"The awe of stepping through the gates of New College into the quad is not something that you ever get over as a Divinity student."
Every time you step through those gates, you are reminded of just how special and unique the School of Divinity is in almost every regard. The building is steeped in history and as students at New College you are profoundly aware of this history and your position within it. However, besides the wonderous architecture, New College is also unique in its collegiality. Perhaps unlike larger schools, there is a definite sense of community. Having come from a small, rural secondary school, this was hugely comforting. It was never too hard to find my way around and I always knew that the staff were there whenever I needed them.
It can be very intimidating making the move from secondary school to university, but the close-knit, supportive environment makes the change far easier. At first, the sudden change in setting, method, and practice can be daunting. How am I meant to do all this reading? How do you even write a university essay? How exactly am I meant to balance my Religious Studies work with my English Literature work? It can feel at times like you are standing at the foot of Everest and all you’ve climbed so is the hill behind your house. I’d like to say this changes, but I am almost finished my degree and still have not properly worked it out. Yet, behind you every step of the way are the wonderful staff and incredible community at New College who are always willing to help you out.
While it can be hard juggling the readings for Religious Studies and English Literature at the same time, it can also be very enlightening. Oftentimes I find these two subjects work harmoniously to provide you with a unique lens to view, analyse and interrogate so many different aspects of society, culture and history. For example, I chose to write my final year dissertation in English Literature looking, in particular, at the eschatologies of Emily Dickinson and John Donne. Through this project, as well as in a number of other situations through my time as a student, I was able bring together knowledge from both subject areas to consider the subject at hand in a new light.
Diversity in approach, subject and direction
There is so much in terms of interconnectivity and interplay between these two subject areas that you are never found wanting. I have studied everything from Contemporary African American and Black British Visual Culture to Medical Ethics in Literature, from Paul and his Letters to Theories of Religion and not once have I felt confined by my degree. There is so much diversity in approach, subject and direction within the join honours programme that you can really explore what you want to explore. As you step through those gates for the first time a whole world of opportunities opens up before you.
Euan Nicoll, Year 4, Religious Studies and English Literature MA Hons