Alright, so I’m aware that A level results day is looming- I have a very nervous sister I’m coming back from Germany to be with! Some of you might end up looking round here because you need to pick a course quite quickly after results day, so I thought I’d just point out some of the key things that make English at Leicester different from other courses, so that you can decide whether it’s for you or not.
It’s ‘English’ not ‘English Literature’
This means that there are elements of language involved in this course. I didn’t actually know this because I applied to Leicester to study Psychology, then panicked and changed my mind once I’d been offered a place. The English department were great at switching me to English, but this meant I didn’t choose the course as much as I fell into it. That being said, I’m not a big fan of English language so I think that had I known, it might have put me off, but actually it has not been bad at all! The language lecturers are some of the most enthusiastic in the department, which is a big help, and I did one language module in my first year and then the Old English module in second year also had language elements in- which I found hard, but got my highest grade, as seems to be the way with things you don’t like too much. The language element is definitely worth bearing in mind, but at the same time remember that if it’s not something you’re necessarily in to, it is possible to survive. And if it is something you’re interested in then great, because from what I’ve seen they’ve now made it so that you can study more English language modules.
It’s done in broadly chronological order
Most English degrees that I’ve seen from scouring the internet in a ‘where would I have chosen if I’d got it right first time round’ mindset, do make this claim, but it’s particularly true at Leicester. This is because more of the modules are compulsory, which I’ll mention in a minute. In first year it’s a ‘getting to grips’ year so you don’t start right at the beginning of the English language as that would be terrifying, but from second year you work through the main periods of literature. This means you start back at Beowulf, when you can’t even recognise English (hence the language elements), then you move forward to Chaucer, and at the same time you’re learning about the Renaissance- building on the Shakespeare module from first year. Then in second year you also study Medieval Literature, so as you can see there is a real emphasis on going over the start of English literature, which is not that common in other English degrees. The reason for this is that so much of later literature draws on the older stuff that it really helps to have an awareness of where the later authors were getting their inspiration from. So whilst many courses offer a ‘chronological core’, I’d say that it is particularly thorough at Leicester.
There isn’t that much choice in the module selections
As a result of this chronological focus, there are less modules you can choose yourself because there are so many core modules. However, you can choose a module in first and second semester of first year, and also in final year. Also in final year you have your dissertation, so it’s just second year where you don’t have the option to follow your own interests as much. However, I’ve looked at the course and it seems that they’ve now introduced the option to follow creative writing or language in second year. I’m not sure how that works because it was introduced after I started, but it means that the choice options are slowly increasing! It’s worth knowing this relative lack of choice though, because there are courses where you have a lot more flexibility over thoroughness, and you’ll know which one is best for you.
There is the option to go on a year abroad
I’m currently writing this blog from my year abroad, Heidelberg, and I know that this can be quite a big factor for some people in choosing a course. I’ve not known anyone in the English department to have any problems with getting a place on a study abroad program should they want to go, and there are some great places offered. But if this is a significant factor in your choice, you should have a look at the destinations available and see if they appeal to you.
I hope this helps you get a better understanding of the course at Leicester. If you have any questions at all then please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below, and good luck on results day! 🙂