How to prepare for your English course

Wondering how to prepare for your course, or have you got some time to kill before you start your studies? Our Course Directors have put together a list of activities you can do from home to get ready for September.

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Undergraduate English

Course Director: Dr. Joe Anderton

All of our new undergraduate students arriving in the School of English at BCU go through a transition process to level up from their previous learning and prepare for university-level study. It's a big change for everyone, particularly the volume and depth of reading required. But it is a gradual, guided process, and it can start now.

Simply put, over the summer your focus should be on practising reading and writing. These are skills that develop together and need regular time to flourish. Read as much and as widely as possible. Get used to reading on a daily basis; make it a normal part of your day. You’ll find you become a swifter, but still attentive, reader as a result. Write notes about what you read; jot down ideas and questions, highlight interesting and significant passages, and spend time reflecting on what each book in about and how it is written. Ask yourself about: 

  • Subject Matter: What is the text about? What are its main themes? What does it have to say?
  • Speakers/Characters: Who is speaking or spoken about? What’s their perspective? What do we learn about them? 
  • Tone: What is the feel, colour or atmosphere of the writing? 
  • Diction: Which specific word choices or phrases are noteworthy and why?
  • Function: What does the text do? What is its significance or value? 

Most importantly: I'd like you to shift your focus from WHAT you read to HOW you read. It’s important to become a more conscious and critical reader and writer, one who thinks deeply about the composition and importance of texts. If you begin to develop these approaches to reading and writing, you’ll find you’re mentally and practically better prepared for English studies at BCU.  

English - reading- make the most out of staying at home blogFoundation English

Course Director: Dr. Soudabeh Ananisarab

You can begin by browsing the webpage for the University's Centre for Academic Success. This page includes a number of online study guides that will help you throughout your degree in improving your critical reading and academic writing skills. For now, I'd recommend going through the section on English language. If you struggle with grammar and punctuation, have a go at completing some of the exercises included here. As a student of English, you will be asked to close read and analyse a variety of texts. Expanding your knowledge and vocabulary of literary terms and devices will help you with this. To that end, look up the following words in a dictionary:

  • Metaphor
  • Simile
  • Personification
  • Irony
  • Hyperbole
  • Juxtaposition
  • Metonymy

You could also invest in a glossary of literary terms, which will come in handy when you start your degree. A Glossary of Literary Terms (M. H. Abrams) and The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Chris Baldick) are good choices. Once you have completed some of this reading, apply what you have learnt to the analysis of a poem of your choice. Identify examples of the devices you've looked up, and then write down your observations with attention to your use of grammar and punctuation.


Wonder what studying English literature could be like for you?

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