About the course
BA English and United States Literature offers a varied and flexible curriculum focused on the study of English and
United States literatures, encompassing several genres and periods. In your first year, a core module on United States
literature allows you to study classic texts regarded as establishing US literature as a specific literature from English.
This study helps you answer questions like: what is American literature? What makes writing in the US different from other
writing in the English language?
Modules in your second and third year allow you to study major texts, problems and issues in twentieth-century United
States literature, while optional modules mean you can choose topics of interest to you, like film, myth, postcolonial
literature or science fiction.
Why study BA English and United States Literature at Essex?
Our Department is a vibrant conservatoire of scholars and practitioners who are committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature, offering talented students the support and confidence to respond both critically and artistically to academic study. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as leading academic specialists. At Essex you don’t just study English Literature, you study world literature in English. This breaks down traditional boundaries and liberates us to take you on a journey of discovery.
We have always been a major teaching and research institution for American studies. Our teaching and research builds on a foundation of expertise in literature, film, history of art, history, politics and sociology, with experienced staff in all disciplines.
Why study this subject?
A course in literature will interest you if you enjoy reading and studying a wide range of poetry, prose and drama texts, encompassing several genres and periods including United States literature, European literature, Shakespeare and other dramatists, and twenty-first century literature. You will develop your analytical skills, as well as seeing the texts in the context of the time when they were written, meaning you graduate with strong employability skills for a range of future careers.
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 enhance your learning and research, including our Lakeside Theatre.
Over the past three decades, our Lakeside Theatre at our Colchester Campus has been established as a major venue, known for a commitment to new writing for the stage. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays here but there has been a wealth of new work produced by our own staff and students.
An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it has given 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), which you can apply to follow in your second year. This period of time abroad offers a host of benefits, including the opportunity to view the world (and literature) from another perspective. The nine-month course of study, from October to June, spent abroad, carries full recognition of your assessment for that year and counts towards your final degree result.
Our courses are characterised by choice and flexibility. Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself,
so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to ensure you gain key knowledge in the discipline
while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our modules change from year to year
in response to new developments and innovation, but our
module directory can show you which modules are available to our current students.
Your course structure will depend on your unique interests, but this popular pathway gives you a flavour
of what you could study. For many of our courses you have a wide range of optional modules to choose from –
those listed below are examples of popular modules.
- Four literature options (at least one in US literature)
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.
Employers specifically value the key skills that you develop on our courses including taking responsibility for your own learning, using initiative, effective time-management and self-discipline. You will be able to communicate ideas, arguments and conclusions clearly and effectively. You also learn how to work effectively in a group, carry out research and analysis, and demonstrate good standards of presentation.
The number of careers that lead from courses in literature and creative writing is almost as large as the number of graduates. Two particular areas in which our graduates have had recent success are publishing and the theatre. After appropriate years of apprenticeship, one of our graduates is now in charge of the editorial side of a large publishing company and another has just taken over the running of one of the country’s major theatres.
In addition, former students of our Department have become professional writers, or have gone into school, college, and university teaching, teach English as a foreign language here and abroad, journalism, broadcasting, marketing, film and video production, museum and library work, graphics and printing, industry, commerce, and finance, and various branches of the Civil Service.
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.
Entry requirements for 2015
- A-levels: ABB – BBB, including an essay-writing subject
- GCSE English: C
- IB: 32 - 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5 (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 45 level three credits at merit (or above).
- Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.
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.
Come to one of our Open Days at our Colchester or Southend campuses and see for yourself
what makes Essex an outstanding place to study.
Our Open Days are your chance to attend general and subject-specific talks, tour our campus and accommodation, chat to current
students about their experiences, and find out more about what Essex has to offer.
If you can't make one of our Open Days then don’t worry, we offer regular Campus Tours at our Colchester and Southend campuses.
Please let us know which campus you want to visit using the email addresses below and we’ll organise a tour with a current
student for you.
Please try to give four working days' notice and if you or any of your guests have any specific individual needs. Please include
details in your email and we can arrange to tailor your visit accordingly.
We offer campus tours from Monday to Friday at 12.30pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know when you would like to come.
Watch our Colchester Campus tour on Vimeo.
See our videos on our University of Essex Vimeo channel.
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.