meli77
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What do people who major in English Literature do on a daily basis? Is it remotely similar to GCSE type of questions? What is your homework like? How many essays do you write in a week? What do you learn in lectures? Do you practice creative writing? Any tips/advice for a 16 y.o who wants to do Lit in uni?
Thanks!!
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Keele Postgraduate
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(Original post by meli77)
What do people who major in English Literature do on a daily basis? Is it remotely similar to GCSE type of questions? What is your homework like? How many essays do you write in a week? What do you learn in lectures? Do you practice creative writing? Any tips/advice for a 16 y.o who wants to do Lit in uni?
Thanks!!
Hi meli77!

Great to hear you're thinking of studying English at university - it's a really versatile subject that teaches you a load of transferable skills (and is a lot of fun to study!). I did a BA in English Literature before going on to do an MA English Literatures. I'm now in the second year of my PhD in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century medievalism.

What you do on your English degree with vary from course to course and university to university. English Literature degrees tend to focus on the close reading and analysis of literary texts but more general English BA's might also include language and linguistic elements. Some English Literature degrees will allow you to do some creative writing but, if you definitely want that to be part of your course, you might want to look at a mixed English and Creative Writing programme.

At Keele, for example, we have three core undergraduate programmes in English: English Literature, English and American Literature, and English Literature and Creative Writing (https://www.keele.ac.uk/humanities/s...undergraduate/), and also offer joint honours programmes between English Literature and History, Film Studies, Education, Philosophy, and Psychology. If you take a look at the course pages (you can get to them all from the link above), you'll see that all of the programmes have an English Literature element but that the focus and stress of each pathway varies slightly depending on the exact focus of that pathway.

In terms of exactly what you do, again it varies depending on the course but expect to be doing 3-4 modules per semester that will cover a range of literary texts (from medieval to contemporary literature, different mediums such as plays/poetry/novels/novellas, different literary theories etc). Usually you'll write 1-2 essays per module, although some courses may have other assignments such as solo or group presentations, discussion boards, edited editions etc. You'll get the chance to attend lectures - when you'll be given key critical, theoretical, and contextual information about the texts you're studying - and seminars, when you get chance to discuss the text with other students and tutors. The rest of your time will largely be spend reading - you may need to read multiple texts for each week - and preparing for seminars and essays by conducting critical reading, close reading, or textual analysis.

Essay questions tend to be a lot more open and wide ranging that GCSE or A-Level - there's a move away from 'compare and contrast' to 'analyse' 'discuss' and 'to what extent' style questions. The focus is still on literature though - and on engaging in close reading and critical analysis of themes, characters, contexts etc. It's just happening on a deeper and more involved level than you're required to demonstrate at GCSE.

In terms of advice, my biggest piece of advice is just to read - and enjoy reading. Read widely across a range of eras, styles, and genres, and develop a love and habit of reading - it'll stand you in good stead for an English degree (as will the ability to read and digest information quite quickly). And take a look at some uni websites to get a feel for what kind of courses are out there and what sort of English degree you want to do! You'll find quite a few universities also let you chat to existing students - at Keele, for example, we use a live chat service called Unibuddy. One of our English undergraduates, Ellie, is on there so do feel free to contact her and ask her about what life is like as an English Literature student with us and what sort of topics and texts she has been studying: https://api.unibuddy.co/og/keele-uni...Position=share

Hope that helps but do feel free to ask if you have any other questions!

Amy Louise
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meli77
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! It definitely helped!
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(Original post by meli77)
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! It definitely helped!
No problem at all - happy to help! I love studying English Literature - and hope to make a career teaching it - so always keen to encourage more people to consider taking it as a course! A lot of people think that it's only a useful degree if you want to teach but I used the skills I learnt on my English degree to hold jobs as a newspaper journalist, an inventory clerk, a data administrator, and a manager for an estate agency. I eventually returned to university to do my MA/PhD - and I want to now move into academia as a career - but I can attest from personal experience that the skills leant doing a subject like English are hugely transferable to other roles and types of employment.

Amy Louise
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