Student profile
Tom Illsley

Tom Illsley

"Undoubtedly the best part of this course is the variation in content. Throughout my first year alone we have studied history, culture, politics, translation, early language development and linguistic history, just to name a few."


Modern Languages (French with German) BA (Hons)

Entry year


Choosing Surrey

When we were given the opportunity to start looking at university applications at school in Year 12, I decided to look at the possibility of studying languages further. I thought that the course at Surrey was perfect and it actually changed my mind about not going to university at all. I was very excited to have found a course which fitted me so well.

The course details were very appealing, especially the focus on the use of language in practice as I knew would be useful for my future. The Surrey campus is amazing; fully equipped with a great library and study spaces with intimate classrooms making it easier to learn in tight-knit groups. The location was the cherry on top, being equally as close to London as to beach towns like Brighton and Portsmouth.

At the Open Day, I felt really welcomed and like I would be well-supported academically.

The Course

The main reason why I have continued to study languages is due to their cultural significance. I love the way that we can connect with people through language and learn so much by looking at words and phrases alone. Here at Surrey, I have been able to explore these ideas further with modules about history and culture which have broadened my views and helped me understand the origins of certain expressions in French and German.

The focus on practical language use, rather than things like literature studies, made Surrey a clear first choice for me. I also really appreciate the ability to explore different career paths through the modules offered. Aside from the combined business programmes, there are modules on translation and teaching, arguably the two biggest career prospects with this degree.

Undoubtedly the best part of this course is the variation in content. Throughout my first year alone we have studied history, culture, politics, translation, early language development and linguistic history, just to name a few.

Life at Surrey

Although we were not able to meet in person much this year and have ‘proper’ events, things like online quizzes, as part of LangSoc, were still organised, to unite people during a difficult time. This has been a great way to get closer with other students on my course.

Guildford is a city with lots of opportunities for things to do, and there’s lots of green space both on and off campus, meaning it’s very easy to escape the urban lifestyle of the city centre. Whether around town, at work or on campus, the people in Guildford are always very friendly too which makes living here really comfortable and enjoyable.

In the summer months it’s very nice to sit around the lake. This was really popular last year when indoor meetings weren’t allowed, so I had a few picnics and social events at the lake with my friends. I also really like the study spaces available on campus such as The Nest and MySurrey Hive.

Staff and support services

I feel that the staff are very supportive no matter what the problem might be. The Student Support and Liaison Committee (SSLC) helps a lot with individual or academic issues, but out-of-class problems can also be addressed with the help of a personal tutor, assigned to each student. These two outlets combined make me feel very supported by all of the faculty members, regardless of the subject of my concerns.

After moving into my flat off-campus for second year, I had some issues with a neighbour so I sought help from The Hive. I saw them in person on campus and I was given a phone appointment immediately, with really helpful advisors.  

Career Support

During the professional purposes modules, we were given a great insight into the working world outside of the UK. This has meant that I am now able to start looking at placements for a year abroad knowing more about the working environment in which I might find myself. We were also tasked with writing a CV for mock placements where we were given guidance and advice on what employers might be looking for. This has helped not only with my prospective placement search, but also in finding a part-time job while at uni.

Looking back

The best thing about my experience so far is the opportunities that have been offered to me throughout this past year. I was able to meet new people from my cohort who have the same interests as me, and I was able to represent my peers as part of the SSLC.




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