The Student Experience: The Student Voice – Essays

Student experience

Phoebe Bown, ESC essay winner 2010, receives her award from Bob Burgess, chair of the Higher Education Academy Board

Phoebe Bown, ESC essay winner 2010, receives her award from
Bob Burgess, chair of the Higher
Education Academy Board

Introduction

This area attempts to capture something of ‘the student experience’ as articulated by students themselves.  The student essays below contain the entries to our student competitions.  In 2010 students were asked to write on A  soft option? What is difficult about English Studies or Creative Writing? In previous years the topics were: What makes a good English or Creative Writing Lecturer?; What advice would you give to students starting your course? and How does your experience of your course compare with any expectations you may have had?  The essays which emerged are a powerful and sometimes moving reminder of what it is to study English and the sacrifices, joys and sorrows that it can entail.

The videos illustrate what happens in the classroom and in the daily experience of student life. The first series of video clips (What do you do all day?) tries to demystify something of the undergraduate experience for potential students of English and the other clips give a more detailed insight into the experience of mature students and students of creative writing.

The Student Societies page contains some ideas about how literary societies can widen the university experience and give students opportunities to add those all important extra-curricular activities to their CVs.


Student essay competition 2011

The English Subject Centre’s student essay competition now in its 5th year, was a great success with fifty entries, a new Subject Centre record! You can read the winning entries below. This year’s topic really enlivened students:

What do English or Creative Writing have to say to an age of austerity?’

The winner was Cila Warncke from the University of Glasgow.

The competition is an annual Higher Education Academy event in which all Subject Centres participate.  The winner of the English Subject Centre competition goes forward to a national competition involving students from all disciplines.

Winning Entry

“Because English students and writers have never really participated in the collective fantasy of eternal satisfaction through consumption we are uniquely placed to help our stunned compatriots make necessary adjustments. ”

Runner up

“What English and Creative Writing have to say to us then, is as much as any other department in higher education – that they enhance, invigorate, and cultivate our culture and civilisation… “


Student essay competition 2010

This year’s topic: A soft option? What is difficult about English studies or Creative Writing?

Winning Entry

“..you cannot simply let the author take you by the hand and lead you on a little adventure, then write gushingly about what techniques they used to enthral and enrapture you.”

Runner up

“…this degree requires my time, attention and commitment, not just during lessons but outside of them as well, and thus, it has affected my priorities and my life. “


Student essay competition 2009

This year’s topic: “Why should UK taxpayers support you for three years to read novels, write poems or play with words”

Winning Entry

“I love people, fictional people admittedly, and that’s what I love about English. You get to find out whether the human race has changed very much and, when you read Chaucer, or Pepys, or Kazuo Ishiguro…”

Runner up

“…the true worth of what I have studied these past three years will be apparent in myclassroom and to all of my pupils.

Runner up

“This question could have been written by my mother.  It probably was.  To hear her speak you’d think she was the only person in the UK paying taxes.”


The Student Voice – Student essay competition 2008

This year’s topic: “What makes a good English or Creative Writing lecturer?”

Winning Entry

“It is the tutor’s job to facilitate the kind of discussion in which errors and developmental problems can be sensitively raised as well as praise. Each student must be encouraged to contribute, not only by submitting pieces for feedback, but to the general discussion. “

Runner up

“What makes it so easy to ask Mr Fantastic for help is his approachable demeanour towards us; he really seems like he’s here to help us, rather than treating us like a distraction from his ‘proper’ research, like grumpy old Dullman does. “


The Student Voice – Student essay competition 2007

This year’s topic: What advice would you give to students starting your course?

Winning Entry

‘I have enjoyed reading poems that I might otherwise not have read and, by flipping backwards and forwards, from the poems by Christina Rossetti, for example, I have been able to put her writing in context with that of her contemporaries.’

Runner up

‘Whether you are prepared for it or not, the course will entice you into another world. The academic environment and the range of texts open a door.’


The Student Voice – Student essay competition 2006

This year’s topic: How does your experience of your course compare with any expectations you may have had?

Winning Entry

‘Even those aspects of the course which had formerly seemed grassy knolls of comfort…became nettle patches of realigned thinking’

Runner up

‘My experience of studying literature has not been to find my expectations unfulfilled but, like the wishes granted in a fairytale, to find them satisfied in unexpected ways.’