English and Joint Schools
Each year we offer about 12 places to undergraduates, including Joint School candidates, and we have a considerable number of postgraduate students.
BA (Hons) English
BA (Hons) English and Modern Languages
BA (Hons) Classics and English
BA (Hons) History and English
We not only assess applications according to a set level of academic achievement, but are also looking for those who are likely to make best use of the course and whose enthusiastic interest in literature is shown by reading around and beyond their A-Level syllabus. In particular, we look for keenness to think, talk and write about not just literature itself but its relationship to its social context, and for a desire to explore recent developments in literary and cultural studies.
Students of English at Wadham are encouraged not simply to practise literary criticism, but to reflect upon the often hidden assumptions (political, philosophical, and aesthetic) which underlie various critical approaches. The English syllabus at Oxford places emphasis on studying literature in its cultural, intellectual, and historical contexts, rather than in isolation. Special attention is given to Old and Middle English and the history of the English language in a way that elicits their human and literary relevance, and students who wish to specialise in these areas, either in optional papers or by taking the specialist Course II, are encouraged to do so.
Students usually have two tutorials a week, as well as classes with the other students in their year on language, translation, literary theory, or comparable topics. Most tutorials take place in College, although sometimes students may be taught by members of other colleges, particularly for specialised optional subjects.
Some Wadham English graduates go on to research for higher degrees, while others take up careers in, for example, business, the civil service, education, journalism, law, broadcasting, and the theatre. The course develops not only understanding of English literature but generally applicable abilities to grasp and analyse complex material, to construct coherent arguments, and reach well-based conclusions. It thus enables students to take advantage of a wide range of possibilities in life, as well as deepening and enriching their experience.