Why I Chose to Study English Literature at Durham

Almost two weeks ago, I descended upon this beautiful town which we would soon grow to call home. I had arrived with countless boxes of unnecessary (but nevertheless aesthetically pleasing) bedroom decorations, but most importantly, a stack of overpriced books, ready to begin my three-year English Literature degree. 

‘Almost two weeks ago, I descended upon this beautiful town which we would soon grow to call home.’ (Image source: Flickr)

And why, you may ask, did I make this immense trek into this freezing northern town? One of the many reasons is obvious: Durham is the top-rated university in Britain for the study of English Literature, according to ‘The Complete University Guide,’ rated higher than both Cambridge and Oxford. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this outstanding department of professors at the forefront of the literary world? What’s more, although I have only been here for a week, all of the lecturers have been incredibly down-to-earth, approachable, and some have actually been really funny, which completely ended any personal fears that they would be fiercely intimidating as a result of their superior intellect and possibly wearing gowns. 


Alongside the faculty, there is of course the mighty Bill Bryson library, AKA ‘The Billy B.’ With its labyrinthine structure of endless books, and study areas tucked away into quiet corners, it is an exceptional facility for all students, particularly for those studying English Literature. It will take a little while to navigate your way around it, but it is definitely worth a trip to photocopy some pages of an anthology which would have otherwise cost you £75… 

‘labyrinthine structure of endless books’: The Billy B (Image source: Flickr)

Emerging from this study haven, you can take on the views of the majestic Cathedral in the distance (ignoring the distasteful scaffolding) which brings me to another key reason for why I chose Durham. The town itself, though relatively small, is lively, well-equipped for the large student population it houses, and yet very quaint, with winding cobbled streets, and lots of independent cafes where you can pass the time reading, working, or simply meeting up with friends if you want to escape from your hovel of a bedroom…or maybe that is just what mine is like. 


Being surrounded by rich history, charming architecture, and with places like the Botanical Gardens right on your doorstep (especially if you are at Collingwood!), I believed that Durham University would be an inspiring town in which to study English Literature. Even though I have only had one week of actual studying after the manic blur that was Freshers, I know that I made the right choice. There is such a multitude of extra-curricular societies and events to get involved in too, whether for personal enjoyment, or to further skills relating to your degree. For instance, currently the Durham Book Festival is taking place, consisting of a fortnight of captivating events and talks – I’m particularly looking forward to a poetry reading by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. 

Image source: Flickr

To wrap things up, I personally chose Durham University to study English Literature because I loved the town and the very friendly ‘student-town’ vibe coupled with the fact that you can gain a top degree from a prestigious university, whilst still enjoying all the other aspects of student life that Durham has to offer. 

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