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Programs / Arts / English

Program Summary

Carleton’s English program ranges from some of the most famous names in English writing to lesser-known authors, taking into account regional, national and global perspectives. You will have a chance to discuss the pressing issues and enduring ideas behind literature, as well as examine the ways in which books spring from cultural contexts and fit into the arc of literary history. You will explore how British and Canadian literary traditions have evolved and how alternative, underground and non-Western voices trouble and enrich those traditions. You may take workshops in creative writing and drama, either as electives or in the context of the department’s concentrations in Creative Writing and Drama Studies. We also offer a minor in Digital Humanities as well a minor in Drama Studies. Overall, the program is designed to develop students’ abilities to analyze texts accurately, contextually and critically, to write clearly and persuasively in a variety of genres, and to conduct independent research—skills that are key to your future endeavors in the world beyond university.

Carleton’s English students study in a robust department with internationally-recognized professors who have won awards for their research and teaching. Course offerings are diverse, class sizes are relatively small, professors are accessible, and there is a strong sense of community amongst students. Our students have the opportunity to study creative writing with published authors, get involved in the production of plays with experienced theatre directors, participate in research internships, study abroad, contribute to student-run literary magazines, and join the English Literature Society, which organizes literary readings, writing circles, and field trips to local theatres.

Co-op opportunities

The English co-op program gives students a chance to find quality work terms with local businesses and public institutions, as well as in places elsewhere in Canada or even internationally. Most importantly, it gives our students a chance to get experience that can lead to permanent careers.

Library and Archives Canada and the National Gallery of Canada both contribute to the cultural advantages of studying in the nation’s capital. Our co-op students benefit from a wide variety of work placement opportunities, from the federal government to Ottawa’s high-tech sector. Ottawa also has a lively and long-established literary community that hosts writers’ festivals, readings, and workshops throughout the year. Carleton students are entitled to attend all Ottawa International Writers Festival events for free, simply by showing their Carleton card.

All of Carleton’s English programs are designed to introduce students to an exciting range of historical and cultural contexts and literary genres.

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) requires a minimum of 10.0 English credits of the 20.0 credits required for graduation.

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

The Combined Honours BA allows students to major in English and another subject at the same time. Also known as a double major, the Combined Honours program requires a minimum of 7.0 credits in English in addition to the requirements of the second major.

Bachelor of Arts (General)

The Bachelor of Arts (General) requires a minimum of 6.0 English credits of the 15.0 credits required for graduation.

Creative Writing Concentration

The Creative Writing Concentration allows English students with an interest in creative writing to extend their participation in the many creative writing courses that they can take for credit towards their English degree. Students are eligible to register for the concentration after the successful completion of 1.0 credit in writing workshops at the second-year level and 1.0 credit in writing workshops at the third-year level. Admission to writing workshops is based on portfolio submissions. Details about the concentration can be found on the English Department website at

Drama Studies Concentration

Our Drama Studies Concentration allows students to make the study of the history and criticism of drama, and to a lesser extent, dramaturgy, a substantive part of their BA program. It exposes students to a range of drama contexts and genres to nurture originality, innovation, love of language, and artistry. Course options include theatre and screenwriting workshops and courses on Greek and Roman, Shakespearean, and world drama. A Drama Studies Minor is also available for non-English majors.

Minor in Digital Humanities 

The Digital Humanities Minor allows students to explore how new media are changing every aspect of culture and society, including literature and the arts, libraries and archives, politics, law, and education. Courses explore topics such as the fate of reading and writing in the age of twitter, blogs and e-books; how social media are altering our individual and collective identities; and how digital networks are changing popular culture.

First-year experience

First-year BA students are strongly encouraged to include a First-year Seminar (FYSM) in their firstyear course load. Our First-Year Seminars give students the chance to discuss and debate topics in a small class consisting of a professor and around 30 students.

Although some FYSMs count as courses leading to a major, you do not have to choose a FYSM in your major discipline. Students are limited to one FYSM.

The workplace

A degree in English provides a valuable first step into many different and exciting careers. Our students are trained to think critically and to write well, both of which are valuable professional skills in high demand in public and private sectors. Students learn how to communicate clearly, to research effectively, to assemble and organize materials, to define problems, and to propose solutions. Our graduates have become published authors, teachers, editors, journalists, librarians, lawyers, social workers, civil servants, publishers’ representatives, public relations and communications officers, professional writers, and corporation representatives, both in Canada and abroad. Find out more about our alumni on our website.

Graduate studies

Graduates of any of our Honours programs in English are well qualified to go on to graduate studies in a variety of fields including English, cultural studies, and social history. If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early to ensure that your English program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including law and teaching, welcome well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds. Carleton’s Certificate in the Teaching of English as a Second Language (CTESL) prepares English majors for teaching English as a second language.

What students are saying about English

I chose Carleton’s English program hoping to strengthen my creative writing and gain access to the professional world through the co-op program—two goals I accomplished with far more success than I had imagined. Most importantly, my program connected me with students and professors who have helped me to develop a deeper passion for literature: for stories I already loved, for stories I learned to love, and for stories that have changed the way I see the world.
Alicia Haniford, English student

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