DSC_0204New year, new you? The year you will never have to ask a friend to borrow a pen. The year you will always complete the extra-but-not-compulsory reading (as well as the compulsory reading, but you do that already, right?). The year you will complete your assessments a month before the deadline and make the most of all the opportunities provided by the university, even if that means cancelling your Netflix marathon and swapping your pajamas for attire that will be deemed acceptable outside the four walls of your bedroom. Even if you can’t stick to all of these goals this year, I recommend you that you take advantage of that which our school has to offer.

Since starting my English degree, I have completed study in Language modules, including Grammar and Vocabulary, Language and Gender, Literary Linguistics and Narrative Analysis. While Grammar and Vocabulary provided me with the essential skills to improve my writing and formed a foundation from which to analyse texts, Language and Gender made me better informed on issues of great importance (especially in today’s current circumstances) and developed my ability to analyse, argue and understand the views of myself and others in discussions surrounding gender. Literary Linguistics introduced me to the world of Corpus Linguistics, a branch of study I have found particularly interesting and have taken forward as a means of analysis within the Independent Study Module. I was also able to use this method of study in my recent Narrative Analysis project where I analysed the impact of Textual Patterning on the reader’s understanding of narratives. I have found all of my modules thoroughly enjoyable and have gained transferable skills that have been useful within the study of each of these topics and the general practice of ‘adult’ life.

Throughout my time at BCU, I’ve also realised how lucky we, as English Language students, really are. Unlike many other departments, faculties and universities, our tutors provide us with regular tutorials and office hours for the one-to-one discussion of projects, problems and progress. At first, I was reluctant to make use of these opportunities. However, after getting over the ‘safety in numbers’ element and realising that although the teaching staff are experts in the subjects they specialise, they are just as normal as the students they teach, I’ve discovered how useful and important these meetings are.

I now make sure to book as many tutorials as I feel necessary for my development and work hard to devise drafts within the given time-frame, in order to receive valuable feedback before final submission. I believe that in doing this, I have not only improved my grades, but it has made a significant impact on my organisation, motivation and self-awareness. Guidance and feedback are essential to effective personal development, and it would be silly not to learn from the breadth and depth of wisdom and advice provided by the expertise of our accomplished tutors and lecturers.

In 2016, I learned how to really get the best out of my BCU experience and in continuing this and further making use of these chances, I believe that 2017 will be a prosperous year of which I can be proud. In attending events, handing in drafts, asking questions and making the most of the vast range of opportunities and modules the School of English provides, I’ve been able to increase my confidence, develop and build upon valuable skills, qualities and knowledge, and become a valued member of a very supportive and tight-knit community.

– Katie


IMG_0170My name is Samantha, and I am a third year English Literature student here at Birmingham City University. My overall experience of studying here has been very positive, and has given me the transferable skills to go on to further study or employment. Within the School of English, I have learned to be articulate and a good communicator, whilst also studying a fascinating subject. From late night study sessions to early morning lectures, everything felt worthwhile.

The support from lecturers and staff within the School, as well as peers, made the experience a lot easier. I have gained a sense of community from the School and the University as a whole which I will greatly miss. The inter-connectedness of the Faculties within BCU means that I have not been limited to experiences within my own course. For example, I have been involved in collaborative projects within Arts, Design and Media where I have proofread work written by those whose native language is not English. This is a transferable skill that has even made me look at my own work more closely to ensure that I practice what I preach! Alongside this I am also a Student Ambassador and a Student Academic Mentor. The former involves interacting with prospective students and their guests, promoting all that the University has to offer. This is especially enjoyable as it means I get to share these highlights and show others how studying here has improved my life.

A personal high has been immersing myself in the world of literature, and I have been taught by incredible academics who are experts within their field. You can tell how passionate they are, and this has deepened my own passion for the subject. Right from my first semester here, I decided that I wanted a career in academia. Further, I have had opportunities that I would not have had outside of the University. I have met David Crystal, and got to hear him give an incredible lecture on the way Shakespeare – and thus those performing his plays at the time – would have spoken. Another highlight has been visiting literary locations, such as Strawberry Hill House, the home of Horace Walpole which greatly inspired his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. The School of English allows me to go after my passions, which include Twentieth-Century Literature and Gender Studies. Incredible modules like ‘Gender, Sex and Culture’ and ‘Literature 1880-Present’ have ensured I can study my interests in depth, and have kick-started my academic endeavour of studying these topics further.

Obtaining a degree can be extremely difficult for so many different reasons. The stress of wanting to do well is something we all carry with us, no matter what we choose to go on to after university. I have been immensely lucky in that, during my time at Birmingham City University, I have been supported by incredible people, including tutors, staff in the School of English, and staff within the wider University. I have been taught to turn any challenge into a positive, and I feel I am well-equipped to face life after graduation.


Hello and welcome to the School of English blog! My name is Dr Robert Lawson and I’m the Course Director for the School of English at Birmingham City University. I’m responsible for the undergraduate programme of studies in English, which includes not just looking after students’ academic progression, but also their pastoral and professional development.

The School of English started this blog with the main aim of this blog of giving you a better perspective of what it’s like studying here at the School of English at BCU. Starting university can be daunting, especially if you’re moving away from home. Hopefully, the experiences of our students will give you a bit of a better insight into university life, what to expect when you arrive, and the kinds of things that you can look forward to studying and reading.

Over the course of the next six months, we’ll have a variety of posts from our current students talking about their experience on their degrees in literature, language, drama, and creative writing, as well as our joint degrees in English and Media. All of our students come from different walks of life, but they’re all united by a passion and a love for English, in all its guises.

We expect our readers to come from all sorts of different backgrounds. You may be a prospective student looking for more information about our courses; you may be a parent checking out what we offer here in the School; or you may just be dropping in because you’re interested in what kinds of things folks in the School of English get up to. Whatever your reason for visiting the blog today, we hope that you find the information you’re looking for.