About the course
Are you an EU or international student who wants to study literature and art history in the UK? Do you need to improve your English language and academic study skills?
On our four-year BA Literature and Art History (including foundation year), we work with you to improve your language skills, to develop your subject-specific knowledge, and to improve your academic skills. You receive a thorough grounding in these areas during your foundation year (known as Year Zero) to prepare you for a further three years of undergraduate study at Essex.
At Essex, your 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 textual sources, from the earliest modern works to the literature and theory of the present day, in a variety of contexts.
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 ranked Top 20 in the UK for literature (Guardian University Guide 2015).
Our expert staff
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.
Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies is committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature. Our distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights, as well as leading literature specialists.
By studying within our International Academy for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our Academy to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
Our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies and our School of Philosophy and Art History also offer excellent on-campus facilities:
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK. 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
- Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group
- Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
Our combined honours graduates in literature and art history gain deep insights into the communication skills required for work.
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 the university’s 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.
How did Plato and Aristotle influence Western political thought? How do you study class or gender today? What impact does globalisation have? Examine the history of social and political theory, critically analysing current issues. Understand key topics in politics and sociology for further study of the social sciences and humanities.
Britain has experienced unprecedented changes in the last 100 years. What has brought about these changes and how have they affected the Britain of today? This course will outline political, economic, social and cultural change in the UK during the Twentieth Century and beyond and offer an insight into Britain’s place in the modern world.
Want to study Hamlet? And contemporary works by Angela Carter or Kazuo Ishiguru? Interested in World War One poetry? Study a range of drama, poetry and prose fiction. Describe, analyse and reflect on key texts from Shakespeare to the present day. Become familiar with the crucial terms for assessing literature.
What can we know? How should we live? Study two important areas of philosophy – epistemology and ethics. Examine the work of key thinkers and understand the major themes in Western philosophy. Analyse contemporary issues using philosophical arguments. Become confident in the expression of your own thoughts and ideas.
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.
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.
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.
Slander. Vendetta. Madness. Infanticide. These and other social problems threatened the integrity of daily life in late medieval and early modern (ca. 1300-1600) Italy--pitting husband against wife, brother against brother, friend against friend. This interdisciplinary module examines a wide range of visual culture (everything from altarpieces to prints, fresco cycles to manuscripts) to discover how images shaped public perceptions of social problems (and how similar processes occur today).
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.
Some of the most captivating artworks in European art history have come to be known as ‘Baroque’, but what does this term mean? When did it emerge and what is at stake in calling an artwork Baroque? Originally introduced as a derogatory term, recently the stylistic and theoretical notion of the Baroque has been of much interest in art history. This course introduces these debates to students through writings that discuss key seventeenth-century artworks such as the dramatic paintings of Caravaggio, the voluptuous sculptures of Bernini, and the dynamic architecture of Borromini. 'More Art, More Ideas: Baroque and Neo-Baroque' solidifies and deepens students' understanding of the reception, theorisation and critique of art, as well as the developments and shifts of art history as a discipline over time.
How useful is the term “early modern”? What about “medieval” or “Renaissance”? Study literature from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Glimpse cultural structures and behaviour that prefigures our own, as well as an exciting “otherness” of the many worlds represented in the variety of texts chosen.
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.
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.
Come face-to-face with over 750 original artworks from 19 countries in the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America. This major, unique, and internationally recognised collection, with works dating from the 1960s to today, is yours to make the most of. Investigate the themes of religion, identity, human rights, and money, which permeate many of the works and reflect the historical and contemporary challenges faced by the region, and debate the role Latin American art has in the wider art 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.
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.
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.
Some of the most realistic and vivid representations of the human body were produced in northern Italy after the Protestant Reformation. From Titian’s painterly evocation of flesh to Caravaggio’s theatrical bodies, these moving images made the body come to life before the eyes of the beholder. This course focuses on these incredibly lifelike artworks, asking students to reconsider familiar ‘masterpieces’ of Renaissance and Baroque painting as well as introducing them to intriguing genres such as miraculous imprints and wax sculptures.
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.
What fascinates you? Pursue a topic that you are enthusiastic about and have chosen, with support and guidance from our expert academic staff. Gain invaluable training for future graduate work, as you learn how to sustain a written argument over 10,000 words.
- Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
- A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
- Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
- 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
- Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
- Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
This course is only available to international applicants.
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 5.5 overall.
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.
We offer individual tours of our Colchester and Southend Campuses. You’ll be shown around the campus, facilities and accommodation.
Can't get to Campus?
Don’t worry – our interactive virtual tours and videos allow you to explore our campuses, accommodation and facilities in Colchester and Southend. You can even take a look at our Colchester Campus using Google Streetview.
How to apply during Clearing
Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Call our Clearing hotline to speak to someone about securing your place on a course at Essex. Have your grades and UCAS number ready and we'll do the rest.
You can also fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision.
We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:
The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have.
Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.