First Year English and History Review
I have loved studying English and History in my first year at Warwick. It has been challenging but very enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone interested. If you are thinking about taking this course, or already have an offer, here’s my review to give you an insight.
It’s tough. The course seeks to challenge you and stretch your understanding of History and literature, which is actually what I have enjoyed the most. You look at what seem like the most basic questions, and the seemingly obvious answers, (like ‘what is history?’ and ‘how can we ever truly know the past?’) and end up with a completely different point of view. This kind of understanding is invaluable, and will certainly serve you well as you continue with your degree. The English and History course fosters an evaluative way of looking at both History and literature, and opens up interesting debates in seminars which I have always looked forward to!
I decided to lean my module choices towards History, so I took 2 History modules, 1 English one, and 1 interdisciplinary one. The compulsory modules you take in each discipline provide you with an excellent foundation in both, so don’t feel like you’re disadvantaged in either by doing a joint-honours. The interdisciplinary module is the one that gets you thinking about the big questions I mentioned above, and puts all the pieces into place. You start to see the links across all your modules. The tutors for English and History are fantastic – they have been so engaging and happy to help, both academically and beyond. One of them will typically be your personal tutor, so they are a great in-built support system.
The reading can be quite heavy. The interdisciplinary module only requires 2 core texts per term, but you will have to do a lot of critical reading. You’re set a couple of pretty heavy articles to read each week, ready to discuss in seminars. You don’t get as much critical reading in English, but more core texts which you will need to stay on top of – the opposite is true for History. The weight of this was very much alleviated by the fact that I enjoyed it – never underestimate the importance of enjoying your degree! When you’re presented with so much independent work (the nature of any humanities course), you need to be able to motivate yourself, and being interested in what you’re learning about is the best way to do that. Take a look at module and course websites and blogs to get a gist of what it might be like. The best tip I can give you is to organise the workload; you really don’t want to be rushing through all your reading at the last minute, so try to spread it through the week and it’s so much more manageable.
We haven’t had any exams this year, so I can’t give much insight into those, but we’ve still had our coursework to finish off. Doing a joint-honours can be a blessing in this case, because it’s nice to take a break from one with the other! You get plenty of variety and freedom in assessments, and the tutors have been on-hand throughout the year and into lockdown.
I have loved English and History this year, and I hope you will too if you’re joining the course in September.