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English at Oxford

Fariha is a first-year English undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford. She comes from both a state-comprehensive (secondary school) and state-grammar (sixth form) background in the West Midlands. She is interested in outreach and widening access schemes at university.

1. What is your course and where do you study it?

I study English Language and Literature at Keble College, Oxford.

2. What does your course entail?

There are four compulsory papers studied in the first year. Paper 1 is an ‘Introduction to English Language and Literature’, Paper 2 ‘Early medieval literature, 650-1350’, Paper 3 ‘Literature in English, 1830-1910’, and Paper 4 ‘Literature in English, 1910-present day’

As you can see, in the first-year, literature is divided into different time periods and studied that way. There are no optional papers, so all four papers are compulsory!

For ‘Introduction to English Language and Literature’, you submit a portfolio of two essays (kind of like coursework at A-level English). The other three papers are assessed in first year examinations at the end of the year.

3. What is your favourite part of the course?

My favourite part of the course is paper 4 and reading literature from 1910 to the present day. Paper 4 has allowed me to read about a wide range of writers and their books, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Flush, and H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, to name a few. On the poetry side, reading poems of T.S Eliot and Robert Frost has been particularly interesting as I did not get a chance in school to explore them in such depth.

4. What would you improve about the course?

The English Language and Literature degree at Oxford covers a variety of literature in the first year and so finding something that needs improvement is a tough question! Maybe having some optional papers alongside the four compulsory papers would be nice but it would add to the already heavy workload!

5. What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I do not have a set plan yet for after graduation as first year seems a bit too early to be set on a career path, but I am exploring a wide range of careers through events and talks at university.

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