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English at UCL

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    Hi.

    So I have an offer from UCL for English and I've been trying to decide between firming it and firming St Andrews (don't worry, this isn't another one of those 'which one should I pick' threads). The main issue for me (because I love London and UCL has a great name internationally) is the course. I was looking at the UCL course and, maybe I'm just reading too much into it but it seems a little rigid to me, focusing more on medieval literature than anything else. And while I don't mind medieval lit (haven't done it in school, it sounds interesting) I was just wondering how flexible is the English degree at UCL? How much choice do you have in modules and how much variety is offered?

    It'd be really helpful if some of you fellow English students could tell me about what it's like studying English at UCL. Is it very much focused on studying or do you get to have fun with it? Do you find the course boring sometimes and how much input do you get into your own degree? Are there very few opportunities to study abroad for English students? And is it possible for us to take courses in other departments, like psychology?

    Sorry if there's already a thread like this and thanks in advance!
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    Anyone?
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    It's true that the first year is pretty much set out for you - yes, we did study Old and Middle English, but that's only part of the course along with a more general chronological 'crash course' through literature from the 17th to 20th centuries, a module that ranges from the Ancient Greeks all the way up to Virginia Woolf and getting to read some seminal critical essays and improve your critical reading skills. Old and Middle English itself was ok - you have to learn some poetry in the original Old English, but once you get a handle on that it's not too bad.

    In your second and third year, you get to choose most of your modules - Shakespeare and Chaucer are compulsory, but other than those you're essentially free to choose from a wide range of modules. UCL is a great place to study - what you get out of it is what you put in, basically. Not sure about studying abroad - as far as I know, only Modern Languages plus students do that (eg German and English). It is possible to take courses in other departments, but it's mostly geared towards literature - for example, there are modules available in the languages departments.

    The nice thing about the first year course at UCL is that one of the modules does cover a wide range of subjects of interest not immediately to with literature - for example, we've read Darwin, Freud, Marx, Plato... so that's biology, psychology, politics and philosophy right there!

    UCL is a lovely place to study; I thoroughly recommend it!
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    Thanks so much, that was really helpful! I firmed UCL, and I'm really excited.

    On a side note, is it possible to switch from English to English plus a modern language?
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    No problem, glad I could help! About switching... I've honestly not much of a clue; your best bet would be to get in touch with the relevant departments and ask. Best of luck for this summer.
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    (Original post by Sparrowhawk12)
    Thanks so much, that was really helpful! I firmed UCL, and I'm really excited.

    On a side note, is it possible to switch from English to English plus a modern language?
    Drop the department an e-mail and see what they say. It may be too late to change or you may be safe... best of luck anyway!
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    (Original post by Sparrowhawk12)
    Thanks so much, that was really helpful! I firmed UCL, and I'm really excited.

    On a side note, is it possible to switch from English to English plus a modern language?

    Lucky girl, you're going to have so much fun! Shame it's over before you know it. I'll be starting my third year of English in September and I still feel like a fresher...

    As others have said, you can try emailing the department to see if you can switch but I'll warn you now, don't get your hopes up. Places to study the Modern Languages Plus course (as it's called) are few and far between; for example only two students are taken on to study English and French per year. That's not to say it's not worth a try - you might be one of those lucky ones!

    As for the course content. The UCL website is really rubbish at showing the breadth of possibility within the three years of study. I don't know why they haven't bothered listing all the module choices, which is why it currently looks like we only seem to do old stuff. Rest assured you're able to choose anything from Old English to The Modern Period to History of the Language Since Chaucer in your second and third years. You'll be spoilt for choice.

    Fun. Plenty of fun. After all, when you have lecturers who say things like "'Plato' and 'potato' had been sitting around, waiting to be rhymed for hundreds of years... then along came Byron!", Foster Court is basically a 24-hour fun house. Another memorable moment is a Romantic poet's spouting of ideas being compared to an ejaculation, but now I'm digressing...

    But more seriously. You're free to read whatever interests you as long as it falls under the heading of the course you're studying (first year is admittedly a little more prescribed, but this is actually really good because it brings everyone up to speed and fills any general gaps people have). So the course is what you make it. You may want to have a look at exam papers from past years when planning your reading so you get some direction and a good idea of the kinds of things that come up time and again, alongside reading freely.

    Studying abroad. No opportunities for this at undergraduate level (no official ones, anyway), unless you're doing English plus a language, in which case there's the obvious third year abroad. Plenty of people go travelling in the holidays though - after all, you have to fill the long, long summer we get somehow.

    Sadly there's not much scope for courses in other departments unless they're literature-based. We were offered ones like: Medieval French literature, Medieval German literature, Early Italian (which contains the opportunity to study Italian ab initio) and something about Medieval Archaeology that I didn't pay much attention to.



    So, erm, an essay of a post. But if there's anything more you want to know, do get in touch. Best of luck for September! We might even bump into each other at Freshers' Cocktails and never know...
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    (Original post by glittergulch)

    After all, when you have lecturers who say things like "'Plato' and 'potato' had been sitting around, waiting to be rhymed for hundreds of years... then along came Byron!", Foster Court is basically a 24-hour fun house. Another memorable moment is a Romantic poet's spouting of ideas being compared to an ejaculation, but now I'm digressing...
    I'm guessing Prof. Mullan?
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    (Original post by glitterness)
    I'm guessing Prof. Mullan?
    Who else?
    And Marky Mark Ford for the ejaculation comment.
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    (Original post by glittergulch)
    Who else?
    And Marky Mark Ford for the ejaculation comment.
    \o/ Mullan win! But I feel slightly ill at the thought of Mark Ford talking about ejaculation. o.O
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    (Original post by glittergulch)
    Lucky girl, you're going to have so much fun! Shame it's over before you know it. I'll be starting my third year of English in September and I still feel like a fresher...

    As others have said, you can try emailing the department to see if you can switch but I'll warn you now, don't get your hopes up. Places to study the Modern Languages Plus course (as it's called) are few and far between; for example only two students are taken on to study English and French per year. That's not to say it's not worth a try - you might be one of those lucky ones!

    As for the course content. The UCL website is really rubbish at showing the breadth of possibility within the three years of study. I don't know why they haven't bothered listing all the module choices, which is why it currently looks like we only seem to do old stuff. Rest assured you're able to choose anything from Old English to The Modern Period to History of the Language Since Chaucer in your second and third years. You'll be spoilt for choice.

    Fun. Plenty of fun. After all, when you have lecturers who say things like "'Plato' and 'potato' had been sitting around, waiting to be rhymed for hundreds of years... then along came Byron!", Foster Court is basically a 24-hour fun house. Another memorable moment is a Romantic poet's spouting of ideas being compared to an ejaculation, but now I'm digressing...

    But more seriously. You're free to read whatever interests you as long as it falls under the heading of the course you're studying (first year is admittedly a little more prescribed, but this is actually really good because it brings everyone up to speed and fills any general gaps people have). So the course is what you make it. You may want to have a look at exam papers from past years when planning your reading so you get some direction and a good idea of the kinds of things that come up time and again, alongside reading freely.

    Studying abroad. No opportunities for this at undergraduate level (no official ones, anyway), unless you're doing English plus a language, in which case there's the obvious third year abroad. Plenty of people go travelling in the holidays though - after all, you have to fill the long, long summer we get somehow.

    Sadly there's not much scope for courses in other departments unless they're literature-based. We were offered ones like: Medieval French literature, Medieval German literature, Early Italian (which contains the opportunity to study Italian ab initio) and something about Medieval Archaeology that I didn't pay much attention to.



    So, erm, an essay of a post. But if there's anything more you want to know, do get in touch. Best of luck for September! We might even bump into each other at Freshers' Cocktails and never know...
    Hey, so what's it like with the reading list, would you say it's necessary to buy them all?
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    (Original post by Noirs Nuages)
    Hey, so what's it like with the reading list, would you say it's necessary to buy them all?
    I had the same question this time last year when I was a Fresher and I called one of the professors to find out. You have to buy the set Narrative Texts and the Old English Texts, as well as some of the Classics texts. If it's in another language, buy it. So things like Dante's Inferno, Riverside Chaucer, Introduction to Old English, Mill on the Floss, Tristram Shandy, The Prelude.
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    (Original post by dontyouletitgo)
    I had the same question this time last year when I was a Fresher and I called one of the professors to find out. You have to buy the set Narrative Texts and the Old English Texts, as well as some of the Classics texts. If it's in another language, buy it. So things like Dante's Inferno, Riverside Chaucer, Introduction to Old English, Mill on the Floss, Tristram Shandy, The Prelude.
    Awesome, thanks bro

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Updated: September 19, 2012
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