English Language & Literature

When you study English at Queen’s, you’ll learn to read perceptively, analyze clearly, and above all, communicate effectively. Students will explore the literary canon, including writers such as Shakespeare, Austen, and Brontë, but will also engage with current text forms, such as graphic novels and works by contemporary writers. Queen’s English encourages an eclectic approach to the subject, combining attention to methodology and core knowledge with the flexibility to support individual passions.

Our Department of English Language and Literature is one of the oldest departments of literature in Canada, dating back to 1888. The English curriculum is structured to ensure that in each year of your program you will be in one class small enough to let you feel comfortable making your voice heard and where you won't get lost in the crowd. Our first-year lecture is supported with tutorials to help ease the transition from high school to university level writing and analysis; our second-year seminars allow you to study in-depth a single major work or cluster of related works. Our Creative Writing Program, led by nationally recognized writer/mentors Carolyn Smart and Armand Ruffo, offer workshops and collaborative response to your own work to help you hone your craft. This intensive classroom experience is enhanced by our Writer-in-Residence program which allows all creative writers, not just those in creative writing courses, to consult with a professional writer who offers advice and mentorship to our students.

Top 5 Reasons to study English:

  1. To learn to read and think more actively and creatively.
  2. To develop your ability to write effectively and with greater clarity and precision.
  3. To expose yourself to an exciting diversity of literary works written in English.
  4. To build a vocabulary for responding critically and incisively to the written word.
  5. To broaden your aptitudes in expressing complex ideas and formulating persuasive arguments.

“I am so thankful to have studied English at Queen’s University. The department has top-notch professors who both inspire and challenge your thinking. I learned to apply myriad lenses when examining literature, which deepened my understanding and appreciation of the human condition and universally shared experiences.“
                                                                                                                                  -Brett Copeland, BAH ‘07

Watson Hall
Room number: 
Department Head: 
Sam McKegney
Departmental Assistant: 
Karen Donnelly
Graduate Chair: 
Margaret Pappano
Graduate Assistant: 
Lovorka Fabek-Fischer
Undergraduate Chair: 
Scott-Morgan Straker
Undergraduate Assistant: 
Brittany Howard
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Major in English
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Joint Honours in English
A dual course of study in English and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in English
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

Internship option available

Online Bachelor of Arts (General)

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

English - PhD
English - MA
English - MPhil


A number of our students take the opportunity of studying abroad for a term or an entire year, benefiting from bilateral exchanges to universities in a wide array of countries.  They also have access to the Bader College in Herstmonceux, England, where an array of Queen’s English Department courses are offered, including ENGL 100.


Alumni Career Statistics

• 5% of alumni work in LAW
• 6% of alumni work in WRITING & PUBLISHING
• 9% of alumni work in GOVERNMENT & NON PROFIT
• 44% of alumni work in EDUCATION

A degree in English can take your career in many directions. Many students choose to continue their academic inquiry with a Master’s. Our students are equipped with a strong foundation for careers in:

·         Advertising

·         Archives

·         Broadcasting - radio and T.V.

·         Business writing

·         Communications

·         Consulting

·         Consumer services

·         Copyright law

·         Copywriting

·         Corporate training / development

·         Diplomatic service

·         Editing

·         Education (including English as a second language)

·         Foreign service

·         Human resources

·         Immigration services

·         Journalism

·         Libraries

·         Linguistics

·         Marketing

·         Media - electronic and print

·         Public service and administration

·         Public relations

·         Publishing

·         Social work

·         Speech and language therapy

·         Technical writing

·         Translation

·         Travel and tourism

Taking time to explore career options, build experience and network can help you have a smooth transition to the world of work after graduation. Note: some of these careers may require additional training.

ENGL 235: Life Writing
Life writing includes autobiographies, biographies, diaries, letters, and memoirs. The aim of this course will be to explore the genre’s conventions and innovations, to consider the interplay between lived experience and its textual representation, and to examine the social and cultural dimensions of life stories.

ENGL 238: Comics and Graphic Novels
A study of the art of the graphic narrative, from newspaper strips of the Golden Age to current graphic novels, comprising history, aesthetics, and close readings of the graphic narrative as a form of literature.

Some other interesting English courses include:Introduction to Literary Study, Life Writing, Renaissance Poetry and Prose, Modern Prose Fiction, From Metafiction to Real Fiction, Modern Literature, Literature on Stage and Screen, Romantic Literature

Check out other courses offered by the department here


Students apply through the OUAC (Ontario Universities' Application Centre) website (ouac.on.ca). ENG4U, plus five additional 4U/M courses. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements. Visit queensu.ca/admission for additional information regarding requirements and admission to Queen's.

English (BAH)
OUAC Code:
QA (Kingston Campus)
QB (Concurrent Education, Kingston Campus)
QIA (The Castle)
QIB (Concurrent Education, The Castle)

See Full Admission Requirements

After first year, in May, students will declare their area of study (major, minor, specialization, e.g.). The thresholds are competitive year to year and do change. The 2017-18 thresholds for English are: 0.9 Cumulative GPA for PENDING LIST or 1.9 Cumulative GPA with minimum B- in ENGL 100 for AUTOMATIC ACCEPTANCE.

Information on Plan Selection


Master’s and Doctoral programs at Queen's are among the longest established and most distinguished in Canada. They are designed to combine the highest academic standards and intellectual challenge with student-oriented professional training and experience. Our aim is to introduce degree candidates to leading issues in current literary and cultural fields of research, to preserve a traditional range of historical expertise, and to allow students the independence to explore a diversity of interests, in order to build a solid career foundation. Our faculty comprises scholars who research and teach in all major historical periods, from medieval to contemporary, and we are likewise home to a wide variety of editorial, historical, and theoretical methodologies. Our graduate course offerings each year represent this diversity, as do individual faculty home pages, PhD students’ Special Topic Presentations and array of thesis topics. So does our Research Forum, a biweekly gathering of faculty and students to hear presentations from visiting speakers, faculty research, and advanced doctoral work in progress. The Queen's approach to the MA and PhD is to offer students of the best abilities and passion for learning, reading and writing, the opportunity to consolidate a traditional knowledge base in literary studies, to stretch their knowledge of contemporary issues in literature and culture, to develop their individual interests and direction, and to enjoy a meaningful teaching experience. We admit about 20 MA students and 10 PhD students every year; our students can therefore easily get to know each other and members of our staff, and class sizes are small.

The Master of Arts program (MA) is primarily an advanced coursework degree, although a thesis option may be available if arranged during the application process with a prospective supervisor and the Graduate Coordinator. The program aims to introduce students to current ideas and approaches in the professional study of literature across an array of seminars, and to provide the strongest basis for possible applications to doctoral programs. Courses are selected by the student to balance further study in his or her special fields of interest with consolidation of a broad, literary historical knowledge at an advanced level. In addition to advanced seminars, MA students also attend the Research Forum and a Professional and Pedagogical Skills seminar; the latter provides introductory teaching training and professional career guidance. Teaching assistantships are assigned in consultation with all incoming students as to their course preferences (as with all students in our programs), and are designed to minimize teaching workload so that time remains free for doing one’s best in coursework.

The Master of Philosophy in English (MPhil) is a distinctive two-year degree with guaranteed entry to the Department’s doctoral program. It features coursework, field exams, and a publishing practicum. The MPhil is intended for students who, at the time of applying, have demonstrated the ability to envision a research project worthy of future doctoral-level study. Due to the additional professionalization and the advanced standing enabled by its field exams and expanded coursework, the MPhil accelerates doctoral studies at Queen’s for those who successfully complete its requirements.

To find out which English Master's program suits you best, visit our comparison page.

The Doctoral program aims to produce professional scholars with a clear and original contribution to their area of specialization, a comfortable foundation in the wider reach of their historical field, a substantial engagement with interdisciplinary or cross-field issues, and training and experience in advanced and independent teaching. The academic path of the program proceeds through advanced coursework, a disciplinary field exam which provides the foundation for a career field and for informed development of an area of thesis research, a special topics presentation which requires the student to develop, with faculty assistance, an independent reading program on a topic that crosses disciplinary or historical field boundaries and which culminates in a talk presented to the department, and finally, a dissertation that builds on all of these. Our professional program is carefully staged to provide a ladder of types of teaching professionalization—from teaching assistantships limited to counseling and grading, to tutorial seminar leaderships, to independent lecture courses in the degree candidate’s field of study. We also provide guidance in seeking award funding, dissertation progress, and preparing for the academic job market.

Inquiries about the Graduate Program:
Lovorka Fabek-Fischer


The English Department at Queen's University is a professionally oriented research department located in one of Canada’s leading universities. As the accompanying faculty profiles reveal, our research strengths are distributed across a broad historical and geographical range of literatures written in English, to an exceptional standard affirmed by our most recent Ontario Council on Graduate Studies assessment (2010) and an Internal Academic Review (2013). Recent publications and conference presentations include ongoing work on globalization, diaspora and migration, indigenous politics, environmental and interspecies studies, book history, popular entertainment media, the economics of literature, cultural memory, literature and social justice, queer theory, translation studies, and creative writing. The quality of department members’ research has been recognized in major grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fulbright Foundation, and other research institutes, as well as university-wide competitions in both research and teaching excellence. Our faculty are engaged in a number of significant international research collaborations, and in recent years the Department has hosted conferences on American Exceptionalism, Alternative Economies of Creativity in Theory and Practice, Animal Studies, and English Dictionaries in Global and Historical Context. Graduate students are active and avid participants in the research culture of the Department, and have contributed greatly to our collective success.


Ying Lee (Queen’s PhD) is a novelist whose books include The Agency: A Spy in the House (Candlewick, 2010) and The Agency: The Body in the Tower (Candlewick, 2010). Her novels are set in Victorian England and share the story of a young female detective with a taste for adventure. Check out Ying’s blog to read about how she got her first book published after completing her degree at Queen’s.