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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