Welcome to uWaterloo English
We are an English department that will surprise you.
Our innovative faculty teach everything from Chaucer to global English literature, from classical rhetoric to digital media design—and in ways you'd never expect.
Our unique undergraduate programs provide the tools you need to develop your analytical and critical capacities, your understanding of digital media, your sensitivity to language and its uses, your practical writing abilities, and your love of literature. Let us show you how to turn your love of reading, writing, and design into a solid foundation for your future career and help you have an impact on the world.
First year English classes at the University of Waterloo are designed to appeal to a wide range of interests. Because most classes are small—with enrolment capped at 30 to 40—your professor will know your name.
Get to Know Us
Our department will offer you a rich undergraduate experience:
- Internationally known faculty who are dedicated to teaching
- Programs that allow you to pursue the types of degrees and specializations that interest you
- Courses that range from Shakespeare to science fiction, and from classical rhetoric to professional communication
- A co-op option that allows you to combine work and study
- Career options that make the best use of your talents
- The English Society, a student-run undergraduate organization that supports undergrads and holds events throughout the year
Want to Know More?
Our undergraduate administrator, Jenny Conroy, or our acting undergraduate chair, Randy Harris, will be happy to answer your questions over email or in person. The English undergraduate office is located in Hagey Hall room 251.
If you're interested in pursuing an honours degree in English, visit our Declaring Your English Major page for information.
Here is what some of our undergraduates have to say about their English degrees:
From rather traditional canons of literary studies to new mediums of digital literature and rhetoric, the scope and span of study here is really amazing and uncontested. What I find really unique about the department is that you have all these choices – literature, rhetoric, digital media, communication studies, professional writing – right in one place.
I honestly think the answer “everything” really does describe what gets me excited about my program.... I imagine it like one of those corridors from a gothic novella that are lined with infinite doors to choose from, but for me the doors don’t all look the same. They’re not mysterious or daunting. They’re open windows, attics, cellars, and stairways all leading to different specializations and areas of study.
I decided that I wanted to write, and to study English in order to do so. Next, I compared English at institutions across Ontario. The Rhetoric and Professional Writing program at the University of Waterloo stood out. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to focus on literature. Looking back, I’m pleased with my decision. I’m a stronger writer than I was when I first transferred, and I was able to study a range of texts at the University of Waterloo: classic and contemporary, prose and poetry, fiction and theory. So, to get back to the question, my decision to study at the University of Waterloo came down to the unique English department. I learned everything that I expected to and more, but I’m in a different place than I envisioned I’d be coming out of high school.
My entire choice to come to Waterloo was really based on practicality. I really wanted to be able to study English but also Business in order to have better prospects when I graduate. I’m a realist. It seemed like UW was the only school that would let me combine the two in a way where I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing my dream of English studies in order to get a degree that would just make me employable. I learned about Digital Arts Communication after I got here and loved how it bridged a gap between my two majors! I could study the thing I loved, pick up the skills I need, and apply both of those fields to tech and communications.
I chose to do my English degree entirely online mostly because I didn’t really have any other choice! After high school, I finished two years at York University and then dropped out to move to Rome, Italy.... I started researching possible online degree programs at Canadian universities and I came across UWaterloo’s website. I chose UWaterloo because it was the only university that was offering complete degree programs entirely online. The cherry on top was that the university also has a great academic reputation! I’m really happy I made the choice to study online and I have just one semester left before finishing my degree!
I stumbled into the English department in the Fall of my first year, when I took ENGL 101B (Intro to Rhetorical Studies) with Michael Macdonald. There I learned how central language and rhetoric are to knowledge integration. In settings where people have different backgrounds, different opinions and different ways of knowing, language is relied upon to reconcile differences and enable progress. Whether managing a team of volunteers, discussing a paper for class or talking sports with friends, communication is key. My interest in why and how people communicate, and its natural connection to Knowelge Integration, led me to declare an English minor.
UWaterloo English is unique in that it’s much more than just literature studies, you can also balance that out with rhetoric, writing, business, and co-op as you choose. So I was drawn to this school because of the options.... You really get a sense of who you are as a writer and can explore the kinds of issues you’re passionate about. I believe an English degree should let you feel like you have a voice by the end of it. I’ve become passionate about feminism/sexuality, race/diversity, and poetry.
Choosing English was not an easy decision at first. English wasn’t always the place I excelled, but it has become something I am truly passionate about. I enjoy reading plays, studying texts outside of our time, and momentarily engaging different world views. I like how English offers glimpses into so many different realms of study. When you study English you simultaneously take up studies in history, anthropology, psychology, and women. Though I at one point thought my major would be in geography or visual arts, English at the University of Waterloo surpassed my former choices and has become something I truly love.
Being somewhat of a pragmatist, UWaterloo was my ideal school as it offered a strong arts programs that provided excellent work experience at the same time. The English Rhetoric & Professional Writing degree seemed like a good fit because I was interested in applying my English knowledge/skill set in a real-world situation. The program provided good opportunities in government, private sector business, and work abroad. I also got to meet a lot of interesting classmates and faculty which made for an unforgettable experience. I loved my classes!