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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of HumanitiesUndergraduate study

Annabel Dilks BA English

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Hi, I'm Annabel Dilks and I studied BA English within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

The system of choosing modules by preference has allowed me to avoid studying subjects I don’t enjoy and specialise in areas I am really interested in or that I have not studied before

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in London and grew up in Surrey.

What made you decide to study English?

Although I am interested in both Literature and History, I only wanted to take a single honours degree as I felt I would rather channel all my energy into one subject rather than two and I felt English, which was always my best subject at school, gave me the most freedom in terms of what subject areas I wanted to study and I could incorporate both my interests into the course.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

Of all the universities I visited, Southampton was the one I felt had the greatest diversity of students, without stereotypes or cliques. I instantly felt comfortable and could picture myself living there. Although it is only an hour from my home, getting to know a new city and area provided me with the independence to feel removed from familiarity, but with scope to pop home easily.

Tell us more about the areas of English that you are now specialising in …

As I am not very keen on modernism, I have structured my course so far to cover a lot of medieval and renaissance literature, which was a foreign area to me before university. The system of choosing modules by preference has allowed me to avoid studying subjects I don’t enjoy and specialise in areas I am really interested in or that I have not studied before.

Are you enjoying your studies? What do you like most about your degree programme?

I love my degree and could not imagine studying anything else. The balance of lecture hours and out of class preparatory reading has allowed me to control my own level of work without feeling pressured. It has taught me the importance of time-maintenance and self-discipline. English is very much a degree where the outcome reflects the effort you put in and going the extra mile will always pay off.

Do you get on well with the academic staff?

The academic staff at Southampton are brilliant. I have not yet come across a module where I have not felt entirely supported and always feel comfortable to email in a query or question. The most inspiring of lecturers are the reason I get out of bed on a lazy day.

What’s the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

The University itself is in a good location and it is not cut off like some other universities are. The city is lively both at night and during the day with lots of things to do around the area to prevent the bubble effect of living at university. I have never felt trapped there and often take daytrips for a break from studying.

What has been your favourite moment so far?

Catered dinners in first year are very memorable. Though we did different courses, we would all collect for dinner and spend hours in the dining hall together. It was a daily ritual and was the best part of fresher year.

How were the first few weeks at Uni? Was it easy to settle into your studies, make friends etc?

After taking a year out, I became sceptical as to whether university was right for me and arrived there in two minds but by the end of fresher’s week I had no doubts I was in the right place. I was in a large corridor and was not left alone from day one, which was brilliant. Making friends on my course was a bit harder than halls because of English’s limited contact hours, so after-lecture coffees at Avenue café became vital social events. I felt happier with my course once I had people to discuss it with and didn’t feel alone.

Are you involved in any clubs, societies etc?

For the last two years I have played with the symphony orchestra, which gave me another set of friends and a chance to keep my music up without studying it. I also joined the riding teams this year and am now part of the committee. I love representing the university in a sport I enjoy and venturing to competitions around the South. As English requires so much reading, it is important to me to do something active that gets me out of bed or off the sofa as well as having something else to show for my three years at university.

What are you planning to do after graduating? What steps have you taken towards achieving this?

I am still short of career plans so I am gradually experimenting with work experience in different areas. I currently work as a marketing researcher for an online publishing company to try to gain some insight into publishing. The only problem with English is that it provides so much opportunity it is hard to choose a vocational direction.

Do you have any advice for people considering studying English at Southampton?

Your success in this course will depend on how you apply yourself and time-management is the key. It is a very flexible course and if you enjoy the work then it is not hard to keep focused, it is rewarding when you put the effort in. It is also important to make the most of your classes; the more discussion you can stimulate with others, the easier you will find the independent work.

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