School of Liberal and Performing Arts
University of Gloucestershire
Cheltenham GL50 4AZ
Hannah Spencer, graduated in 2010
One of the things I loved about studying at the University was that it didn't feel overwhelming. Everyone was really friendly and there was always someone to point me in the right direction. Over the three years the tutors got to know me well and helped me develop my strengths. The feedback on assignments was always detailed and helped me to continuously get better marks and ultimately end up with an overall 1st class honours. After I graduated I completed the highly competitive Lidl Graduate Management Programme, but realised that I needed more than just a salary to motive me. So I because a Retail Area Manager for an amazing charity (Dorothy House Hospice Care) and have had up to 21 shops in my remit with a multi-million pound turnover, 600 volunteers and 60 paid Managers and Deputies. What I love most is that I'm involved with so many different and interesting things - rewriting policies, planning and opening new stores, giving talks and presentations, writing business plans and even jumping on the till to serve customers from time to time! It's a very challenging but rewarding job where I still use the knowledge I gained from my degree every single day. The degree prepared me for my job in every aspect: writing proposals for new business ideas, chairing engaging and motivating meetings, standing and speaking confidently in front of a hall of managers, structuring my reports clearly, creating and presenting a PowerPoint persuasively, and leading difficult conversations. More than that, though. The course helped me prepare for life. Writing my first haiku poem made me realise I needed to live more 'in the moment', analysing a text from McDonald's website made me savvy to clever marketing campaigns (and is why I choose to shop at my farmers market almost every week), transcribing two American President inauguration speeches has enabled me to see straight through rhetoric and make informed choices. The course is so relevant to worldwide issues today and the engaging way it's taught has meant that even today, seven years later, I still feel well equipped with the knowledge I need in work and life. If I could go back and study the same course all over again I would. It was the best thing I could have possibly done with three years of my life!
Very enlightening in terms of igniting awareness.
I feel so much more confident speaking in front of an audience, I never thought I would be able to do it.
Fascinating, it made me think more deeply.
I learned how to listen actively and give positive feedback.
Inspirational as it is teaching me to look at the world and our society from a different perspective
Really opened my eyes, I was amazed.
Increased my understanding of how society and the media influence the world around me.
Really made me think about how I read and analyse stories
Opened my eyes to seeing the world in a different, more appreciative way.
Incredibly relevant in that it teaches us how to communicate and discuss effectively
Really like the assessment and the freedom to get my teeth into something I feel passionate about.
Great selection of texts
It definitely changed how I look at things around me.
Attention is kept riveted throughout class.
I found out something interesting about being human.
Helped me look at things in a new way and question a lot of the things we take for granted.
Unique perspective of the world that I otherwise would never have experienced.
It caused me to look at ways to change the world.
Incredibly interesting and is opening my eyes, very engaging.
Loved discussing themes that are so relevant to modern social issues
Very interesting and relevant to our lives and future careers.
Really encourages me to think outside the box.
It has changed the way I read.
Very relevant to life now and after graduation.
I started to see things in a different light.
I have loved every book we've read
It has made me realise the power and impact that language can have.
It makes us more critical and increases our awareness.
It opened my eyes – I started to see things in a different light.
I’m finally getting to know the values I stand for.
I am much more aware of my surroundings.
My understanding of politics has grown immensely as a result of this course
Very relevant to life now and after graduation, it’s surprising how much.
Assessment is very useful as it forces me to analyse myself
I’ll be able to really apply what I’ve learnt in my job later.
Incredibly relevant to my life as well as being interesting and stimulating.
I always walk away from lessons glowing with happiness because of the appreciation of the world around us.
It's really making me think about our connection with the Earth.
It has changed my outlook on the world.
I'm seeing how important it is to look after our world and respect other cultures.
I am much more confident speaking within the group and expressing my opinions.
It allowed me to see the world from a different perspective.
Made me see and view the world differently
Opens your eyes to the subtext of society and the world which is very inspiring!
It has made me a better thinker
Very stimulating in terms of the sheer number of things that I have learned
Very interesting and relevant to what is happening in the world today
Very relevant to the world we live in today
Shines a light on the world
All classes were really enjoyable
Very interesting and it has changed how I see the world
I really like the fact that real world examples from modern times are given
Changed my outlook on the world
Highly applicable to the real world
Assessment has challenged me to look at the world in new ways
Improved my communication skills
I’m seeing how important it is to look after our world
Very interesting conversations
Really enjoying this course
Find it extremely interesting and can’t wait to explore further
Assessment is extremely useful and helpful
Am enjoying writing the assignment
I am much more confident at speaking
Comments from module feedback forms:
Jessica Iubini-Hampton, graduated in 2017
I found the whole experience of studying at the University very exciting because of its vibrant environment where students can explore their interests. The multitude of opportunities on offer, such as volunteering, internships and part-time jobs are extremely useful in gaining practical skills and experience. The modules were incredibly inspiring and made the degree one of the most meaningful experiences in my entire life. I took part in two internships: International Buddy Scheme, where I supported a group of international students in their first year of study at the University, and the Being Human Research Centre internship during which I developed the website for the Centre, I wrote a short blog, and filmed several interviews related to what it means to be human. I enjoyed both very much and the latter also led to a paid position as a Research Assistant - it couldn’t have been better. The skills I learned during the course that were most useful in my life and work are critical thinking, awareness of the social constructs that limit our life and worldview, and systematic analysis. This course is not just different, it’s unique. Not only does it offer all the academic skills and knowledge you’d expect from a degree in English, but it also offers an opportunity for exploring practical and meaningful aspects of life. After graduating I was offered a scholarship to study a masters degree at the University of Manchester, and later offered two funded PhD places, one at the University of Liverpool and another at the University of Manchester.
Charlotte Dover, current student
I’m finding the University of Gloucestershire to be the perfect environment to blossom as an individual. The English lecturers are highly specialised and have been so supportive of my learning that I’m getting first class marks now. I’ve taken both language and literature modules, which suits my personal interests perfectly. A particular favourite was studying ecocriticism during the second year. This allowed me to study language in the context of literature, explore my own world views and focus my final assignment on issues that matter to me. Following this inspiring module, I decided to complete a Future Plan internship which involved creating a free online course in Ecolinguistics. Working closely with two of my peers and Dr Arran Stibbe, I created video clips and learning resources which have been used by more than 1000 learners who subscribed to the course. This internship provided vital experience in ICT skills and marketing. It also demonstrated the real-world applications of English studies. I received an award for my contributions as an intern which was extremely encouraging and something to put on my CV. Now, as I progress through my final year at Gloucestershire, I have decided to accept a second internship which focusses on the maintenance of the course’s social media sites and website. What’s unique about the university is the way in which lecturers apply academic study to real life. It’s clear how English relates to wider society, history, art and culture. The course trains us to think critically and question sources of information, broadening our minds and making us more inquisitive. The university-wide focus on careers reassures me that when I come to graduate next year I will be equipped with all the skills I will need for my future job.
This section describes the experience of current and former students on the BA English and related degrees, in their own words:
Declan Mcdowell-Naylor, graduated 2014
I really enjoyed my time at the University of Gloucestershire. The course was taught with great enthusiasm and rigour, and it ignited my interest in language, how it works, and what its effects are. I really made the most of my time on a course full of opportunities. One of those opportunities was the Future Plan internship, where I conducted research on communication for leadership. Working with staff, I conducted a literature review and ran focus groups to discover how linguistics can be applied to leadership development. The responsibility felt great and I was happy to be able to develop skills relevant to my chosen career path. The internship helped me successfully apply for a scholarship to undertake a doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London. I am currently researching the role of the public in the development of ‘autonomous vehicles’ (self-driving cars) and I have presented this research at several conferences now. As my doctoral studies near completion, I often think about how important to my development my time at the University of Gloucestershire was. The degree, the internship, and the guidance I received gave me not only the right skills, but also the experience of what it takes to pursue my chosen career.
Rachel Lowrie, graduated 2012
After I graduated in 2012, I did teacher training at the University of Bristol and am now teaching English as the Head of Key Stage Three at my former secondary school. None of this would have been possible without the supportive, encouraging and welcoming environment I experienced at Gloucestershire. It was this that allowed me to grow in confidence and blossom. Furthermore, my course leader, Arran Stibbe, encouraged skills for life and not just to gain a certificate. There was no regurgitation of information in assignments, for example, but instead a critical engagement in the world was required. Through English, I learnt about sustainability, the environment, representation in the media, inequality in society, language and thought and much more! Besides this, I crafted my reading, writing and researching skills. My dissertation, which was an ethnographic study of language change in Moldova, allowed me to engage more deeply with the people I met whilst volunteering in eastern Europe, and I still refer to this when teaching A Level now. Many of my students have gone on to follow in my footsteps and study English Language because of the praise I give my experience. I can not speak more highly of my time at the University of Gloucestershire and would not hesitate in recommending it to others. If I could do it all again tomorrow then I would!
Leonie Carr, graduated 2017
I am so glad I made the decision to take this course! I received invaluable support and feedback throughout the three years which helped me be the best I could be. The course introduced me to interests I didn’t know I had and gave me a whole new perspective and understanding of the world. Now I am fulfilling my dream career working in comedy and entertainment television. My dissertation was about comedy and every time I read it back I am filled with pride! Mentioning my dissertation to industry professionals proved my passion and landed me the perfect job. As a freelancer, I move between companies and have to communicate with producers, writers, crew, the public, and celebrities. The course prepared me wonderfully for this, and I am now confident communicating with anyone. And it doesn’t go unnoticed - countless times I have been asked to stand-in on comedy panel shows for rehearsals! All in all, I am really grateful for this course. It has made me feel much more connected with the world around me, taught me the ability to think and analyse critically, and has helped shape me into a more aware, capable and self-assured individual.
Photo: Rory Mulvey