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Why Study English?

Undergraduate Study  |  Postgraduate  |  International | Student Perspectives

"By thinking about things, you could understand them"

(Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)

What will I study?

A broad range of material, from the Middle Ages to the 2000s, written in many places: Europe, America, the Caribbean, India, Africa, Ireland and Britain. You’ll get to grips with novels, films, plays, poems, and autobiographies, and at UCC the world-renowned traditions of Irish literature play a special role.

What is literature for?

Each great novel, poem, play or film is an encounter with ideas, forms and powerfully expressed experiences from its own place and time. By reading different literatures you can understand how everyone’s lives, beliefs and experiences are shaped by their social and cultural contexts.

Thinking about books means you’re reflecting about topics of current interest: e.g. what part does politics or race, sexuality or gender, play in the making and the meaning of this film, play or poem?

But literature has always also been in itself a source of meaning and beauty in many cultures: each culture produces writers who become the voices of their world, and this has been especially true in Ireland. A writer’s skill with words produces powerful expressions of joy, suffering and wisdom in ways which give lasting pleasure, sympathy and consolation to readers. Great books have lasting value: spending time with them will play a vital role in your education for life and work.

What skills will I develop?

People have a natural inclination to discuss and argue about films, songs, theatre or other performances they experience. By studying English you will develop, extend and get more out of this natural process.

Learning how to read literature critically means learning how to think clearly. That, and being able to write articulately, are core practices in studying English: they’re also skills essential to graduate employment in the 2000s.

In UCC’s Department of English we don’t tell you what to think: we help you to work out your own ideas, by discussion and interplay with expert lecturers and professors and among your fellow-students. You join a community of learning where we know how to let you develop your own ideas and knowledge and your growing skills of interpretation.

Our students learn, by reading and listening, how to balance different arguments. You’ll get plenty of practice at clear and persuasive writing and at effective discussion in seminar situations.

If you're a keen reader who also likes technology, we can help you sharpen both your digital and your literary awareness with e-learning input into projects, assignments and research about authors and their work.

What can I do after my degree?

English can equip you for life in today’s world and for a career by fostering a trained mind and a sympathetic imagination, as well as practical skills in reading, writing, editing and presentations.

All kinds of enterprises seek employees with good writing skills and cultural knowledge. Our graduates have gone on to careers in business, administration, teaching, information technology, publishing, professional writing, and media work. You will also be qualified to apply for a very wide range of postgraduate degrees and diplomas, enabling you to gain a specific qualification for a chosen career.

Find out more about the many opportunities open to an English graduate in the booklet below:

Careers Information



English Department

Roinn an Bhéarla

O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Cork. Ireland