How we teach

English involves a large amount of self-directed reading and independent study

Some of your teaching will occur through Faculty lectures and seminars. These are open to English students at all colleges. They are optional – allowing you to assess what is most useful for you in terms of the topic, lecturing style, and timetabling – but they also allow you to access cutting-edge research by academics across the English faculty. The most important teaching method in Oxford is the tutorial – a pair of students with a tutor, working through essays and reading you have prepared during the week and developing your thought, understanding and expression. Your college tutors will teach you for much of the core syllabus: Professor Charlotte Brewer teaches medieval literature and English Language topics, Dr Emma Smith teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature and literary studies, and Dr David Dwan, joining us from the University of York from October 2014, teaches the nineteenth and twentieth century papers. For specialist work in the option and dissertation you may be taught by academics from other colleges. In addition, at Hertford you will be assigned a personal tutor who normally meets you once or twice a term to discuss your overall progress.

Much of your working week will be spent reading primary and critical texts. We have a good library in Hertford, and you also have access to the English Faculty library. The college is a minute away from the Bodleian library, one of the world’s greatest collections, which you can also use.

We asked some of our recent students why and how studying English at Hertford mattered to them.  These are their views.

Catherine Shoard, 2001-4, now film editor for the Guardian website:

Studying at Hertford was invaluable for getting into journalism: the discipline of filing articles on tight deadlines was honed over three years of late night essay crises. And the teaching showed me how. Away from college I didn't do a huge lot of sport or anything, but I did write for and arts-edit Cherwell, the student newspaper, which turned out to be vital for getting into journalism too, as well as enormous fun. Some friends on the English course and I also staged a production of Private Lives in a room above a pub usually used as a jazz club.


Grace Chesterton, 2008-11, now a postgraduate student at Hertford:

I loved my time at Hertford doing the English degree. The course is great – so much variety, and so many opportunities to discover new authors and texts. Weekly essays and tutorials provide a challenging and encouraging way of working with these. Hertford is a great community in which it was a joy to spend time living and studying. Getting involved with various sports and charities meant I experienced Oxford life more widely. I enjoyed studying here so much that I am now continuing my studies at Hertford with a Masters degree in twentieth century literature.