Ilina Jha

Student spotlight details

After the pandemic disrupted her GCSEs, Ilina enrolled onto the online pathway of our part-time undergraduate Certificate in English Literature. She is now studying English literature at the University of Birmingham and looking forward to gaining her degree.

'Before enrolling on the course, I was in Year 13 studying A Levels in science and maths. I had already become disillusioned with my subjects when the first lockdown began in March 2020, and the cancellation of my exams gave me a chance to reflect on what I really wanted to study. Having regrettably given up on English literature following GCSEs, the Certificate in English Literature seemed to be the perfect opportunity for me to start over. I applied and got invited to an online interview, which was challenging but enjoyable! I received an offer a few days later.

'The most challenging part of the course was the long process of improving on feedback. It's one thing knowing what you need to do to improve – it's quite another to manage to do it! I learnt that the whole process of improving your essay writing and analysis skills takes time and practice – you may have several ups, downs, and plateaus, but if you keep at it you will see progress overall. I started off getting low 2:1s on my essays, and ended the course with three essays marked as Firsts! This progress and achievements were one of the most rewarding parts of the programme.

'The Shakespeare Summer School was one of the most enjoyable parts of the programme. For those of us on the online stream of the course, it was fantastic to be in Oxford, learning and interacting with classmates and tutors. For those who can, I would highly recommend staying in either Rewley House or one of the Oxford colleges for the week!

'While in the second year of the course I received an offer from the University of Birmingham to study English literature, entering the second year. I achieved the 2:1 that I needed to secure my place, and I have just started at Birmingham. I look forward to continuing my English literature studies and eventually achieving a full degree!

'To anyone who is considering undertaking a course with the Department for Continuing Education, I would say: go for it! The opportunities are fantastic and the tutors are highly knowledgeable and helpful. There are so many courses and subjects to choose from in the Department  there really is something for everyone.'

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