All posts by uniwestminsterenglish

Applying to Westminster through clearing

By Humaira Iqbal, BA English Literature

In June, I officially finished my second year as an English Literature undergraduate at the University of Westminster. Of course, on results day, I was nervously refreshing the page, waiting for my results to come out as quickly as possible. And that’s not the first time I did that. Two years ago, I was doing the exact same thing as I impatiently waited for my A Level results to show up on the page. I was so nervous, and even after I got my results, the nerves were still there as I didn’t really know what was about to happen next. I saw the BCC on the page and I was happy. I just passed my A Levels with grades that were pretty decent.

Now, I had my place at university in Manchester and that conditional offer just had to be accepted. But something was playing on my mind. I remember sitting next to my Mum and saying “What if I went to university in London?” I’m from Manchester and had been living in Manchester all my life. But I wanted a change. I wanted to have new experiences and I wanted to meet new people. As my Dad was already in London at the time, everything slowly began to fit into place.

“What if I went to university in London?”

I discussed it with both my parents and they were extremely supportive. I then had a good think and knew that this was what I wanted. My mind had been made; I was to go to university in London.

As I’d never seriously thought of leaving Manchester for university before that day, I didn’t really know that much about universities in London. However, I did know about one. A family friend had recommended the University of Westminster to me and had told me it was a great place.

A family friend had recommended the University of Westminster to me and had told me it was a great place.

So, that same day, I did a quick search for English Literature at Westminster and once I was happy with what I saw, I rang the Westminster clearing hotline. I explained my situation, shared my grades and was given instructions on what to do next. Following those instructions, I then applied to study English Literature at the University of Westminster through UCAS and that was that. Within a couple of weeks, I’d got my place at university and was already planning all the things I’d have to do in London. It really was that easy.

That “what if” turned in to “I am” and here I am years 2 later, with only a year left until I get my degree. And it all happened through clearing. It all worked out for the best and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else; the University of Westminster plays a huge part in my life now.

If you’re thinking of applying to Westminster through clearing too, (and I highly recommend it!), give us a call on the clearing hotline and we’ll be more than happy to have a chat and maybe even offer you a place. If that’s the case, then we’ll see you in September!

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Student’s guide to a productive summer!

It’s exactly 5 weeks and 4 days before classes start again at University of Westminster! We are just a little bit excited to see everyone again and settle back into our central London life.

For Humaira, our resident student blogger, this academic year will be her last at the University as she is about to start her 3rd year! Here are her tips for a productive summer:


You probably don’t really want to be reading this, I know. You’d rather go on your holiday and spend the Summer going out with your friends or relaxing and enjoying the sun. And you can do that. Of course, Summer is about taking some well-earned time off from essays and exams – but that’s not all it’s for. You’re probably reading this because you realise that you have a few months off and although you’re taking advantage of the break from university, you also want to make use of that time and maybe even do something that could benefit your future.

So, here are some suggestions to make this Summer a productive one:

Do a Summer internship

Know what you want to do once you graduate? That’s fab!

If you are looking for internship opportunities, contact our careers team and they will be able to help!

Get an internship and get some experience in that field, you might find that you don’t really enjoy the field or, on the other hand, you might love it! Even if you don’t know what you want to do after university, getting an internship and getting some experience in a field that you’re interested in is one of the best ways of figuring out what the right job is. Not only that, but you gain skills, you gain valuable experience, you gain contacts and if you do the job well, you might even secure a role after you graduate (show the company why you’re an invaluable asset to the team).

Take the time to study the field you want to go into

Along with doing an internship, researching the field you want to go into allows you to learn more about the experience and skills you might need to work on in order to secure a job in that area. Finding out exactly what is needed to prepare for potential roles will help you build your professional profile and make securing jobs much easier! There are many ways to do that. You can, for example…

Follow successful people in your area

They must be doing something right! Successful people are great to keep up with, as you learn what they do differently and what you can do to be successful too. Social media are the easiest way to find out more about influencers in the area you are interested in. But identifying professional organisations, going to talks and job fairs and reading trade publications are all good ways of learning more about those who already work in the sector you hope to join too. But remember, no matter what you do, always always put your own spin on it so a company or organisation knows why they need you and not someone else.

Start your reading for next year

I am starting my final year of University after the summer. And with final year comes the usual reading…but there is a lot more of it and it comes with a big dissertation/project, too. To manage the workload, starting to read early is the best way to go. And if not early, then at least earlier.

Contact your tutors and ask for reading list advice.

Once you know what classes you will be taking after the summer, contact your tutors and ask for reading list advice. They will be able to point you to the most challenging texts or books which are the best starting point for the module; the sort of reading that is best done in advance. If you plan ahead, the reading list will be much more manageable once the academic year starts.

 Go to talks/lectures that are of interest to you

You never know who you could meet. As well as making what could be important contacts, you’re spending your time finding out about things you genuinely take an interest in, so that’s surely no waste of time. You might also stumble across ideas and topics you were not familiar with (and perhaps find inspiration for the dissertation….). London has so much to offer, also during the summer! For events inspiration, check out TimeOut or ArtRabbit.

Plan your dissertation

If like me you’re about to start your final year, the summer is a great time to start planning your dissertation/final project. Dissertation means work! And a lot of it! But it’s also an amazing opportunity to focus on the topic you are interested in and develop it in a way you want! But did I mention the work…we’d better get started early!

Take a course or two, sharpen those skills and maybe even learn some new ones.

Last Summer, I went to a coaching course and came out the other end as a qualified Master Coach. This means that I am now a personal life coach, a business executive coach, and an accelerated learning and training coach! It was time consuming, but it was genuinely worth it. I have a qualification I can use in my career and a range of new skills which will be useful at both uni and work!

Get a job

A job means income, skills, something to fill your days, an opportunity to meet different people and hopefully even make new friends, all that whilst adding to you CV. There are so many benefits of getting a Summer job. You might even be able to stay on part-time when you go back to university in September, depending on your employer.

Last but most definitely not least, don’t overdo it and remember to actually take a break and recharge the batteries before another busy, challenging but exciting year!

 

image from the University of Westminster Archive: Women’s gymnastics on the roof of Little Titchfield Street (now our University Library) c. 1929

 

10 tips for dealing with revision and deadlines

By Nicole (3rd Year Language and Literature BA) and Humaira (2nd Year English Literature BA)

The end of the semester is never a fun time. With deadlines and exams coming up, this is always one of the most stressful times for students. These are our top ten tips for managing revision and deadlines!

Stress:

  1. Make sure you keep a timetable or a diary to keep everything organised!

Juggling multiple deadlines can be stressful. By keeping a timetable on hand to keep track of your deadlines and record progress, you’ll keep stress at bay.

  1. Exercise.

You probably don’t have enough time to make it to the gym or have the strength to get there. But just taking a walk around your neighbourhood will make a huge difference. The endorphin rush will make help you relax and you’ll be returning to your work energised and full of new ideas.

  1. Get some sleep.

Okay, the thing students are best at is sleep. It’s good for you and will help you de-stress! So avoid the inevitable revision all-nighters! When you sleep your body has time to recover. When you’re stressed, get some rest.

  1. See your friends.

Your friends are the enjoyable and fun people in your life. So what better way to de-stress than to chat over a cup of coffee (or a cocktail, if needed) and forget all your worries for a couple of hours. And there is no shortage of great coffee around Regent Street. In need of coffee inspiration (or a good revision spot)? Check out our guide to coffee around campus: https://uniwestminsterenglish.com/2017/02/25/english-students-guide-to-coffee-around-regent-street-campus/

  1. Do something not related to your course or assignments.

Revision might not seem like the time for procrastination. But taking your mind off work from time to time will make you more productive in the long run. You could google a funny video, listen to some music, read a book, or make some food. Anything that will help take your mind off the stress!

Deadlines:

  1. Know when your deadlines are.

Deadlines tend to all be around the same time, so it’s important to know just when each one is; there’s nothing worse than thinking you have an extra week to get an assignment done, just to find out that it’s due tomorrow. So whether you have a calendar, a diary, or even both with your deadlines and due dates clearly marked out, make sure you check it on a regular basis (and congratulate yourself on your amazing organisation skills when you get all your work in on time)!

  1. Allocate yourself a set period of time to work on each assignment.

For each assignment, give yourself a set time with a set day where you start the assignment and a set day when it should be finished, so you can move on to the next one. You might even give yourself mini deadlines to have certain parts of your assignment completed. By breaking each assignment up like this and allocating yourself specific periods of time to focus on each one, you’ll have enough time to make sure each piece of work is done on time and no work is rushed and last minute.

  1. Prioritise your work.

If you leave it quite late to start your assignments and then all of your deadlines come at once, the only way to get through is to keep on top of them all. For example, say you have 3 deadlines over 2 weeks, you have to prioritise and see which ones require more focus and perhaps more research to be done and which ones you can start later.

  1. Having said that, don’t leave it too late to start your work.

If you have multiple deadlines coming all at once (which, as a student, you probably will at some point), you do not want to be doing all-nighters too often just to make sure you meet each one. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for each assignment and start before the due date, so you have time to fully research and then edit your work (yes, you will need to edit your essay – it might seem amazing and ready to go at 4 am after 12 cups of coffee, but we can guarantee you will find plenty of typos, referencing errors, etc. after you had sme sleep).

  1. Last but not least, take it one day at a time.

You have all of these deadlines coming up, you’ve given yourself mini deadlines and you have so much to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. But instead of panicking, procrastinating and delaying the work, focus on one day at a time. Try getting as much as possible done each day. You should still be aware of when your deadlines are, but instead of thinking “I have 3 deadlines in the next 3 weeks”, think of it as “today I have a full day to do as much as I can on assignment X” and you’ll see the difference it makes.

To all of our students with approaching deadlines, good luck! You’ll all do a fantastic job!

What is it really like: studying Literature at Westminster

By Humaira Iqbal

Me: “I’m studying English Literature.”

Queue response: “You must read a lot of Shakespeare.”

When someone hears that I’m studying English Literature, their automatic response is that I study Shakespeare, read a lot of books and that is it. And I won’t lie to you, I have studied Shakespeare and of course I’ve have had to read a lot of novels. But that’s not all I’ve done. I’m currently just over halfway through my degree and in the last year and a half I’ve studied a lot, and it hasn’t all been Shakespeare – in fact, I’ve only studied one Shakespeare text.

Throughout my time at the University of Westminster, I’ve been fortunate enough to study things that aren’t really discussed in depth much, such as 9/11, as well as slavery and the Holocaust. One of my chosen modules, Making Memory, focused solely on studying these 3 historic ‘events’ and ways in which cultural memory is formed. It was extremely interesting. We discussed texts in the broadest sense, which included documentaries and museums, as well as novels. We also discussed and presented on historic and contemporary issues, including politics and campaigns such as Black Lives Matter. Over the course of the module I learned facts that shocked me, angered me and facts that will stay with me.

In other seminars, we have discussed the concepts of imagination vs madness and the differences, as well as the similarities, between the two. We have studied so much from classics such as Jane Eyre, to superhero comic books and films. We have analysed the Victorian era, society and the class system, gender roles, children and innocence, the Industrial and French Revolutions and their impact on literature and so much more. I have also had the opportunity to discuss Youtube videos, films and museums in my assignments as primary texts.

At the University of Westminster, all students have the option to study a language as one of their modules. Available languages include: Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, French, Japanese, German and Russian. We are given the opportunity to study a language for either one, two or three years, i.e. the full duration of our degrees. Studying a language has been proven to attract employers, which the University of Westminster recognises, offering students the chance to study those mentioned above.

Throughout the course of my degree, I have studied some amazing texts and paintings and I have come to realise that people see different things when interpreting literature and paintings, which I think is amazing. The fact that two people can look at one text or painting but see different things goes to show how subjective art and literature really are.

Poetry lovers need not worry as we study a fair amount of poetry too. In my first year I even took a Poetry module. As someone who loves both reading and writing poetry, I really enjoyed this. When studying novels, I discovered that fiction isn’t as ‘false’ as it may seem, as the concepts and happenings in novels reflect society and often even challenged the ideas that society deemed traditional.

Studying English Literature at the University of Westminster has taught me a lot, including attitudes towards women in the past and how these attitudes have changed as well as just how much impact an individual’s class had on them and the ways they were perceived, just to name a few things. I have seen the evolution of literature and art over the years and have explored how movements and groups such as the Pre-Raphaelites used art and literature to campaign and to get their messages across.

English Literature at Westminster is broader than you might think, as you can select some of your modules to design a course that suits your interests. If you’re thinking about studying English Literature at the University of Westminster, let me just say this: I think you should go for it!

Why study Theatre at Westminster? The Course Leader’s view

The two exiting new degrees courses we’re offering here in the English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies Department at Westminster University – BA Theatre Studies & English Literature and BA Theatre Studies & Creative Writing – offer students the chance to study theatre right in the heart of London, only short distances from some of the capital’s most exciting venues and companies.

These two new courses draw on already existing expertise in English and in Creative Writing and add in to the mix a range of modules designed to help you explore the lively, stimulating and though–provoking world of theatre.

Study

These two new courses draw on already existing expertise in English and in Creative Writing and add in to the mix a range of modules designed to help you explore the lively, stimulating and though–provoking world of theatre. The three main threads of Theatre Studies, as an academic discipline, underpin the new modules we’re offering. Those being:

  • the study of history of theatre;
  • the theorisation of theatre and performance; and
  • the analysis of performance.

We’ll visit the Globe Theatre and think about what it would have been like to go and see a Shakespeare play in the late 1500s.

 

So this means that:

  • you’ll learn about the fascinating and extraordinary history of theatre, principally (but not exclusively) in the UK. We’ll visit the Globe Theatre and think about what it would have been like to go and see a Shakespeare play in the late 1500s. We’ll think about the Victorian musical; the politics of the Brechtian theatrical revolution; the absurdist world of post-war European theatre; and the violence and anger of 1990s in-yer-face theatre, to name just a few.
  • you’ll explore the idea that theory offers us a way of thinking beyond our assumptions and of critically exploring the things we think we know. Embedded in the very word “theatre” is the idea of showing and looking, and in this thread of study we’ll confront what our assumptions about showing and looking might be. This theoretical investigation will allow us to interrogate what performance is and what it does.
  • you’ll watch, discuss and debate performances! You’ll learn how we analyse performance, and we’ll consider how we come to understand the ways in which productions might generate both meaning and affect.

you’ll watch, discuss and debate performances!

As well as working in these three areas, our new degree courses will offer you the chance to study Shakespeare and the performance of Early Modern Drama; the ways in which theatre and performance have interrogated the politics of race; some of the specific theatres and companies that operate in the UK; the performance of Early Modern plays in the present; site-specific performance and theories of adaptation; London’s fringe theatres; and many more topics.

Tutorials

Central to our degree courses here in the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies are our tutorials. These run throughout your degree, offering you the chance to build and reinforce your subject specific skills, whilst also receiving support with your assessed work. Taught in small groups of no more than five people, these tutorials mean you’ll get all the support you need, that you can dictate the skills you need to work on, and that you won’t get lost in the crowd.

visiting the theatre will be central to your learning

Theatre in London

London has some pretty incredible theatres and if you choose to take one of these courses you’ll get to experience the wonderful range of productions, venues and companies on offer, because visiting the theatre will be central to your learning. Within easy reach of our Regent Street campus is the Arcola Theatre; Almeida Theatre; National Theatre; Young Vic; Theatre 503; Southwark Playhouse; Union Theatre; The Finborough; Barbican; Battersea Arts Centre; Bush Theatre; Donmar Warehouse; Hampstead Theatre; King’s Head Theatre; Lyric Hammersmith; Old Red Lion Theatre; Rosemary Branch; Royal Court Theatre; Soho Theatre; Hackney Empire; Theatre Royal Stratford East; and Tricycle Theatre, to name a few!

Finally

This isn’t a course were you’ll learn to act or perform, but if you love watching, reading, designing, imagining or thinking about theatre and if you want a course which will equip you to go out into the cultural industries ready to think critically and create intelligently, then these courses are for you!

What can you do with an English degree?

by Nicole El-Helou and Humaira Iqbal

On Tuesday 21st March, the University of Westminster Alumni team organised a panel discussion with past students from our department, focusing on ways in which they have been using their English degree since graduation. It is a big question any English student faces, and Anna Beecher, Dilpreet Walia, and Abhishake Gandhi were on hand last week to provide some answers.

Anna graduated with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2014 and has since gone on to open her own theatre company, FAT CONTENT, and seen her plays performed at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, Young Vic, and Battersea Arts Centre. She also writes poetry and plays, helps other writers as a dramaturge, and leads projects at schools, hospices, and museums. Her advice was helpful. She suggested applying for all opportunities that come up, to get used to rejections and enjoy job offers, when they come your way (and they will!). She also told us about the challenges of recruitment processes in creative industries, especially when you’re first stepping in. But she advised to never give up! By being persistent,  you create contacts that will help you in the long run.

Dilpreet graduated in 2012 after also studying English Literature with Creative Writing. A lively and animated individual, she is passionate about puppeteering, having completed an internship with CBBC working on Sesame Street and The Furchester Hotel. She made us laugh when she told us about her experience working with the cookie monster, saving some of his cookies, as well as having a muppet created after her! When she graduated, she faced the typical problem most graduates encounter fresh out of university: what do I do now? She spent some time writing for children, and some time creating puppets, before combining the two interests. As Dilpreet put it – quoting Dory – “Just keep swimming.” It is important to realise that sometimes life won’t be plain sailing, but if you work hard, you will find your way.

Abhishake, also knows as Abs, studied English Language and International Relations, graduating in 2012. He now works as a Senior Account Executive for a PR company. He discussed the challenges of gaining substantial experience to get started in the sector. Abs stressed the importance of internships and an interesting, unique CV. Companies want to hire someone with personality, he advised, mentioning a colleague who wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t have at least 5 internships on their CV (so get moving, I guess). He also spoke of the importance of understanding and knowing what you want to do, so that one doesn’t feel lost in a big company.

We sat down with the panellists to ask them a few questions:

What are some of your favourite memories from your time at the University of Westminster?

I really loved being in London because you could go out and check out exhibitions and things that are happening around you.

Dilpreet: Oohh, I think, this will sound really bad but, as well as enjoying the classes, I really loved being in London because you could go out and check out exhibitions and things that are happening around you. So I’d actually bring that back to the classroom and into my work, so I think location is really great and also your mentors. I think mentors and your classmates make such a big difference to your work and they’re so supportive of your voice, so I really enjoyed that.

Anna: I think the final project that I did here of writing the first 10,000 words of my novel was really, really special because I was in this tiny little group, there were 4 of us with Michael Nath, just working really closely and intensely on our writing and that’s the book that 3 years on I’m about to finish, so that’s really special. But also just having fun and meeting lots of people

So down in Wells Street in the basement we had this thing called Log Book Party where we all brought loads of food and tea, and we brought in a kettle and we just all spent our whole day doing these big scrapbooks and that was great.

and being silly. I remember we had to do these log books for our final projects and a lot of people hadn’t really done theirs but I was really obsessed with log books, I loved them because I love gluing stuff to other stuff. So down in Wells Street in the basement we had this thing called Log Book Party where we all brought loads of food and tea, and we brought in a kettle and we just all spent our whole day doing these big scrapbooks and that was great.

Abs: I think it was the extracurricular stuff, so doing the muay thai club and being captain of that was really good. The second thing was just being part of the student union, I guess. There’s a lot of activities going on, there’s a lot of ways to socialise, so I think that’s how I kind of built up my network as well which was quite nice in the university environment. The other thing I would mention is the support from the educational advisors, so Sean was one of them. You could go and ask him questions whenever you needed guidance. And there were  personal tutors as well, and you were able to ask them any questions you may have. That was a good asset, I think.

What is most enjoyable about your career?

Dilpreet: I think it’s just being free with it! That’s what I love, even if you’re given a brief or a challenge I never feel limited by it. I’m like Limitations? I’m going to make way, I’m not limited by you! I love doing that in writing and even in puppeteering as well. Recently I worked on a pilot where I was meant to be a puppeteer assistant, and last minute I was given another puppet and I had to lipsync to a lot of dialogue! I’ve been thrown into the deep end. It was a live show but I loved it and suddenly I was like Dory, I had to keep swimming, I’ve just had to go for it.

Anna: The wins, the unexpected – when I say wins, I don’t mean literally winning stuff, but you never know what’s going to happen with a project. A lot of stuff you do has a life of its own and that’s it.

And it’s those magic moments where an email kind of flies towards you and you think “I’m not just crazy, I can do this,” and someone has a bit of faith in you. Magic.

But sometimes, someone turns around and goes “Oh, can I program that show at my venue?” or “Yes we will publish your poem” or whatever it is and it’s always so unexpected. And it’s those magic moments where an email kind of flies towards you and you think “I’m not just crazy, I can do this,” and someone has a bit of faith in you. Magic.

Abs: Creativity. And the fact that no 2 days are the same. You get experience across a broad range of sectors; it’s not just copy writing. You also experience social media which, in this digital age, is big for us. There’s a kind of diverse range of skills that you learn: speaking with clients and then having that praise from them that you’ve done good work, that’s a good thing to see.

What advice would you give to second and third year students who are looking for options after graduation?

Dilpreet: So, actually I was asked this before. What I think is important is that people don’t give themselves enough time to consider what they really want. I feel like a lot of people are rushing to get internships. It is important, but before you just go out there and apply to everything that’s available, just really focus on what do you want, what you want to get out of it, who you are, and what you  are going to bring to a job. Then go look for opportunities and apply, because I think, without considering these questions, you’ll struggle longer as a candidate. When you get into that interview and smash it, it’s because you know who you are and no one can touch that, and just let your voice shine.

Anna: I would say don’t treat your time at Westminster like a bubble. Yes, focus on your degree and work really hard on your degree, but also put feelers out to other arts organisations, writing organisations if that’s your thing or just be thinking about the fact that there is a life beyond university, because otherwise it’s really tough. You come out and you think “now what?” Whereas, if you’re already applying for posts or getting a bit of work published while at Uni, you don’t feel so stranded when your degree ends and that’s really good.

Abs: I would say research some areas that you might be keen on and shortlist some companies. I would advise to go for smaller agencies, smaller companies, as there’s a higher chance that you can try and send your CV across and that they will respond. With a larger agency, you know, you’re not going to get much of a response from, you’re not going to have many people dedicated to helping junior members of staff. So shortlist some small companies. Even if it’s an hour a week and you keep going through that list, applying and sending out your CV to as many people as you can, by the time you’ve graduated you may have some replies, and you’ll have some feedback to go work with. So when you graduate you could go straight into a placement. The other thing would be to promote yourself. I’ve never been shy of being myself in any employment, even if the company doesn’t like it.

For second years, my advice would be to get involved with your university as much as possible and the activities available

So be yourself and try and highlight that, within certain limits, but try and do as much as you can to bring out your individual character.

For second years, my advice would be to get involved with your university as much as possible and the activities available; whether educational or sports-related. I think that is a good way of character building and a means of experimenting with what you may like. There might be some modules that you think “I like that”, maybe in the first year you liked it and in the second year you are seeing certain skills that you can take from it or you may think “okay what industries require those skills?”. So if you enjoy writing, PR might be a thing for you or if you enjoy writing maybe go into journalism. That will help whittle down some career paths. If you get an opportunity to have some experience in these sectors, then you can figure out if you like the work or not. And you can always move onto a different sector without it being too late in your career!