Israa Qazi 12TW

The Oxford English Open Day was an amazing opportunity and experience. The day started off with an introductory talk in which an Oxford professor discussed the English syllabus. I learnt about the different courses available which also allow you to take a mixture of other subjects along with English (such as English and History or English and Modern languages). This was then followed up by a lecture about Oscar Wilde, which gave me a new perspective about the author himself and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ as a whole. The professor was very engaging and included images in the presentation to further support her arguments, which helped me grasp the concepts she was describing.

Following the insightful lecture, we were given a tour of Brasenose College. Here, we were able to talk with other Oxford English students who also showed us around the campus. Along with this, we were able to ask questions about the way in which Oxford is run and how students are able to keep up with the workload. Most of the English volunteers were able to answer our questions fully and allowed us to dive deeper into an Oxford student’s life. I especially enjoyed the tours around Brasenose and Balliol college as they helped me connect more with the feeling of living at a university and being independent.

After talking with more students, we learnt that they put a primary focus on the wellbeing of their students and host many activities to bring the whole college together. We were encouraged to look around the lecture halls and English based libraries that Oxford is known for. We were then led back to the lecture hall where one of the administrators talked to us about the application process for studying English at Oxford. I actually found this very useful as it demonstrated some characteristics that Oxford are looking for in their students. There was a specific emphasis on the element of being passionate about English, which I found quite inspiring.

Overall, the event was very memorable and ultimately a great experience. It has changed the way I see universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and I am honoured to have even had the chance to visit the university.

Anna Man

The Oxford English Open Day allowed me to experience an insightful and engaging day where both the technical exam prospectus and the equally essential social, daily aspect as a student were explored and thoroughly explained. An introductory session was led by Dr Sos Eltis, who provided a clear outline of the English course available at Oxford – consisting not only of English Literature or Language, but also special options such as English in combination with History or Modern Languages which allows for more flexibility in the course. Furthermore, in the third year, students will specialise in topics which are centrally taught through faculty seminars, including extremely diverse but comprehensive topics such as Tragedy, Children’s Writing or Modern and Contemporary Theatre.

The professor also detailed the many distinctive attributes at Oxford University: the unique tutorial system which provides individual attention and choice for the student; the top ranking English Faculty; and the famously remarkable libraries and computing facilities, most significantly, the Bodleian Library which is a legal deposit library entitled to copies of all books printed in Great Britain. This was followed by an engaging lecture on the topic of Oscar Wilde and the impact of his scandalous, transgressive life. It explored unique ideas regarding Wilde’s history, which furthered my perspective on the actual implications of his life and the discrimination he faced on his literary works.

We then went on a tour of one of the constituent colleges within Oxford, Brasenose. It served as a more personal opportunity to discuss the general student life at Oxford as we were led by a group of students currently attending the college. Despite the vigorous and challenging English course, there is an abundance of opportunities and events – three formal dinners a week, numerous plays and performances, and multiple libraries which are open 24 hours. We also visited Balliol, which is famously one of Oxford’s oldest colleges; there we gained an insight into the process of applying for student finance and the generous number of bursaries or programs that are available, such as guaranteed accommodation for all first year students. The volunteers were extremely helpful and passionate about their college, an attitude which is reflective of the strong community spirit within each individual campus and the genuine enthusiasm they have for their subject.

Lastly, we finished with an overview of the actual admissions process for applicants; it outlined the dates and individual stages, such as making an application to a specific college, writing the personal statement, and preparing for the interview. Oxford seem to be looking for a candidate with genuine passion for and knowledge of English. This should also be supplemented by outstanding academic results, and a unique, engaging personal statement. At the end, there was a final question and answer session with the students, where we were given the opportunity to ask any personal questions to the current undergraduates.

Overall, the trip to Oxford not only broadened my perspective on the course of English, but it also detailed the student life and unique atmosphere at the university. The rich history and beauty which is integrated within its architecture and teaching, the insightful tour and engaging lectures solidify its status as one of the most acclaimed universities worldwide.