English is a popular course, and so most of your supervisions (at least for the first two years) will be done with other English students at your college. Lectures are usually held at the Sidgwick site, and are never 'compulsory', although they really help to quickly get to grip with a text or time period you may be writing an essay on. They're also an opportunity to meet English students from across the university and get to know the teaching styles of different academics.

- Mia (3rd Year, Queens' College)

Key Facts

Average offer: A*A*A

3 years

Available at all colleges

Written assessment if interviewed.

No information on inclusive prayer space.

English Literature required.


Why did you want to study English?


I've always been fascinated by the way language shapes meaning and vice versa. Therefore, I wanted to think with and through literature; English allows me to explore ideas from a wide range of disciplines (Philosophy, History, Art, Sociology) through writing.

How is the English course structured?


The course is split into two parts: Year 1 and 2 combine to form Part I, and Year 3 is Part II. In Part I you'll study a different 'period paper' each term, moving chronologically from the Medieval period to the Contemporary. You'll typically write an essay a week, and as long as you remain within the time period you have a lot of choice on which topics you write on! Within Part I you'll also have a term dedicated to Shakespeare (examined as a portfolio of essays) and a short dissertation on a subject of your choice. The remaining period papers are examined at the end of Year 2.  By Part II you get to choose modules that are based more on themes than time periods, alongside a compulsory 'Tragedy' paper and a longer dissertation.  Throughout all three years you'll also study 'Practical Criticism and Critical Practice', a very Oxbridge course that feels a bit more like the 'unseen' exams you may have taken at school. You'll delve into literary theory and do lots of close reading practice.

What is the faculty building like?


Amazing!!! It's a nice modern building with plenty of space to work, as well as a chill out area. The librarians are very friendly and helpful and even offer Tea @ 3 every Thursday.

What is the workload like?


Most of the work is independent reading and writing! Two supervisions a week, which means one or two 1500-2000 word essays written and submitted in preparation. As many lectures as are helpful, usually four or five but this varies greatly from person to person.

What about your course would you change?


There's lots of scope for choice when it comes to writing essays (which is great!) but this often means the lectures do not correspond to the topics you're writing on. Also, as every college structures the course/terms slightly differently, specific lectures often do not line up with the week you might need them. Lectures are also no longer recorded, unless you need this for access reasons, so it is easy to miss out on them. Lastly, workload varies greatly college to college, as different supervisors/Directors of Studies have very different expectations.