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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of HumanitiesUndergraduate study

Beth Stephens BA English

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

Through the University's Careers and Employability Service, I recently managed to secure an internship at a literary agency.

I grew up in Kent in a home without a television, so spent all of my time buried in a book. When the time came to choose a degree, there was no doubt in my mind that English literature would be the most rewarding and enjoyable way to spend three years.

I wanted to stay close to home, and to London for escaping! More importantly though, of all the universities I visited, both pre- and post-application, it was the place I felt most at home due to its unique atmosphere. The student population is so huge, and so centred on the campuses that you feel a part of it as soon as you set foot on Highfield turf. Add to this great staff, choice in modules and facilities, and it was an easy choice.

I'm doing a BA in English Literature, although I did a combined honours in my first year with philosophy. I initially chose the combined course because I didn't want to limit myself and thought English alone would be too narrow a subject. However, by my third week it became clear that English was where I belonged, and that the huge range of modules would keep me busy! English has always been a strong subject for me, and I enjoy the way in which you are challenged to think for yourself, but in a way which is relevant outside of literature at degree level.

As a really family-oriented person I struggled at first, knowing that my life had changed so drastically and trying to work out where I fitted. It took a while, but everybody was in the same place, and after a few misfires I found a group of people I could be myself around. From then onwards it's been fantastic. A steep learning curve, but never dull.

You'll constantly be mocked by medics for doing an 'easy' degree, but everyone who takes a humanities subject knows this isn't true. While we have less timetabled hours, this makes for a more personal experience. Essentially, you get back from the University what you put in. You are responsible for how much effort you put in, and your tutors, grades, and relationship with your classmates will directly reflect how much you invest. I think this is a much more satisfying way to succeed, and allows you to mature, and take responsibility for yourself.

I'm a member of several of the Uni dance societies, mostly jazz and contemporary where I compete on the advanced competition squads. There's something for everybody, at every level, so life never gets dull.

Through the University's Careers and Employability Service, I recently managed to secure an internship at a literary agency in Notting Hill. This is a fantastic opportunity in a tough business and I'm very excited.

Once I've completed my degree, given the uncertainty of funding for further education at the moment, I intend to get a job. Perhaps in the future when I have a disposable income, I'd like to try for a MA, but for now I want to start earning.

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