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 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.
Many of our academic staff are scholars of international reputation, including our professors, John Gillies, Richard Gray, Peter Hulme and Marina Warner, who are recognised experts in the fields respectively of Shakespeare, US literature, postcolonial studies, and cultural history (including film and other visual arts). Richard Gray was the first specialist in US literature to be appointed to the British Academy, while Marina Warner is a distinguished novelist who has been appointed to the British Academy. 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?
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.
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 Literature;
Introduction to US Literature;
Close Reading Skills; and
Year 2 core and optional modules
United States Literature since 1850;
Approaches to Text;
Early Modern Literature or Versions of Modernity; and
Year 3 core and optional modules
Four literature options (at least one in US literature)
(at least one into US
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.
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 at least one A-level in a humanities subject (or equivalent)
GCSE English: C
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 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.