For many people, their time at university is where they figure out what they want to do for a career. You might see yourself working as a teacher or in a publishing house in the future. This is a guide on how to utilise the flexibility within the Department of English and Related Literature to move yourself towards a future career.
Flexibility of choice
The English Literature course at the University of York is incredibly flexible. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to study here. For example, you pick your own essay titles for your assessments, and you have a lot of flexibility in module choice. Also, you make up your dissertation topic. All this makes it possible for you as a student to shape your own degree. Should you be into poetry, you can do modules about French poetry or Renaissance poetry. In addition, you might do something like ‘Poetry Boot Camp’ as a module in your 3rd year.
Your final year is the one that is the most up to you. For example, you will write your dissertation based on a topic you have chosen yourself. Alongside this, you choose four option modules. The variety in your final year is the broadest when it comes to modules, and also the most specific. This is perfect if you feel ready to explore more practical-oriented or career-based options.
Translating and publishing
I went to university having a slight idea of what area I wanted to work in after university, which was publishing. I had a look through the module catalogue of different courses and universities. Quickly, I found that the University of York had some modules that were specific to what I wanted to work with in the future. I want to note that the Department’s range of modules change every year, so keep an eye on the module catalogue!
For example, in my 3rd year, I chose to do a module called ‘Found in Translation: The Practice of Translating Literature’. I also chose a module called ‘Writing in the Marketplace’ which I will be doing in the Spring term. In the translation module, I had the chance to work on my own translation skills through weekly translations into English. I also learned about translation theory, and have been introduced to what it is like to work as a translator through guest lectures with literary translators.
Starting the module, I didn’t necessarily consider a career in translation, but it has really opened my eyes up to that opportunity. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to mix the creative work of translating literary texts with more academic theoretical discussions. The ‘Writing in the Marketplace’ module explores the publishing industry, including aspects such as print and digital technologies. I think it will be a great opportunity for me to get a good idea of how the publishing business works behind the scenes.
For my module in translation, we have been running our own Instagram account. We are updating it weekly with student-generated posts about translations and what we’ve been getting up to in the module.
As an English Literature student, your 3rd-year dissertation is also a place for you to explore future career options. Interested in book printing? Write about it! Want to work as an artist? Choose to write a dissertation with creative practice, and incorporate your own art into your dissertation. I chose a dissertation with creative practice, so it’s split into two parts: a critical essay and a practice-based creative component.
The creative component is completely up to you! I am doing translation work for mine, and you can use it to explore lots of different things. You can make a comic, do a print publication – whatever you want, really. I would definitely advise that you take some practice-based modules in your 3rd year if you are planning to do a dissertation with creative practice, because this has been very helpful for me.
I hope this helps to give some insight into what it’s like to be an English Literature student at York!