About the course
Knowledge is rooted in the experiences of people across the world. It is created from memory, culture, landscape and myth. This knowledge is often split into separate ‘disciplines’ such as those in the sciences, maths, history, geography, literature and art. However, true knowledge does not recognise these boundaries; the world is complex, interconnected and networked.
Our course is for you if you love studying a variety of subjects, and want to maintain this breadth of knowledge at university. Broaden your horizons by taking up the challenge of studying across a range of disciplines, exploring the variations in the ways that the humanities and social sciences help us to think imaginatively and critically about the worlds we live in.
You take modules which cover the historical foundations of the humanities, challenge dominant worldviews, and explore innovative and subversive essays and manifestos. The flexible structure of this course allows you to choose a range of optional modules across literature, film, philosophy, history of art, history, linguistics, politics, sociology and modern languages.
The types of issues and problems you might explore include:
- How commercial and independent films interpret human relationships
- How to compose your own writing, inspired by the great essayists
- Important philosophical questions about life, death and religion
- Great works of art and literature
Based within our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC), the choice is yours: you choose your modules based on your own background and interests. You engage with unusual, controversial, and provocative ideas, so that you can use the humanities and social sciences to become critically aware and possess the tools to change the world for the better.
We are proud that our liberal arts students are the happiest in the country, gaining the highest score for student satisfaction in England (NSS 2014), and that as a university we are top 5 in the UK for social science research (REF 2014).
"Studying liberal arts at Essex has enabled me to acquire a depth of knowledge in various academic fields and disciplines."
Daniel Ruiz Viejobueno, first-year BA Liberal Arts student
"Studying at Essex gave me the choice and diversity that I wanted from an undergraduate course. The Centre was fantastic and I could not have asked for more supportive people to help me settle in, guide me and answer all of my questions."
Jaide Mead, BA Humanities (now BA Liberal Arts), 2011
"I had a great time at Essex from the very start, both academically and socially, and I really benefited from my experience of studying a multidisciplinary course."
Steluta Grama, BA Humanities (now BA Liberal Arts), 2012
Your education extends beyond our University campus. We support you extending your education by offering you an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
You study modules in the liberal arts and social sciences, comparable to what you might take at Essex.
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.
Our expert staff
We are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. You are taught by a highly qualified, enthusiastic team with wide-ranging research interests and a proven academic scholarship.
Our staff teach in departments across the University, and specialise in a wide range of topics including literature, film, history of art, history, politics and sociology.
Current research is exploring indigenous experiences of colonialism, public sociology, nature writing, contemporary world cinema, wealth inequalities, and the implementation of American advertising practices in Australia.
As a liberal arts graduate, you’ll be provided with an all-round education that can lead to a more extensive range of knowledge, better communication skills and a more flexible and positive attitude to life. The best way to prepare for the future is to develop the abilities and skills which make you resilient; reasoning skills which mean that you do not accept easy answers; so that you can always question.
A Liberal Arts course can lead to a wide variety of careers in the media, journalism, publishing, local government, voluntary agencies, librarianship, finance, management and other fields. Many employers prefer to recruit students with a broad-based liberal arts education (and provide them with vocational training during their first year at work) than to recruit students who have specialised in one discipline.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of organisations including Euromoney, a financial publication company, a housing association, and an English language school in Japan.
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.
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.
Are you ready for graduate employment? Like to improve your core skills? Wish you had some relevant work or volunteering experience? Attend workshops, events and activities at the University and elsewhere to build your knowledge, abilities and experience. Polish your CV, while developing your employability, citizenship and life skills.
Sharpen your debating skills through learning how to construct and deconstruct arguments. You learn how to identify arguments in philosophical texts, how to assess arguments for logical soundness, and how to formulate your own arguments.
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.
What created a European identity? Was it religion, politics, war, art? And how do Europeans interact with the world? How is Europe viewed from afar? By studying themes like the Reformation, and focusing on individual writers and artists, test the idea and myth of Europe from many perspectives.
What impact has migration had on Latin America in recent years? And what about the drug trade? Or climate change? Study the contemporary topics that have shaped Latin America in the last thirty years, drawing on interdisciplinary research as well as creative work by Latin American artists, writers and film-makers.
What kind of societies have we created in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries? What makes them new? Or are they simply new expressions of old ideas? Study contemporary issues such as the humanitarian treatment of people, the meaning of the self and global warming that have arisen out of the ideas behind the Enlightenment, colonialism, and capitalism.
From a variety of perspectives, including history, literature, politics, sociology, art and architecture, you will examine the structural relationships of America and American culture at its core and at its (geographic, cultural) edges. Lectures cover topics including the USA's political, cultural and subcultural relationships with its Native communities and with Mexico, Puerto Rico and Latin America more broadly; various subcultural movements including gay rights, the Harlem Renaissance and activist art movements; race relations; the politics of war; the architectural fabric of American cities; and more.
How do you use the Portuguese language in the Brazilian business world, writing reports or in a job interview? Or, more generally, in Brazilian culture and society? Improve all aspects of your Portuguese. Develop awareness of key topics in Brazilian life, studying movements like the Bossa Nova and the favela.
What are the major US texts since 1850? And what problems are connected to them? Study a varied spectrum of US literature, looking at issues such as the relationship between American writing and history, American “difference” and differences within American society, nationalism and regionalism, and conflicts of race and gender.
Is Swift’s A Modest Proposal the best example of early modern western satire? What did Marx and Engel achieve with The Communist Manifesto? Examine subversive essays and manifestos. Study how they challenges and satirise existing ideas and social arrangements. Experiment with writing, thus broadening the approach of your own essays.
Are you doing a dissertation in your final year? Need help and advice on your research findings? Our workshop module lets you present your work to academic staff and your peers, gaining valuable feedback and guidance while you write your dissertation.
Are you an experienced writer or beginner? Interested in writing stories or poetry? Science fiction or detective fiction? We offer something for all! Explore the theory and practice of creative writing through the unique work of the Oulipo Workshop of Potential Literature, founded by Raymond Queneau in 1960.
What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Freud’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.
What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Jung’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.
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.
- Taught through lectures and classes of about twenty students
- A one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your modules every week. Some core modules are organised as two-hour seminars, rather than lectures and classes
- Your language classes involve lectures, classes and language laboratory sessions
- You are assessed on essays, book reviews, class presentations, projects, take-home exams and end-of-year unseen examinations
- Your first-year marks do not count towards determining your overall degree class
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.