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Hi! I’m Isaac and I’m a third year student studying English Language with English Literature here at the School of English. My journey to university began when I signed up for an A Level evening course studying English Language and Literature. Whilst there, my lecturer suggested I should take my studies to university… and here I am in the final few weeks of my degree!

What really make BCU stand out from the crowd was the possibility for students to take a major in Language and a minor in Literature. There was also a huge variety of Language modules to choose from unlike other universities I had visited. In first year, every student took the same modules to make sure that everyone was at the same standard before choosing modules in second and third year (this will change a bit when the new curriculum comes in, but the basic idea for semester 1 will be the same!).

There have been three strands to my studies throughout my second and third years. The first was the building blocks of Linguistics: Studying Language, Describing Language, Grammar and Vocabulary, Language & Social Identity, Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Language and Cognition. These modules helped me to build the foundation of my linguistic knowledge and helped me get to grips with the fundamentals of language.

The next strand allowed me to take my linguistic studies and put them into practice in the study of Literature in modules like Literary Linguistics and Narrative Analysis. When I say ‘literature’, I don’t just mean books like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre, but also newspapers, comics, TV series and films. The assignments for these modules gave me the freedom to choose what to investigate – in Literary Linguistics, I looked at Politeness Theory in Star Trek!

The brilliance of this course allowed me the freedom to choose two very diverse modules, which brings me to the final strand of Literature modules: Children’s Fiction and Drama Workshop. Children’s Fiction gave me an insight into how childhood has been viewed throughout the ages and reflected in the literature available for children. In Drama Workshop, we were given the task of choosing and producing a play from scratch. This allowed me to develop my creative thinking and performance skills and working with a group of 12, team building was essential.

Outside of my studies at the School of English, I was elected Student Representative for the class of 2017 in my first year (now called Student Academic Leaders) and have supported students and staff in improving the learning community, addressing issues with staff members and making sure the School runs smoothly.

Another big part of my life at BCU is the part-time jobs I have undertaken while studying. My main role is the Library Peer Mentor at the Curzon Library where I support students who want to improve or are having difficulties with their information literacy skills (locating, evaluating and effectively using information). I give one-to-one tutorials, hold drop-in sessions outside the library, and support the activities of the Learning and Teaching team.

In my second year, I took on the role of Student Academic Mentor for a group of first years in my second year. My role was to welcome the new students to the school and help with acclimatising to life at university. With the group of mentors for the entire school, I helped plan introductory sessions throughout welcome week to give students the best possible start to university.

My final job at university is a Student Academic Partner on the organising committee for the School of English Undergraduate Research Conference 2017. In this role, I am responsible with the rest of the team for the planning of the conference – from room bookings to choosing the research papers for presentation – as well as making sure that the conference day runs as smoothly as possible.

I have learned a great deal from these roles, from planning and organisational skills to event management. Plus, I get to see a glimpse of what life is like behind the scenes of university which adds to my appreciation of all the staff members who work to give us the best university experience possible.

Of course, life at BCU is more than just studying! I have been involved with the Students’ Union through the societies I joined and have remained at throughout my time at BCU. I even stood for election at the Dis.Cover society (for students with disabilities) and was the President in my second year. This brings an extra layer of experiences to add to my CV.

As you can see, my life has never been dull at university and there are so many opportunities and experiences to be had. I highly recommend taking up as many as you can but the trick is to find the right balance between your studies, work and extra-curricular activities. You’re usually at university only once in your life and the best piece of advice I was given, and I am now giving to you is: savour the experience – never let a second fall from your grasp and enjoy it!

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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.