Boasting endless archives of books and critical essays to read and research, an English Literature degree provides a wide platform for independent thought and approach, as well as improving your writing skills.
So where to start?
In this guide, you will find the ways in how to make the most of an English Literature degree, and how to find the best creative and critical approaches which enrich your interests. Not only may this be beneficial to those studying English, but the same skills listed can also apply to other art and humanity related degrees!
Start your reading well in advance
This is especially important if your course includes big and difficult reads. A recommended way to get ahead of your reading is to start it in the holidays before your term, such as in the summer when you have plenty of time to read and take in what has been listed. Even if you don’t finish all of the books on your reading list, then at least you have more time during the term to sift through them.
Don’t rush it all last minute, leave lots of time
It’s an easy habit to fall into, and if you don’t stick to what is stated in the point before this, you will find it tricky to stay on top of everything. Besides, if you leave little to no time to read and research, you miss out on extra bits of information which could have been interesting or critical to your own thinking!
Prepare by making notes before and after each seminar
This is extremely useful for discovering new approaches and tackling difficult aspects of a text. Making notes before the seminar displays what you’ve picked up and interpreted from your readings, and by revisiting these notes afterwards, you can look at what you have understood or perhaps misunderstood, enriching your original approaches with those made by other participants in the seminar.
Make the most of your tutors and their office hours
Your tutors and their office hours are available for a reason, and if you want to make the most of your degree, then it’s essential you take advantage of these resources. Visiting your tutor can be beneficial in numerous ways; you may want to go over a few points you didn’t understand in a seminar or lecture, or perhaps you need help in structuring an argument for your essay.
Get to know other people on your course
Meeting other English Literature students can be highly beneficial to your degree; by talking to other people, you gain a wider perspective of what you’re studying, but you’re also provided with the chance to share more opinions and viewpoints, which could contribute to your essays. Therefore, it would be recommended to create study groups, which involves meeting up with other classmates outside of seminars and lectures, to discuss what you’re learning, and how you can apply this knowledge to your coursework.
Editor’s Note: As an English Literature student myself, I can honestly say that I wish I had read this article before starting my degree – it may have saved me a lot of catching up and hard work! The main lesson from this article is that preparation is key; not just for English Literature but for any subject.