Sunday, 28 July 2019


Surprisingly, I found the first year of my English Literature degree easier than my whole two years of A-levels. I only had one exam at the end of first year that didn’t count towards my overall degree, whereas one thing I particularly despised about English Literature A-level specifically was how your entire grade rested on an exam at the end of the two years that was worth 80%. There was also a huge number and variety of books studied on each module; I really enjoyed studying plays and novels I wouldn’t have normally picked up. Studying the same poetry, prose and plays at A-level wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as by the end of the course you knew the texts inside out. However, being introduced to new genres meant that any I was particularly interested in I could read into further and extend my knowledge of them.

I also think that the stigma attached around an English Literature degree is that you are constantly reading, which is true, but some weeks are lighter than others. Some weeks I was reading a 200 page novel and an 120 page play along with some critical theory passages, but other weeks it would have been two poems and a short story. Even concerning the heavier reading weeks, it was quicker to get used to them than I thought, especially if you do have a genuine passion for literature. I also didn’t realise how much I would enjoy lectures and seminars with lecturers who are extremely knowledgeable in their field. They made my love of literature increase even more, which I didn’t think was possible.

One thing I did find difficult about the degree was the clustering of essays at Christmas and in May. It was quite overwhelming to have 3 or 4 essays due in within a few days of each other, as at A-level I was used to being able to focus on two or three pieces of coursework for months on end. However, after the experience of essay writing in December, I knew that I needed to start preparing earlier for the assessment period in May and I felt a lot more relaxed and confident in submitting essays by this point. I’m hoping that this will continue throughout second year. However, I would choose this any day over multiple, long exams.

If you’re hoping to start an English Literature degree in September, don’t worry about whether you will struggle with the jump between A-levels and University, as I honestly think that is unnecessarily exaggerated. The one huge tip I would give is to make sure you give yourself time to prepare for assessments from the offset, as although first year marks don’t count towards your final degree, it is beneficial to obtain the most useful feedback possible, which you will do if you know you have tried your best in every single essay.

Sunday, 26 May 2019


It gives you an experience of writing at university level.

I cannot explain the extent of how much the EPQ aided me when I got to university. The EPQ is 5000 words, which means 2000 word essays at university seemed easy. Moreover, I gained experience in referencing, which is extremely important at university to right; they encourage accuracy of referencing in first year where your mark doesn’t count towards your final degree. This also meant that from my first assignment, I didn’t find referencing hard at all, due to my familiarity with it. Also, you have a lot of freedom in terms of how you write your EPQ; it certainly emphasised to me that at university, I wouldn’t have to write in an elevated style to achieve high marks.

It gives you confidence in presenting.

The presentation component of the EPQ is extremely helpful in allowing you to gain an awareness of how the process of the EPQ helped to shape your work. The presentation is advised to be 10 minutes long, which is roughly the length of presentations that you do certainly in your first year at university. The questions that are asked at the end of your presentation are another element that gives you a full experience of presenting. You come out of the presentation feeling confident in yourself and the detailed feedback that you will receive is vital to allow you to reflect on how you may improve if you have to do presentations as part of your university course.

It is completely different from A levels.

A levels can be extremely restrictive, with tight coursework word counts and exam timings. Also, in terms of marking criteria to achieve, it can sometimes seem mundane and ‘tick box’ like. With the EPQ, you can explore a multitude of topics; often people pick a topic that is closely linked to what they will be studying at university: this could potentially aid you in deciding or even ruling out topics that you may want to explore in your dissertation at university.

Sunday, 12 May 2019


An extremely important book, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche draws on her own personal experiences to illustrate the importance of feminism in society today. I think that a real strength of the book is the fact that it was originally a TED Talk; if you haven’t heard of Ted Talk before, it’s where people talk at an organised conference on a variety of subjects. This means that the book is simple, concise and hard-hitting in terms of the points that it is making. It creates a logical argument, urging you to open your perspectives concerning feminism as well as tracing where the discrepancy starts - at young children, or more correctly, parents raising their sons and daughters. What I liked particularly about the book is the explanation that societal conventions insist that males are unemotional, strong and are ridiculed for being any other emotions. It therefore alters the stereotype that men themselves are directly responsible for the inequality of genders.

I can’t recommend this enough for a short read; it could easily be read in one sitting, whether that’s on the commute to work or in your lunch break. The size of the book itself is perfect to slot into a bag; however, the size doesn’t reflect the content bursting out of it!

Monday, 15 April 2019


As I’m coming to the end of my first year of my English Literature degree, I thought I would document three expectations that I had before I started my degree, that turned out to be completely wrong.

There isn't as much reading as people believe there to be. 

The general stereotype of never having your head out of a book might put you off of applying for an English Literature degree, or if you’ve already firmed a place in September, it might be worrying you. In my first term at university, I was expected to read one text a week (whether that was a novel, play or a set of poems), for two modules, along with some critical reading for two other modules, which could range from a short article to between 5 and 30 pages of theory books or papers. It’s also important to try and read around especially any texts that you’re interested in while you’re studying them, as if you’re interested in writing about them for your end of module essays, doing some wider reading weeks in advance will help you a lot in the long run.

You aren’t expected to have read everything!

As an English Lit student, some people, whether that’s other students, family members or friends, expect you to have read a lot of classics, which therefore is the reason why you’re studying the subject at university. Never worry if you haven’t read books that people think you should have read as an English student, especially since you’ve just spent two years of your life studying multiple texts for your A level, making it difficult to read for pleasure. At university, you aren’t expected to have read the entire literary canon. Just ensure that you are open to widening your reading whilst you’re studying for your degree.

‘University level’ writing? 

There is a definite expectation, especially for an English degree, that when you start your degree you have to start writing in an elevated and complex style. You really don’t. A simple and coherent style is best, allowing your argument to be as clear as possible in your essays. I hope this helps for anyone who is going to study English Literature at university in September. Sent from my iPhone
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