What it’s really like to study English at Queen’s
From a typical timetable to what happens inside the lecture theatre, Peter Moor reveals what it’s like to be an English student at Queen’s.
What are the lectures likes?
What a typical second year timetable might look like
My subject is made up of two sort of classes: lectures and tutorials. Lectures involve you sitting in a lecture theatre while an academic presents to you and the other students on that module for either an hour or two hours about a certain topic – normally the book you’ve read that week. I’ll admit, lectures are pretty draining – they may seem to go forever but they’re super useful as they give you all the background info you need on the texts. Sometimes lectures can almost seem like a history lesson with all be context you learn but then you’ll also be provided with some close readings of the texts which is probably the bit I prefer!
What are the tutorials like?
Aside from lectures, you also have tutorials. This is when you drill down into texts in small groups of no more than about 15 people. This is where you can voice your own opinions about texts but also get your opinions challenged. Tutorials can involve a fair bit of group work so they’re a great place to meet people from your course - some of my best friends in uni were in my first ever tutorial!
How much reading is involved?
This mix of lectures and tutorials makes up around 9 hours for me in second year. That may not sound like a load but trust me, it’s more than enough. Outside of class, there’s a tonne of reading to be getting on with – sometimes one or two books a week! This is a lot of reading but you get to read some really interesting texts.
What will you read?
From Gone Girl to Chaucer - and everything in between!
What you end up reading will depend on the modules you choose. You can do almost anything whether it be Medieval Anglo-Saxon texts, Chaucer, Shakespeare, 18th Century Literature, Victorian Literature, American Literature, Irish Writing and a whole lot more besides. In first year, you even do a module about contemporary texts where you get to read novels like Gone Girl and stuff by Nam Le (the guy who wrote Life of Pi) - so certainly very different to Chaucer.
What about writing?
If you’re not a two books a week sort of person (I’m not!) then you can study English language modules. This makes your degree a bit more varied and involves you doing modules about language in the media, the history of language and phonetics (how sounds are made). Or for those of you with flowing creative juices then the Creative Writing modules are perfect – you can craft your writing style in The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry – named after Heaney who went to Queen’s himself.
How many exams are there?
One thing I love about my degree is that you have very few, if any, exams. The majority of assessment is through essays which means that you can take things at your own pace as you always have a few weeks in which you can do your essays. What I also like is you can do your essay on almost any topic you like as the questions are so broad, so I’ve written essays about anonymity in Irish writing, the Bible in eighteenth century literature and films adaptations of contemporary texts. Who knows what my next essay will be on!
What will you do with your free time?
When you’re not busy in class, or reading or doing that essay then you’ll have some free time. I tend to meet up with friends for coffees, maybe go into town or sometimes make use of my free gym pass from the GB scholarship. That’s the great thing about my course, your time is so flexible - for instance, you pick and choose your tutorials so you can try and avoid those dreaded 9am starts. Although a word of warning, you can’t pick and choose your lectures so apologies, but you may have a 9am lecture like I did last term!
Find out more about our BA in English
English with Linguistics | 2nd year | Huddersfield, England
I am 19 year old Yorkshire lad, born and bred but now studying English with Linguistics at Queen's. I decided to come to over to Northern Ireland after many holidays visiting family across the country. I am part of the university politics society and the debating society. This semester I'm also doing a French language course - wish me luck! I'm a keen swimmer which is certainly needed when this country has so much good food to offer!