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Studying English Literature at University of Reading

Just over a year ago, I tentatively set University of Reading as my firm choice in UCAS to study English Literature. It had been a lengthy decision-making process of weighing up numerous pros and cons of the institutions I had applied to and, a year on, I can confirm that Reading was 100% the right decision.  

When I was applying to university last year, the one thing that I knew I wanted from an English Literature course was diversity and a wide breadth in the syllabus. I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into a course that was very specific, only to find out that I disliked the very specific things I would be studying. I knew I wanted to be on a course that gave me a wide base of knowledge over various topics, time frames, genres and styles, which would then help me to learn my preferences within literature and refine from there.

If you are also someone who, like me, wants breadth in a course, then English Literature at Reading is definitely the right place for you. Within the compulsory modules, I studied poetry over a wide expanse of time, Renaissance period plays, Victorian novels, and a range of critical essays, all of which enabled me to look at texts and think things through differently, developing my analytical skills. I acquired a real interest in these critical essays that I doubt I would have had I been on a course that was very specific. I remember on the Open Day for the University of Reading I was told that a key word to describe the English Literature course is “choice” – and I still agree with that statement a year on.

Alongside these compulsory modules, there are also optional modules that further this feeling of choice and create a degree that really works for you. Whilst several friends of mine did, and enjoyed doing, an American Literature module, I picked the Creative Writing module, which turned out to be my favourite module. This module meant that as of next year my degree is changing from English Literature to English with Creative Writing, which enables me to further my skills in Creative Writing. I suspect this is a decision that was only truly available to me because of the wide choice at Reading. It was also compulsory to do modules outside of the department, which I was very positive about, as it gave me further breadth. My module in European Modernist Fiction gave me a greater understanding of foreign texts whilst helping me to develop ways of looking at texts that really helped with the Victorian Novel module.

The wide choice within English Literature at the University of Reading may seem daunting to some, but the support here is fantastic and the staff are truly brilliant if you need any help at all, so this breadth has only created positive things for me and, as far as I am aware, my friends who are also studying English Literature here.

If you are heading towards the University of Reading to study English Literature, or are considering this as an option, then you are making a very smart choice. You will be surrounded by supportive and enthusiastic staff, whilst slowly but surely learning what aspects of English Literature you truly shine in and enjoy due to the brilliantly wide and flexible amount of choice here.

About Sarah Kenchington

s.kenchington@student.reading.ac.uk'

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