About the course
Our distinctive curriculum allows you to take advantage of the most up-to-date developments in the field, and combine different approaches to the study of visual media. You study a variety of different films and a number of different genres, periods and national cinemas.
You have the opportunity to develop your interests in the history of the image and in visual communication skills as well as developing your skills of making and analysing film.
In the field of art history you cover a broad history and choose from a variety of specialist options. Engage with art works that range from Old Master paintings, through the Pre-Raphaelites and Surrealists, to the most up-to-date contemporary art and visual culture. Modules explore a wide variety of media, including architecture, urbanism, photography and video, as well as painting, drawing, printmaking, performance art and sculpture. This understanding of visual history allows you to complement and enhance your exploration of different world cinemas as you learn about the history of film, and its formal aesthetics, in a variety of contexts of production and reception.
You can take modules in filmmaking, taught by film professionals with extensive industry experience. Gain hands-on practical training in all aspects of film production, including camera work, editing, and lighting, scriptwriting, and production management. Designed to support you in making links between critical analysis and creative practice, your production modules enable you to develop and apply your academic knowledge and understanding of film, refining and enriching your own practical work. You may produce group films (learning how to work together as a team) as well as personal projects – by graduation you will have built up a fully rounded portfolio of work, enabling you to showcase your creative potential for future employers.
One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are ranked 6th among art history departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014), and you will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses. We are also ranked Top 20 in the UK (Times Good University Guide 2015) for film studies.
We offer you a variety of study abroad options. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad without paying a fee, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad can allow 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. We have established partnerships across Europe, the United States, Latin America and Asia, including with world-renowned institutions such as:
- École du Louvre in France
- University of Freiburg in Germany
- University of Bologna in Italy
Our expert staff
We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the early modern period to the present day.
Our art history staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship of art and science, the artistic status of body modification, expressions of societal anxiety in art, as well as architecture and urbanism.
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. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning film-makers, scholars, and media specialists; our staff over the years have included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners.
We have a distinguished history of combining critical and creative work, and we have long been home to poets, novelists, translators, dramatists and actors, alongside literary critics, drama scholars and film theorists.
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
- Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks by curators and artists, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
- Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre, equipped with digital HD projection facilities and surround sound
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
You graduate from our course with key skills in writing close analysis, critical thinking, contextual research, time management, and hands-on filmmaking. These skills are highly transferable to a range of employers across business sectors.
Our students are well-prepared to enter careers in film production, TV, journalism, publishing and teaching professions, amongst a host of other careers. Our recent graduates have gone on to work in various desirable roles including:
- Celebrity booking for Cactus TV
- Editor for BBC television
- Subtitle writer for Sky TV
- Teachers of English and Media Studies
We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
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.
Please note that in your first year you choose one of these three modules: Art, Sex and Death; Space, Place and Locality; Art Revolutions. You do not take all three.
Explore the varied ways in which art historians, philosophers and artists have thought and written about art, from the Antiquity to the 21th century. This module examines the role of emotions in experiencing art, social and feminist art histories, the changing conceptions of what defines ‘art’, and the impact that ideas have on artistic creation itself. It will provide you with a sound foundation in the fundamental theoretical issues relating to the history of art and artistic practices.
Build on your knowledge gained from AR113, and tackle some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. Explore the key issues of storytelling and style, and the complex notion of “looking”, by engaging critically with seminal texts, original works of art, and architecture. Through debates and essays, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.
Get ready to take on the ever changing graduate jobs market with this employability module, and equip yourself with the skills, competencies, and attitudes essential for success in the arts and cultural fields. By looking critically at how the industry has developed over time, you will leave with a more solid understanding of your place in the world, and the confidence to take risks and make an impact.
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.
Certain ideas shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us—ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, free markets, and humans rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (1650-1800). This interdisciplinary module examines this period and thus serves as an essential prerequisite for students who want to understand the intellectual currents that run through the world they live in. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they’ve taken.
In a mixture of lectures and site visits around Essex and the wider region, learn about the relationship between spaces and those who inhabit them, and how space produces and shapes culture in various ways. From prisons to power-stations, from cathedrals to piers, discover how and why the visual works, how it is affected by, and affects the context in which it sits, and the impact it has on our lives, whilst picking up some vital transferrable skills. This module is intended to serve as an introduction to concepts of visual culture, urbanism, and the critical theories of space.
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.
In this module, we will explore the diverse responses by individual artists working at the end of the nineteenth century to the legacy of Impressionism as the quintessential art of modern life. We will attempt to discover what it really meant to be 'modern' in turn-of-the century Europe and how artists responded to the dramatic political, social and technological changes that we call modernisation.
This module seeks to answer the thorny question ‘What makes art modern?’ by considering different strands of European modern art from the 1900s through 1945, including Futurism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. Some key issues addressed include the birth of abstraction; the relationship between art and politics; and intersections between art, mass media, and consumer culture.
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.
When artworks or artefacts have been looted, should finders really be keepers? What causes an artwork to fetch £100 million at auction? And when is it (il)legal to reproduce another artist’s work and claim it as one’s own? Study how issues of property rights, valuation, market transparency and digitisation have shaped -- and continue to reshape -- the field of art across different media.
From mementos on the walls of our homes to perfume ads in glossy magazines, from selfies to forensic imaging – photographs are everywhere. In this module, explore how the birth of the camera changed the way people saw themselves, their nation, and their world, and how it continues to do so. Learn about the history of photography, interpreting and analysing both photographs and texts, and see how the photograph’s status shifted over time from document to artwork.
This module follows on from AR321, and presents the artwork of the post-mechanical age. Uncover how new media, such as film and video, cybernetics, robotics, video games and the internet have been used to create art from the 1960s to the present day. Investigate the issues of production, reception, display, the acceptance of new media into the art world, whilst attempting to link the issues raised by new media artists to your own experiences of life in an increasingly digital world.
Explore the vibrant artistic culture of the Renaissance court, an environment where magnificence and splendor served to justify rule, neutralize dissent, and enforce hierarchies of power. In the courts of Milan, Ferrara, and Florence, among others, we will encounter famed artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Titian. Paying particular attention to gender, this module examines the role of visual culture in shaping conceptions of ruling authority, chivalry, courtly love, virility, fecundity, and beauty.
The period from 1945 to 1980 marked one of the most explosive and dynamic moments in the history of art. Discover how the specter of the Holocaust and the ideological divisions of the Cold War shaped the production and reception of art in the two decades following World War II. Also learn how major political developments of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Stonewall, student protests and the feminist movement, transformed the practice, theory and history of art, ultimately providing a hyper-politicised foundation for the emergence of postmodernism.
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.
How powerful is Hollywood? How do directors construct an image of the USA? Examine how directors have created America in the popular imagination. Study Hollywood auteurs (such as Chaplin, Hawks, Hitchcock, Welles and Ford) alongside others (such as Scorsese, Allen and Lee) while covering the breadth of US film history.
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.
- Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
- Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
- Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
- Hands-on experience of camerawork and film production
- Explore film theory through use of film and literature
- Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
- Art History includes assessed coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
- Film Studies 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
If you already have your results and want to apply for 2016 entry through Clearing, complete our Clearing application form
and we’ll get back in touch with you or give us a ring
to discuss your grades.
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 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.
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.