Sixth-formers learn about literature with Books@Brookes initiative

Library books at Oxford Brookes University
Library books at Oxford Brookes University

Teenagers attending secondary schools in Oxfordshire are becoming passionate about English literature thanks to a new scheme run by Oxford Brookes University.

Books@Brookes is aimed at sixth form students who are studying A-level English and their teachers. Led by academics from Oxford Brookes, the events include lectures and smaller group activities designed to give students both an introduction to university learning and enhance their appreciation of literature.

Since the scheme started in September 2022, students have enjoyed sessions on Shakespeare, the poet/writer Christina Rossetti and contemporary fiction. Forthcoming sessions are planned on American literature and Hamlet in performance.

Katharine Craik, Professor of Early Modern Literature and Research Lead in the School of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes, said: “We want sixth form students and teachers to learn more about Oxford Brookes as a vibrant, modern and accessible place to study arts and humanities subjects and to explore professional development for their teachers. 

“The lectures are designed to raise the profile of the employment opportunities available for English graduates and enhance the appeal of literature to students from a wide range of backgrounds.

“English Language and Literature at Oxford Brookes came joint sixth out of 92 in the Times Higher Education REF2021 ranking. This remarkable achievement shows our seriousness and commitment as research-led teachers. We are eager to bring the benefits of our expertise to the widest possible cohort of future students  in Oxfordshire and beyond.” 

Professor Craik has developed the initiative with Dr Jackie Watson, former Head of Sixth Form at Oxford Spires Academy and now the Widening Participation Officer at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford.  

The scheme is supported by Professor Dan Lea, Head of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes. Professor Lea said: “"Books@Brookes is a fantastic initiative. We are thrilled to share our expertise as researchers and teachers with local schools, and to raise the profile of English Literature as a degree open to everyone.

“The events give students a sense of what it is like to learn in a large university lecture space. We also encourage Oxford Brookes English, Creative Writing and Drama students to attend and chat with prospective undergraduates.”

For more on studying English at Oxford Brookes University visit the English Literature web pages. If you are a student or teacher interested in taking part in Bookes@Brookes email