Literature Home | Program | Faculty | Courses | Declaring your English major

Literature entertains, enlightens, and transforms us. It show us everything language is capable of, and the study of literature imparts a knowledge of language and culture that will serve you well whether you’re planning to be a PR professional, lawyer, CEO, technical communicator, or creative writer. Your literature degree will introduce you to the full spectrum of literature in English. As the U.S. poet Ezra Pound wrote, “Literature is news that STAYS news,” so whether you’re studying Chaucer, Mary Shelley, or Tolkien, everything you read will spark new insights about you and your world.

Degree Options

Literature is one of four majors offered by our department. Students can pursue their literature major via a four-year honours degree, a four-year general degree, or a three-year general degree. See the Literature program page for more information on the degrees and their requirements.

Elements of the degree

Your literature degree will give you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills in three key areas:


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Your literature degree will introduce you to the breadth and richness of writing in English. Your studies will increase your ability to understand and appreciate all kinds of texts, literary and non-literary. And what you read affects how you write. As you study and write about the works you encounter, your own writing will become stronger, more flexible, and more effective.


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Literary texts are powerful because they hold a mirror up to their cultures. They also show how a culture's present is rooted in its past. Studying literature will give you insight into yourself, the people around you, and the world you live in. And, just as importantly, literature will enrich and broaden your life by introducing you to people you wouldn’t otherwise have met and worlds you wouldn’t otherwise have imagined.


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Do you feel torn between following your literary interests and pursing a degree that will make you employable? At UWaterloo you don’t have to choose! UWaterloo has the world’s largest co-op program. In their study terms, English co-op students can pursue their interests and develop their skills; on their co-op terms, they can gain employment experience that will make them stand out in the job market.

From UWaterloo English to the NYT Best Sellers List

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School of Life: What is Literature For?

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Want more information?

Contact our undergraduate administrator, Jenny Conroy, or our undergraduate chair, Victoria Lamont.

The English undergraduate office is located in Hagey Hall room 222.