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BA Film Studies and Literature

Why we're great

  • We provide a global approach to the study of film in a distinctive and vibrant academic community.
  • We balance academic theory with practical production experience to make you a rounded filmmaker.
  • You have access to HD cameras, extensive editing facilities, a film library and a dedicated cinema.

Course options

UCAS code: QW26
Duration: 3 years
Start month(s): October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9000
Fee (International): £12,950

UCAS code: PQ32
Duration: 4 years
Start month(s): October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9000
Fee (International): £12,950

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

Our interdisciplinary study of literature and film ensures you gain a deeper understanding of the historical and aesthetic interrelations between the two art forms. Your tuition will encourage you to make formal and theoretical connections between written and visual texts, based on the range of skills you will develop in both literary and film analysis.

We are ranked Top 20 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015).

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education by providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Our Department has an exchange scheme with universities in Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain and Italy through the ERASMUS programme. This provides our students with the opportunity to view the world, and film, from another perspective.

Studying abroad also allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Our expert staff

The Centre for Film Studies at Essex is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers talented students the support and confidence to respond both critically and artistically to the study of film.

Our academic literature staff specialise in a range of areas including modernism, comparative and world literature, Shakespeare, the Renaissance, travel writing, nature writing, translated literature, cultural geography, Irish and Scottish writing, US and Caribbean literature, and the history of reading.

We are committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature and film. Our distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning film-makers, scholars, media specialists, novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as leading literature specialists. Our staff over the years has also included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners.

Specialist facilities

  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre, equipped with digital HD projection facilities and surround sound
  • Join student film societies and the Centre for Film Studies film series, which screen and discuss both recent blockbusters and less mainstream arthouse films
  • Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
  • Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group
  • Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show

Your future

Our graduates acquire key skills in writing close analysis, critical analysis, contextual research, time-management, and hands-on filmmaking.

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 writing for Sky TV
  • An assistant director for a music video for an internationally-acclaimed band
  • An English teacher
  • A media studies teacher

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

How do we analyse moving images? What innovations have transformed the cinema experience? What moments and movements have been key to film history? Study the development of international cinema, looking at all aspects of the form, including analysis of theoretical issues, film language, and a variety of important directors and genres.

Which writers re-worked Homer’s Odyssey? Or borrowed ideas from Dante’s Inferno? Examine how key literary texts and genres have been used by successive generations of writers up until the present day. Shift from classical text to a more modern example, studying the long cultural traditions that exist.

How have Hobbes and Locke shaped modern politics? What were the American Revolution’s formative moments? Does Wollstonecraft still matter to modern feminists? Study the explosion in European thought and knowledge from the seventeenth to eighteenth century. See how this provided a foundation for topics like politics, law, sociology, and feminism.

What is US literature? What makes it different from other writing in the English language, particularly work from the UK? Study classic texts that have established US literature as a distinct tradition in itself and gain an understanding of the issues surrounding this.

What is contemporary writing? And how is it characterised? Don’t just study known “traditional” genres of literature, what about the emerging new genres of writing that are challenging readers? Analyse contemporary English writing, published within the last ten years, looking at themes, forms, issues and language.

Year 2

How can texts be read and interpreted using the thinking of Marx? What about Freud or de Saussure? Or Derrida and Said? Study literature, theatre, and film using these key thinkers. Analyse their approaches both historically and institutionally, and understand the importance of theoretical and methodological material to your studies.

How do films tell their story? What narrative conventions do genre films utilise? How do filmmakers adapt original literature to create new stories? Explore meanings in different film narrative using classic, modernist and postmodern examples. Understand narrative conventions in genre films. Study screen adaptation, the cinematic remake and transmedia storytelling.

What is modernity? How did it change our perception of the world? What impact did it have on literary culture? Study major pieces of poetry, drama and fiction from the 1790s to the 1970s that engage with challenges and inventions of modern life, negotiating transitions between old and new.

What are the major developments in film outside of Hollywood? Examine different regions, nations, movements and trends in international cinema. Understand styles and themes shared by certain schools of filmmakers. Analyse how films represent national/regional histories, and how these factors shape their reception as national, transnational or “world” cinema.

Does Hollywood have the last word on America? What do we mean by independent motion pictures? Understand the diverse and changing modes of film production in the USA. Formulate your own ideas of the social, cultural and political dimensions of American films and filmmaking in the last 40 years.

Final year

Want to acquire advanced practical skills in filmmaking? And get hands-on experience of producing a short film? Focus on the art of filmmaking by exploring technical approaches in practice. Work collaboratively and creatively to devise and realise two short films, investigating narrative, cinematography, music, sound, art design, and lighting.

Who makes animation? When and why? Who determines how animation should be viewed? Study film animation as both an art form and mode of social and political expression. Explore the history of film animation and gain an understanding of the basics technical aspects of animated filmmaking.

How do films tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Or issues about surveillance and asylum? What about gender and violence? Explore the complex relationship between cinema and ideology through a diverse selection of international films. Analyse how cinema can be an ideological medium, both sustaining and interrogating our social and cultural values.

What are the cultural capitals of modernism? How are modernist arts shaped by the metropolitan life experience? Examine literature, film, art and music, studying aesthetic practices and cultural contexts of modernism. Read and discuss cities with vibrant artistic and political activities: New York, Paris, London, Dublin, Vienna, Berlin and Petersburg.

To what degree are Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello tragedies? How useful is this term in understanding them? Undertake a close reading of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. Critically discuss recent issues about each, in groups and in your own work. Gain an understanding of their enduring and/or present significance.

How has the King Arthur legend been used to build or re-build a nation at fraught points in history? Why, in the twenty and twenty-first century, is Arthurian literature now a matter for childrens books? Examine how Arthurian texts have been rewritten and appropriated in various forms by every generation.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
  • Hands-on experience of camerawork and film production
  • Explore film theory through use of film and literature


  • Coursework includes essays, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, individual and group presentations, book reviews, viva voce examinations, and an independent research project (a dissertation)
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: ABB-BBB, including one essay-based subject

IB: 32-30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM (in relevant subject)

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

We host an Open Evening for those interested in postgraduate study with us. Here you’ll be able to discuss our courses with academics, tour the Campus and accommodation and get the answers to all your questions about studying at Essex. Find out more and book your place online.

We also hold several Open Days throughout the year so that you can visit our Colchester Campus and find out more. These Open Days are geared towards undergraduate applicants but whilst you won’t get specific information on your course, you’ll still be able to tour our Campus, meet our students and get a feel for life at Essex. You can get more information and book a place online.

If our dates don’t work for you then don’t worry, you can always book a campus and accommodation tour on a weekday to suit you. Just email to get booked in.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: 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.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.