Meg – English Language & Literature

What do you like best about your course?

The English course at Oxford is at once both so liberating and supportive. We are given the freedom to follow our interests, but always under the guidance of the experts. The tutors at Teddy Hall have the perfect balance, so in my second year I already feel like I’m developing my own voice and analysis.

How is your subject taught at Oxford?

On average we have one tutorial and two seminars/classes a week. In each tutorial we discuss the essay we have been working on, and potential avenues for next week’s. Classes can range from background work to close analysis of texts – sharing opinions with classmates is always valuable. Lectures are largely optional as we have so much control about what we study, but two to five a week is probably a fair estimate. Most of our study time, of course, involves self-led reading and writing.

In first and second year we usually study two topics in a term: one in its entirety, and the other to be completed over two terms. Third year is the time of dissertations, special options and independent study. I can’t tell you anything about that from experience yet, but I am so looking forward to it!

What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?

Think about what led you to choosing this subject in the first place – even bed-time stories! – their contexts and their effects on you, before thinking about what you ‘should’ be reading. Your interest is so important, so follow that and just keep asking questions! The entrance test for English is such a contrast to the tick-box nature of many school exams, and its rejection of external knowledge puts us all on a level playing field; take the freedom and show off your analysing skills. The interview, again, wants to find out how you engage, not how much you know. The tutors know it’s scary, but it’s ultimately a chat about something you both love!

Why did you choose to apply to St Edmund Hall?

Teddy Hall is so central, and I value the extra 15 minutes sleep I get before heading to an early lecture! There also isn’t a ‘type’ at Teddy Hall, which means no one feels pressured to be or act a certain way.

What is life like as a student here?

My expectations were met! I can work at my own pace, and have found time to pursue my other interests which in turn feed into my college work. I have met friends I will undoubtedly keep for the rest of my life, and my subject tutors are the most intelligent, supportive and interesting people I have ever met. I am spoilt.

What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in at Oxford?

I go to the University’s TaeKwonDo school, based at the gym just 10 minutes from Teddy Hall – it’s a stroke of luck that the country’s leading teacher lives just outside the city. I’ve also taken part in a number of drama productions, with different groups but all under the umbrella of OUDS (the Oxford University Dramatic Society). I have attended and organised political discussions since starting at Oxford, and the range and recognition of different perspectives is great. Teddy Hall is also home to an excellent writing society, which holds weekly meetings and regular events, at which I’ve gathered the confidence to read my own work in public for the first time.

Where next?

English Language and Literature

Undergraduate course page

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English and Modern Languages

Undergraduate course page

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Creative Writing

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