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Becoming a student of English

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

If you'd like to study English at degree level but feel you may need to consider your options, this blog from Professor Deborah Wynne, Programme Leader for the English course at UCS, tells us what important considerations need to be taken into account before choosing a specific course and institution.   

Before you make that important decision about what to study at university, you need to ask yourself a few questions. You are in the best place to know your interests, your strengths and your plans for the future, but getting advice is also very useful in helping you decide. If an English degree is one of your options, you may wish to consider asking yourself the following questions.

What should I consider before applying for an English degree?

It may be stating the obvious, but studying English literature at university involves quite a lot of reading and you will certainly need to be a keen reader to get the most out of your studies! You will also need to be a flexible reader as you can expect to encounter many different sorts of texts, including novels, plays, poetry and non-fiction prose. Are you happy studying a wide range of books? You could find yourself studying Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Hamlet at the same time; certainly your ability to analyse texts will be challenged.

What kind of career might an English degree lead to?

Because the study of English enables students to communicate effectively in so many different ways, an English degree is actually a passport to many careers. As a student of English you will develop good writing and presentation skills; you will also develop abilities to analyse and balance different viewpoints which many employers find valuable. English graduates can find opportunities in journalism, teaching and lecturing, administration, working in television and radio, librarianship, museums and art galleries, public relations, the civil service, management, and many other careers.

What should I look for in a BA English programme?

Think about what you enjoy, what you can do well, and what challenges you’d like to face. As you shortlist the universities which interest you, read all of the relevant information on offer in their prospectuses and webpages. Do the modules/ units look interesting? Will you obtain a good coverage of the subject? If you have interests in creative writing, does the course offer any opportunities to produce your own creative work? If you would like to combine the study of literature with language, is that a combination you can do? Are there any new areas of research or distinctive features you are looking for, such as studying literature and film or children’s literature? Do you want to study as part of a big English department with lots of students, or would a smaller department suit you better? Don’t be afraid to ask for more information if you need it.

What you can find out about the BA (Hons) English degree at an Open Day

An Open Day allows you an opportunity to find out more about the course and to meet some of the tutors who will teach you. Are they approachable? Have your questions been fully answered? Do the tutors seem enthusiastic about their subject? Do they seem to care about the student experience? Will the course be taught in an environment you feel comfortable in? These are important questions for you to consider and visiting a university will tell you a lot about whether you are making the best choice.

BA (Hons) English at University Centre Shrewsbury

Why not come along to an Open Day or Visit Day at UCS to find out more about the course here. The tutors who will teach you English are experienced and really care about helping students to fulfil their potential. We are a small and friendly department and we offer a rounded English programme which gives you opportunities to combine the study of literature from the Renaissance to the present day along with creative writing options, literature and film modules and some specialist modules in children’s literature and young adult fiction. We would be happy to discuss what we offer in more detail. Just email d.wynne@chester.ac.uk and I will help you with any queries or requests.

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