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Student ambassadors for literature

A reading group

A reading group University of Bristol

26 January 2009

Community reading groups, set up as part of students’ degree studies, help pass on the passion for reading.

A new BA combining English Literature with Community Engagement was established in 2008 that extends the variety of study opportunities offered by the University.  This six-year BA is taught one evening per week, making the degree accessible to a wider variety of people.  Each of the students will set up a community reading group in a public venue of their choice as part of their studies.

The degree encourages applications from people with a variety of educational backgrounds. Tom Sperlinger, Director of Lifelong Learning for the Department of English said: “Sometimes people just need a second chance in education. We look for applicants with a passion for the subject.”

Students on the course will organise regular reading groups that will take place all over Bristol, giving people the opportunity to talk about their favourite books.  The participants will encourage each other to read and discuss more challenging texts. Tom said: “Groups are often extraordinarily ambitious in what they read, including classic literature and books from a wide range of other disciplines.”

Running a reading group will help the BA students develop their leadership and communication skills as well as providing a much-needed service in the community.

The English Department has already run a series of pilot reading groups with Bristol Libraries, including one in Knowle, set up by Hannah Lankester and Davinia Livock, third-year undergraduates on the BA English degree. Students are currently being recruited for the part-time BA degree in English and Community Engagement, starting October 2009.

Further information

Tom Sperlinger can be contacted by email:

Applications for the next English Language and Community Engagement course are currently being accepted. For further information, see the English Department's website. The department is also looking for community groups that would be interested in acting as a placement for a student running a reading group.
The latest Lifelong Learning Prospectus is also available online.