How often is this term used in English to describe studying a subject?
e.g. what are the requirements if I want to read English at the University of XYZ?
Yes, alas, what can one say? Time passes? Class is divisive? There are many layers of Britain? Britain and the rest of the English-speaking world are divided by a common language?
I think we rarely hear "major in a subject" in Britain.
"Study" is regarded as rather pedestrian, lame or geekish.
"Do" is the verb. I think it came in gradually during Diana's generation (not that "university" was ever a key word in her circles) and found total acceptance during her son William's generation.
David Cameron would have used "read" when he was at university and may well still do. Slang and esoteric terms played a large part in his school life. Hugh Laurie went to the same school but now ostensibly (or ostentatiously) plays it down as much as possible. Laurie rowed.
"Do" is, however, ambivalent, and in smart drawing rooms, cool London clubs or City pubs, the conversation could go like this:
"What did you do at university?"
"I rowed for my college."
"Did you join the Union?"
"Yes. I was President."
"Hmm, err, well, the Bullingdon, I'm afraid."
I honestly don't understand the question. Are you saying in the UK someone might say "I read English at the University" rather than "I study English at the University" or "I major in English at the University"?
@K P, thanks for clarifying.
But in English, we read lecture notes given out by a lecture.
We never 'read a lecture'.
We read Medicine/Engineering/Dentistry/French etc at University.
I think there has to be some requirements for each university to study English, but I guess people who have passion on English would be good candidates to learn English. I suppose passion is the most important motivation to learn whatever it is.