Somerville English: Careers

After reading English at Somerville people go on to all kinds of careers.

Kate Williams (1994-7)


I had a wonderful time at Somerville – so much so that I came back for another three years for my DPhil! My time at Somerville gave me so much and it made me into the person I am today. I learned that, academically and intellectually, anything is possible and I was – am – very grateful for the willingness of my tutors to consider some of my more off the wall theories….The opportunity, thanks to the tutorial system, to read very nearly any books you wanted to within the period gave an incredible freedom and taught me never to be daunted by any subject, that we could tackle anything and gave me the self discipline and motivation to work alone. I often felt like a teenage detective, wandering Somerville library late at night, tracking down hidden clues in books, finding out mysteries – and I will never forget the sheer experience of intellectual exhilaration that I experienced at Somerville. For me, Somerville in that few years, was like a treasure island of change, freedom and the chance to follow your interests! I also had a lot of fun – and made life long friends. No matter how far away from each other we move, the bonds are unbreakable.

My dream of being an author came true – more vividly than I could ever have imagined – and I know that much of that is due to Somerville. I am so very lucky to have had the chance to study at Somerville and can’t recommend coming here highly enough.

Jessica Harrison (2004-7)

Jessica Harrison

I loved my time studying English at Somerville, and the skills and knowledge I gained there have been incredibly helpful in my subsequent career in publishing. As Senior Commissioning Editor for Penguin Classics, I now spend my days talking and thinking about books, working with translators and scholars, and publishing new editions of canonical and rediscovered texts. Studying English set me on the path towards publishing, and my experiences at Somerville really helped to shape what I do today.

Ben Pilgrim (2006-9)


After leaving Somerville, I entered the agency world and found a particular specialism in digital marketing for a number of agencies in areas as diverse as theatre and opera, to watches and whisky. Reading English Language and Literature at Somerville prepared me brilliantly for this as, in many ways, my job feels like an extension of my degree; in the interpreting my client’s business problems to assessing how customers will perceive our campaign ideas.

Jackie Watson (1986-9)


Somerville changed my life. Coming from a working class Yorkshire family, and with no family experience of university, I found the opportunities in Oxford amazing, and relished studying the literature I loved alongside others with the same interests. My college was a supportive environment in which to develop, both academically and socially, and I enjoyed living there: so close to the city, but sufficiently far out to be a little quieter. The habits of study and love of literature I gained as an undergraduate have been lifelong. They have stood me in good stead throughout my teaching career, teaching English in the state sector and advising my own students on university applications as Head of Sixth Form. They have also allowed me to return recently to English Literature research, and I have now gained a PhD in London, grateful throughout for the grounding given at Somerville 25 years before.

Francis Hardinge (1992-5)

Studing English at Somerville introduced me to a wealth of ideas, authors and historical periods that have influenced my writing in various ways. Better still, I had the chance to study a subject I loved alongside like minds in a place where I was very happy.

Other recent graduates include…

… Journalists, Solicitors, University Lecturers, Librarians, Publishers, Bankers, Doctors, Hotel Managers, Advertising and Marketing professionals, Costume Designers, Teachers, Researchers, Novelists, Civil Servants, Charity Workers, Full time Parents, University Administrators, Actors, Airline Pilots, Barristers, Script writers, Directors, Police Officers, TV Production staff, Trainee Priests, Management Consultants, Stage Designers, Museum Curators, Art Historians, International Development professionals, Social Workers, Company Directors.

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