English Literature, Community Engagement, and widening participation at the University of Bristol
The BA in English Literature and Community Engagement (ELCE) at the University of Bristol is a part-time degree aimed primarily at mature students, taught in the evenings over six years. Students study literature in English from the medieval period to the present day, and develop a ‘community engagement’ project, through which they share what they have learned from the degree with the wider community. The course is direct entry and there are no formal entrance requirements. The Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences (Cert HE) at the University of Bristol is a one-year programme designed to prepare students for undergraduate study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Again, there are no formal entrance criteria, and students apply directly to the programme. Students who complete the course satisfactorily are guaranteed a place on a degree in either the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Bristol. While the programme is structurally interdisciplinary—students are introduced to the range of subjects on offer in the core units, and specialise as the programme progresses—two of the core units feature ‘set’ literary texts (currently, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Behn’s Oroonoko). The School of Humanities also runs a series of short and taster courses (such as ‘Reading English Literature’, or ‘Building Academic Language and Literacy’), which run both on the university campus and in community settings around the city. Many students taking these courses go on to apply to ELCE or the Foundation programme, or another degree at Bristol or another institution, but they are not simply part of a ‘recruitment strategy’, serving communities in the city and the university in a number of ways.
In this roundtable discussion, a group of staff involved in the design and delivery of these programmes will speak about their experiences, addressing issues around widening participation, recruitment and retention, curriculum and programme design, community engagement, and student support.
Jess Farr-Cox (Lecturer in Academic Skills, University of Bristol)
April Gallwey (Lecturer in English Literature and Community Engagement, University of Bristol)
Marie-Annick Gournet (Director of ELCE and Part-Time Programmes, University of Bristol)
Amy Laurent (Lecturer in Arts and Humanities, University of Bristol)
Pam Lock (Lecturer in Literary Communities, University of Bristol)
John McTague (Programme Director, Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Bristol)
Helen Thomas-Hughes (Director of ELCE and Part-Time Programmes, University of Bristol)