Tag Archives: University

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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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 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!

Celebrating World Book Day with our students!

Happy World Book Day! To celebrate, we asked our students to tell us about the best book that they’ve studied so far as part of their degree at the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies. Here’s what they said:

Nicole, 3rd year English Language and Literaturenicole-2

Book: Irvin Welsh, Trainspotting

Module: Introduction to Literary Studies

This was one of the first novels I studied at university and it has stuck in my mind! Even though it was pretty hard to understand because of the Scottish dialect, the message behind it is amazing. I loved T2 Trainspotting as well!

Rumaanah, 2nd Year,  English Literature

Book: Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows

Module: Making Memory

What I loved about this book was how much ground and history it covered; it starts in Japan on the day of the bomb, moves to India pre- and post-partition and then ends in the USA after 9/11. It includes characters of colour who are multi-faceted and complex, which I enjoyed. Not every book manages to avoid stereotypical representations. I enjoyed the module in general because we got to debate a lot of interesting topics and it felt very current. The reading list was also great.

rumanah-2

Lois, 2nd Year, English Literaturelois-2

Book: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Module: Monsters

I loved reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Its complex monster and exploration of human morality really makes it a classic.

 

 

secret-history-2Lauren, 3rd Year, English Literature and Creative Writing

Book: Donna Tart, The Secret History

Module: The Novels and Novellas

The Secret History is a book I fell in love with during The Novels and Novellas Module. We read the opening in class and I wanted to know more, so I got a copy and didn’t put it down for a week. It’s now one of my dissertation texts.

Melissa, 2nd Year English Literaturemelissa-2

Book: Matthew Lewis, The Monk

Module: Nineteenth Century

I like The Monk by Matthew Lewis not just because of the Gothic motifs in the text or it’s vivid imagery, but because of how it reflects the religious turmoil of the period in its narrative.

 

Mikki, 3rd Year, English Literature

Book: Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Module: Other Worlds

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

alice-in-wonderland-2

tagore-2Nikhat, 3rd Year, English Literature

Book: Rabindranath Tagore, A Grain of Sand

Module: Extended Essay

A Grain of Sand: Chokher Bali by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore is one of the texts I am using for my extended essay. I love the way in which Tagore portrays the complexities of human relationships and emotions through a simple narrative. I really do wish that I could fluently read Bengali or that Tagore himself was able to translate his novels as he did with his poetry and short stories. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading the novel and it was interesting to see how many of the issues he raised (like child marriage, women’s education and confinement to domestic spheres) are still relevant a century later.

 

 

Playwriting Prize

The winners of The Westminster University Playwriting Prize have just been announced!

Winning Entry:

‘Collide’ by Lydia Thomson

Runners up:

‘Mushrooms and Meditation’ by Mitch Sanderson

‘The Fairy Fort’ by Sophie Bowles

The winning entry will receive:

  • £500 in prize money
  • a dedicated mentoring session with a professional dramaturg
  • a reading of their work, performed by professional actors and live-streamed for a wider audience

Source: Playwriting Prize

First semester as an English student!

As a new semester begins, and we are all settling into new classes, a few of our first year students reflect on their experience of starting  their degree and their first few months studying English at Westminster!

Workshops by guest authors have made the course tremendously exciting and dynamic, and it’s been rewarding to work with other writers.

Studying English Literature and Creative Writing as a mature student at Westminster has exceeded my expectations.Lectures and seminars have impressed me with their depth, in unpacking the historical and sociopolitical contexts of literature, for one example.Workshops by guest authors have made the course tremendously exciting and dynamic, and it’s been rewarding to work with other writers. I’ve improved as a writer from their guidance and found feedback relevant and mostly invaluable.

Alex, BA in English and Creative Writing


 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the epoch of possibility, it was the season of loneliness. These contrasting thoughts, adapted from the famous Charles Dickens quote to fit my current predicament, run through my mind; they float on top of all my idealistic expectations of university. This wording, I know, is nothing more than theatrical exaggeration but at the time these thoughts were conjured, they seemed relevant. I was sitting in a café with a cold, overpriced cappuccino and a half-eaten croissant before me, feeling sorry for myself as one does when idealism is crushed by the cynical hand of life. The problem? Loneliness. When one is used to being surrounded by an array of friends and peers, it’s fair to say the newness of university – newness, in this case, consisting of over 20,000 students – can be slightly daunting; and when one isn’t living at dorms, it’s even more daunting. Needless to say, this was the second day. Like I said, theatrical exaggeration – the result of reading too much Oscar Wilde, perhaps. Fortunately for me, things did improve over the next few days and weeks.

The next day, I decided to alter my course from joint honours Spanish and English Literature to English Literature. This involved a lot of e-mailing on my part, although I did learn to get in the habit of putting ‘Kind regards’ at the end of e-mails so that was a bonus. The next few days introduced me to my modules, which included What is Literature, a module I thought I would completely glide through – right up until I actually had my first seminar and realised obvious, logical answers weren’t necessarily right and that philosophical thought was actually needed.This, I learnt, was what university was about: unlearning a lot of what we had been taught at college, being challenged and, of course, challenging others.

This, I learnt, was what university was about: unlearning a lot of what we had been taught at college, being challenged and, of course, challenging others.

Keywords for Literary Studies is another module, where we were told we would be reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a book I consider an old foe. I tried reading it twice before while going through one of my ‘I must be cultured’ phases and, I admit, failed both times. The fact that I must now read it in its entirely once and for all is a challenge I must complete. Shakespeare and Performance is another interesting module, as I have always loved Shakespeare – isn’t it a sin for a literature student not to? – and the first seminar was a riveting introduction to the study of his plays. Moreover, I actually met people and made some friends, which means brooding in cafés alone will hopefully not be a regular occurrence.The following week went better, as I had settled in and built a slight regime for myself. The best thing, however, is the fact that starting university has cleared up the vexatious writer’s block I had been suffering from and now, I have started writing again. Studying the literary greats at degree level makes it hard not to be inspired.

Danny, BA in English Literature


My first semester at the University of Westminster has flown by. At the beginning, I experienced an array of emotions varying from bewilderment to excitement, as well as a real sense of confidence and pride starting my new journey in London.

Embarking upon anything new is naturally daunting and it would be hypocritical of me to say that I was not apprehensive before starting University. However, my fears and worries soon dispersed into thin air after a couple of weeks into the semester, when I met people on the same course as myself. Knowing that we were all in the same situation was both reassuring and encouraging.

One of the principal reasons for me selecting the University of Westminster as my choice of study was that even on the open day, a welcoming aura was apparent. The communal feel was palpable on the enrolment and orientation week.

One of the principal reasons for me selecting the University of Westminster as my choice of study was that even on the open day, a welcoming aura was apparent. The communal feel was palpable on the enrolment and orientation week, which I really enjoyed due to the FANS (Friends of Arriving New Students) at Westminster. They were not only relatable, knowing that they had stood in the same shoes as you last year, but also positive and knowledgeable about all aspects of University life. Whether you had questions about what societies to join or just general information about library opening times, there was no stone left unturned. Many times, throughout the twelve weeks of the semester has the leap between A Level and University study made an appearance in conversation. The principal question on my mind was: what does this giant gulf standing between these two levels of study consist of? I would say the analytical, presentational, research and inference skills that you learn at A Level are like foundations to a house; necessary to cement the base knowledge. However, University level consists of you utilising those foundations on a much more rigorous scale whilst building upon your previous knowledge. Furthermore, the words that I associate with University study are independence, self-motivation and determination.

Having completed my first semester as an Undergraduate in English Literature and completed many forms of coursework for various modules, I have learnt to appreciate that you must be a proactive, independent learner, prepared to take initiative by using information given to you in lectures and formulate your own opinions.  The end of the first semester was abundant in coursework deadlines, presentations – a stressful period! But although initially the amount of work can appear daunting, I have learned that if you plan well in advance and keep focused on all deadlines then everything should run smoothly!

To gain the most from University study and achieve the degree that I aspire to have, I believe it is imperative to take advantage of the surrounding environment.

Having a campus in London is the biggest and best classroom of all.

Having a campus in London is the biggest and best classroom of all. Every street bleeds history and the capital itself offers everything and more in terms of academic resources. Studying a subject like English Literature, the amount of academic resources are limitless including institutions such as The Tate Modern, The Globe and The British Library. I have been really enjoying the opportunities to use what the city has on offer!

Francesca, BA in English Literature

8 Incredible Reasons to Study English at Westminster (by our students)

Lovely blog post from Elisa Ramirez and Subhashini Robert William, sharing their list of eight favourite things about studying English at Westminster.

1. Being part of a diverse community

One of the most exciting things about Westminster is its diverse staff and student body.

“Studying English at Westminster has allowed me to meet students from all parts of the world. It’s always interesting to participate in discussions during seminars because you are encouraged to share your ideas and learn many different ways of approaching the topic.” – Sanniah Ahmed, English Literature BA Honours

2. Our incredible lecturers

If you choose to study English at Westminster you know that you will be getting the best, from the best. Our lecturers are committed to making sure that you understand what you are learning. Apart from being passionate about what they teach, they’re also always there to support you and are very willing to help when needed.

Read the other six here: http://blog.westminster.ac.uk/international/8-incredible-things-studying-english-westminster/