Students - English Department

Student Profiles

Greg Wilson

In Freshers' Week, there was a 'taster session’ led by several tutors in the Department and the class was asked to 'tell us what literature has inspired you’. Students then reeled off their experiences from Shakespeare to Pinter, Coleridge to Duffy, describing the diverse and inspiring effects they had had on their lives. Needless to say, I felt slightly out of my depth and embarrassed by my comparatively limited grasp of English literature. I had undertaken the course due to my enjoyment of English at A-level rather than wider past experiences of literature. However, as the first year progressed, my confidence and understanding grew immensely.

The first year is an introduction to English literature; it eases you into the programme, looking at a wide range of novels, poetry and issues. The first year builds the foundations of learning so you can press on in the final years of your degree. The second and third year modules I enjoyed hugely, particularly the modules on the Gothic, addiction in literature and colonial/post-colonial literature. I was also able to complete a dissertation in my final year which combined the literature and philosophy that interested me, with the support of the Department and tutors. The Department also supported me in an international exchange I completed to Ballarat University, Australia, for five months at the beginning of 2007.

The University of Chester is open to all people, of all ages, experiences, likes and dislikes. It has a rewarding and stimulating atmosphere and will bring out the best in you. The enthusiasm and professionalism of the Department of English has developed my skills and knowledge unrecognisably. My passion for English literature has motivated me to begin a career incorporating writing and research. If I was to be asked now what literature has inspired me, I would have too many authors to list!


Alyson O'Hare

Studying English at Chester is at once challenging, stimulating and definitely enjoyable. From the very first Open Day I attended, I knew Chester was where I wanted to be and all I wanted to do was to study English in the wonderful old Vicarage. Those feelings never waned over my three years of being here, thanks in large part to the impressive standard of teaching and the sense of community that develops amongst staff and students in the Department of English.

The staff are remarkable. They are all experts in their own fields and their passion and knowledge become clear from the first seminar. All have had work published to acclaim but their priority is always their students. Support, guidance and, if needed, just a reassuring friendly chat are readily available. Staff have always done their best to help and I was never made to feel like a burden, no matter how many times I emailed about essay referencing!

The variety of modules offered over the three years provides something for every type of student. 'Studying Literature' at level one eases you in to English at degree level and teaches you essential skills that remain relevant at level three. The Renaissance module at level three has been my personal favourite; the insight into the life and times, not only the literature made it fascinating. From Shakespeare's sonnets to the witch craze, this module is packed full of traditional romance, mystery and early feminism; there is never a dull seminar!

A recent development in the Department of English is the creation of the Literature Society. The weekly themed meetings are a chance for students to get together and discuss literature ranging from spy novels to the gothic. Members of staff often act as guest speakers, offering their expert knowledge, or just join in the discussions. With occasional theatre trips organised, Litsoc (as it's more commonly known!) is another means by which students can feel even more a part of the English experience at Chester.

Coming to university can be daunting, but the size of Chester as a city and as a campus helps to make the whole experience easier. The campus is only a ten-minute walk from the city centre so Chester will soon begin to feel like home.

Studying English at Chester has been a joy. I feel I have matured intellectually and my passion for English has continued to grow. The only bad thing is that now I have to leave! Chester is a great place to be and the perfect place to study English.


Tamara Brennan

When choosing a university, I found that the most important thing was to choose one that not only had the right course for me, but had tutors that seemed approachable and an environment I could see my self living and working in for three years. All of these reasons contributed to why I picked the University of Chester.

On the Open Day I was impressed that a few hours after I had met one of the English tutors they still remembered mine and my parents’ names and where I was from. It seemed like they really cared about who I was – and consistently all of the members of the Department of English have been approachable, warm and supportive to me throughout my education and my involvement with CSU Literature Society. This welcoming and supportive nature spans across the whole University; the library staff, the chaplaincy and the student’s union have all been major influences and assistance to me in my university career and made the experience easier and more enjoyable.

My course is an English BA. I am really enjoying it and, to be honest, do not want it to end, so much so that I am applying for the MA in Creative Writing, which, should I be accepted to, I am really excited about. This excitement comes from what was already my natural passion: writing, but enhanced even more by a Varieties of Writing module I did in my second year. The module was amazing. It really gave me a huge sense of confidence in my abilities. The workshops and seminars were really helpful. Guest speakers gave me a real insight into what I can do with my life and encouraged me to believe in my own abilities as well as sound practical advice about getting published, drafting and re-drafting work and the kinds of industries I can look forward to working in. Through the module, I have learnt a wealth of new writing techniques which already has, and will, improve my writing ability.

So I guess choose Chester if you want a home from home, somewhere safe, laid back yet intellectually challenging and fun.


Jake Campbell

Studying English at Chester is a unique, challenging and extremely fulfilling experience and one which can't really be done justice in one paragraph. From the moment I first saw the glorious Vicarage building during an Open Day, to my current involvement in organising a Departmental open-mic evening, I have enjoyed every minute of my time studying at Chester. I am about to complete my second year as a Combined Honours student of Creative Writing and English and I am sad to say I may only have one year left in the Department. The scope of literature that I have studied during the last two years has been immensely rewarding, and I feel I have gained a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of English owing to the professionalism of the lecturers and the compelling and thoroughly enjoyable nature of the seminars and workshops. I feel my skills as a writer have developed significantly because of my time in the Department, and I have found the modules to be interesting and perfectly fitting for any aspiring writers. The Vicarage is situated only a minute’s walk from the main campus, and the city centre is only a ten-minute walk away, meaning you get the advantages of being on a campus-based university where you quickly make a lot of friends, while still being close to the shops and, of course, the nightlife! I recommend studying English at Chester because the interaction between lecturers and students in the Vicarage creates an inviting, homely and relaxed atmosphere in which you can study under passionate lecturers who it is impossible not to get along with. Of course, university isn’t solely about studying, so when you’re not working, you’ll find a wealth of things to do in the city. If, like me, you’re passionate about English and wish to study it in a small, communal and truly pleasurable way, then really I don’t need to tell you any more!


Daisy Hughes

After living in the Bahamas for five years, I decided to continue my education at the University of Chester. The city’s cultural diversity and history make it an excellent place to study English. Coming straight from a small island, I found it comforting to enter a campus not overwhelmingly large and where the classes are small, personal and encouraging.

After nearly completing my first year, I would encourage anyone to join Chester who is looking for an enjoyable studying experience at a university where the tutors are friendly and helpful and the courses are both challenging and enjoyable!


Becky Moor

If you want to be seen as an individual and not just a number, the University of Chester, and in particular the Department of English, is definitely for you. Having attended a much larger university before coming to Chester, I know that the time tutors dedicate to their students here is practically unrivalled; your tutors get to know you personally and, as such, can help you develop so much more. At my previous university, I spent two years living in obscurity, where not even my personal tutor knew my name; at Chester, I'm greeted by tutors who have never taught me, and yet still seem to know my name. The same goes for the students; smaller groups mean getting to know people very well and making long-lasting friendships. It's the friendliest and safest environment you could imagine.

The diverse range of modules on offer and the variety of assessment methods - essays, exams, projects and presentations - make English a fantastic subject to study; I'd particularly recommend modules on gothic literature, colonial and post-colonial literature, and the sensation novel. The Victorian Vicarage and the historic City of Chester are ideal environments in which to study as they really give you a feel for the era you might be studying.


Rachel Shelley

I love studying English at Chester and I am so pleased I came to study here. Not only is the Department friendly and accessible, the campus overall is a home from home. When I came on my Visit Day in 2006 I was so worried about having to leave home and not feeling comfortable in a new environment, but as soon as I entered the Vicarage I knew it was where I wanted to be. For some reason it just felt right! Chester is definitely the place to be. It has just the right mix of bars, clubs, restaurants and sights in order to suit different tastes. The structure of lectures and seminars in the Department of English is very successful, and if you are clueless or just generally unsure of what a certain text, movement or theory means you can guarantee that by the end of a seminar or lecture you will feel much more positive in your approach. By sitting and discussing texts within the seminars you are able to hear a number of interpretations and ideas, as well as enabling you to put across your own views in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Vicarage, tutors and the Departmental Office within it make the Department of English what it is! A much-loved aspect of an English student’s experience at Chester.


Thomas Allen

The first thing that struck me about the Department of English during one of Chester's Open Days was the obvious enthusiasm of all its tutors for their subject, which has I can say never decreased during my time here. I felt this particularly during the taster lecture on the day, in which an intelligent and clearly impassioned discussion of King Lear was given. It wasn't the only thing though that persuaded me to come to Chester from Norfolk, but was certainly crucial as it showed me that here I would be receiving a high standard of teaching.

The variety of modules available on the course was also a big attraction as it allowed me to pursue my interests. I have, for instance, in my last year been able to study Renaissance literature and get my fix of Shakespeare and, at the same time, study the very different and thought-provoking world of Absurdist literature.

I have also enjoyed being able to pursue my interest in English literature outside the course's seminar and lecture rooms. There is, for instance, the University’s Autumn Festival that allowed me to hear from a wide range of professional authors and the informal Literature Society where I have been able to discuss a great variety of literary genres.

Most importantly though, I have felt welcome and supported at Chester and consequently believe that I have produced better work because of this. I also believe that this friendly atmosphere has left me with great and invaluable memories alongside a good body of knowledge.

I wholeheartedly recommend you really consider studying English at Chester.


Anna Mackenzie

My first visit to the University of Chester really impressed me. The city itself was not huge, and the course and facilities all seemed excellent, especially the library. I immediately identified it as a 'me place', and had I not been accepted, I was determined to apply again the following year, despite the increase in tuition fees. Luckily for me, and my parents' bank balance, I was given an offer to study a Combined Honours degree in English and Journalism.

Three months into my degree, however, I was so struck by the quality of the Department of English that I decided to leave Journalism, and study English alone. It is a choice I have never regretted: on the contrary, I am sure it has been one of the best decisions I have made in years.

The Department of English base, the Vicarage, would later prove to be practically a second home for me: tutors had always made it clear that if any private tutorials were needed, we were not to hesitate to contact them. This is typical of the Department; they inspire, help, prod and are generally there for the students. I've really felt that the staff care: two months from completing my course, one lecturer stopped me on my way home to inquire if I was coping, and to check I wasn't contemplating suicide!

The modules I chose to study have all been brilliant: Studying Literature, the level one core module, was the perfect introduction to undergraduate study, as it included texts studied at A-level. The much publicised 'leap' from A-level to degree level work was certainly not as daunting as I had envisaged. The modules in levels 2 and 3 gradually became more specific as students would clearly narrow down their interests: for me, as a Shakespeare buff, the choice of a module devoted to Shakespeare in the 3rd year was an immediate tick in the box.

The Department's assessment methods are very coursework-based, which is great. Despite the inevitable concerns regarding oral presentations, I found them useful, as they provide an opportunity to help fellow students, and lecturers always made reference to them in the rest of the seminar, which showed that our opinions were valued and relevant.

Writing a dissertation in level 3 has proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of the course. Students are permitted to submit a 1500 word chunk of their work for marking, and an indicative percentage is given: this was hugely helpful by knowing what was being done right, and any areas for improvement. Several meetings were held throughout the year to give students further information on the dissertation, and the staff to answer any queries. The assignment of a dissertation supervisor was based on individual lecturers’ areas of expertise, and often just an informal chat about the subject matter could inspire trains of thought worth investigating.

The course and the lecturers have inspired me to apply for a Masters degree, and I hope to return to Chester to study a PhD in a few years. From the examples set by all of the lecturers in the Department, I wish to pursue a career in Higher Education, continue the learning process and educate university students to the high level that I have been taught.

Despite having never seen any Hollyoaks stars in the city, my decision to study English at Chester was definitely the right one: I would whole-heartedly recommend the Department and the University to anyone with a passion for English.


Stephanie Brocken

Studying English at Chester has been a fantastic experience so far. I am currently coming to the end of my second year as a Combined Honours student in the Department and am both looking forward to the challenges of level three and at the same time not wanting the end of my studies to come! Since arriving in the Department, I have found the course material to be stimulating and the tutors to be approachable, supportive and, above all, great teachers.

One of the great advantages to the English course is the amount of variety that you can experience both in the range of modules on offer and the methods of assessment that the tutors choose. The Vicarage is a fantastic place to be based, as it is close enough to main campus to be handy for the library and other facilities and far enough away to feel like a bit of a haven! Studying English here has made me rethink the career plans that I had prior to coming to university as my studies have made me discover strengths that I never knew I had.

English at Chester would be a fantastic choice for anyone who is passionate about the subject and wants to immerse themselves in an environment of like-minded people.


Angela Jones

Having taken a Combined Honours in English and Theology at Chester, I decided that the Old Vicarage would be the perfect place to do my postgraduate work. I have come to know most of the tutors very well, and think of the English Department as a second home now.

Creative writing is a great passion. I find that the help given in the seminars not only by tutors but also by my fellow writers, is excellent. Confidence grows along with ability. I suppose I find the critical side of things easier because of my background in English studies.

Student life at Chester lets you make lots of friends, and this makes the critical discussion of one another's writing so much easier. The new Binks building is a great advantage.

The University of Chester is great because it's big enough to encompass all that you need for student life, but at the same time it's small enough to make you feel part of a campus, not just a lone figure on a campus.


Louisa Yates

I got my first glimpse of the Vicarage on a Chester Open Day, and was struck by how suitable a setting it was to study English; this feeling has never left, and only increased in the three years I spent there. Small enough to ensure that I never felt lost, close enough to the main campus to feel part of something bigger, it was a great place to study.

The feeling of close community extends to the teaching staff and students, adding to the learning process, as you inevitably get much more out of seminars when everyone there feels confident enough to contribute and respond to everyone else!

The structure of the course allowed me to explore subjects that were totally new to me, such as the head-twisting world of Absurdist literature in my third year, while the year-long compulsory modules, such as Studying Literature in my first year, made me look at texts in a way that was new, challenging, and exciting: I felt this was a very 'university' experience.

Coming to university is a big step for anyone, and I found at Chester a unique environment that was always supportive, fun – despite the hard work – and never, ever boring. My time here has given me confidence and determination to continue my studies, and I would unhesitatingly recommend Chester to anyone, if only for the leaving party!