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10 Things to Know ...

.......... about You and Warwick’s Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies


The Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies supports the full range of visiting and study-abroad programmes and their role in nurturing intellectual and cultural exchange for students worldwide. Our staff have made the commitment to engage with you during your time at Warwick and to evaluate your academic work. Once you enter our seminars, we make no distinction between you and other Warwick students. We are delighted to welcome you here.

2. Your main contact for English Department matters is Prof Liz Barry.

If you are based in the English Department during your stay at Warwick, Prof Liz Barry will be your personal tutor. Any questions or problems, get in touch via mail or during weekly Office Hours. Otherwise, your personal tutor is the international coordinator in your base department. Please check with the relevant departments in Modern Languages – German, Italian, French, Spanish – regarding whom to contact.
 3. If you are on an exchange programme that specifies English as your base department at Warwick (e.g. DAAD, American JYA, Monash or one of our European partners), then if you are a full year student you can take up to 120 CATS worth of English modules of your choosing, subject to availability, or if you are a part year student, you can take up to 4 modules, subject to availability (please note that not all modules will be available to all students due to space constraints; if you are based in the English Department, we will liaise with you beforehand regarding module availability and your options with us).

If your base department is not in English (the situation of many European students coming through the Departments of Modern Languages), then you are limited to 30 CATS/one module in this department – in most cases this will be a first-year module (Epic; Medieval to Early Modern Literature: Modes of Reading; and Modern World Literatures), again subject to availability. Additional Honours modules may become available and the department will advise you individually on the status of each module on your option request form. Note that placement on these modules cannot be guaranteed in advance; please check with the English office at the beginning of term.

You will quickly discover that reading assignments may be much longer and come at a faster pace than you have been used to at your home institution. Many modules routinely assign 9 books to be read in 9 weeks. We don’t want you to be overwhelmed during your time here, so we suggest that one module with a slightly lower reading load may be beneficial.

4. Remember: you don’t have to take modules in English literature in order to improve your English fluency while at Warwick.

Modules in other departments - including History, Philosophy, Film and Television, History of Art and Theatre Studies – may be useful to you in your studies, and are worth exploring. All will give you a chance to improve your English in a classroom setting. In addition, the Centre for Applied Linguistics and the Centre for Lifelong Learning offer modules with an explicit focus on English language learning.

5. Because we make no formal distinction between you and other undergraduate students at Warwick, we consider you as BA students.

Many of you are beyond intermediary exams (e.g., the Zwischenprüfung or License) and moving toward your MA dissertation or Maîtrise. Here in the UK, however, we don’t recognize these distinctions, and for this reason we are unable to grant you access to our MA modules. The MA degree at Warwick has a different admission and fee structure, and is not covered by visiting undergraduate programs unless specified in a particular exchange agreement. We welcome your return here as MA students, however.

Please note: Visiting students will need to sign up for a specific assessment pattern corresponding to Level 5 (intermediate) or 6 (final-year) for undergraduate modules. Your default assessment pattern will be Level 5; if you wish to be assessed at Level 6, please consult with Prof Liz Barry.

6. We cannot respond to your home professor’s demands.

Sometimes visiting students say, “My professor said that I must take XX here.” Unfortunately, unless there are agreements to the contrary in prior documentation signed by the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, we have not agreed in advance to any such requirements and cannot be bound by them. Space in English modules is often very limited, and there may be cases where no more students can be admitted (either home students or visitors). Additionally, provisions for teaching modules change from year to year depending on staff study leave, maternity leave or health leave. While we attempt to keep our information up-to-date, the prospectus you have seen may be obsolete. We make a sincere attempt to place you in the modules you prefer, but this is not always possible.

7. The module contract: please note!

In many EU universities, you are responsible for arranging your own patterns of study. This gives you the freedom to decide when you want to stop attending a seminar, to hand in an essay, or to change modules. UK universities do not have this culture. Admission to Warwick is highly competitive and space is limited in seminars, which are capped at 15 students. If you sign up for a module and stay in it past the first two weeks, then you have agreed implicitly to the following terms:

• To consistently attend the module’s lectures and seminars for the duration of your stay;
• To read all the assigned material of the module for the week it is assigned;
• To participate actively in seminar discussions;
• To submit on time the module’s essays by the specified deadline (if an essay is handed in past the deadline, it automatically loses 5 points a day until it receives a mark of zero).

If you don’t meet these terms, then realize that you have prevented someone else from gaining admission to the seminar – someone who might have been a more responsible participant – and your actions will affect our willingness to accommodate future students from your home institution.

8. Essay writing may be different here from what you’re used to at home.

The academic essay in the UK asks you to make a critical argument about your topic in ways that go beyond just demonstrating that you can cite previous scholarship. We read the essay as an intellectual engagement with texts and ideas aimed at an informed reader. This means we ask you to be more of an independent thinker (see Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”). Consequently, we take plagiarism – the use of language or ideas taken from an unacknowledged, uncited source – to be a serious breach of academic protocol.

To help guide you on what we expect of an essay, we recommend that you purchase and read two books;

They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein (Norton)
Writing with Sources: A Guide for Students, Gordon S. Harvey (Hackett)

We also strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the department Undergraduate Handbook. Note that you are welcome to attend sessions run by the Academic Writing Programme, which give useful guidance on how to approach writing essays.

Visiting students based in the English Department can also attend the Academic Enrichment programme available to all 1st year students based in the English Department. You will need to advise the department if you wish to be added to this programme.

Alternatively, you can consult a series of online academic writing resources.

9. Essays and exams are marked differently as well.

First-year essays and exams are marked anonymously by your tutor. Most second- and third-year essays and exams are moderated by an additional staff member, to ensure consistency and fairness in marking. While your tutor will comment on your essay, she or he cannot change the mark after it has been confirmed.

10. Relax!

We want your stay at Warwick to be intellectually productive, culturally enriching and personally rewarding. Spending time in a foreign country will inevitably confront you with unexpected situations. Don’t get over-stressed or hesitate to seek help. Most problems have easy solutions. There is no need to suffer in silence – get in touch with your module tutor, with me, or with the Senior Tutor for the department (in 2023-24, this is Dr Tess Grant).

Lastly, life after Warwick: If you have questions about your marks or essays, please contact us; note that transcripts are generally not available until after the end of the academic year (in July). If you want to return here as an MA or Ph.D. student, please consult our postgraduate webpages for application details.