Student Elvira on the University of Birmingham campus

Why I decided to study English and Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham

I chose my course because growing up, I had always loved the arts. Anything creative, I would 100% be involved. The idea of being able to incorporate two subjects into one was super exciting.

During A-Levels, I studied both English Language and Literature, so I always knew that I would want to study something English related, but I did not want to study just plain English again. That’s when I stumbled across English and Creative Writing; seeing that the University of Birmingham is ranked first for their Creative Writing course, I immediately began researching.

When I found out that I could incorporate something creative alongside something academic I knew I had found what I wanted to study!

The contemporary literature scene is incredible at the moment. Literature has changed so much, and you’ll be able to feel that when studying this degree as you travel through so many different time periods


My favourite thing about my course…

I would say my favourite thing about English and Creative Writing is the amount of freedom we are given. With there being a 50/50 split between the two subjects, it allows me to explore so many different perspectives within certain novels, poems and plays.

If there is something that I have learned when reading a novel for one of my English Literature modules, then I can freely incorporate that into my own Creative work. It is always great to develop and grow your writing!

What I found difficult at first…

I would definitely say that what I found most difficult at first was how to correctly format an essay. A university-style essay differs from your usual A-Level essay. There are so many things that you have to research, your arguments have to have some form of secondary material to back them up, and you have to be so niche with your ideas!

However, the University has an amazing team called AWAS who help with these types of queries. They set up a plan with me on how to format my ideas and bring them to life. I was overwhelmed with how helpful the service was, and the help allowed me to progress as a student. So you are never alone!

My favourite modules…

As I study both subjects, it would only be fair to say one from each. For English Literature, my favourite module that I have studied so far is Romantics and Victorians. This module explored the likes of Shelley, Wordsworth, Austen, and Dickens, so it really spread across the time periods and allowed me to see the changes within that society. I feel many people know these authors from GCSE or A-Level and want to stray away, but studying them at university level changed my perspective completely.

I began to enjoy how imagination is linked to nature and how nature teaches us things about ourselves that we never knew. But also, how imagination can be dangerous, making you ignore the truth and live in a make-believe world. It was super fascinating.

As for Creative Writing, I would say my favourite module was Poetry Writing. The title may not sell itself to you, but the module was a great way of teaching me that poetry did not have to involve overly complex formats that talk about love and death, it can be so much more.

I learned about the different forms of poetry and their histories, but also how they have developed over the years. This module aimed to eradicate any preconceived ideas about the form of poetry, and in my opinion it did just that!

Most memorable moment so far…

I would say, meeting the friends that I have now. During school, I felt I never made a legitimate group of friends, but coming to university you are surrounded by such a great community! Most of my friends, I have actually met on my course. It’s always nice to know that I can speak to people that I relate to, to chat about what I’m currently reading or ask for tips on my writing or essays. I have a very positive environment around me, so I think whatever moments we share together will forever be memorable.

My top tips for new students

READ. READ. READ. One thing that I would say if you are planning on studying this degree - just read anything and everything. The contemporary literature scene is incredible at the moment, literature has changed so much, and you’ll be able to feel that when studying this degree as you travel through so many different time periods. Get yourself on ‘Goodreads’ and see what is out there.

I would also say explore different genres and get out of your comfort zone. I came to university with a closed mindset, thinking that I can only write poetry about love and experiences.

However, since studying this degree I have been pulled out of my comfort zone and have written prose, poetry, scripts, radio dramas - it has been such a great learning curve and I honestly love that I have managed to explore these things. Definitely challenge yourself more because, as a writer, it is the best thing you can do to develop your own writing!