The worst things about studying English Literature

Hint: it’s not that George shoots Lenny

english literature the tab the tab birmingham the tab brum university of birmingham UoB

As probably one of the most well-known courses throughout the country, it is often assumed that English Literature must have a lot going for it in order to make so many people want to spend three years of their life studying it. However, this is not the case. Not only do you have to constantly endure questions like “but what can you actually do with that degree? Isn’t it a bit pointless?”, there are many other nightmares English students have to suffer through on a daily basis:

The endless reading lists

You always loved reading as a kid, and you thought it would continue into your degree, right? Wrong. From the first week you are drowning under your reading list, forced to read novels, essays and poetry which you don’t even like. Reading for pleasure is a long forgotten dream.


Spending your loan on books

Not only is the reading list extensive, but it will also put you out of pocket. With at least five or six books per module, your bank account soon looks very depleted. These books aren’t just expensive, they are also heavy, leaving a strain on your bank and back.

Most of them will be pointless anyway 

So you spend your life savings on the compulsory books (a minimum of five per module) and spend the year studying them, only to use two in the assessments. What is the point? Let’s face it, it’s not like you’re going to read them ever again.

The Norton Anthology

The compulsory textbook for your first year. Not only is it ridiculously expensive (around £30) but it’s also another heavy book to lug around – seriously have the English department not heard of Kindles? To make matters worse, you only ever use a few pages of it – thank you very much Margaret Ferguson.


English Language

Firstly, yes there is a huge difference between English Literature and English Language. When you signed up you chose Literature over Language because, news flash, you didn’t want to do/like learning about grammar and semantics. Unfortunately, you discover that they are going to make you do a compulsory module in English Language anyway – brilliant.

Kill me now...

The library

You spend half your life in the library searching for secondary sources to fill out your essay. We are all aware that the New Library is overrated, and unfortunately English students will spend more time in the Library than most others.

Marking time

There is no right or wrong answer so quick feedback is a thing of your imagination. It’s three weeks at least before you get your marks and by that time you’ve probably forgotten all about that essay that haunted you for the eternity it took you to write. But no, it comes back to bite you just when you’d started to forget and move on from the trauma of writing it.

I'm not even halfway at 1,000 words mate

Shakespeare didn’t have to deal with word-counts.