One of the things most people want to know, apart from all the NSS facts, fees and other really important stuff about university, is what is an actual lecture like? How different is it from college or sixth form? How long is a lecture? What is the set up and how much study or work do you need to do before one? Even the simpler questions, like, do you get a break or can you use your laptop to make notes can put your mind at rest and help you slip into an academic learning environment more easily.
So ultimately, the structure of a lecture depends on the modules and year of study, but generally the English Lit lectures are four hours. The first two hours are often more lecture type, as in they mostly consist of the lecturer teaching the text in question. So, for example, if we are studying a text such as Dracula, the lecturer may give us the context and the literary theories associated with Dracula in the first two hours. It is really important to take notes during this part of the lecture but if you are not that fast writing, the lecturers do upload the powerpoint lecture presentations online.
The second half of the lecture is usually a seminar. This is where the content from the first part of the lecture can really come alive. For example, we can discuss exactly how particular theories can be applied to the text or is the context really relevant to the text. This part of the lecture is the time when students can really become vocal. Sometimes the debate can progress onto prolific or current issues. It’s important to use the opportunity of a seminar to test your thinking and gain confidence. You may say something which other students disagree with but that is kind of what the seminar is about, exploring different readings of the text or theory in question.
English is an intense degree, there is lots of secondary, highly academic reading involved but it is also one of the most rewarding degrees. I have picked up so many skills through the degree proggramme, I have also really developed lots of skills. One example would be that in a seminar, you are given the chance to present a text. It’s basically like being the lecturer for one hour and it means you can steer the debate and discussion in a seminar in the direction that you want. My presentational skills have developed as I have done more and more presentations in seminars. Also, a presentation is graded like an assignment. So, the lecturers support you whilst you are planning and preparing for your presentation, just as they would when completing assignments. You also gain lots of communication skills because presentations are often conducted in a group.
A lecture is very different from A’level study. The texts studied are intellectualised much more and it is good practice to do secondary reading before lectures. There is usually a break between the two hour lecture and the seminar. It’s also really important to be able to adapt to different teaching styles because different lecturers have different styles and some modules require completely different approaches.
I hope I have clarified what an English lit lecture is like, and I realise I may have made it seem like it is really intense and hard work but it is honestly worth it. There are some lectures which have even changed my perspective on life! I have walked in as a different person at the beginning of the lecture and walked out with a totally different bag of ideas at the end! Lectures on ideology, subjectivity or Sadeism are just a few worth mentioning which have had that effect!
- What’s it like studying with two kids
- What’s it like doing a degree that isn’t vocational
- Coursework vs exams
- Doing work around the uni – ambassador role
- Making good use of the library
- Making lifelong friends/using uni as a social space
- Using the hub-careers
- Forming a society
- What’s it like being a student rep for English
- How to make most of your degree – using the skills outside of your degree
- The extra-curricular activities on English lit, e. g. writers conference
- Finding/working out your study method