5 Things To Know Before Studying Literature at University

If you’re an English native you’ll have been studying literature since way back, but it’s VERY different at uni. Here’s some things you should know (from someone who’s come out the other side)

  1. You will be expected to read A LOT. Seriously a lot. If you don’t take a minor you’ll be set around 4 texts a week. Module depending, sometimes these will be plays or poetry collections- dreamy, but when they’re 4 novels it can be seriously overwhelming and eat up a lot of time.
  2. Most people won’t read AT ALL. I’ll admit, I wasn’t always great at reading the texts, but it makes seminars excruciating- Some lecturers will pick on you randomly, and if you haven’t read the text it’s bloody hard to blag!
  3. English Literature is a glorified book club- in the best way. Granted, you sit and read a book and then sit and discuss said book, but it’s so much more than that. I did a module in 21st Century American Literature which covered Black Lives Matter, Queerness and a whole load more which is SO relevant and puts me in such good stead for a topic so many actually know so little about. In lit controversial topics are debated and you’ll be sure people have SUPER controversial opinions, but nothing is off limits- there’s nothing like it.
  4. Contact time is little. Don’t take literature if you’re wanting to be in university 9-5 5 days a week. Because realistically you’ll have 2-3 hours per module, so maybe 12 hours a week. But when you have hours upon hours of books to read it kind of makes sense.
  5. Forget metaphors and similies; it’s all about theory. All the way up to A-Level, literature is close reading and nothing much more. You pick out devices, maybe meter, and analyse their use. When you get to uni it’s taken as given you can do this, and instead it all becomes about theory. Read up on philosophy, religion, sociology and loads more because that’s what you apply to novels from now on. Obviously you’re taught all these things, but it’s completely different to what you may expect!

English Literature is a great course, and don’t worry about being ’employable’. I know the uni will sell the course as one that has transferable skills, but in reality all that matters in the real world is whether or not you have a likeable personality, a good work ethic, a degree in any shape or form, and ideally some work experience. My university now does a work experience semester which is super useful, but wasn’t there when I was. Regardless, after university, the first job I interviewed for I got, and here I am now- so it can’t be that bad a degree!

I thoroughly enjoyed my few years at uni and would recommend literature to anyone.

Thanks for reading and make sure you’re following me for more!

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