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English degree course requirements.

Discussion in 'English' started by YesMrBronson, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    If someone was going to study English at degree level would the following be a suitable combination of A levels (obviously the actual grades would matter too)?
    English literature, philosophy, politics and music.

    Thanks.
     
  2. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    If someone was going to study English at degree level would the following be a suitable combination of A levels (obviously the actual grades would matter too)?
    English literature, philosophy, politics and music.

    Thanks.
     
  3. From my own experiences those A-levels look pretty like the ones that people had on my course. However, the safest thing is to look in university prospectuses/ online degree information as different course requirements and what they will accept do vary- an English language degree would probably want you to have an A-level in either straight English language or combined English Language and Literature for instance.
     
  4. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Thanks. I have been looking at the requirements online butthe information varies from one place to the next so I was looking for accounts of people's actual experiences to provide further help. Also, I don't know which university my Son may want to go to (if indeed he decides he wants to go) and so it's difficult to plan specifically for one university.
    He doesn't really want to do two English A levels as he hasn't actually decided to do English at degree level (may do music) and so he's opted for the one he preferred - literature. This is just me planning ahead really.
    So will he need language as well as literature then? You said people on your course had a spread of A levels like the ones I mentioned but then you go on to mention English language.
    He already has A* at English language GCSE (though I think it's simply titled "English").
    Thanks again.
     
  5. English language is a new A-level. Previously it hadn't been thought an appropriate subject for A-level, because O-level tests the ability to use the English language, whilst academic study of the phenomenon of language itself is avery difficult and poorly-developed field of research, arguably not mature enough even for undergraduate degrees. Whilst attitudes can change, it's still rather than dangerous choice.
    I'd say the same is true of philosophy and politics, for similar reasons, and music is an accepted discipline, but one rather separate from the written arts.
    You can take something slightly odd as a fourth A-level in reasonable safety, and at a pinch as a third A-level, but you go beyond that at your peril. Most English tutors at good universities will be looking for either history or a language, and will usually prefer candidates with both. However choice of A-level subject is only one factor - if his grades are very high then he'll be preferred to candidates with lower grades in the preferred subjects.

     
  6. Here's the latest advice from the Russell Group of universities:

    English
    ESSENTIAL ADVANCED LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS English Literature/English Literature, Language (some courses will accept English Language).
    USEFUL ADVANCED LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS History, Religious Studies, a foreign language.

    The whole pdf can be viewed here and is an interesting read.

    In my own experience, English Literature is the most difficult of the English based 'A' levels and is definitely the one that he should go for. The vast majority of schools don't even offer English Language 'A' Level and few even offer English Language and Literature combined. Unless you apply specifically for a linguistics course, English degree courses are very literature based and this is the 'A' level that will be required. If he desperately wants to show off linguistic ability then I would suggest a MFL or classical language would be a better avenue.
     
  7. http://russellgroup.org/Informed%20Choices%20final.pdf

    Not too sure why the pdf didn't attach first time round!
     
  8. No, you are wrong here. We use the word "linguist" in two senses, someone who speaks a lot of foreign languages, and someone who studies the academic discipline of linguistics. The two should not be confused.

     
  9. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    No it isn't! It is also quite different from GCSE English (language). It is academically rigourous and is in no way inferior to English Literature.
     
  10. I don't know when it was introduced, but if it has a long history then it was very much as a tiny minority interest.
    It's possible to devise either an easy or a difficult examination and call it "English language". The problem is that linguistics is a very difficult area of study. We're still at the flat Earth and here be monsters stage of knowledge. So it's difficult to know what to put in a linguistics examination, and there will be disputes about the value of such examinations.
    So it's best as a fourth A-level. However I wouldn't discourage it as a fourth A-level.

     
  11. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    David Crystal might take issue with you on that [​IMG]
     
  12. I continue to disagree. To understand a foreign language you are required to have a good grasp of grammar. EVERYTHING that I know about the English language and how it works was taught to me by my Latin teacher, not my English teacher. Indeed, when I had to do a linguistics module at university as part of my English degree I was the only person in the class who wasn't completely baffled because I had a good grounding in language skills which I had learned from my study of foreign languages at school (people who had done English Language 'A' level found it to be of no benefit to them in this module). A foreign language, therefore, shows understanding of grammar and other language based skills. I'd also suggest that it is a far more respected 'A' level than English language.

    However, I would agree that neither English language 'A' level nor another language 'A' level are necessary to pursue an English degree.
     
  13. Grammar in the "grammar school" sense of the term is to linguistics as Old MacDonald had a Farm is to biology. Yes, it is necessary to have the basic vocabulary and concepts, but that's just the start, before you cast off into the vast ocean of mystery that is the human facility for language.


     

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