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Really scared about starting English literature degree

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    • Thread Starter


    I'm going to be starting an English Literature degree at Warwick in October. I was really excited when I made the offer but now I'm just really worried about it all. I finished my A-levels in June and spent every day of July writing but not reading. I've been reading in the leadup to results day but I've just seen the reading list for my course and it's quite big. I love reading and I'm excited about reading so many books but I don't know where to start. I've got a list of the 'essential' books so I'm going to read them - there are 6 of them and I just spent close to £60 on them. That worries me too. I looked in my library, charity shops and for used copies but that still seems like a lot of money and it just makes me more worried.

    I also didn't do History at A-level so I'm worried that I won't have a good enough knowledge of the subject for English. I'm definitely planning on doing a lot of research but there's so much to learn just in term 1. I know I can't learn everything before I even get to university but I want to get off to a good start. I suppose I'm just scared of the settling in process, and how much Warwick will do to ease me into the course.

    And then there's accomodation and getting to know people and financial worries and leaving home. And I'm scared of the job prospects everyone keeps talking about. I know English gives you transferable skills but I've been told so many times that it'll only lead to a low paid job or something that won't mean I'll be reading books and analysing them. I don't know where to go in terms of jobs and it scares me that I'm going to complete this degree (hopefully) and not get anywhere at the end of it all because I fell in love with a subject and decided to study it for another three years.

    I just really don't know where to start.

    what's the reading list like? can you post it?
    • Thread Starter

    (Original post by grassntai)
    what's the reading list like? can you post it?
    I've attached the entire reading list. Warwick has four core modules that you complete in your first year and they all kind of happen throughout the year, as opposed to completing one module and then moving on to the next one.

    In the welcome email I got it said:

    "For these modules, there are some specific suggestions:

    Modern World Literatures (EN123), Goethe's Faust, Part 1 and Marshall Berman's All that is Solid Melts into Air
    Medieval to Renaissance (EN121) - Burrows and Keen as background; The Works of the Gawain Poet, ed. A.Putter and M.Stokes (Penguin), and The Riverside Chaucer
    Epic Tradition (EN121) - Homer's Iliad in the Lattimore translation (Chicago University Press) "

    so I bought the five books listed and then a sixth one (Odyssey of Homer). I know I can get started with those but I'm worried about what I'll do when i actually get to Warwick. Right now I have about a month before starting Warwick and I can begin looking at some of the books but once I actually get there and start reading and analysing multiple books at the same time... it's something I've never had to do before.
    • Thread Starter

    Reading list
    • Thread Starter

    Well at least I think I've attached the reading list. I upload it but when I post I can't see it.


    I have just completed my first year doing an English Language and Literature studies degree so I have a bit of both worlds as far as English is concerned and I will tell you right now that the literature part was my absolute favourite! I took a gap year for a multitude of reasons, but one of them was because I didn't quite feel ready to leap straight into university because I was so nervous and worried about it. If I knew what it was going to be like I would have gone ahead and done it sooner! It wasn't really possible for personal reasons, but if I could have what I have now a year earlier, I would have taken it!

    My first piece of advice - use your student loan for studenty-things as a priority. As English students, our readings lists may be quite a bit more lengthy than that of other courses and believe me, I had literally hundreds of books on my reading lists for all of my modules combined. What's most important is that you buy the key texts (the course or module leader should indicate whether or not you should buy or borrow, but if not you can always ask) and read them thoroughly. The more understanding you have of the story and themes the easier you will find the module. A lot of the books are great to read, I personally enjoyed quite a few of them, and I am currently reading "Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in order to prepare for second year. You can usually get away with spending peanuts on amazon for common books such as "Frankenstein" but for academic books which are essential to the course, it will cost a lot more and sometimes that's just unavoidable. However, the advantage you have for actually having these books is way worth it because you will definitely be more likely to succeed if you commit to absorbing the knowledge. I spent £100 at least on my books this year, made sure I read them well and had countless pages of notes on each section that helped me commit it to memory. My classmates who did not even buy the essential text failed or got a poor mark.

    If you love reading, focus on the key texts and a selection from the reading lists of your choice that you have a feeling will help you study. Make use of the university library and any local libraries and online shops for the extra books. Even if you can't borrow or save money, I promise it's worth it. If you're struggling to afford it I would suggest going to your module lecturer and explaining the situation. They will always be willing to help you out with the book if you genuinely have no means to buy it.

    I did a History A Level and I'd forgotten all of it by the time I got to university, it didn't make any difference. The point is that you are there to learn and to become more educated and they will never, ever be taken aback by things you don't know. The main thing is to never be afraid to ask a question, no matter how stupid you think it might be. Don't know what a word means or haven't heard of a particular term or event? Chances are there's others in the room who don't who will be grateful if you ask. I've learned to be that person and nothing is more satisfying than just asking a specific question you need answering, even if other people think it's stupid, because you only lose if you don't. Knowing historical events might be a bonus, sure, but they will teach you anyway. Lots of people in my class are from foreign countries and have little to no education on British history, just like I have had no education in their history more or less. The lecturers do not just assume everyone already has knowledge in literature! So don't panic

    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I'm definitely planning on doing a lot of research but there's so much to learn just in term 1. I know I can't learn everything before I even get to university but I want to get off to a good start. I suppose I'm just scared of the settling in process, and how much Warwick will do to ease me into the course.
    This is a good approach and I won't tell you not to do any reading, but if you do that'll really put you off to a great start but I can promise you that most people won't have even bothered to look at the reading lists, let alone actually have read the books already. I honestly really commend you for wanting to do so well and make such a conscious effort to make sure you keep up, you're a lot more enthusiastic and organised than most. I did no reading at all before my first term and bought the books weekly, sometimes just five days before I needed to have it read and consumed the whole thing in 24 hours in a mad rush. I passed with mostly firsts in all my subjects, so I can only imagine you'll do wonderfully as you're so conscientious.

    It's completely understandable to be scared, but what I will say is that on my first term I looked at the mountain of reading and work I thought was in store, but took it in my stride because the lecturers KNOW you're scared, nervous and possibly really overwhelmed and that you won't feel like you have any idea what to do. They will also be aware that a lot of you are homesick and worried about getting to grips with being away from home, so they're all very kind and welcoming. I don't go to Warwick, but generally speaking I have heard no different from any university. They are there to help you. As far as learning the information goes as well, if you look at it all at once, it's an impossible amount of information to feed into your brain, but the lecturers split it into sizeable chunks for us to digest weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly should it be a ridiculous amount.

    Never, ever let anyone tell you that English holds no job prospects. Studying English means not only do you receive education in English, you learn History, Geography, Religion and Culture, Sociology and much, much more. You become a citizen of the world and learn values from so many eras and places. The experience and knowledge gained from an English degree can be so incredibly enriching if it's truly what you want. I am in love with English, as are you, and I promise you that the opportunities are endless for those who excel in it.

    I have had the time of my life studying the subject I love most and I know you will dive in head-first and love it just as much as I have!

    I wish you luck with everything and I hope you enjoy it!
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