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BA Film and Creative Writing

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: PW38
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,000
Fee (International): £12,950

UCAS code: PWH8
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,000
Fee (International): £12,950

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Our course 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.

At Essex we offer a unique approach to the practice of writing, combing innovative and traditional methods in order to develop your writing skills and abilities to judge your work critically, while expanding your knowledge across different modes and genres. In our Centre for Creative Writing we encourage a culture of experiment and creativity, enabling you to feel part of a community of writers.

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 the end of your three or four years at Essex you’ll 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.

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.

Placement year

This course can be combined with a placement year. You are responsible for finding your placement with the support and guidance of the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies and the Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

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

Our distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning film-makers, and media specialists; our staff over the years have included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners. We have long been home to poets, novelists, translators, dramatists and actors, alongside literary critics, drama scholars and film theorists.

Our creative writing teaching staff are experienced and established writers who have a breadth of experience across literary genres, from novels, prose and plays, to poetry and song.

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
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
  • 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.

Want hands-on experience of the film process, from pre to post-production? Keen to tackle technical aspects, such as framing, lighting, sound and editing? Work individually and in small groups on your own projects, covering topics like how shots are framed through to the different editing techniques that manipulate film narrative.

What possibilities does radio offer a writer? What techniques are required? How can the main tools of dramatic construction be exploited for radio? Focusing on drama, study work currently being broadcast plus classic pieces. Make use of the University’s studio to record extracts of your own radio scripts.

How do you get started as a writer? How do you practise your writing? And how can you make improvements? Using exercises and texts, focus on your basic skills and essay writing. Cover topics like characterisation, dialogue, point of view, plotting, suspense, and metaphor and imagery.

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.

What are the practical aspects of screenwriting? And the theoretical? Explore the construction of a range of screenplays, investigating their shared structural elements. Write your own short film or scenes for a longer film. Produce reports reflecting your understanding of screen writing. Participate in the creative pitching of ideas.

Want to devise a documentary? Develop a creative short film? Learn the key practical and theoretical concepts of documentary and fiction filmmaking. Gain production skills for documentaries, from idea to research methods and legal issues, then recording techniques. Engage with fiction filmmaking - script writing, location shooting and editing.

What are the key theories for creative writing? And how do writers (such as Wordsworth or Pound) theorise their own work and that of others? Study a range of genres, from poetry and fiction to autobiography, with practical writing exercises. Explore “making the familiar unfamiliar” (defamiliarisation), and focus on narrative.

Final year

How is myth used by writers? How is the creative process of writing linked to myth? Study collaborative and creative processes of writing through group work and seminars. Explore the term myth in relation to elements such as fairy tale, tradition, locality, folklore, and divination.

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 children's books? Examine how Arthurian texts have been rewritten and appropriated in various forms by every generation.

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.

Can films really tell us what to think? Why was cinema championed as a way to transmit state ideologies in the interwar period? Explore a range of films, studying their production and reception. Learn to assess historical arguments in your critical analysis of films, broadening your perspectives on film studies.

What fascinates you? Create your own film on a topic that you are enthusiastic about and have chosen, with support and guidance from our expert academic staff. Build your practical skills and gain an invaluable insight into all aspects of creating and producing your own film project.

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.

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

  • Teaching will mainly take the form of lectures and classes of about 20 students
  • Emphasis on practical exercises and creative approaches
  • Hands-on experience of camerawork and film production
  • Explore film theory through use of film and literature
  • A typical timetable involves a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your modules every week

Assessment

  • Your final mark for each module is determined half by coursework and half by examination
  • A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark
  • 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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Qualifications

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 admit@essex.ac.uk 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

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2016 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 tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

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.

Exhibitions

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.

Applying

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.

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 visit@essex.ac.uk 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.