A Day in the Life of an English Literature undergraduate.

English has always been a love of mine – whether it be the language or the literature. I took both English Language and English Literature at A-Level and hesitated upon applying to university (the first time) whether I should pursue one or both as a degree. Needless to say, it never happened and my heart set itself on journalism…you know the story!

Enough about me, meet this week’s Day in the Life!


Permission from Jessica to use.

Jessica Cartner is 19 years old and is an English Literature undergraduate at the University of Sunderland.

Here’s what Jessica had to say!

How did you get into your degree?

I obtained my place at university through Clearing on A-Level Results Day.

I had overworked at A-Level and did not get the results I had expected or wanted (tip: over-working is just as bad as underworking), so I did not manage to get into my firm choice university.

Clearing proved to be a good process for me though.

What do you like about your degree?

I enjoy being able to delve into and analyse the literature, and drawing on the historical, social and cultural contexts to inform my views.

Listening to, or reading about, others interpretations is particularly interesting too. I find the literature of all periods quite fascinating.

That is the enjoyment I experience on my course though.

In terms of being a student in general, I find it wonderful how you can meet so many diverse people at university, whether through a society, a short course, or work.

What are some of the challenges of your degree?

I would say one of the main challenges can be time management – making sure you don’t spend too long or too little on a task and taking too many tasks on!

Another challenge can be writing a convincing argument to a word limit, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, but it’s an enjoyable challenge nevertheless.

How has your degree helped you?

My degree, so far, is helping me to become a better critical thinker and arguer. It is deepening my knowledge and appreciation of literature.

Why did you pick to study the sector that you studying?

Funnily enough, when I first applied to university, I applied to do Physics courses!

But, English Literature had always been my favourite subject from when I first started learning it in school, and I started to consider (after listening to others’ advice) how interesting and exciting I would find it to be an English teacher.

So I then made the change to apply for English at University.

Describe a typical day on your degree.

Every day is a little bit different really, but I usually have at least one lecture and one seminar every day I am in university.

I wake up two and a half hours before my lecture of the day starts, get ready, and check I have everything whilst chatting with family members.

Then I start the journey into university and usually read on the way.

I’ll have my classes at university, and if I have an hour break between them, I’ll check my emails, eat some dinner and catch up with some friends if I see them.

On my journey back home, I’ll probably read again – I might read something for class, or something for fun, like my Turkish phrasebook.

When I eventually get home, I’ll chat with my family and check my emails again (I get numerous emails throughout different points of the day, so it’s important I keep on top of them), before I have my tea.

After that, I might chat to my friends, listen to music, read the news and do some work before going to bed.

Not every day is like this though, as sometimes my days get punctuated by exciting events!

Any advice for people wanting to get into your sector and/or the creative industry?

If you want to be an English student, I would say first and foremost, have an interest in reading.

Be open-minded to literature you don’t usually read and also consider carefully other peoples’ interpretations.

Additionally, pay careful attention to your writing, and practice constructing arguments, as it’s an invaluable skill to be able to argue well.



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