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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, ERASMUS and study-abroad programmes and their role in nurturing intellectual and cultural exchange. Our staff have made the commitment to engage in dialogue with you and evaluate your academic work. Once you enter our seminars, we make no distinction between you and other Warwick students.

2. Your main contact for English Department matters is Dr Ross Forman.

I am your personal tutor if you are based in the English Department during your stay at Warwick. If you have questions or problems, then come speak with me. My weekly office hours are available through the English office, but if a matter is urgent, feel free to email me. If you need something signed quickly and can’t find me, then you can leave it with the office for me to sign so you can pick it up later.

Otherwise, your personal tutor is the contact from your base department:
 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 Erasmus partners), then you can take up to 120 CATS worth of English modules of your choosing, subject to availability, the instructor’s permission (for option modules) and any relevant departmental rules regarding assessment.

If your base department is not in English (the situation of many Erasmus students coming through the Departments of Modern Languages), then you are limited to 30 CATS in this department – in most cases this will be a first-year module (Epic; Medieval to Renaissance English Literature; Modes of Reading; and Modern World Literatures), 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.

You will quickly discover that the reading assignments are much longer and come at a faster pace than you have been used to. 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 English literature modules in order to improve your English while at Warwick.

Modules in other departments - including History, Philosophy, Film and Television, History of Art and Theatre Studies - all 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 distinction between you and other students at Warwick, we consider you as BA or undergraduate students.

Many of you are beyond intermediary exams (i.e. 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 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 the Erasmus or visiting undergraduate programs unless specified in a particular exchange agreement. We welcome you to return here as MA students, however.

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, maternity 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 seek, but this is not always possible.

7. The Module Contract: please note!

In many EU universities, you are responsible for your own 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 and Plagiarism.

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 a moderately 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 the academic conversation.

To help guide you on what we expect of an essay, we recommend that you purchase and read two inexpensive books (available from our bookstore or through on-line purchasing):

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)

9. Essay and Exam Double-marking.

Most second- and third-year essays and exams are marked anonymously and 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 here 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. Don’t suffer in silence.

Lastly, life after Warwick: If you have questions about your marks or essays, please contact us. If you want to return here as an MA or Ph.D. student, please see our postgraduate webpages for application details.