- Course: BA English Literature
- Year of graduation: 2022
- Nationality: Irish
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I knew I wanted to study English Literature, I’ve wanted to study English since I was in year 5, so it’s been a long-term goal that I’m immensely happy to have achieved.
I found the prospect of committing to one university extremely daunting; being inundated with reasons to pick this university or that university was overwhelming. There was a plethora of reasons I finally chose Leeds: from speaking to current students and hearing their honest feedback and experience; to the staff’s clear passion for their areas of research.
The blending of compulsory core modules with optional modules was a big part of choosing English at Leeds: I liked that there were modules covering the core principles of literary criticism, how to effectively engage with texts; as well as modules that were more niche and specific. One of my favourite modules focused entirely on animals in children’s literature!
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
Literature allows us to live lives that transcend our own experience; it affords us the power of transgressing the boundaries of time and space - the beauty and significance of which cannot be overstated. To be able to engage with a diverse range of texts as the foundation of my studies and to appreciate their unique artistry; I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?
A lot of hard work and time goes into close reading, but I find it the most satisfying venture when you begin to piece together recurring patterns and emergent themes. I enjoy the depth of understanding you are afforded when you are given the time to read a passage repeatedly, until you slowly begin to unpeel the layers of meaning and sophistication that perhaps go unnoticed upon first reading.
Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member or the University’s academic staff?
One thing I can reassure you about is that the pastoral support within the School of English is outstanding. There are systems in place to ensure that both academically and personally you are supported- through your personal tutor, seminar tutors, and Support officer within the school. Any member of staff is willing to listen and help in any way possible.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Rosie Stoker, who is our student support officer in the School of English, who has supported me in implementing exam arrangements and extensions, as well as providing a supportive, listening ear when I’ve been struggling.
Although it is our shared passion and pursuit, there is so much more to the School of English than just the academic element; it is a community of like-minded people who acknowledge and appreciate the sharing of academic ideas alongside personal experience.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?
There are loads of great societies run through Leeds University Union, who run ‘Give it a Go’ introductory sessions to give you a flavour of their meetings before you commit to joining. It can be a great way to meet people outside of your course as well as doing something you enjoy. It can definitely be daunting, but everyone is in the same position and societies will welcome you with open arms.
The School of English, in previous years, has run English Tea; you can grab a hot drink and chat to your fellow students in a more casual environment than lecture and seminar spaces.
What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed so far at Leeds will help with these plans?
I’m beginning to look at graduate jobs for when I’ve completed my degree (which will hopefully be at the end of this academic year!) I haven’t decided exactly what I want to pursue yet, but I know that my degree and the skills it has allowed me to develop will stand me in good stead for a career that I will enjoy thoroughly.
Being at University, however, isn’t just academia: the personal skills you learn from working within the sphere of higher education, of working alongside your peers and teaching staff; of living independently; of forging connections with a diversity of people, and uncovering your passions and goals.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
Do it. I’ve loved every minute of it and wish my course was longer than 3 years because I enjoy it so much. Take time to have a look at the modules that are available (which can be found in the module catalogue) to see the range of modules available. Speak to staff and students if you have the opportunity; their insight is invaluable and will give you a clearer idea of what to expect.
You have to be a fairly voracious reader - there are a lot of novels, critical essays, and other works to get through on a weekly basis, but as long as you’re committed and genuinely enjoy studying English then you’ll absolutely thrive.