BA English literature vs BA Functional English: Which is better?

If there is one language which can be counted as the cornerstone of all global systems and structures, it undoubtedly is English. Thanks to the British colonisers and their quest to ‘conquer’ the world, we now have a common tongue to communicate across the globe. The relevance of such a common language has been realised further with the globalisation of trade and opening up of world markets. Long story short, personnel who are proficient in English language has become one of the necessities for any international firm with a global face.

This, however, does increase the scope and opportunities associated with traditional and non-traditional degree courses in English language. Most of us tend to be reluctant when it comes to choosing a degree course in English, even though we find it easy to handle the language. Quite often, this reluctance arises from the presumption that all BA English courses are about studying long plays of Shakespeare and reciting tricky poetry by Wordsworth. Is this true? Well, not really. 

If you believe that a degree course in English is one and the same everywhere, then you are on the wrong page. There are more options to study English than you can imagine. BA in English Literature and BA in Functional English are the most popular courses available in India under this umbrella.

BA English literature v/s BA English

It is quite easy to comprehend these course titles and understand what they are about. A bachelor’s degree in English literature assures mastery and expertise over the entire literature that has been produced in the language so far, along with the socio-cultural-historic understanding associated with the language. 

On the contrary, BA functional English course helps the students to practice the ways in which English language functions. It is more focused on the day-to-day practical usage of the language. Students are trained to use proper English for business, financial, technical and academic communication effectively. 

BA English literature course is one of the most popular courses provided in almost all the colleges in India. Students who wish to study liberal arts often pursue English literature. The course is indeed beneficial as it provides ample career opportunities ranging from teaching jobs to media-related professions. 

Apart from training students to comprehend and interpret texts, BA English literature course also introduces them to various ideologies, political systems, and world history.

If BA English literature course can be defined as a holistic course dealing with language, BA functional English is more of a specially designed practical course that engages with the real-life usages of the language. For example, a student of BA functional English does not necessarily learn about the aesthetic devices and political implications of a canonical text in English. 

Instead, he is taught how to use proper English phrases and grammar while taking part in a business conference. Functional English students shall learn how to draft an appealing sales proposal, not how to analyze a text critically. This is the primary distinction between both the courses.

What do you get to study there?

Well, both the courses have a similar curriculum with an overlapping syllabus. This is quite understandable since both are graduate degree courses based on a language. However, from the differences we found out earlier, it is also obvious that the courses follow two different paths altogether.

 Let us now have a look at the course structure and syllabus of both BA English literature and BA functional English. Subject topics might vary according to the institution and university.

    BA English Literature
    BA Functional English
    Basic grammar
    History of English Literature
    Prose, Poetry, Play
    Literary Criticism
    American Literature
    Indian Writing in English
    African Writing in English
    Literary Theory
    Movements in Literature
    Writing and Editing for media
    Basic Communication Skills 
    Communication Skills
    Critical Reasoning
    Writing and Presentation
    Methodology of Functional Language
    Translation and Communication
    Communicative grammar
    Oral communication practice
    Applied Phonetics
    Public Relations
    Business English
    Media Studies
    Creative Writing
    English Language Teaching

As it is clear from the syllabus comparison, English language courses follow a pedagogy that is mostly traditional in form. That is, students listen to lectures, learn to draw constructive criticisms on texts, analyses texts on their own, drafts their own seminar papers, present it and further discuss it. Many leading institutions now have language labs to enhance the learning experience by creating an audio-visual multi-sensory perception of the texts. 

A functional English class is, however, more practical in nature. Since students are trained to use the English language for specific purposes, they are made to engage in role plays, public speaking sessions, mock business meets, student media productions and even master softwares that assist language learning. They are also made to read, write and edit formal letters and reports in class.

Where to study BA English literature?

Whether you decide to enroll for a degree course in English literature or functional English, it is important that you choose the best institution. When you come out of your college and start seeking a job, sometimes the reputation of your institution also plays a significant part. 

Since BA English literature is a very common course that is available in almost all institutions, students should take more effort in finalising the right place to study. All the central and state universities provide a degree in English literature. However, if you wish to pursue a bachelor’s, then some of the leading institutions are the following

  • St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi
  • Miranda House, New Delhi
  • Lady Sriram College for Women, New Delhi
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
  • Loyola College, Chennai
  • Presidency College, Kolkata
  • English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
  • IIT Madras (Humanities and Social Science), Chennai

All the colleges under Delhi University consider higher secondary mark sheets to provide admission, and some central universities like EFL University conduct separate entrance examinations. Universities charge a meager amount as tuition fee. But in other institutions, fees can range from 3,000 to 40,000 rupees per year.

Where to Study BA Functional English?

Let us now enlist the most popular institutions that provide BA Functional English courses. Innumerous private institutions have sprung up in every nook and cranny, claiming to provide the best functional English course. However, the best places to study the courses are indeed rare. 

Functional English is a nascent field of study, and hence almost all the courses available in India are self-financed. Many autonomous colleges under state universities provide BA course in this discipline. Queen Mary’s College in Chennai is also known for its functional English course. Fee can also be a bit higher when compared to English literature course, since it is mostly self-financed. The annual fee can go up as high as 3 lakhs.

BA English literature vs Functional English: Career prospects and Payscale

What is your expectation out of a basic degree in English? To become a teacher? Or a content writer? A journalist? This is what you have to think twice before joining the course. Career opportunities put forth by English literature and functional English are diverse. 

Where can BA English literature take you?

A bachelor’s degree in English literature can indeed take you to places. Since proficiency in the language, critical thinking, and basic socio-political awareness are expected out of a literature graduate, they can achieve successful careers as teachers, researchers, academicians, creative writers, technical writers, publishing agents, journalists, and copywriters. 

These diverse careers can fetch a decent amount per annum as well. BA English literature holders are recruited by multinational companies and media houses like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, BBC, and many more. Such recruits draw an income as high as 10 to 12 lakh per annum. 

However, let us not avoid the fact that freshers may have to work for sums as low as 2 to 3 lakhs in the early stages, if you choose careers as content writers and publishing agents.

Where can BA Functional English take you?

The range of careers offered for a functional English graduate differs from all these. Considering the coursework taken by a student of functional English and the practical experience gained during the course, they could secure a reputed job in embassies, advertising agencies, libraries, translation departments, media or in film industry. 

Bilingual translator, interpreter, cross-functional marketing manager, Content manager, Communications head, ICT resource person, IELTS/TOEFL trainees are some of the job profiles suitable for them. English for Specific Purpose or ESP is becoming a hot topic of discussion in global academia these days, and functional English graduates have a direct entry into this. 

ESP refers to the usage of language for any specific purpose. For example, English for tourism denotes the usage of the English language in promoting the tourism sector. Aviation English points to the usage of language for communication between aviators and the technology they use. Similarly, more themes including Environmental English, Scientific English, and English for medical professionals are emerging. Aren’t you excited about BA Functional English now?!

It shall also be kept in mind that BA English literature can provide ample chances to pursue higher studies. That might not be the case with BA functional English. So if you wish to be an academician, go for literature without a second thought.

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If you have made up your mind to study English as a language, then these two courses are not your only choices. There are various combinations of courses, different complementary courses and even distinct course titles from which you can choose. Each course would offer you some new knowledge and opportunity. The real knack of wit lies in being able to identify that x-factor in every course. 

Graduate degree courses in English are available abroad as well. Taking such a course in a foreign country can render a fresh experience, because you get to live your lessons then and there! So brace yourselves and choose the right course. All the best!

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We hope this article helped you become familiar with BA English literature and BA Functional English. You can reach out and have a free chat with our experts at Hikewise for personalised support and advice on how to build a successful career ahead.

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2 comments found

    comments user


    Very useful content, thankyou and expecting more in future
    The blog is giving wide range of ideas


    comments user


    any age bar to join functional english course distance education (correspondence) either BA or post graduate ?


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