A very warm welcome to new students joining the Department of English this Autumn!
The events of 2020 have prompted re-evaluation of the status quo around the world, raising fundamental questions about the way we live our day-to-day lives, the meaning of identity and value of community, the legacies of the past in the present – and what our society and culture could be like in the future. Becoming a student in the Department of English here at the University of Bristol means becoming part of a thriving international academic community and actively participating in that ongoing intellectual dialogue and debate. Studying English literature helps us understand how it has documented, shaped and transformed our culture and identity; reading, thinking, talking and writing about English literature helps shape its future – and ours.
A community of scholars
The Bristol English community is large and varied. You will have the chance to get to know and collaborate with academic staff and students – undergraduate and postgraduate, full-time, part-time and visiting, local and international – who together create a friendly, supportive, and intellectually stimulating environment. You will meet people with shared and very different interests and experiences, across our single-honours English programme and joint-honours programmes with Philosophy, Classical Studies, History, Theatre, Film, Modern Languages, as well as the part-time English Literature and Community Engagement BA and intercalated BA in Medical Humanities. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, our academic and support staff will provide you with all the guidance, encouragement, and academic and pastoral support you need along the way.
The Department’s dynamic and developing undergraduate curriculum is designed and taught by academic experts in their fields. Our research-led teaching integrates the latest developments with deep knowledge of the primary and secondary literature. You will have the opportunity to study authors and texts across English studies and beyond: from Anglo Saxon and Medieval, through the Early Modern, Eighteenth Century, Romantic and Victorian, Modernism and the Twentieth-Century to the Contemporary; African, World and Comparative Literatures, American literature, Black British writing, Creative writing, Gender and Women’s writing, Medical humanities, approaches such as Animal Studies and Ecocriticism as well as interdisciplinary studies of English literature in relation to art, class, film, material culture, politics, the sea, and science, amongst others.
Our undergraduates are encouraged to be questioning, imaginative, resourceful readers -- to develop your own sense of what you believe literature to be, drawing on knowledge of earlier debates, while refusing to accept received critical opinion unthinkingly. You will have opportunities to develop your own interests and specialisms, as well as to experience a range of innovative teaching approaches and formats. Just as academic tutors take pride and pleasure in the quality of their teaching and research, we take delight in helping students to develop their own research ideas, whether in a group presentation in your first year, or a final-year dissertation.
Adapting our teaching in the Autumn term
There are, of course, unusual challenges to embarking on a degree programme in Autumn 2020. In the beginning, at least, your student experience will be a bit different to usual, and blended learning will be a part of that. However, we will give as much on-campus small-group teaching as we can and we will be responding to the changing situation, so that your studies will be valuable, meaningful and rewarding throughout. There are benefits as well as uncertainties to studying at a time when unusual circumstances prompt re-thinking and new approaches. As we all adapt to living in the time of Covid-19, studying English at Bristol remains a wonderful opportunity to flourish intellectually and personally. During your time with us, you can expect to make great strides not only in your in-depth literary knowledge, but also in a range of skills and aptitudes – analytical and evaluative capacities, writing skills, ability to work independently and in groups, professional skills and employability – and confidence.
We trust that you will find your time in the Department enjoyable and rewarding and very much look forward to welcoming you in October.
Dr Samantha Matthews
Head of Department
To prepare for your first year with us, we have some suggestions for you. Click on the link for more info.