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English Literature Student @ KCL

We know every university experience is different, but also it is always useful to hear from former and current students studying your ideal course, or at your top-choice university. To this end, we have pooled ideas from our current Elite IB office team, who have provided their best recollections of a day in the first-year life of…

Bella is Elite IB’s Head of Tutoring & Consulting, providing support to students applying to UK universities as well as overseeing our UK/Global branch’s private tuition arrangements. She attended King’s College London for her own university studies (English BA & MA), here’s what she has to say about her university experience… 

Studying Literature in London means you get to fulfil all those little scenarios you dreamt university would be full of – you know, when you’re on your own and imagine the movie of your life – from browsing the second-hand books on the Southbank to going on dates to the Globe to tottering round the library with a pile of books so tall you have to peep over the top. To be able to do all this at King’s means you are also within easy walking distance of Covent Garden and the theatres, as well as never more than a minute from the river (well, when you are actually at uni, that is!).

On this- you will have relatively few contact hours, from 8 in the first year (4 lectures, 4 seminars), down to 6 in the final year if you opt to write a Dissertation – and come on, what Lit student doesn’t want to write a (not very) weighty tome?! – but you will have reading to do for all of these. So much reading. At one point in my second year I had a week where my required reading (not even the additional recommended reading!) was: 5 novels, 15 poems, 1 play, and 100 pages of literary theory and criticism from three different sources. You will, therefore, really have to be good at managing your own time- if you have friends doing contact-heavy courses, they’ll be out the house more than you but their time at home will mainly be their own, whereas you will either live in the library or be militant about splitting your ‘work’ and ‘play’ time at home. A typical day would start from 9am with an hour’s reading, before attending lectures and seminars until perhaps 3pm, before heading home to write up your notes for the day and to continue reading ahead of the next day. You can batch-read during holidays and reading weeks, but I found it is best to read and make notes on theory during these breaks, rather than read fiction, as I had inevitably forgotten any nuanced responses I had to a particular poem when I read it a couple of times five weeks previously! You will also have essays to write during your holidays, and a few exams, although you should have fewer and fewer exams as you progress through the degree- meaning your summer starts even earlier than lots of others! You will have to plan your time well for your essays however, to avoid skulking back to your laptop on Boxing Day (a mistake I only made once but one I think my mum will never forgive me for…), but this does mean a lot of your term-time is yours to manage as you wish.

Studying anything at King’s makes the whole city ripe for exploration, which for many is the best thing of their degree- but (and I am undoubtedly biased), studying English at King’s makes London yours. Just remember to build in enough breaks from studying to find your heros’ blue plaques, and enjoy!