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Studying English at University

Where to go to find out more, how to help students make the choice

EMC is starting to collect together material to support teachers and careers staff advising students about doing English subjects at university. It is also likely to be really helpful in the recruitment process for A Level English subjects. You might want to share information about these websites, youtube videos and articles not only with A Level students but also with students lower down the school, particularly those doing GCSE, to help shape their thinking about future A Level choices and degree options.

Find out more about the jobs English graduates go on to have here.

What A Levels You Need to Study Different Subjects at University

In May 2019, the influential Russell Group of universities created a new website to give accurate information and advice to students wishing to apply to their universities about which A Levels would be most helpful to students. The website makes it very clear whether subjects are either required or desirable. For most degree courses, while a single particular subject may be necessary or desirable, the choice of other subjects is open and flexible. This is a significant change from the idea of ‘facilitating subjects’.


Why Study English at University?’ Professor Katy Shaw, University of Northumbria

Why Study English Language at A Level and Beyond?’ Dr Erika Darics, Aston University

18 Reasons for Doing an English Degree Poster


English Subject Centre website: ‘Why Study English’

This site is for those students who are choosing a subject to study at degree level. It contains information and advice about preparing for uni, what it’s like to study English, and the opportunities an English degree may create for them.


Royal Holloway University of London Teacher Hub

The site provides: teaching resources, including many video lectures of popular A Level texts; CPD opportunities and teacher visits; engagement with schools and their needs. For students considering either A Level English, or a degree in English Literature or Creative Writing, the videos provide a taste of what it’s like to hear lectures from experts in their field.

Philip Seargeant (Open University) Videos

Brilliant animations and films about language and communication, covering topics from Shakespeare and swearing to emoji and robotics, and from fake news and filter bubbles to comedy and creativity. 

As well as being excellent for use in secondary school classrooms generally, not just A Level, these films and animations give a really good idea of what language study can involve, so would be great to show GCSE students to alert them to the fascinations of doing Language A Level or a degree in English Language or Linguistics.

Reading University – A Taster of Our Teaching

Reading University English Department have 5 short 8-10 minute videos – on White Teeth, Small Island, Othello, Mrs Dalloway and Fugitive Pieces. They feature lecturers in the department and give a good flavour of what university teaching can be like.

English at Southampton University – Support for A Level Studies 

This site has downloadable podcasts on several popular set texts, in a specially-designed series where staff and students from the English Department discuss texts, approaches, and study tips to support learning at A Level and GCSE. The series includes a podcast by the playwright Evan Placey, Creative Writing Fellow at Southampton, whose play 'Girls Like That' is a set text for GCSE drama. There is also a podcast on approaching unseen texts at A Level.

English at Oxford –  A Level and Undergraduate Resources on Contemporary Black and Asian British Writing

Writers Make Worlds

The English Faculty at Oxford University have been responding to debates about the curriculum, not only in schools but also in Higher Education. They have developed a brilliant site offering resources and ideas to support developments in diversifying the English curriculum. This will give A Level students a great idea of what’s happening in English at university level as well as some fantastic resources on a wide range of BAME British writers they might be studying, from poets Daljit Nagra and Moniza Alvi to novelists Andrea Levy or Zadie Smith, as well as ideas for other writers who may be of interest. 

And also...

Great Writers Inspire Series

The Oxford English faculty has a great series of podcasts in the Great Writers Inspire series. Though aimed primarily at first year undergraduates, they give a very good sense of what university lectures have to offer and may be specially helpful if one of them, by good fortune, happens to be on a text being studied for A Level. 


The Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) Map & List – Where Can I Study Linguistics?

This site gives a map of all the Linguistics and English Language courses in the UK, along with a list giving instant click-throughs to all the individual departments. If you’re thinking of doing a course in this subject and want to browse what’s available looking at the differences between courses, it will save you hours of searching the web!

Dr Michelle Sheehan, Reader in Linguistics at Anglia Ruskin University, suggests three websites that explain what linguistics is, to help inform your decision: