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Why study English?

In our globalized age, an advanced proficiency in a foreign language helps to remind us that languages do not simply have an instrumental value: they are the basis of culture and help structure our thoughts.

Since 1945, English has become one of the most spoken languages in the world, a lingua franca in many professions and a 'universal language' that many aspire to. But it is also a lexically and culturally rich idiom, with hundreds of regional variants from Scots to Singapore English, and a fascinating, multiethnic literary heritage. This heritage has often been associated with values such as liberty and equality, yet it is also weighed down by its colonial past. Studying English will allow you to better understand the language's complex historical and cultural contexts as well as its sometimes controversial linguistic politics.  

In addition to being trained to participate in a specific academic discipline, students who study English can acquire the following competences and skills:  the ability to read language and texts closely, recognizing and learning to appreciate their complexity;  the critical skills to decode and evaluate contemporary social discourses as well as to detect cultural assumptions inscribed in language; the capacity to think rigorously but also creatively about various problems and about your own life experiences; communication skills, including argumentative, analytical and synthetic writing, and defending your critical judgement against the informed opinion of others; and a deepened knowledge of the English language and of English-speaking nations' diverse histories, cultures and societies.           

Combined with another major, study abroad, and one or several professional internships, a degree in English can lead to many different career paths. It is a first step to becoming an English language and literature teacher in Swiss secondary schools. Former students have also pursued careers in academia or have gone on to become, among other things, translators, editors, journalists, public relations managers, or administrators in the arts, the humanities and in NGOs (see our alumni page). The linguistic as well as the critical and analytical skills developed in the study of literature are an important asset for those interested in fields such as international law and international business.

Here are some examples of our graduates' career paths:

Kim Andrey finished her MA in English literature in 2015, and now works as a communication and administration associate at the FIBA, the world governing body for basketball.

Jessica Morley, who completed her English MA in 2009, is a project and communications managerwith the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Staca Bibic, who received her BA in English and Art History in 2009, and completed her MA in museology at Neuchâtel, has been working since 2011 as scientific collaborator and 'responsable de scénographie' at the Bodmer Foundation in Geneva.

Luca Brunoni, who received his MA in English in 2013 and also holds a law degree from Unil, is a scientific collaborator in the Institut de lutte contre la criminalité at the HE-Arc in Neuchâtel, where he teaches courses on English and American common law. He published his first novel in 2017.

Stefano Anelli, who received his licence in English and history in 2009, was featured on the University alumni site. He works as the archivist at the University hospital in Fribourg.

Christel Stadelman, who obtained a BA in English in 2009, was hired as an Account Executive by Weber Shandwyck, a global communication firm, and since 2015 works as a social media consultant for MacDonald's.