Here are some of the questions we are often asked by prospective students. If the answer to your query is not adequately covered here, please contact the School directly.
Q: I’d like to apply for the BA in English Language & Literature at Sheffield but I’m only taking one of these subjects (English Language or English Literature) at A-level. Is that a problem?
A: No, it's not a problem. Applicants for the BA in English Language & Literature must be taking one of the following list of A-level subjects - English Language OR English Literature OR combined English Language and Literature.
Every year we accept applicants who have studied only one of the two areas for A-level and this is not a problem. However, if you have only studied one these A-level you'll need to explain in your personal statement why you now want to start studying a new area. So, if you are going to be starting literature, tell us about books you have read and what you thought of them. If you are going to be starting language, tell us how you came to be interested in linguistic questions and what you hope to learn about them. This will show us that you have thought carefully about your choice of degree course and are really committed to it.
Q: What happens if I just miss out on making my offer?
A: Don’t despair! If you do just miss out there is still a good chance we will be able to accept you, though unfortunately we can give no guarantees at this stage. If you put us as your first choice, we will do all we can to ensure you get your place. We have made decisions on all borderline cases before you receive your results and you will know whether or not you have secured a place on results day.
Q: I have received an offer from you, but would now like to change to a different course - is this possible?
A: The best thing to do is to contact the admissions team as soon as possible, with your reasons for wanting to change.
Q: Can I get a Bursary?
A: You may be entitled to a bursary based on several factors. Check the Finance webpages for more details.
Q: What is the ratio of applications to places on each degree?
A: This varies from year to year and from degree to degree. In an average year we would expect a ratio around 6: 1 for applications to those who actually start in September.
Q: Can you recommend any reading for the summer before I come to Sheffield?
A: Yes, we have a reading list for each of our degrees: the latest list can be found on our webpage.
Q: When looking at my options there are a few terms I don't fully understand; what do they mean?
A: Have a look at our glossary of terms which should explain any unfamiliar terms.
Q. Once I am a student with you can I transfer courses within the Department?
A. This can be possible, yes, though what we normally ask is that you complete the first year on the course you have applied for and then we can look at your reasons for wanting to change at the end of this.
Q: Do you accept General Studies/Photography/PE etc?
A: Yes, with some provisos. We divide A-level subjects into two groups: ones that are ‘acceptable’ and ones that are ‘acceptable in combination’. You need to be taking three subjects at A2-level to apply for our courses and two of these must be from the ‘acceptable’ list. The third can be either ‘acceptable’ or ‘acceptable in combination’.
About the School
Q: How many students are there in the School, on each degree?
A: This does vary a little from year to year- in an average year we would expect to take around 220 single honours students in first year, of whom approximately 110 will be doing English Literature, 45 English Language & Linguistics and English Language & Literature, and around 20 doing our English & Theatre degree. In addition we also accept around 100 dual degree students a year. So overall, across all 3 years, there are around 1,000 students doing a degree that involves English of one kind or another. This makes us one of the largest departments in the country.
Q: What opportunities are there for me to have a say in the way my course is delivered?
A: It is very important for us that students have the opportunity have a strong say in the running of their degree, and the chance to shape the way teaching goes on in the School. We have a very active Staff-Student committee in the School which meets regularly throughout the semester, and acts on the suggestions that students put forward.
Q: Where will I be taught?
A: Many of your seminars will be held in this building, the home of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. This is also where all your tutors have their offices. Lectures are never far away- a 10 minute walk at most. The Jessop West building is right in the heart of campus, very close to both the Information Commons, The Diamond and the Students’ Union.
About the Course
Q: What are the entry requirements for The School of English Undergraduate Degrees?
A: Typical offer: AAB (or equivalent). As we offer such a range of programmes you will need to check the specific details for the course you're applying for. For further information please visit our programme specific pages.
Q: What will the structure of my course be?
A. This will vary depending on the particular degree you have applied for. Information can be found on the programme specific webpages.
Information about Combined Honours degrees and how they work can be found on the faculty page.
Q: How is my course assessed?
A: In common with most other universities, we practice continuous assessment here - so not everything rests on final exams. You are instead assessed on each module as you go along, by a variety of means, not just the standard essay. Our methods of assessment are innovative, and geared towards bringing the best out of our students; they might include, for example, oral presentations, posters and on-line work. We do have some exams, especially on core modules. First year results do not contribute to the final overall grade, though it is important to do as well as you can of course. Third year is double weighted in comparison with second year.
Q: Can I/do I have to do a dissertation?
A: Dissertations are optional in the final year of all our degrees. You do not have to do one, and if you don’t it won’t affect the type of degree you receive. Many students find it can be a good way to culminate their studies in the final year. A dissertation is a chance to produce an extended piece of work (typically between 8 and 9,000 words) on a topic of your choice- usually one that has arisen during the course of your degree. You will have a supervisor, with whom you will have regular meetings throughout the semester (our dissertations are generally one semester long, though on some degrees you will do a preparatory module the previous semester). You will also have workshops with your peers, and have the opportunity to consult with those working on similar topics.
Q: How many hours contact time will I have each week?
A: On average you will receive between 8 and 9 hours of lecture and seminar time per week, across all 3 modules, though this varies according to the degree you are taking, as does the kind of contact. However, this time is only the start of your learning experience. You will spend many further hours during the week preparing for seminars and lectures, working on assessments, and taking part in on-line learning (for example by posting critical commentaries and contributions to discussion ahead of seminars).
Your tutors offer constant guidance, for example by suggesting particular further reading. There are also many other opportunities to have contact with lecturers and seminar tutors; all of us set aside several hours a week for students to come and see us to discuss their work, and we regularly schedule individual tutorials, especially when assessed work is due, or to be handed back. On some modules we also encourage you to meet with your peers during the week, outside the regularly scheduled seminars, to discuss a particular aspect of that week’s reading. In short, the 8-9 hours a week of formally timetabled time is just the beginning; you will soon find that your weekly timetable fills up with various kinds of study- you will be very busy before you know it.
Q: What are the class sizes?
A: They can vary according to the type of module and the particular degree you are taking, though we try to keep the numbers small.
Q: Am I able to take modules from outside of the Department?
A: Yes, especially in first year. Indeed it is very common for students to keep an outside subject going in first year (perhaps one you have studied at A Level), though it is less common in second and third year.
About the Future
Q: What careers do your graduates go into?
A: Find out more on our careers page.
Q: What help will I get from the University in finding a job?
A: The University's Careers Service is an excellent source of knowledge for all our students, whether you're just starting to think about what career you want or wanting help for your first interview.
About the University
Q: Where will I live in my second and third years?
A: In second and third years most students live close to the university, in the north west of the city - there are certain students areas that are popular and safe. Most live within a 10 minute bus or tram ride, and the public transport is very good.
Q: What services are offered by the Students' Union?
A: The Union provides a wide variety of services and opportunities for students at the University and also represents them as a whole. The Students' Union building houses cafes and bars, a cinema, a learning resource and information centre, a bank and a variety of shops, all catering specifically for students. The Union represents our students, both here at the University and also at national level. Each year sabbatical officers are elected to represent and work on behalf of the different groups of people who represent our student body. The Union is housed in a brand new, state-of-the-art building and regularly comes top of the Times Higher Awards.
Q: What is the accommodation like?
A: There is the opportunity to visit our award winning accommodation at Open Days by signing up for a tour at the central exhibition at the Students' Union.
Q: What sports facilities do you have?
A: We have excellent sports and recreation facilities here at the University of Sheffield plus a wide range of established sports clubs, making sport at the University available for everyone. Goodwin Sports Centre is our flagship facility incorporating 3 full size synthetic turf pitches, 3 small sided synthetic turf pitches, a multi-purpose sports hall, swimming pool, bouldering wall, 4 squash courts, a tennis court, cricket nets and the superbly equipped S10 Health Fitness Centre.