St John's College Oxford
Dan is a 1st year student

  • Home    Nottingham, England
  • Degree  English
  • A levels English Literature, History, Chemistry, Physics 

Dan HaywoodWhat made you choose to study here?
When thinking about reading for an English degree, the prospect of being stranded in a library on a Monday morning with just an essay title and a deadline can be daunting. Within the first week I found this worry to be completely unfounded. The system at St John’s means that you won’t just be left to your own devices. Seminars and lectures run throughout the week and provide the inspiration and necessary grounding in the topic for you to then go away and look more deeply at those areas that interest you. For me personally, the level of contact hours at St John’s strikes a good balance between supporting your study and giving you plenty of time to actually get on with that independent study!

Is life here different from how you expected it to be?
I was surprised by how good the social atmosphere is across the year groups and between the JCR and MCR. Because of people taking gap years or time to study abroad, the year groups are far less age prescriptive than I was used to at school. You definitely won’t be isolated as a fresher.

What do you like about studying at St John’s?
The quality of the contact hours you have with your tutors. Spend your time preparing for seminars and tutorials and you’ll get a huge amount out of them. I also like the diversity of people and interests in and around College. No matter how niche your interests are there’s bound to be someone else in College who feels the same way, or can point you in the direction of like-minded souls. If not, the JCR and Junior Deans are always open to new suggestions of things to do. There’s no excuse not to get involved.

Are there aspects of  your degree you particularly like?
The opportunity to pursue your own interests each week. The reading doesn’t stop with the primary material for that week. A degree in English is inseparable from larger themes in society, and having interests in other fields such as history, philosophy and theology will be a massive help, not only to your essays each week, but ultimately in making you an interesting and employable person.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I play for the College’s rugby team, so as with any college or university sport, involvement has both a social and a playing/training side. Sport and other societies are the best way to meet people from other subjects and years, and St John’s rugby is joined with St Anne’s rugby. The College’s excellent sports facilities mean that training is a pleasure. All sports are hugely welcoming to those with no prior experience, and to those just looking to get involved on the social side.

What advice would you give someone looking to study at Oxford?
You need an ability to be flexible with your ideas and open minded. Week to week you’ll end up studying some texts you haven’t encountered before and, yes, there will inevitably be some that you don’t initially enjoy across the entirety of a year’s study. Don’t be daunted by this, but enjoy the challenge. Wrestling with an initially oblique text is – trust me – one of the most enjoyable parts of this degree. Be prepared to have your own ideas challenged, and those who are capable of responding positively to those challenges and learning from them will really enjoy their time here.