Because English is the one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Why study English and History?
This joint degree enables students to combine the study of history with that of English language and literature. The intersection between language, culture, and history is currently the focus of active debate within both the disciplines and you are encouraged throughout your course to relate literary and historical ideas in the investigation of your chosen periods, topics, or authors. The course is centered around the twin assumptions that historical documents are just as much ‘texts’ as are poems, plays or novels, and are therefore subject to literary interpretations, and equally that poems, plays and novels represent historically grounded ways of interpreting a culture. The joint school in English and History offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read. A History course already enriched by a strong cultural input is an ideal companion to the study of English literature. Whether your interest is in early or Middle English, the Renaissance, or the later periods, intellectually fruitful combinations are possible. The joint degree includes two explicitly interdisciplinary papers taught jointly by specialists in the two subjects. The English and History degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.
What can I study as part of the course?
In your first year, you will take introductory and methodological courses in both subjects (on the History side, there is some choice in which course you take here). Together with these, you will choose one History course from a selection of periods of British history ranging from 300 A.D. to the present day, and one English course from a selection of periods of literature, namely Old English, Middle English, Victorian, or Modern. In your second and third years, there are some opportunities to weight the course towards the History side. The centrepiece of the course is the two interdisciplinary papers you take, chosen from a list of three or more. In addition to these, you can choose from a wide range of options from both schools, including period papers not offered in the first year, and more specialised options from both schools. There is a huge degree of choice in these papers; students can either choose to specialise in a specific period or topic, or can pick and choose from the wide range of options. In addition, you can offer a dissertation on any topic of your choosing. Up to three of the papers you offer can be assessed by coursework rather than exam.
Why English is important
IF YOU are currently learning English in a school, college or institute of further education, you join approximately one billion other people around the world who are engaged in the same pursuit. However, as you try to memorise proper grammar, and try to avoid the mistakes common to most students of English, you may wonder why you are learning the language in the first place. So, why is English important?
After Mandarin, English is spoken by more people than any other language, and is the native language of more than 350 million people. More people speak English than those who speak the Arabic and French languages combined. Moreover, English is the international language of diplomacy, business, science, technology, banking, computing, medicine, aviation, UN & NATO armed forces, engineering, tourism, Hollywood films and arguably the best pop and rock music in the world. English has plenty of words to choose from. In fact, an English speaker is offered the biggest vocabulary of any language with a choice of 500,000 to 1,000,000 words (including technical and scientific terms). But don’t panic, most English speakers do very well with a vocabulary of around 20,000 words. English can be fun too. For instance, the music of such stars as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Madonna has encouraged fans to speak the language of their idols, whilst others have enrolled in English classes to improve their understanding of the dialogue in films and TV shows. Or perhaps they have embraced English to enjoy the writing of Stephen King, George Orwell or J.K. Rowling. They may even have an interest in speaking English just to converse with travellers from other countries, who communicate by using the English global interlingua while travelling abroad. Finally, if you are studying English at school, college or university, remember that getting an ‘A’ grade in English is almost worthless, in terms of communication, if you cannot speak the language. Spoken English is used in the best careers, the best universities, and is increasingly being used at job interviews. So like it or not, English is a very important language to learn how to speak.