“Writing in English is like throwing mud at a wall.”
― Joseph Conrad
What do you see when you throw mud at a wall? A mess. The English vocabulary includes many words that are taken from other languages and throughout history, the English language has developed and undergone changes. Words in English also do not always follow the same way of pronunciation, even though they are spelled similarly. For example, ‘horse’ and ‘worse’, ‘how’ and ‘low’, ‘daughter’ and ‘laughter’.
English is just all over the place. The English language is more than just knowing your comprehension, grammar, pronunciation, spelling, and vocabulary. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about taking a Degree in English in Malaysia, from what it is and how it works, to the career options available for you.
The Basics of English
What It Is
An English degree is actually the study of literature written in the English language. Besides that, you will be taught the history of English and the many different aspects of using it.
The study of English focuses on the use, analysis, and production of texts. Knowing the right words to say and the right way to say them can make you influential, respectable and likable.
What Are the Various Fields of English?
These are the main fields usually covered with an English degree:
|Writing & Composition||Students are trained to think analytically to produce clear and cohesive arguments in their writing and compositions in order to present their thoughts through the inscription of their words.|
|British Literature||Students are taught the periods, authors, genres and literary movements that include famous British authors like Shakespeare and many more.|
|American Literature||Students are taught literary works from America and are usually taught in categories like time period, authors, literary schools and movements that are relevant to America.|
|World Literature||This is to bring students a wide range of cultural and multidisciplinary perspectives to the study of literature and to help them build an appreciation for the diversity of cultures.|
English degree students will have the opportunity to learn from the various fields in their 3 years of study and as they progress, they will learn more complex forms of literature and writing.
Studying an English Degree
What Qualifications Do You Need?
In order to pursue a degree in English, you will generally need:
(1) SPM / O-Level Qualification
- Credits in English and in at least 4 other subjects.
(2) Pre-University Qualification
- A-Level: Minimum of 2 principal passes
- STPM: Minimum of 2 principal passes
- Australian Matriculation: Minimum of ATAR 70
- Canadian Pre-University: At least an average of 70%
Entry requirements may vary depending on university, so make sure you do your research and pick the one that’s best suited for you!
You could also choose to do a Diploma right after SPM instead of taking a Pre-University programme. Entry requirements for a Diploma is typically 3 credits (including English) at SPM level.
How Long Is an English Degree?
English degrees are generally 3 years long.
However, if you decide to do a Diploma instead it is usually 2 to 2.5 years long and upon completion you can choose to either start working, or enter directly into Year 2 of a Degree in English.
What Will You Study in an English Degree?
Some English degrees are coupled with other courses such as Public Relations, Education, and Communication. This provides you with a wide range of industry-related knowledge, while allowing you to specialise in a focused area for you to apply your skills learnt after you graduate.
In your first year, you will typically learn about the basics of English. Some examples of subjects that are commonly taught in first year English degrees are:
- Understanding Reading and Writing in English
- English Phonetics and Phonology
- Introduction to English Literature
- History of the English Language
In your second and third year, you will be exposed to more in-depth understandings of the English language and you will be learning how to write essays and composition. For example, some of the subjects that are commonly taught are:
- Professional Writing
- Feature Writing
- Functional Grammar
Some universities include a compulsory internship semester for you to take advantage of the hands-on experience whereby you could practise your English skills in a corporate setting.
To be or not to be an English major: Why Should You Study English?
English can be extremely fun and rewarding for anyone with a creative mind. Here are some reasons why you should study English.
(1) Essential critical-thinking skills.
English majors, as well as today’s successful employee, learn to think creatively, to solve problems, and to ask questions that get to the heart of the matter.
(2) Ability to recognise and respect alternative points of view.
English majors learn to consider a variety of conflicting arguments as they study poems, plays, articles, and novels. In other words, studying literature helps make you fair-minded and unbiased.
(3) Invaluable insight into your world.
The study of literature incorporates history, sociology, theology, and philosophy, which encourage us to question and understand contemporary culture. Insight into literary characters fosters the ability to understand what a customer, patient, or student needs to make his or her life better.
Of all the reasons to major in English, this is the most gratifying – the feelings that come with reading and discussing books that make you laugh and cry, books that help you understand yourself and others, books into which you can escape from the day-to-day pressures of life.
What Skills Do You Need for an English Degree?
To do well in English, you will require a few skills and qualities like the following:
If you graduate with a degree in English, you will most likely find yourself working in a dynamic working environment as a writer, journalist, teacher or even as a PR officer. Chances are, you’ll always be required to produce works according to your employer’s wishes and that could be really stressful if you have a hard time adapting. To succeed, you need to be able to adapt. To succeed, you must be as flexible as gymnast, as versatile as a paper clip, and as adaptable as an evolving Zerg.
If you don’t know what a ‘Zerg’ is, well, the point is that you must be adaptable to the different things you will learn as an English major, and to the different tasks that you will be given at work in the future.
Studying English will involve a great deal of reading and writing. Being someone who enjoys reading novels would certainly help you pick up a thing or two about creative writing. There are some who believe that that creativity can be developed, and there are others who believe that creativity is innate. Either way, creativity is needed if you wish to engage in novel writing.
(Psst! By the way, novelty means something that is new and different from what has been known before.)
Being an English degree, it goes without saying that having the ability to speak and write eloquently will benefit you greatly. You will undoubtedly be assessed orally, as well as having written assessments. You may also be required to present public speeches.
No, you don’t have to show off your vast vocabulary or your ability to speak with a convincing English accent, but you should be able to comfortably converse and effectively communicate your message across to your listeners.
Career Options with an English Degree
After completing your English degree, here are some of your career options:
- Academic Librarian
- Advertising Copywriter
- Advertising Account Executive
- Arts Administrator
- Editorial Assistant
- Magazine Journalist
- Newspaper Journalist
- Marketing Executive
- Public Relations Officer
- Records Manager
Where Can You Study English in Malaysia
Here are some of the most popular universities for English in Malaysia.
University of Nottingham
Bachelor of English Language and Literature (Hons)
Estimated Fees: RM82,740
Scholarships: Up to 35% tuition fee waiver
Decades of experience in providing international teaching
Collaboration with their counterparts in the UK & China
Consistently ranked Top 100 worldwide
Bachelor of English Language & Communication (Hons)
Campus: Kuala Lumpur
Intakes: Jan, May & Sept
Estimated Fees: RM56,640
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
State-of-the-art facilities on campus
Various activities available to help you develop valuable leadership skills
Students from over 80 countries provide a global university experience
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) English Language
Campus: Kampar, Perak
Intakes: Jan, May & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM34,400
Scholarships: Up to RM10,000 tuition fee waiver
Strong academic staff with an emphasis on research
One of the most affordable fees for an English degree
Over 97% of graduates are employed within 6 months of graduation