hello hello! i sincerely hope you're doing well. i was intrigued when I heard you say that you studied literature and creative writing at university; i realise that writing is all i'll ever want to do, and i wondered what it was like from a student's perspective, having done the degree. which university did you attend? what did your course involve? did it open up any job opportunities for you? it'd just be nice to have a general understanding of what it entails, as i'm looking into uni etc. :) x
Hi! I went to Royal Holloway University of London! Look at it, it’s beautiful!!
In my first year I had to take four compulsory modules, two from English and two from creative writing. The English modules were called Inventing the Novel (which was on the history of the novel from its conception to the 21st century) and Introducing English Poetry (which is fairly self-explanatory), and the creative writing modules were called Introduction to Creative Writing, which involved 10 weeks on fiction writing, 5 weeks on playwriting and 5 weeks on poetry writing, and Why Write? which was about the theories behind the purpose and value of creative writing. I think the first year modules might have changed slightly now, though - they’re listed here!
In your second year doing English & creative writing at RoHo you get much more choice. You get to drop one area of creative writing and focus more on the other two, so I dropped poetry to focus on fiction writing and playwriting. You also have to choose one full module from a list of five options, which were Medieval literature, Romanticism, Victorian literature, Modernist literature and contemporary debates in critical and literary theory (I took contemporary debates!). You then get to choose two half modules from a much longer list of options, but you have to take either two half modules or one full module in a pre-1780 topic (excluding Shakespeare) over your second and third years, so I took a half module in Theatre and the City, 1590-1625 (I got to do a presentation on Engels and the history of Manchester so that was great) plus a module called Queer Histories which was the highlight of my uni experience!
Then in your third year, you narrow down your creative writing options to one field and produce an independent piece of work, a bit like a dissertation in that there are no classes but you meet with a supervisor regularly so they can check how you’re getting on, and I chose playwriting for that. You then get to pick two out of three half-modules in creative writing out of screenwriting, writing men and writing for children and young adults (I chose the first two). Then for English, you either have to write a dissertation (which I did) or a taught dissertation, which is when you do attend classes (either on a particular author or a particular subject, e.g. children’s literature) and then write an extended essay related to it. You then get to take a further two half modules on top of that, so I took one on gender & writing in the long 18th century to fulfil my pre-1780 requirement (though I actually really enjoyed it), plus a module on literature & philosophy. You can see the current options for second and third year English modules here!!
As to job opportunities, I initially stayed in the position I held while I was at uni, but I’ve also recently been employed by a tutoring agency, and while you don’t need a degree for them to employ you, you do need an English degree to tutor A Level English students, and I have a £2.50 per hour bonus because of my qualifications, one of which is a qualification I have in working with disabled students in higher education, but also because I got a First at uni and because I’ve had work published in journals, which I very much doubt I’d have been able to do without the skills I learnt at uni. Also, if you google ‘English literature degree job opportunities UK’, you’ll find loads of lists of lots of careers that hold English degrees in very high regard!
I hope this helps, and if I can be of any more use, please let me know!! 💕