About the course
Our BA Film and Creative Writing allows you to pursue your interests in filmmaking and creative writing in a fully integrated programme of study.
Our distinctive syllabus combines hands-on practical filmmaking, creative writing workshops, and theoretical and contextual studies. We encourage you to forge links between theory and practice, and to make critically-informed choices in your own creative work through the knowledge you gain of film history, literary classics and writing across a range of genres.
For your modules in filmmaking and screenwriting, you are taught by film professionals with extensive industry experience. You gain hands-on practical training in all aspects of film production, including camera work, editing, lighting, scriptwriting, and production management. You produce group films (learning how to work together as a team) as well as personal projects – by graduation you will have built up a fully rounded portfolio of work, enabling you to showcase your creative potential for future employers. Your second-year module on screenwriting forms the keystone of your course, bridging the two parts. You will also have the opportunity to write a script as part of your final-year independent study.
Why study BA Film and Creative Writing at Essex?
Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies is distinctive in the breadth of our cultural interests, combining expertise in literature, film, and theatre studies to provide a strong and supportive environment for your studies. The nature of our Department, as a dynamic and inclusive community, fosters productive contacts between filmmakers, writers, and actors, affording you multiple opportunities for creative dialogues with scholars and practitioners alike.
Many of our academic staff are scholars of international reputation. Among them are: the renowned cultural historian Professor Marina Warner, whose diverse works include film and art criticism as well as novels and short stories; Dr Jeffrey Geiger, a recognised expert on the theory and history of documentary film; Dr Karin Littau, a specialist in comparative media and adaptation; and Dr Shohini Chaudhuri, Dr John Haynes and Dr Sanja Bahun, whose diverse specialisms encompass many areas of world cinema (including the cinemas of East and Central Europe, the Americas, and Asia), film history, and women and film.
Our expertise in film theory and history is complemented by the industry experience of respected film practitioners, BBC filmmaker Nic Blower and producer Sheryl Crown, whose credits include BAFTA- and Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man (2012).
Furthermore, since 2009, internationally acclaimed poet and Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott has worked annually with our students as our Professor of Poetry. In January 2011, he was awarded the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for his latest collection, White Egrets.
Why study this subject?
The visual media are central to our experience of the modern world. The ability to read and interpret the images and stories that surround us is crucial to our understanding of contemporary life.
Film studies is a challenging discipline that yields some of our deepest insights into contemporary culture, and asks some of the most pressing questions of recent times. How does the cinema affect us as individuals and as groups, communities or nations? Do the moving pictures reflect our beliefs or help to organise the way we see the world? How powerful are the visual media in shaping our interpretations of modern life? While exploring these and other questions, you will acquire skills in written and oral communication, visual analysis, research, and self-directed and group projects. You will learn to look at film not only for the pleasure it can provide, but also to understand its structure, its history and social significance.
If you are studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, then you will have access to a range of exceptional facilities to support and enhance your learning and research, including a dedicated 120-seat film theatre, fitted with a digital HD projector and surround sound.
For your film production modules, you have priority use of professional editing facilities, two state-of-the-art studios, and a range of cameras and other filmmaking equipment: everything you will need to produce impressive films to a professional standard.
Our Department also houses a substantial collection of videos and DVDs for student borrowing, in addition to the extensive audio-visual holdings in the University’s Albert Sloman Library.
Our Centre for Film Studies co-ordinates a weekly series of screenings, along with a variety of other film-related activities at the University. We organise conferences, sponsor special screenings, and host speakers, attracting leading scholars and filmmakers from the UK and around the world. In addition, our University has a number of excellent film societies, which screen and discuss both recent blockbusters and less mainstream, arthouse films.
Film and creative writing students also benefit from our Lakeside Theatre which, over the past three decades, has been established as a major venue for high quality drama. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays here, but there has also been a wealth of original work produced by our own staff and students, including a new production of Pantomime written and directed by Derek Walcott and the UK premiere of his play Moon-Child. An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it has given our students to write or direct new plays, as well as re-define classics and re-discover neglected masterpieces.
Study abroad/placement opportunities
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, we operate an exchange scheme with universities in Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain, and Italy (the ERASMUS programme), and much further afield. You can apply to spend either one term of your second year, or your entire third year, at one of our partner institutions, before returning to Essex to complete your studies. This period of time abroad offers a host of benefits, including the opportunity to view the world (and film) from another perspective. The full period of your course of study abroad is recognised in your assessment for that year and counts towards your final degree result.
Your tutors in our Centre for Film Studies recognise that any experience you can acquire in the industry will set you apart from the crowd when it comes to finding work after graduation. We are committed to an ongoing programme of establishing and coordinating a variety of placements and internships, both within and beyond our University.
The special characteristics of our courses are flexibility and choice. In your first year, you usually take four or five modules that include pre-requisite(s) for your course but, in many cases, mean you can try subjects you have not come across before. If you are taking a humanities or social science, then you have the greatest choice, as most of our first-year modules do not assume any specialist knowledge.
With a small number of exceptions, if you successfully complete the first year of your BA, then you are qualified to enter the second year of that course and a range of other courses: for example, if you take economics, politics, philosophy and sociology, then you have a choice of at least nine possible single or joint honours courses at the end of your first year. This means you can change your course, providing you have taken the appropriate pre-requisites and places are available. We offer a range of optional modules in your second- and final-years and most courses allow you to undertake a final-year project, an individual piece of research on a topic that interests you.
We operate a credit framework for our awards, which is based on principles widely used across the UK university sector. Each module has a credit rating attached and our standard three-year course consists of 360 credits (120 credits in your first year, and 240 credits across your second and final years).
Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.
Year 1 core and optional modules
Introduction to Film;
Introduction to Film Production;
Literature: Origins and Transformations;
Writing for the Radio; and
Close Reading Skills
Year 2 core and optional modules
Approaches to Text;
Introduction to Screenwriting; and
Creative Writing: Theory and Practice
Year 3 core and optional modules
One creative writing option;
one literature option; and
two film options
As a new undergraduate, you may find university-level learning, assessment and studying differs to school or college. Here at Essex, we understand and recognise this by having support in place, particularly during your first year when you may notice the change more.
If you are studying a non-science subject, then your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students. A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week. Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions.
First-year assessment is a combination of written coursework, end-of-term tests, practical and laboratory work (where appropriate) and end-of-year exams.
Teaching methods and styles
If you are studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, then your teaching will mainly take the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about twenty students. A typical timetable involves a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your modules every week.
Methods of assessment
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, all of our courses are assessed in the same way. Your final mark for each module is determined half by coursework and half by examination. To reflect the importance placed on the acquisition of key skills, a mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark.
Our graduates learn to how to analyse films closely, how they are put together, and how they relate to film history and society, thereby acquiring key skills in writing close analysis, critical thinking, contextual research, time management, and hands-on filmmaking. You hone your spoken and written communication skills, and learn how to present yourself and your arguments in a persuasive and informed manner. You are trained in working together as a team in group film projects, and managing resources and budgets wisely.
In your third year, you can make your own short film – a calling card showcasing your individual, creative potential to add to a portfolio of practical work developed during your course to present to prospective employers. You can enter film production, TV, journalism, publishing and teaching professions, amongst a host of other careers. Recent graduates have been employed as a subtitle writer for Sky TV, an assistant director on a music video for an internationally-acclaimed band, and as teachers of English and media studies. Many have gone on to further study at Essex.
Your employability and Essex
At Essex we take your employability seriously, helping you become a rounded individual with the ability to succeed, whatever your plans. You’ll find your department works with our Employability and Careers Centre to inform you about options to study or work overseas, your Faculty Employability Coordinator finds degree-related work placements, and our Students’ Unions ensures that, annually, over 700 students volunteer and more than 4,000 get involved in sports, clubs and societies.
At Essex you can gain new skills that look good on your CV, like paid placements through our frontrunners scheme, graduate-level paid internships, and opportunities to develop discipline-specific skills as part of your studies.
We help you understand your skills, and how to demonstrate these to an employer. You can get our extra-curricular employability award – the Big Essex Award – recorded on your transcript, receive one-to-one advice on careers, use our Essex CV guides on applying for work, learn from famous entrepreneurs and take part in workshops, and meet employers through on-campus events.
We develop your employability through fantastic opportunities, and give you the tools to explore the meaning of your unique experiences, so you are ready for your future.
Here at Essex, our students can undertake period of study or work abroad specifically tailored to his/her academic interests and future career plans. You are taught and assessed by your host university, so assessment may be in the form of written papers, oral or written exams, lab or project work, research, or work-based learning. All successfully completed pre-approved modules will be credited towards your Essex degree.
Study abroad is an excellent opportunity for personal development. It affords you the chance to become immersed in another culture over a sustained period, coming to know a country and its people in a way that you could not hope to as a tourist. It is also an opportunity to experience a different educational system and develop different skills. You learn to view the world (and your academic discipline) from another perspective, becoming more independent and confident.
Study abroad also enhances your employability. It helps your CV stand out from other candidates and signals to an employer that you have maturity, adaptability and organisational skills. As the world of business is becoming increasingly international, the experience of living abroad is, in itself, attractive to many employers. Depending upon your study abroad destination, you may also gain fluency in another language, which is a highly attractive skill to have as you enter the employment market.
If you are interested in learning another language then our Languages for All programme enables you to study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, we offer taught Masters courses and research supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation. All our MAs can be taken either full-time for one year or part-time over two years. There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays and dissertation. Where appropriate, films, plays or pieces of creative writing can be submitted as your dissertation.
Our staff offer a wide range of expertise in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.
A-levels: ABB-BBB, including one A-level in a humanities subject
GCSE English: C
BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM in Fine Art or Media
IB: 32-30 points (we consider IB certificates at the Higher Level on a case-by-case basis)
Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 6 level three credits at distinction and the remainder at merit (or above) or achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 45 level three credits at merit (or above).
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5 in each component (or equivalent). Different requirements apply for second year entry.
We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
We welcome applications from mature students, students interested in direct entry to the second year and students wishing to defer entry.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.