nutellaqe
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Hi all, I'm thinking of applying to Durham to study English Literature, unfortunately the uni is about 8 hours away from where I live!
This means that going to an open day is a bit unrealistic but not impossible.

I wonder if anyone who's currently studying English at Durham or has studied, can give me any advice about the course and what uni life in general is like in Durham?
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elliebaker95
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Hello! I'm not actually at Durham yet (but it is my firm choice- fingers crossed on results day!) and I am hopefully going to do English Lit and Education. I received my offer just after the last open day so went for a private tour and I feel your pain, I live in the south east and it was a massive 7 hour drive each way...however I think it is a reaaalllyyy good idea to go and visit if you possibly can! The staff I arranged to see were very helpful and I think its important to get a feel for the place as you will be living there for some reasonable time. You don't want to be a gremlin sat in your room because the college system is not your thing or whatever. Also a good idea to travel up there to get a feel for how long it actually takes, maybe look in to different transport methods, I found if you book train tickets ages in advance there is a MONUMENTAL difference in price. Good luck, sorry I couldn't have been of more help! x
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Kyasako
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Hi there, I've just finished my first year at Durham doing English as part of Combined Honours. I would definitely say make the effort to go to an Open Day - that was basically what made me decide to apply and ultimately pick Durham.

In terms of the course, first year is quite introductory, and as single honours you'll have 3 compulsory modules: Intro to Drama, Intro to Novel, and Intro to Poetry. Apart from that you can choose from Classical and Biblical Background to Literature, Age of Chivalry, The Heroic Age, and English Language and its History. I think you're allowed to pick up to 2 outside modules from other departments instead of those. All the modules are very broad and generally I found focus on older periods than more contemporary. This changes in second and final year where you have much larger selection of modules. You'll also then get to pick 'special topics' which will deal with a specific author or theme in line with staff research interests in small seminar groups.

At Durham doing English you'll have very few contact hours - 6 a week (1 lecture per module) and then an hour tutorial for each module every 3 weeks. I found it initially quite difficult to know how to discipline myself to read above and beyond the lectures, but you get the hang of it after a while. And it also leaves plenty of time to do other stuff. Just expect a lot less guidance than at school, and don't expect to be delving into texts in detail in lectures/tutorials.

Uni life in general.. it's pretty much what you make it. Obviously Durham is a much smaller city than most universities, and I would say that there's much more of a community about it for this reason, and also because of the college system. You get to know people very quickly, and there's tons of stuff to get involved in. If you want to ask any more specific questions about anything I'm happy to answer.
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nutellaqe
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(Original post by elliebaker95)
Hello! I'm not actually at Durham yet (but it is my firm choice- fingers crossed on results day!) and I am hopefully going to do English Lit and Education. I received my offer just after the last open day so went for a private tour and I feel your pain, I live in the south east and it was a massive 7 hour drive each way...however I think it is a reaaalllyyy good idea to go and visit if you possibly can! The staff I arranged to see were very helpful and I think its important to get a feel for the place as you will be living there for some reasonable time. You don't want to be a gremlin sat in your room because the college system is not your thing or whatever. Also a good idea to travel up there to get a feel for how long it actually takes, maybe look in to different transport methods, I found if you book train tickets ages in advance there is a MONUMENTAL difference in price. Good luck, sorry I couldn't have been of more help! x
Hi! I'm so sorry that I didn't reply sooner, for some reason the notification never came up! I hope all went well on results day!!!! I received an offer for English Literature but managed to change my course to combined hons in arts as I really want to study spanish alongside english lit! So hopefully see you in October, what college are you at? I got allocated to Collingwood. x
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nutellaqe
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(Original post by Kyasako)
Hi there, I've just finished my first year at Durham doing English as part of Combined Honours. I would definitely say make the effort to go to an Open Day - that was basically what made me decide to apply and ultimately pick Durham.

In terms of the course, first year is quite introductory, and as single honours you'll have 3 compulsory modules: Intro to Drama, Intro to Novel, and Intro to Poetry. Apart from that you can choose from Classical and Biblical Background to Literature, Age of Chivalry, The Heroic Age, and English Language and its History. I think you're allowed to pick up to 2 outside modules from other departments instead of those. All the modules are very broad and generally I found focus on older periods than more contemporary. This changes in second and final year where you have much larger selection of modules. You'll also then get to pick 'special topics' which will deal with a specific author or theme in line with staff research interests in small seminar groups.

At Durham doing English you'll have very few contact hours - 6 a week (1 lecture per module) and then an hour tutorial for each module every 3 weeks. I found it initially quite difficult to know how to discipline myself to read above and beyond the lectures, but you get the hang of it after a while. And it also leaves plenty of time to do other stuff. Just expect a lot less guidance than at school, and don't expect to be delving into texts in detail in lectures/tutorials.

Uni life in general.. it's pretty much what you make it. Obviously Durham is a much smaller city than most universities, and I would say that there's much more of a community about it for this reason, and also because of the college system. You get to know people very quickly, and there's tons of stuff to get involved in. If you want to ask any more specific questions about anything I'm happy to answer.
This is brilliant thank you so much for your reply and so very sorry for my late one! I managed to get an offer for English lit but the university let me change to combined hons in arts as I want to study Spanish alongside English! What subjects are you studying can I ask? And are you enjoying the course? Is it normal to have so few contact hours? Or is Durham alone in that it does this? I don't mind working independently as I get very little guidance in school as it is! I come from a very small comp in South Wales and so the grades achieved are not very high. I have sort of become used to doing everything I can to get the high grades! Can I ask what college you're at? I have been allocated to Collingwood and wonder whether I'll like it. I initially applied to St Chads. Also are there many literary circles and societies to get involved with?
I've heard often that Durham is similar (obviously not the same) to Oxbridge but without the level of intensity, is this true? I'm assuming the standard of teaching is fantastic. Thank you and sorry for the thousands of questions!!!!!!
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west1806
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Hi, I saw that someone mentioned that you're allowed to pick up to 2 modules from other departments - do these have to be literature related in any way?
I'd really like to do some language modules along side my course, if that's not possible then I may consider doing a joint English and Spanish degree...


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nutellaqe
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(Original post by west1806)
Hi, I saw that someone mentioned that you're allowed to pick up to 2 modules from other departments - do these have to be literature related in any way?
I'd really like to do some language modules along side my course, if that's not possible then I may consider doing a joint English and Spanish degree...


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Hi! I'm not at Durham yet but hold and offer (fingers crossed I get the grades!) I was basically in a very similar position to you. I applied originally for English Lit and got an offer but then realised I couldn't compromise my Spanish that much so I requested to change my course to Combined Honours in Arts and by some miracle they accepted the request. As far as I'm aware, it's only through Combined Hons in Arts that you'd be able to do an English and Spanish degree.

In regards to your other question, I'm not entirely sure...I'd assume unless you're starting a language ab inito that you'd need an A level in order to qualify for a module in whichever subject. But don't quote me on that!

Hope this sort of helps!
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west1806
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(Original post by nutellaqe)
Hi! I'm not at Durham yet but hold and offer (fingers crossed I get the grades!) I was basically in a very similar position to you. I applied originally for English Lit and got an offer but then realised I couldn't compromise my Spanish that much so I requested to change my course to Combined Honours in Arts and by some miracle they accepted the request. As far as I'm aware, it's only through Combined Hons in Arts that you'd be able to do an English and Spanish degree.

In regards to your other question, I'm not entirely sure...I'd assume unless you're starting a language ab inito that you'd need an A level in order to qualify for a module in whichever subject. But don't quote me on that!

Hope this sort of helps!
Hey! Thank you so much, that pretty much answers all my questions


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Jameseli
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Hi! I wonder what's it like to do English Literature and History at Durham as a Hongkonger? I'm having mixed feelings about it. Am I the only individual from this minority group (I think most Hongkongers either do law or business subjects)?
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mcgarmott
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I'm Malaysian Chinese and about to do my postgrad on Medieval and Early Modern Studies, a subject I don't think anyone in my country has studied, haha (my previous degree is in Economics). The point is, I would say don't worry about what your other peers are doing and just study what you are more passionate about. "Follow your curiousity," so says the author Elizabeth Gilbert. Durham is definitely a good place to study History, and as far as I know it's pretty good for English as well.
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