I’m here to debunk all the things you may have heard about doing an English degree as I’m sure you may naturally have your reservations. English is such a broad subject that allows you to draw on many different areas of knowledge, this means that once you have finished your degree you can go down so many different career paths. You are not just confined to one job; it opens many doors for you. As well as this you will find that at QMUL you experiment with many different mediums in English.
If you’re like me and struggled with English at A-level you may be worried that this isn’t the degree for you; however, that is not the case. At A-level you’re confined to certain texts and rules you have to follow in your essay writing but at university you’re allowed so much more creative freedom. This is where your writing style can flourish. At QMUL especially there’s a lot of room to draw on other subjects you may have studied and not just focus solely on literature. For me, I excelled at poetry, something I never cared for because I had the opportunity to create a piece of artwork and analyse it allowing me to use my art skills and fully express myself. Likewise, with one of our modules allowing us to explore creative writing I realised this is something I enjoyed where before I couldn’t stand it. This is because I was able to write about my own experiences and express my own opinions. Some of my modules even had me utilising things I learned from the humanities, which came to me as a surprise.
English at QMUL:
You may be thinking that this isn’t what you signed up for however, your first year will include loads of different literary pathways that help you experiment to see what your good at and enjoy, so in your second year you are able to specialise in the areas you like. The good thing about English at QMUL is that you have a choice, you are given the option to create artwork, analyse film/music or you can just stick to literature if that’s what you prefer. Another thing I appreciated was the focus on coursework, I struggled in a level because of exam pressure and having to memorise quotes constantly, but here I have been able to submit essays with my full knowledge and dedicated enough time to writing it.
That being said, you are still studying English and the key fundamentals of reading and writing are still there, you just have a lot more freedom and opportunity to try new things. So, if you’re thinking I didn’t like it at A-level or I didn’t do so well, don’t let that stop you, you may have just the things you need!
If you were eligible for early clearing this would have opened on the 5 July, but the main clearing for all students opens on results day the 17 August at 8 am.
How to apply?
Ring our clearing hotline with your grades, UCAS id, and the course you want to study ready. If your grades match the requirements and the degree has vacancy you will be issued a verbal offer of your acceptance. Then you will be given a 24 hour deadline to self release yourself from an existing university or add a clearing choice on your UCAS application using the code for your degree you want to study. Once this is done and your grades are verified you will receive final confirmation of your acceptance.
What courses are available?
Not every degree will be available for clearing due to limited spots, so we advise you to use the clearing course finder on our website to check if we your course is available. When you call the hotline they will inform you if the course has space.
What is the 24 hour deadline?
This window of time is for you to decide if your 100% sure you want to go through clearing it gives you time to make the decision and consider all your options as once you self release from an existing university and get accepted through clearing you can’t go back so take your time deciding! It is important you update your UCAS application before the 24 hours as after that your spot is not guaranteed. If for any reason you can’t do it in 24 hours call us and let us know! Depending on the circumstances you may be able to get an extended deadline.
When will I receive information on accommodation and lectures?
The UCAS website can take up to 1 or 2 days to update your application but once you have officially got into QMUL you will receive emails within a few days and over the next month updating you. If you have any other questions most things can be found on our website.
Our grade requirements at clearing are BBB at A-level or equivalent in other qualifications i.e. 120 UCAS points. Use the UCAS points calculator to work your points if you have done alternative qualifications.
Our annual design competition is back and we’re looking for a new design for our 2023 tote bag and other merch, which we give away at open days, events like graduation and to new students joining the School. You have until 5 June to enter your work!
It’s time to get arty and inspire the next generation of SED students.
What we’re looking for
Inspiring quotes, imagery and designs that merge the worlds of literature, drama and creative writing.
No bigger than A5 size (or shrinkable to this size)
How to enter
To enter send your design as a black line based PDF, JPG, PNG or EPS file to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To enter you must be a School of English student, staff member or one of our alumni.
What you’ll win
If you win:
Your bag will be put into production for our 2023 open days and events.
You’ll also win a £50 LovetoShop voucher.
Competition closes: Monday 5 June at midday. A vote by our SED staff team will choose the winning design.
For inspiration here are our winners of our 2022 tote bag competition, which we give away at open days, events and to new students incoming to the School.
The first people to get the bags will be our graduating students in July 2023.
The most exciting research innovations happening at the moment are at the interface between the humanities and sciences. The digital humanities and computational humanities are thriving research areas.
But it’s important not to think of the sciences as the saviour of the humanities in these spaces.
The increasing prevalence of large language models mean that we need critical reading skills at scale, to understand the harmful biases that arise form the vast training data being fed to these machines.
AI initiatives desperately need more humanities graduates at the table.
Professor Ruth Ahnert (QMUL) working on Living with Machines Project at Alan Turing Institute
Cultural Historian Tiffany Watt Smith (Drama)’s work is featured in the report:
Key points from the report:
There is a strong correlation between the skills of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) graduates and key skills valued by employers.
Eight of the 10 fastest growing sectors employ more AHSS graduates than graduates of other disciplines. A Humanities training may not pay back most quickly in the workforce, but it is likely to give good resilience and longevity for longer term prospects.
The number of UK students choosing Humanities subjects suggests they continue to recognise the value of degrees that fit them not narrowly for any one particular career, but which develop the talents and skills needed for a wide range of opportunities.
Charlie Pullen suggests we look to the career of Professor Emerita Morag Shiach for inspiration in what the arts and humanities can do within and beyond the university. Here, in an adapted version of his opening remarks to the Practical Experiments in Hope conference in March 2023, he explains why we should view education and creativity as hopeful resources which we can use to combat the enveloping despair of our present moment.
On the dark and rainy morning of Saturday 18 March 2023, colleagues from Queen Mary and beyond joined me at Practical Experiments in Hope – a day of celebration to mark the retirement, in September 2022, of one of the School of English and Drama’s longest-serving and most distinguished colleagues: Professor Morag Shiach.
In whatever capacity we know Morag – whether we’re colleagues from Queen Mary, former students, collaborators from different universities and organisations, friends, family, or some combination of the above – many of us will be aware of the central, decisive role that she has played in the formation of English, Drama, and the institution as a whole here at Queen Mary. Across some thirty-five years – a period in which she served in many leadership positions, from Head of School to Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning and subsequently Vice Principal for Humanities and Social Sciences – Morag’s dedication to the shaping and development of this university and especially to arts and humanities education and research has been unmatched.
Arriving in 1987, Morag came to Queen Mary first as a temporary lecturer in English, before becoming permanent the following year and then, in 1999, Professor of Cultural History. Over that time Morag has been at the forefront of great and progressive changes at Queen Mary as well as an expansion of higher education more broadly. To take the English department as just one example of those transformations: when Morag first came to work here at the tail-end of the 1980s (another low, dishonest decade not unlike our own in the 2020s), the English department took just 25 students a year; now it’s more like 200. When Morag arrived at Queen Mary, we didn’t have a Drama Department – and it was she who played no small part in the founding and growth of what is now a pioneering centre for the study and production of theatre and performance.
But many of us, within the School of English and Drama and further afield, will also know Morag through her work as a notably prolific and incredibly versatile scholar. From her early research on popular culture and feminist studies, and her wide-ranging publications within the field of modernist literature and cultural history, to her more recent turn towards work in the cultural and creative economy, Morag’s career has been marked by a unique degree of flexibility and by a dedication to fostering connections and conversations reaching across disciplines, institutions, and sectors.
That commitment to interdisciplinary study, and that capacity to turn her hand to an extraordinary range of subject areas and methodological approaches, is borne out in Morag’s educational trajectory. She began her academic career with a degree at the University of Glasgow, starting out in English – a department which, quite unlike our own here at Queen Mary today, she found to be ‘disengaged’ and uninspiring – before switching to an innovative programme in Drama and Philosophy, the first student to take such a combination of subjects at that university.
It was at Glasgow, coincidentally, that Morag seems to have developed a taste for university leadership. There she served in numerous student council roles, voicing her progressive views on student politics in the Glasgow University Union paper – as she does here, in this clipping from 1978, which details her work in anti-Apartheid and anti-Nazi movements, as well as her commitment to increasing student grants and improving democratic representation at the university.
(Image Source: University of Glasgow)
From Glasgow, Morag continued her journey across disciplines (and indeed the world) by taking a Master’s degree in Communications at McGill University in Canada, where she read literature, media, and film studies, and wrote a thesis on ideas of ‘the popular’ in cultural studies, the front page of which you can see reproduced below. That MA dissertation led into her PhD at Cambridge on the historical development of a critical discourse on popular culture from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century, which was supervised by the great cultural theorist Raymond Williams.
(Morag’s MA thesis from McGill, University in Montreal, Canada)
On the day of the conference, colleagues in the School of English and Drama and I created an exhibition of just some of the many publications Morag has produced throughout her career. And so, in preparation for this display, I took a trip to the library to see what books I could find. During this trip, I was struck by two things. Firstly, by how well-used Morag’s books clearly are by our students and staff: hardly any page in her volumes is left untouched by pencil markings and sticky notes. And secondly, I was struck by how far I had to walk around the library to find her work. I began, in the history section, where I picked up her first book, an adaptation of her PhD thesis from 1989, Discourse on Popular Culture: Class, Gender, and History in the Analysis of Popular Culture. From there I found myself having to walk to the modern languages section to find her study of the French philosopher and writer Hélène Cixous (A Politics of Writing, from 1991).
After that, I had to walk to sociology to get a copy of her edited volume Feminism and Cultural Studies (1999); and then, to English literature, to pick up various works on modernism, most notably 2004’s Modernism, Labour, and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890–1930. The search continued: from there I went to economics to find Cultural Policy, Innovation, and the Creative Economy: Creative Collaborations in Arts and Humanities Research (2016). These were just some of the intellectual products of Morag’s career. But by the end of this trip around the library, aside from being quite worn out and weighed down with all these books, I had got such a strong, experiential sense of the sheer range of Morag’s work – this ability to produce highly influential and impeccably researched scholarship within and across disciplinary boundaries. Who amongst us could have their work spread so far across a library?
Morag’s ability to bring together and to create connections between disciplines and practices that might otherwise simply not get much of a chance to talk to each other was demonstrated vividly at the Practical Experiments in Hope conference, which saw assembled colleagues from English, Drama, and Creative Writing, of course, but historians too, and scholars from modern languages, geography, law, and economics, as well as from arts projects, heritage organisations, and museums. So it was then, on that cold and wet morning, we came together at Practical Experiments in Hope to continue that spirit of conversation and interdisciplinarity that Morag had long pioneered through her work.
And yet, when I first began planning the conference, I was, I must admit, more than a little overwhelmed by the prospect of bringing together this incredible range of interests, experience, and expertise in Morag’s career into just one day. When I sat down with Morag in late 2022, I asked, pleaded really: ‘You’ve done so much, Morag! How can I possibly tie it all together into a single conference?!’ And Morag, with characteristic clarity, composure, and modesty too, replied: ‘Yes, it is quite a lot. But there is a thread running through it all. And it’s that old Raymond Williams thing, of resources of hope. The arts and humanities, literature and the study of literature, education, and creativity as resources for a journey of hope. Resources, as Williams once put it, to make hope practical rather than despair convincing.’
And there we had our keywords for the day. From then on, re-reading Morag’s work, I found that thread which I should have seen all along – not least in an article she wrote for Paragraph in the year 2000, right on the cusp of the millennium, which gave us our title and central theme for the conference. In this fascinating essay, ‘Millennial Fears: Fear, Hope, and Transformation in Contemporary Feminist Writing’, Morag – showing once again her versatility and her willingness to engage with the actualities and difficulties of the present moment – identified in a variety of feminist writers of the time what Raymond Williams might have called a structure of feeling: a particular mood, or effort to respond to fear and despair about the political realities of the day with a defiant, hopeful outlook. Hélène Cixous, Judith Butler, and others, Morag argued, were carrying out through their writing ‘a practical experiment in hope, or perhaps in refusing fear.’ Those writers were meditating on and expressing the possibilities, she said, ‘of the collective and individual construction of hope.’
(Charlie Pullen presenting at Practical Experiments in Hope, 18 March 2023. Photo by Richard Ashcroft)
From the perspective of our own day, over twenty years later, in the face of the horrors of the pandemic, humanitarian crisis, climate breakdown, economic disaster, the systematic divestment of the arts and cultural sector, and, more locally, the devastation of university departments and entire disciplinary communities, the need for such a hopeful energy seems both immeasurably necessary but also increasingly inaccessible, impossible. Despair seems all the more convincing; fear seems impossible to refuse.
I myself am one who, like Connie at the beginning of D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, tends to think of our particular historical moment as a tragedy. ‘Ours is essentially a tragic age,’ Lawrence wrote in 1928, in the fallout of war, plague, economic and political crisis, so much that seems familiar to us. ‘The cataclysm has happened’, he writes, ‘we are among the ruins.’
It’s very telling, however, that when Morag came to write about D.H. Lawrence and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, she drew out and emphasised the rest of what Lawrence says. And here is the opening paragraph of the novel in full:
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover ‘thus begins with catastrophe and ruin’, Morag says in her book Modernism, Labour and Selfhood, ‘but it also begins with the necessity for hard work’. With both disaster and the possibility of carrying on.
Here then we had, at the start of the conference, the beginnings of an answer to the question, ‘why “practical experiments in hope”?’ In what ways might we imagine hope to be a practical and experimental process? What might the arts and humanities broadly conceived have to do with the making of hope in dark times? My answer, riffing on Morag, was because hope is hard work. Because it is, as she says, something we ‘construct’, which we build, which we make practically in the here and now even as the sky has fallen. And that reminded me too of something the science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin said about love: “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone,’ she said: ‘it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.’
Hope, then, might not be something that just sits there waiting to be picked up, but instead the work ofhope might be something we have to do and keep doing. As an experiment, as an open-ended process, we might not know the outcome of this hopeful work, we might not have a smooth road or clear view of the future, but that, I suggested, is the journey of hope, that is the path we must take to discover a new and better future.
My suggestion for us on the day was that we must look to the the balance between, as Lawrence says, cataclysm, ruin, and the hard work of rebuilding; or, as Morag says, between fear and the refusal of fear; or despair and the construction of something better. For in that uneasy balance, I ventured to propose, that is the space of hope, that is the location where our practical experiments in hope take place. And throughout the day, in our speakers’ presentations and through open discussion with everyone there, I invited us to explore, test out, and discover what hope we might still create with the work we do in the arts and humanities, in education, and in our creative practices.
During the day we shared our experiences of teaching and learning with Morag, as students and as lecturers; we reflected on her work shaping educational institutions beyond Queen Mary, such as the founding of our partnership schools like Draper’s Academy; and we discussed the interaction between arts and humanities research with the wider world of the creative economy, including via the class politics of the publishing industry. What became clear to us across the event was the possibility that such a conference, with its potential for facilitating collective discussion, sharing, and forming generative connections between disciplines and practices, might itself constitute one of the most fruitful opportunities for carrying out our own practical experiments in hope.
Those of us who could be present on the day were there to celebrate Morag, to thank her for all that she’s made possible for us, and to recognise the way her work has shaped and will continue to shape our own work, whatever that is – whether it be academic, administrative, creative, or some blend of all three. And it was in that spirit of tribute that I ended my welcome talk on a personal note – by briefly gesturing to the impact that Morag has had on me, on my life and work, as a student and now a member of staff at Queen Mary. For my own history is very much bound up with the work that Morag has carried out and made possible during her time here at this university.
Arriving as an undergraduate just over ten years ago to study English, I was one of the many, many students who came and still come to Queen Mary from working-class backgrounds and the first in their family to go to university. I couldn’t have known it then, but coming here I was stepping into an institution that had been, over many years, built and shaped to transform the lives of those who might not otherwise get the opportunity to experience higher education, much less to work in it.
While here, even though Morag – then Vice Principal – was not teaching in the department, her presence was felt in the incredibly diverse and stimulating learning I was taking part in, on a degree programme that allowed me to move across methodological approaches and genres of literature and media: my studies led me directly to her work on popular culture when I wrote essays on topics as diverse as the film Titanic or cultural responses to Princess Diana’s death; to Cixous when I studied the reception of ancient myth in modern critical theory; and to Virginia Woolf, especially Morag’s 1992 Oxford University Press edition of A Room of One’s Own andThree Guineas, which did much to foster my own interest in the vexed topic of education in the modernist period.
After that, as a Master’s student at Queen Mary, I came to Modernism, Labour and Selfhood, which became, then as now, a model of the sort of modernist literary scholarship I wanted to do: richly cultural historicist; attentive to the dynamic relationship between literary forms and their changing political and historical context; and committed to the study of alternative and marginal traditions within the literature and culture of the early twentieth century. It was inevitable, then, that I would go straight to Morag for a PhD on modernism and education, her supervision of which – with Scott McCracken – was by turns generous, exacting, and empowering.
(Charlie Pullen, Morag Shiach, and Scott McCracken)
And one of the greatest pleasures of the conference was to see more of Morag’s former students return to Queen Mary to reflect on the power of her teaching and mentorship, including the writer Lynsey Hanley, who in her memoir Respectable: Crossing the Class Divide (2016)writes of her journey from a working-class home on a Birmingham council estate, via a traumatic interview at Cambridge, and eventually to Queen Mary, where she was interviewed much more supportively and given a place by Morag. Hanley recalls the Queen Mary of the 1990s as a beacon of progressive higher education, as a place which ‘resembled far more closely the dream that some of us have of all children getting a good education’, she says: an education ‘which equips them both to function well in the society we have and to take part in building the society we hope for – regardless of their origins.’ If ever there was an articulation of what a practical experiment in hope might be, there it is, in Hanley’s account of the transformative potential of a properly inclusive and socially-directed form of higher education.
After a long and productive career, Morag now gets the chance to enjoy her well-earned retirement. For those of us who remain working at Queen Mary and at universities and the cultural sector more broadly, I suggest Morag’s work still has lessons for us. As our day of discussion, sharing, and conversation unfolded at the conference, and as I reflect on the day now, my final thought for us was and is that we look, for inspiration, to the breadth of Morag’s work, at Queen Mary and beyond, as one quite varied but continuous project committed to the principle that the arts and humanities, education, and creative practice are some of our most vital and enduring resources – the tools and the very basis for our practical experiments in hope.
Even after choosing a degree, deciding which university to do it at might seem daunting. It’s worth researching the nature of a particular degree at various universities to compare them. English at one university is not the same as English at another.
To start off your research, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about English and Drama at Queen Mary, first hand from two students; myself (an English student) and Chris Dhanjal, a joint honours English and Drama student.
Applying to Queen Mary
1. What are the entry requirements?
For English The entry requirements are typically ABB at A Level (or an equivalent qualification), with an A in English Literature / English Language and Literature. Non-standard qualifications are also sometimes accepted from well-motivated candidates who demonstrate achievement in literary study.
For Drama we typically look for BBB at A-level or equivalent in other qualifications such as BTEC Performing Arts.
See our course pages in English or Drama for more details of our entry requirements.
2. Can you combine English or Drama with another subject?
Yes! Students are able to take joint courses, and are able to take English alongside another subject such as Drama, Linguistics, Creative Writing, Film Studies and History.
Our degrees are all about giving you social capital, through work experience, modules from other schools and extra activities, so you have the skills to succeed in life in and outside of university. The QMUL Principal, Professor Colin Bailey talks about this new approach we are taking in this article in The Guardian.
1. What modules are offered in an English and/or Drama degree?
English: In first year you’ll explore six compulsory modules; Reading, Theory and Interpretation, Poetry, London Global, Shakespeare, Literatures in Time. These modules gave us a foundation in English Literature across the spectrum which becomes more specific in second year. In second year, there are three categories, ‘Medieval and Early-Modern Studies’, ‘Eighteenth-Century, Romanticism, Nineteenth-Century Studies’ and ‘Modern, Contemporary and Postcolonial Studies’.
We picked one module from each category and a fourth module either from one of these categories or from a “special list”, which offers a range of options. In our third year, we are given plenty more options, not bound by any categories, allowing us to pursue any field enabling us to take whatever piques our interest. Third year modules include Postcolonial, American and Children’s literature to name a few.
Drama: In first year, all students take London/Culture/ Performance which helps you negotiate Drama at university level. Joint honours students take six compulsory modules consisting of four Drama modules which are a combination of seminar and practical based ones and two English. For second year we were given more options, but again had to take one compulsory Drama module and at least two English modules from two separate areas.
In total we were allowed five modules but had to have an equal balance of credits across English and Drama. For final year, the options become a lot more flexible, with the choice of taking seventy-five credits in Drama and forty-five credits in English. Examples of second and third year Drama modules include Choreographic Performance, Shakespeare after Shakespeare and Race and Racism in Performance .
English: We have 8-10 contact hours per week, depending on whether we take 4 or 5 modules per semester. Each module has 2 contact hours; typically a 1 hour lecture followed by a 1 hour seminar. Some modules in second year may not have a lecture and only a 2 hour seminar. In third year, most modules have a 2 hour seminar. Though 8 may seem a little, we’re expected to prepare for each module with 4 hours of work, through reading, research and assignment preparation.
Drama: We typically have 10 hours a week. In third year there may be 14 hour weeks, depending on the modules taken, as Drama practical modules can be 7 hours per day.
3. What are class sizes like?
First year lectures have around 250 students in them, but seminars are smaller groups of 15-20. Lecture sizes get smaller in second and third year as there are more modules available for students to choose from.
Drama: Most seminars and practical workshops range between 10-20 people which creates a good atmosphere for independent and group work.
4. How many books do you have to read a week?
English: We usually have to read one novel per module per week, occasionally alongside some theoretical extracts, making it 4-5 texts a week. Some texts are studied over two weeks so students (particularly in first year) may sometimes only need to read a novel/play every other week.
Drama: Roughly around 2-3 primary books a week, excluding secondary reading, in first and second year. In third year we have 3-5 primary books a week, as well as secondary reading.
5. Do you have field trips?
English: We have occasional field trips, depending on the module. In first year we went to the V&A as a part of Literatures in Time as well as to The Globe to see a play and for a day of workshops for our Shakespeare module. During third year, we attended The Foundling Museum for the Children’s Literature module. Most trips are subsidised by the department so we are able to attend at reduced costs. We are also encouraged to attend museums and exhibitions in our own time.
Drama: Within Drama we had a few field trips in first year to theatres and museums, but second and third year trips vary depending on the module. London Performance Now is a second year module which consists of weekly theatre/museum visits.
1. How many assignments do you have a year?
English and Drama: Each module has about 4-5 assignments spread throughout the academic year. So in total there’s approximately 20 assignments. For English, most of them are essays, however there are also a couple of assessed presentations and class contributions. For drama it’s a mix of written and practical work.
2.Do you have exams?
English: No exams all your modules in all three years are assessed by coursework.
Drama: We have no written exams, however, we have assessed performances which can be timed assessments within a controlled environment.
3. Do you have to write a dissertation?
English: Yes, in third year, all single honours students must undertake a dissertation, which is a 10,000 word research project on anything of our choice so long as it falls under English Literature.
Drama: Instead of a dissertation there is a practical research module. Joint honours students have the option between the English dissertation and a Drama written project.
1. What resources does the department have access to?
Students in the School of English and Drama we have access to a wide amount of literature and criticism through the Mile End campus library, as well as through the University of London inter-library loan system and Senate House Library. The university is also subscribed to many journals and periodicals, giving us access to a huge amount of material. The department has 5 Drama studio spaces including rehearsal rooms, which students have 24/7 access to. Other resources for Drama include a wide range of drama and theatre professionals lecturing on the course who have influential and current experience.
2. Is there any guidance or support for assignments?
English and Drama: As well as useful workshops, advisers/seminar leaders/lecturers have weekly drop-in hours which are immensely helpful for advice and guidance on academic work. There are also beneficial student organisations, such as PASS (Peer Assissted Study Support), where second and third year students offer help to first year students and a Buddy Mentoring Scheme. We also have professional Literary Fellows available to review essays before students submit them. For practical work in Drama, consistent feedback is given by seminar leaders and peers as our work is shared with each other.
3. What’s a personal advisor?
English and Drama: A personal advisor is a teaching member of staff assigned to you in order to help and assist you with any queries you may have. Whether it’s something academic or personal they are there to support and help you!
Early career researchers seeking support for their application to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme are invited to get in contact with us as soon as possible
Early career researchers seeking support for their application to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme are invited to get in contact with us as soon as possible
Deadline for applications: midday on Monday 5 September 2022
The School of English and Drama invites early career researchers seeking support for their application to the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme to get in touch by submitting as a single PDF:
(1) an explanation of the reason(s) for your choice of Queen Mary as the host institution (150 words maximum)
(2) an outline of your proposed programme of research (1,500 words maximum)
(3) details of your planned research outputs, e.g. monograph, journal article(s), book chapter(s), digital resources, events, other (please specify) (300 words maximum)
(4) a list of existing publications (1 page maximum)
(5) a CV (2 pages maximum)
(6) a sample of writing. This should be of book chapter length (5,000–8,000 words) and either published or accepted for publication.
Please submit the above documents to email@example.com, by no later than midday on Monday 5 September 2022. Please state ‘British Academy PDRF’ in the subject line.
Your application should demonstrate:
that you are eligible according to the BA’s criteria (applicants are expected to have completed their viva voce between 1 April 2020 and 1 April 2023)
the excellence of your research track record and professional track record (where relevant);
your academic record;
the research outputs you propose, how you will structure, pursue, and complete your project in the time frame, and its importance;
the relevance of QMUL SED to your research and vice versa;
who you would like as a mentor and why.
You are strongly encouraged, before submitting your application and time permitting, to find a member of staff in QMUL’s School of English and Drama who will be your nominated mentor, provisionally agree their support, and get some feedback from them on a draft application. Please note this in statement (1).
All outline proposals will be considered by our Directors of Research, and those to whom we give institutional support will be invited to a workshop run by the Queen Mary Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences during the week commencing 19 September.
Finalised applications will be due for submission via the British Academy’s Flexi-Grant system by 5pm on Wednesday 5 October, five working days ahead of the British Academy deadline of 12 October 2022.
As a Queen Mary student you can get membership to the University of London’s Senate House Library with it’s lovely comfy armchairs and 3 million books to borrow. Pre-register for your membership card here.
Long before Netflix ruled your eyeballs, universities created Box of Broadcasts which is a huge free archive of TV recordings. Login with your QMUL credentials and you’ll get access to movies, TV series and documentaries galore. We’re loving the Films, Mostly Gay and London Films watchlist!
Opening up when you’re feeling low can be the hardest thing, but if you are struggling to cope with life events or need a space to talk openly, our Advice and Counselling team are here to help. They offer a range of free and confidential professional services to all QMUL students including individual counselling, group therapy, specialist drug and alcohol support and much more.
We also offer students access to an online support service called ‘Big White Wall‘ who offer unlimited, 24/7 accessible online support from trained counselors and use other helpful resources – it’s totally free and confidential. Please
Finding a job can seem like a daunting task, but don’t crumble under the pressure! Whether you have a particular job in mind and want advice to help you get there, or are not sure what you want to do next, the Careers & Enterprise Centre provides QMUL students a range of support to help you prepare for your future. You can even book a practice interview with a Careers Consultant.
As a QMUL student, you’re automatically entitled to be a member of Student Central (formerly University of London Union). Membership is free and enables you to get involved with everything they have to offer including sports, societies, online tickets and access into our bars. Find out more here.
Need a room for you and your friends to study? You can book one of our library group study rooms up to one week in advance for up to four hours per week. The Mile End group study rooms contain a touchscreen PC, connectivity for laptop use and a whiteboard. Whiteboard pens are available from the Library Welcome Desk.
You may have a big presentation coming up, or perhaps you’re unsure of how to start that 3000 word essay or you may have serious issues with managing your time effectively – spending way too much time looking at memes while procrastinating . Whatever it may be – if you feel like you need extra guidance to brush up on your study skills you can book a free one-to-one tutorial with our Learning Development team. You can even have your tutorial through Skype if you are unable to come to campus. Find out more about their services here.
Your QMUL library account gives you access to much more than just books. Along with laptops, stationary, videos and DVDs, you also get access to a number of paywall content providers such as The Financial Times. Find out more here.
9. The 339 bus is a local legend
As a QMUL student, you have the added advantage of being at the heart of East London – one of the most diverse and culturally rich areas in the world. Not only can you eat food from virtually anywhere in the world, but the public transport system means you can get around without needing a car – true Londoner style. Also, free Wi-Fi at underground stations – bonus!
Finally, we want our students to have nice things. Come and say hi or tag us @qmulsed to receive some of our SED freebies. We have an awesome range of products including pens, notebooks, bags and postcards. Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram and Twitter to see the #sedfreebooks we have available!
Dr Rebecca Menmuir (Queen Mary) and Hannah Armstrong (York)
When you hear the word forgery, what do you think of? Perhaps your thoughts jump to counterfeit artwork, heist films, the BBC’s Fake or Fortune; or to the Turin shroud, The Pardoner’s Tale and debates surrounding the authenticity of religious artefacts; or maybe to something else entirely.
Part of the appeal of studying forgeries and imitations are their breadth and universality. Colin Burrow writes in the preface to his 2019 Imitating Authors that one of the pleasures of writing the book was that almost everyone had something to say about the concept of imitation. Similarly, anxiety about forgery is not new, with ‘Fake News’ as only its latest iteration in the popular consciousness. The spurious has existed alongside the genuine through ever-changing definitions of ‘spurious’ and ‘genuine’, and its malleability and persistence is both perplexing and fascinating.
It’s against this backdrop that we—Rebecca Menmuir, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in SED at Queen Mary, and Hannah Armstrong, a PhD candidate at York—decided to organise a workshop to ask some closer questions about forgeries and imitations. Our research projects approach the same topic, imitations and the medieval, from different angles. Rebecca works on forgeries and imitations of the Roman poet Ovid produced during the medieval period; and Hannah works on imitations and reimaginings of Old Norse sagas in 19th–21st century literature. We realised that we were circling around the same topics and asking the same questions, but the strict periodisation of literary studies meant that we rarely crossed paths. Nor had we been able to meet art historians, archaeologists, theologians, or the many scholars in other disciplines who were likely to have something to say about how we should be studying ideas of medieval forgeries.
The idea was there: we started to plan how to bring together a small group of academics working on some aspect of forgeries, imitations, or appropriations, either produced during the medieval period or which forged ideas of the medieval in some way. The result was a one-day workshop, held on Friday 10th June: ‘Medieval Forgeries / Forging the Medieval’.
We were incredibly fortunate to be able to use the Museum of London as our venue, which itself raised lots of pertinent and timely questions about how we curate and present the past. There we were joined by eleven other co-investigators, all scholars who work in one form or another on medieval forgeries or post-medieval imitations. The range of experience in the room was one of the strengths of the event, with researchers whose work might normally sit within Classics, History, or Modern Languages presenting side by side with English Literature scholars whose period expertise stretched from the late antique to the late 20th century. We also represented many different career stages, from PhD students to Postdoctoral researchers and Professors.
In the first of our two morning slots, six of the participants gave short (5–7 minutes) presentations on their research into medieval forgeries. The examples ranged from forgeries of classical authors to fraudulent monastic charters, and our discussions between papers highlighted just how foundational and intrinsic forgery was to medieval textual culture, across different forms of media (from documents such as charters and diplomas to literary works). This naturally also led to questions of morality: did medieval people think of forgery as a negative act, and in turn, what kind of language should we as scholars use or not use?
Our second session pivoted to focusing on post-medieval imitations and appropriations of the Middle Ages. The seven presentations covered topics from 18th century Gothic reimaginings to queer theory and 20th century film, and political appropriations of imagined pasts. The variety represented in this session demonstrated just how generative and intriguing questions of forgery and imitation are, but it also raised issues as to what kind of language we can use to describe it and how do we create space for transhistorical and interdisciplinary dialogue.
It was these challenges we turned to in our third and final session of the day. We were keen from the outset that our workshop be not only a space for presenting and sharing work, but for collaboratively finding new ways of thinking and approaching the topic. With this in mind, we used the third session as an opportunity to break into small groups to brainstorm responses to questions which had been raised earlier in the day. Initially, we had been worried about whether this technique would work—would it feel too close to an undergraduate seminar? But we were delighted to find that it works just as well for researchers, and it helped to dig deeper into the issues whilst also building collegiality.
Finally, we fed back to the group as a whole and used the final part of the day to consider how we could keep these kind of conversations (interdisciplinary, transhistorical, across different career stages) going in the future… watch this space! You can also find a brief overview of each presentation in a Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/RebeccaMenmuir/status/1536350623095980032
With the help of a feedback form sent out to the workshop attendees, we met again for a debrief. Overall, we enjoyed the workshop enormously, and the feedback was really positive. One person wrote that the atmosphere was ‘calm, uncompetitive, and yet intellectually challenging’; this is something which we are extremely proud of, particularly given the stress and competitiveness that academia can sometimes promote. Learning about how others approached medieval forgeries and imitations has been genuinely fruitful, and both of us have benefited from following up on reading and resources which were shared and discussed. Rebecca has discovered, perhaps belatedly from a nineteenth-century-ist’s point of view, Rudyard Kipling’s Dayspring Mishandled, a story involving a fraudulent ‘discovery’ of a lost Chaucer manuscript. We have continued that sharing of resources by setting up a collaborative bibliography, where several of the attendees have added key scholarship on medieval forgeries and imitations, and forgeries and imitations of the medieval. (Please contact either of us if you would like a link to this document.)
Aspects of the day had required a sharp learning curve—did the ominous large button in the cupboard switch off one light or the entire building electrics? Why was the clicker not working? Is the camera on?—and we were glad that the AV and events team at the Museum were on hand to help (note: the large button was not the correct button). Before the event, we had questions and concerns which would only be answered on the day: would there be enough discussion to fill the time, or would there be enough time to accommodate discussions? Would the questions we had planned for the third session, which reflected on the day’s presentations and discussions, be relevant to the day’s proceedings? How do you write closing remarks before a workshop has even started? We found that the best approach was to plan for flexibility, such as incorporating a ‘buffer zone’ of time to continue should Q&As be too interesting to interrupt at their allotted end-time. We also scheduled the final session after lunch so that we had time to meet and make any changes during the lunch period. Since several recurring themes and questions had been raised throughout the day, we made several adaptive changes to our prompt questions, including a new question which incorporated a quote from one presentation, on the topic of whether there is such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ forgery. While the unknown element of any event is worrying in some ways, it was gratifying to see how the workshop developed in ways which we didn’t foresee: there would be little point in organising a workshop to exchange new ideas where we could predict every question, thought, or answer.
We learnt several assorted things from planning the workshop. Firstly, in our opinion it is far more effective (and more fun) to plan an academic event with a co-organiser, whether a new colleague or an old friend: having an interlocuter to encourage the seed of a new idea, or veto impractical suggestions, is extremely helpful. It is essential to leave enough time to plan— ‘enough time’ might be dictated by a funding deadline for a grant, or dependent on your other commitments. We found it helpful to think about the potential outputs and afterlife of the workshop in early planning stages, but we left concrete decisions on any outputs to the workshop and the feedback form, where we could ask the attendees their thoughts.
It was only with institutional and financial support that we were able to plan and run this workshop. Thanks to Queen Mary, University of London (especially the School of English and Drama) and the University of York, who are our host universities and make our research possible. We are extremely grateful for the funding available from the British Academy through their Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme. Finally, we sincerely thank the Museum of London, particularly their events team, catering team, and housekeeping team, all of whom were fantastic.
Please get in touch with us if you want to chat about any aspect of this round-up: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Our alumnus Um-E-Aymen Babar has been awarded the prestigious Hugh Cudlipp student journalism prize, for an article which includes parts of her thesis written at Queen Mary.
After graduating from our School of English with a First Class Honours, in 2021 Aymen went on to the University of Cambridge for a Masters researching sports in the South Asian subcontinent. Aymen’s studies fuelled her interest in how sport intersects with race and class, which has now become the focus of her award-winning journalism.
This month, Aymen won the Hugh Cudlipp Student Journalist Award and a £1,500 cash prize. A joint initiative of the London Press Club and Daily Mirror, the honour was created to recognise a student who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism, as well as exploring an issue of public interest or concern which exemplifies lucid and graphic communication.
Aymen was awarded the prize following her journalistic debut in The Nightwatchman, Wisden’s quarterly collection of essays and long-form articles. She wrote a hard-hitting commentary on the effects of the Azim Rafiq racism scandal, which included parts of her thesis written during her time studying at Queen Mary.
Reflecting on her journey to this achievement, Aymen said: “I had a passion for English Literature from a young age and really enjoyed studying it at Queen Mary University of London. I was able to explore texts ranging from Chaucer to post-colonial texts by Anita Desai. In my final year, when I was supervised by Professor David Colclough, I became interested in sport literature and wrote my thesis on C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the School of English and Drama, and in particular my wonderful supervisor Professor David Colclough, for all his continued support. These achievements would not have been possible without them, and I would also like to extend my support to all the institutional and structural challenges that academic staff are facing in higher education.”
The Cudlipp judges called Aymen’s work “a brave, poignant, well-researched and timely piece that asks as many questions as it answers about systemic racism”. They also praised her for “preaching outside the choir, by speaking to readers of Wisden’s cricket magazine in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal”.
Dr Suzanne Hobson, Head of the Department of English at Queen Mary, said: “This is wonderful news, and we would all like to congratulate Aymen on her very well-deserved success. English is a key part of our curriculum and research culture at Queen Mary, so it’s fantastic to see one of our graduates go on to receive this prestigious prize. We are proud to have been a part of Aymen’s journey so far and excited to see where her career goes next.”