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English, literature and writing

Learn the power of the written word
Whether you love reading, writing or analysing the works of great poets, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theories and histories of writing and develop the core skills of writing.

English, literature and writing courses invite inspiration and creativity and allow you to discover how literature and writing shapes the world through poems, plays, novels and stories. By studying with us, you will develop a wide range of skills essential for today's global environment.

We are home to scholarly experts who teach across a broad spectrum, including modern and contemporary literature, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, film studies, theatre studies, cultural studies, medieval translation studies, social sciences and performance, with expertise in European, Asian, and Middle Eastern traditional and modern cultures.

Our academics are also writers, critics and editors of leading Australian literary journals including Southerly, Meanjin and Overland and have judged the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and Australia Council Literature grants, among others.

Why study English, literature and writing with us?

  • We are ranked 1st in Australia and 18th in the world for English, language and literature.*
  • Through our research-intensive undergraduate and postgraduate English, literature and writing degrees, you will develop comprehensive written and spoken communication skills and increase your abilities in arguing a point, framing a narrative and analysing various levels of meaning.
  • You will have access to Sydney’s literary life through our calendar of readings, performances, major literary events and cultural events, including the iconic Sydney Writers’ Festival, of which we are a premier partner.
  • You can balance your workload with our flexible study options, such as part-time study for eligible students.** 
  • As an undergraduate student, gain real-world industry experience through exciting student placement opportunities and our ArtSS Career-Ready program. 
  • As an undergraduate student you can choose from our English and international and comparative literary studies majors, and our Australian literature and writing studies minors, as well as more than 100 majors from the University’s shared pool, allowing you to gain expertise in a range of disciplines.
  • We offer a wide range of scholarships and prizes designed to recognise potential, assist those in need and reward high achievement.
  • Join our community, which includes notable alumni such as novelist and screenwriter Luke Davies, author of Candy and screenwriter of Lion, and Australian musician and novelist Holly Throsby.

*2018 QS World University Rankings by Subject.

**Please refer to individual course requirements and visa details (for international students) regarding eligibility for part-time study.

Our study offering

Gain a broad understanding of the history and characteristics of Australian literature. Learn about writing in and about Australia, as well as Australian writers in their various national and international contexts.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Explore and develop your skills in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and other forms of writing. Gain a deep understanding of theories and histories of writing and develop the core skills of writing, structuring and editing. We give you intimate access to Sydney’s literary life, including a constant calendar of readings, performances, major literary and cultural events, and a host of celebrated visitors.

Postgraduate

Research  

Bring together contemporary critical theory with literary narratives and investigate how and why literature remains an influential cultural form in the 21st century. Consider the ways in which the study of literature works within a specifically Australian cultural context and explore the expansion of literary and cultural narratives across a broad transnational framework.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Postgraduate

Research

The Department of English has a vital research culture and offers postgraduate supervision across an extensive range of areas. These include: Medieval and Early Modern Literature; Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literature; Modern and Contemporary Literature; Australian and Aboriginal literature and culture; American literature and culture; British and Irish literature; world literatures; literary and cultural theories; studies in gender and sexuality; film and TV studies; scholarly editing and language studies; poetry, poetics, drama and the novel; rhetoric, aesthetics, hermeneutics and semantics; and creative writing.

What is the relationship between literature, language and culture? What can we learn about different societies from the stories they produce? International and Comparative Literary Studies is a vibrant, interdisciplinary subject taught by academics with vast expertise in the languages and cultures of the world. 

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Research

Drawing from established research in a wide range of fields, in Writing Studies you will learn to combine various research methods including rhetorical, discourse and textual analysis to examine written, spoken and visual texts at various stages of production, from conception to transmission and consumption.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Where will study in English, literature and writing lead you?

Whether you undertake an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in English, literature or writing, you will learn the skills and knowledge that will open the doors to a range of exciting career opportunities. 

Career pathways: 

  • Academia
  • Advertising executive 
  • Communications specialist 
  • Community sector roles
  • Editor
  • English teacher
  • Fiction writer
  • Journalist 
  • Literary critic
  • Marketer
  • Media roles
  • Policy analyst 
  • Public relations consultant 
  • Public service roles
  • Publisher 
  • Research analyst 

Lauren Weber
Lauren Weber – Master of English Studies
“As an international student, I chose the University of Sydney on the basis of the strong reputation of the Department of English. Studying English is invaluable. You not only learn how to read and write in a way that helps you think critically and write precisely in any profession, but you also learn how to empathise and engage with the world. I also interned at the Sydney Writers' Festival."
Download the postgraduate course guide (pdf, 6.5MB)

Holly Throsby
Holly Throsby, Bachelor of Arts (English major)
“At University, I majored in English and loved literary theory. I learnt to read critically, how to pose an argument, how to look at the structure of texts. My novels were shaped a lot by the course material and my English studies definitely helped in writing my book, Goodwood.”
Download the undergraduate course guide (pdf, 4.8MB)

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