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Reading English Literature: a course for mature students

Press release issued: 2 August 2006

Local people who want to return to study now have a unique opportunity to attend a new course offered by the English Department at the University of Bristol.

Local people who want to return to study now have a unique opportunity to attend a new course offered by the English Department at the University of Bristol.  Entitled Reading English Literature, the 15-week course is designed to help local mature students progress to a part-time degree or higher education certificate.

The course will encourage its students to develop skills in reading a range of prose, poetry and drama.  The key texts will be: Jane Austen’s Persuasion, William Shakespeare’s King Lear and Mark Strand and Eavan Boland’s The Making of a Poem.

There will be an emphasis on class discussion and debate as well as on reading texts aloud.  Students will also write three essays on the course: a practice essay and two further essays which will be assessed.    

The course is worth 30 credits at Level 1 which is equivalent to one first-year undergraduate ‘unit’.  (There are four 30-credit units in each year of undergraduate study in the English Department.)

Students may then want to progress to a part-time degree course at the University.  They might also want to use the skills and confidence gained from the course to help with their career progression, to apply for other higher education courses or to work in the community, for example running a reading group for the University.

Tom Sperlinger, Course Director said: “We hope the course will give mature students an enjoyable experience of returning to study.  It’s important to realise that this won’t be like school.  We value mature students here because they have their own thoughts and opinions, their own body of knowledge from life that they can use in their studies.

“We want our students to go away from the course with confidence and enthusiasm, to be excited about books and reading and to feel prepared for the opportunities available to continue their studies.”

Julie Hessey, a graduate who studied as a mature student and who will be acting as an advisor to the course, said: “I left school at 15 with no qualifications at all.  Fifteen years later, I attended an access course at my local university, Liverpool Hope.  The course was fantastic: it had me thinking in ways I never had before and reading things I never would have touched.  I then went on to read English at university and I will be starting a PGCE (teacher training) course in September.

“My advice to other mature students would be: don't let your age put you off!  If I can do it, believe me, anyone can.”

The course will meet on 15 Wednesday evenings (6pm to 9pm) starting on Wednesday 17th January 2007. The venue for the classes is to be confirmed.

No previous qualifications are necessary, just enthusiasm and commitment.

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