Charlotte Emma Jones – MA English Studies student
Charlotte Emma Jones graduated from English BA in 2020. She discusses why she chose to stay at Nottingham for postgraduate study, and how she has enjoyed the flexibility to try new areas of English.
"I really loved my experience on my BA degree. I love the city, the people I met and the teachers – so basically everything!
I decided to stay because of the relationships I’d built up with the professors and the people here and how well I know the city. I’ve always wanted to do a masters, but I didn’t know where. In my final year it solidified, and I thought ‘I’m not done with Nottingham yet, it’s such a great place, I definitely want to stay.’"
Undergraduate English at Nottingham
“I really liked how diverse the choice of modules were. You could do creative writing and drama, even things like linguistics, as well as the usual literature and language.
I personally really enjoy drama and creative writing, which weren't really options that were part of the English degree at other universities. Here you had more options and then I specialised in those areas which I enjoyed the most.
I’ve always been involved in drama and acting, so I was excited to carry on down that path. I definitely saw a lot of people flourish, even myself. Although I’m quite confident, the drama modules helped me become even more so.
You weren’t really marked on your acting ability, but they still wanted you to get up and act and get everyone involved. It gave you a sense of being able to talk in front of a large group of people.
I already knew I wanted to do drama and the creative writing I was really interested in doing. I’d done a bit in the past, but not quite to the extent that they were offering. I was excited to try that as it’s something a bit different from the usual essay-based areas."
A support network
"There are three staff who stood out for me in particular. Chris Collins – he’s been amazing. He helped me with my dissertation and he’s such a great teacher.
I did a lot of medieval options which I never though I’d do. Joanna Martin really helped me with that. At the beginning I was a bit like ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like this’, but by my third year I really enjoyed doing medieval studies because she really helped me.
Finally there's Sarah Grandage, who led my favourite optional module, 'Theatre Making'. As we did it over the Coronavirus pandemic, it was definitely challenging doing it online! She was just really encouraging and made me feel so confident in what I was doing."
“I chose to do a masters because I've enjoyed studying so I wanted to take it further (and of course, it looks good on your CV!). I may at some point in the future do a PhD. The more I learn about the subject the more I love it.
I’ve enjoyed coming to my masters having already been a student at Nottingham. I already know the ins and outs of it. You’re given a lot of independent work but it’s rewarding. You know what you’re doing, you’re getting the right answers and you’re pushing yourself, with the help of your professors.
The School of English is really good at providing a diverse range of writing, which covers topics such as race and sexuality. We deal with quite a lot of important, sometimes distressing topics (but they do always have trigger warnings). They’re things that do need to be discussed and thought about.
Although we deal with some very heavy topics, it is very useful and interesting to see how they are written and how this can make these topics accessible to people."
Skills for success
“The most important skills I've gained are communication and the ability to write well. It's really important, and needed in so many different areas for so many different types of jobs.
From the essays where you learn to write analytically, to the creative side which helps you write for so many different audiences – letters, fiction, poetry – you get such a range.
They give you a lot of thought-provoking tasks, so by the end of it I feel like you can give me any task and I’ll be able to write it! I definitely think you can write for any audience and they do teach you nuances for formal writing and less formal writing.
Doing an English degree really sets you up well. It gives you a lot of options."
“It’s still quite broad at the moment, what I’m considering. I have a part-time job at the moment where I write for hair and beauty salons about the latest trends. I really enjoy that, so potentially something to do with that, writing for a magazine. Although I feel like I have strong feelings for politics, too. So potentially following more of a political route instead, writing articles about equality and other important topics.
I feel like success to me is definitely that personal fulfilment, when you’re happy with what you’re doing. I want to change the world and help people as well, I think that is definitely a mark of success.
It is important to not only help yourself but help others as well. It’d be lovely if I was making a lot of money while doing it, but you can’t have everything!"
Charlotte's top tips if you're considering English BA
"The library is a thing I’d strongly recommend – going and actually doing work in the libraries!
I’d recommend staying on top of the reading. There’s a lot of support there for you. First year is about easing you into it and deciding which paths you’re going to follow. It’s all trial and error, finding out what you’re good at. Enjoy it would be my best advice. Everyone is there to help you, they understand that you haven’t done this before
Build a good relationship with your professors, which is so easy as the School of English are all lovely"