to
undertake independent studies, my professors are flexible about letting
me explore areas at the edges of the curriculum, and I’m getting to
write a creative piece for my thesis.”
Honours English (’14)
Each year the department sponsors three or four students to attend the Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference where they present their critical and creative work to an audience of their peers.
The department also offers a hands-on workshop-style creative writing course in third year.
You can also get involved with many student-run clubs and societies with a focus on writing:
- Creative Writing Society
- 7 Mondays – undergraduate edited and peer-reviewed journal
- English Society
- Zettel Magazine – student-established arts and culture magazine
- Underbridge Press – student-run publishing organization
- The Argosy – independent student newspaper
Awards and prizes
The department gives out a range of prizes and awards each year, sponsored by generous donors to the University and in memory of retired professors. These include:
- The Graham Atlantic Prize in Creative Writing
- The Alison Watson Beveridge Prize (for the graduating student with highest standing in English)
- Jennie Robinson Quinn Prize (for the graduating female student with highest standing in English)
- Grace Tomkinson Memorial Prize (highest achievement in English in third year)
- Edwin Ernest Graham Memorial Prize (highest achievement in English in second year)
- Bryce McKiel Scholarship (third year going into fourth, major/honours)
- Roger Calkins Prize in Shakespeare Studies
- Carrie MacMillan Prize in Canadian Literature