About the course
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”. Reading, as Harper Lee identifies in To Kill a Mockingbird, is an intuitive part of being human. We learn to read as children and we go on reading – for education, for information, and for joy – throughout our lives. Literature at Essex offers a comprehensive exploration of that age-old love affair, between an avid reader and a good book.
Our BA English Literature deepens your understanding of how literature shapes, and is shaped by, the world around it. This course will encourage you to form your own critical response and ask all of the right questions. For example, whose voices are over-represented? How do periods of cultural or political instability affect what gets written? What can we tell about a text, from the relationship between characters, money, and power?
We provide a solid grounding in the chronology of literary history, and an exploration of how stories travel from country to country across time. The beginning of your course will be highly focused on an introduction to literature, and you will have the opportunity to study everything from the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare, to writing published in the last year.
The second year is about developing ways to explore and criticise that literature. You will explore a wide range of topics such as:
- US Literature
- Creative use of social media
- European Literature
- Literature in the Victorian period
The final year is all about you. By this time, you know what the work of a literary critic is, what approaches to criticism you prefer, and which periods in history you’re itching to know more about. Whether it’s the solitary figure in the modern city, or the rural poverty of the Southern USA, you will work in small seminar groups, with academics who are world-class experts in the particular field you’re studying.
Your degree in literature takes place in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, which is home to a variety of Academic disciplines. You will have the opportunity to benefit from seminars, lectures and events from all the disciplines available in the department. These include film studies, drama and theatre studies, creative writing and journalism.
“Studying literature at Essex has been very helpful to me, and should definitely aid me in my future career teaching in a primary school. My passion for reading and literature has been taken new heights at Essex, and I hope to share the same passion for literature with children and encourage reading in the way that I have been encouraged.”
Claire Tye, BA English Literature, 2011
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 (2017 entry). 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.
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.
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
Our expert staff
At Essex, we have an impressive literary legacy. Our history comprises staff (and students) who have been Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Our Department are committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as leading literature specialists.
Our academic 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, U.S. and Caribbean literature, and the history of reading.
- Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading literature specialists at the Essex Book Festival
- Write for our student media platform Rebel
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
- Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
A good literature degree opens many doors.
The number of careers that lead from courses in literature is almost as large as the number of graduates, but two particular areas in which our graduates have had recent success are publishing and the theatre. One of our former students is now in charge of editorial at a large publishing house, and another has just taken over running one of the country’s major theatres.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of desirable roles including:
- The Civil Service
- Journalism and broadcasting
- Museum and library work
- Commerce and finance
We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject
IB: 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
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.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
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.
English language requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.
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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
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.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
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.
Applicant Days and interviews
Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant 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 applicant 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 firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you plan a visit to the University.
Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
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.