Let’s talk English at York

I know everyone tells you that University is “an experience of a lifetime” (or at least that’s what every teacher kept telling me). However, I am writing to tell you about the fascinating seminars, the inspiring people, and the amazing things you will only do at York. This isn’t a propaganda piece I wrote whilst an English lecturer stood over me. This is my honest account of my experience with the University of York English department!

When your seminar tutor asks if you enjoyed reading Antigone, and then proceeds to pull masks and costumes out of a bag.

The main reason I chose York was because of the English Literature course. Where else could I go to a lecture on literary theory based around The Beatles? I knew that if I came here I would be learning about literature from the experts and people who literally wrote the book on literary criticism. The lectures and seminars themselves are so diverse, where you can go from studying Shakespeare and the Renaissance, to learning about film techniques in Casablanca. You also have a wide choice of modules, which meant by the end of first year, I had chosen and completed modules centred around philosophy and film as part of my English degree! Also, at the beginning of 2nd year, I had one of my Medieval Literature seminars in a church, where we could explore the ruins which the public aren’t allowed to access.

In your 2nd year, you can take a World Literature Module. This is not only an opportunity to read texts in their original language or in translation, but to learn about literature you might have never experienced before from all over the world. I chose to do Old Norse Literature, and I am currently studying all about Viking legends and myths, while learning a new language! There are so many on offer, from The Anglo-Saxon World Image to Post-War French Culture, all of which are taught by experts in the field.

For me, one of the most daunting things about studying English was the essays. At York, we have the freedom to choose essay topics, which was such a change from school. You can write your essay on anything you want, which sometimes lends itself to some very odd titles. While it is scary to write your first essay, it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same boat, and your tutors and the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellows (the Department’s consultants who are employed for the sole purpose of helping you with essays) are always happy and ready to help. All I can say is, when essay week is approaching, I am so thankful we have a fantastic library!

But your University life won’t just be about studying. If you come to York, you will also have the opportunity to join over a hundred different societies. The best thing about doing an English degree is that there are so many things you have time to do as well as study, and the department will not only support you, but encourage you to get involved with anything that you find fun or interesting.

I hope this has been helpful to you and whilst I have developed an immense fear of geese at York (the campus is full of them!), I have loved every minute of studying here. I guess it really has been “an experience of a lifetime”. I know it’s a cliché… but it’s true.

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Hi, I'm Beth, and I'm currently in my 3rd Year of English and Related Literature. I'm also heavily involved with URY (Student Radio in York), and host my own weekly film review show, Screen. As an English student you probably guessed I love reading, but I also love playing the piano and drawing (mostly doodles if I'm honest).