Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Meredith Kenton

Hey there! I’m Meredith and I’m an English student here at Corpus.

What instantly attracted me to Corpus was the sheer friendliness of every one I met at the open day, as well as the small and cosy feel of the college, and of course the beautiful quad and gardens with grass that you can actually walk across! It’s fair to say that everything I fell in love with about the college has lived up the expectations. From the moment I arrived in freshers week, I was welcomed with smiling faces, and since then I have met so many great people and made so many wonderful friends. My favourite thing about being at Corpus (aside from the crown jewel that is the library) is how integrated the years are with one another. Being in a small college, you pretty much befriend everyone, and it’s a really nice feeling to be surrounded by so many people that you know and can have a casual conversation with on your way to the library.

The English course at Oxford is taught both in and out of College, and this means you meet a huge variety of different tutors and lecturers who all know their subjects inside out! The first year covers a massive variety of topics, from Theory to Old English, as well as literature from the Victorian period to modern day. The Oxford English course is different from most other Universities as it is largely chronological, giving you a great understanding of the basic chronology and development of English Literature. This grounding also encourages you to make creative and imaginative links between different time periods and authors. A massive benefit of the course is the lack of set texts in most of your papers, and this means that you can really tailor your course to your interests. Your tutors will usually pick texts that they find particularly interesting, and this means that everything you cover is taught by people with a real enthusiasm and intellectual insight into the material.

Contact hours for humanities tend to be less than for the sciences, allowing you extra freedom to control your time, but this can require a larger amount of self-discipline. My week will usually consist of two to three classes or tutorials and a few lectures. Classes are with your year-group in College, so there’s six English students in my year at Corpus and we have classes together where our Tutor will either cover new content with us, or will begin a discussion about something we have been set to write on or read. Tutorials are a little different, one or two of you will meet with your tutor, these usually focus on going over a set piece of work (probably an essay) and talking about strengths, weaknesses, and what ideas you can develop from this. In English, most lectures are not compulsory, and whilst it might seem a little daunting to have to pick your lectures, you quickly get the hang of going to what you think will be most useful or interesting depending on what you are studying at that time.

 My favourite aspect of the English course is the small nature of classes and tutorials. Being able to talk to absolute experts in their field (not to mention frequently amazing and interesting people) in such a small group could be intimidating, but tutors at Corpus are certified lovely, and you soon settle into an environment where you feel confident in expressing your ideas. You find yourself engaging in some really compelling discussions with a bunch of people all as into your subject as you are, and the new thoughts that you come away with will stay with you throughout your course, and beyond. 

The admission process can seem long and daunting, but it is really not that bad, you have to remember that every single other student applying will have to go through the same thing. The interviews get a bad reputation, however, they are actually much less intimidating than most people make out.  Tutors want to see if you are the type of person that will gain from and enjoy the nature of the English course as well as how it is taught in small groups. All tutors know how nervous students are, and remember that this is only one part of your application – not the be all and end all! Use interviews as a chance to get a feel of the college, meet great people and explore the beautiful city that is Oxford, enjoy your time just having a right nerd-out about English with really interesting people!

Also, contrary to certain stigmas, you can have a life outside of work! On top of getting my work done, I am President of the University Korfball Club ('Google' it), an active member within college’s Access events and still go out and socialise regularly with my friends.

Oxford is a great place to be, full of wonderful people and great things to do – you won’t be bored for a second! 

If you have any questions or thoughts at all about English at Corpus then whack an email my way – I’m very happy to help!


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