Preparing for an English Literature degree – OurWarwick

Preparing for an English Literature degree

As term 1 approaches, I often turn my mind to preparing for the academic year ahead. The key thing I’ve learnt is that the more work I do over the summer to prepare for the upcoming term, the easier time I will have. The same applies to the winter and spring vacations.

This is because there’s a LOT going on during term time, and keeping on top of the workload can be a struggle. There’s only ten weeks to a term and you cover a lot of content in that time. You’re often juggling study, social life and for some part-time work, and striking the right balance is important, but as someone who is heavily involved in societies, I need the biggest head-start I can get, which is where the summer comes in.

Not only does doing a portion of the reading over the summer help to lighten the required workload, it helps you to break out of the ‘just barely keeping up’ trap in term time, meaning that you can have more time to delve deeper into a text, and build a much stronger breadth of understanding. You don’t need to do this for every text, but if there’s a particular text I really enjoy, then it’s nice to have some time to study it in greater depth.

In fact some modules (especially for second and third year) recommend that you do at least a portion of the reading over the summer if the reading list is heftier than an average module.

It’s also just a lot less stressful. Reading becomes less fun for me when I’m on a deadline, so I make use of the summer to read at a more relaxed pace.

And believe me, no one expects you to come to university having read every Shakespeare play or to have an extensive (or even any) knowledge of the classical epics. It would defeat the point of university if you already knew everything when you showed up.

Don’t feel that you have to study LOADS over the summer either. It’s summertime after all, and primarily a rest time. No matter how little you do, it’s a start at least.

Ways to prepare:

  • Buy your books in advance if you can. There’s a Facebook page run by Warwick Literature Society (LitSoc) where literature students can buy and sell their used course books. Some students will be willing to post books to you, and others may prefer to organise an exchange on campus. This is a good way to get texts at a cheaper price than other retailers, as buying second-hand often is. You’ll be not only saving the planet through recycling, but saving a student who spent money on texts they’ll never look at again. Search ‘PASS THE BOOK – Warwick LitSoc Book Sale’ to join the group.
  • Look up reading lists for your modules on Warwick’s website, where you may find reading lists on each individual module page. However be careful to check at the bottom of the webpage to see when these pages were last updated, as course content can change from year to year. You don’t want to waste money on books you don’t need by looking at out-dated lists. Once you gain access to the Moodle pages when you’re enrolled as a student, these should show accurate information for your academic year, although if in doubt, check with the module convenor.   

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