Undergraduate Course

BA English Literature

BA English Literature

Overview

The details
English Literature
Q300
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Studying English Literature at Essex will revolutionise the way you think about literature. We'll challenge you to reflect on how literature shapes, and is shaped by, the world. Drawing on key texts and ideas, you'll develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills that will help you make your own mark.

Our BA English Literature is truly global and politically engaged, offering a wide range of module choices from different places, cultures and historical periods. You will study everything from foundational texts and authors, including The Epic of Gilgamesh, Dante and Ovid, through to the most challenging contemporary texts from the last decade.

You'll ask and answer important questions. What did love, death and race mean in the Renaissance? What is the legacy of slavery in the Americas and how is this reflected in different genres of writing? How did suffragettes change the world and its literature? Whether it's dystopian fiction, the Caribbean origins of zombie narratives or the issue of human and non-human rights in a digital age, we'll ensure you pursue your interests to the fullest and that you'll be supported by experts in the field.

You have the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional modules across different topics and areas of specialism, including:

  • Early Modern (16th and 17th century) literature
  • 18th and 19th century literature, including: Romantic, Gothic, naturalist, realist and sentimental writing
  • 20th and 21st century literature, including: Modernism, Postmodernism, science fiction and postcolonial literature
  • United States, Caribbean and Transatlantic literature
  • Poetic, contemporary, experimental, avant-garde and political writing

At Essex, we believe in radical, challenging and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of literature and while we take note of conventions, we're not bound by them. And while we've had Nobel prize-winners and Oscar winners among our staff we don't rest on our laurels.

So, in our Department you can study modules which examine a variety of genres, including travel writing, the podcast, and autobiography among others, and work across different media, including books, newspapers, plays and film. From the English Civil War to dystopian literature and film, our modules not only span momentous historical, political and social worldwide events, but also examine the alternative worlds that literature has produced.

A typical timetable involves a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar or a two-hour seminar for each module every week, but there are variations in place depending on the module.

Why we're great.
  • You can respond both critically and artistically to your studies in our unique literary conservatoire.
  • You can study a modules across our wider department.
  • Our literature and creative writing courses are taught by leading academics and writers.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad 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.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Placement year

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.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

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.

Specialist facilities

  • 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

Your future

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
  • Marketing
  • Museum and library work
  • Commerce and finance
  • Teaching

We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.

"I enjoyed the range of literary styles and periods we were taught. My main interest has always been Modernist literature, but my undergraduate course allowed me to discover a passion for ancient texts and philosophy which I hadn't been able to explore at school and Sixth Form. In the first and second year of my BA course, the compulsory modules allowed me to scope out the areas of literature that I enjoyed, and others that I wasn't so interested in. In the third year, this gave me the ability to know exactly which topics I excelled in, and I was able to choose the modules I truly loved. Despite the pressure, the third year of my BA was my favourite; I particularly enjoyed the Cityscapes of Modernism, Decorum and Decay, and The Symbolic Imagination modules."

Sian Bunney, BA English Literature 2014.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

  • A-levels: BBB - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels, including B in one essay based subject.
  • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - email ugquery@essex.ac.uk for advice.
  • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent. Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
  • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554.
  • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • T-levels: We consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core.

Contextual Offers:

We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
Factors we consider:

  • Applicants from underrepresented groups
  • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
  • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
  • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page. or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Undergraduate Admissions team at ugquery@essex.ac.uk to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

English language shelf-life

Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

If you require a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Pre-sessional English courses

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.

Pending English language qualifications

You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

Requirements for second and final year entry

Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College

Structure

Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Text Up Close: Reading for Criticism
(15 CREDITS)

How do you read a text closely? What is involved in close reading? With emphasis on you to active do the close reading, learn how this approach can contribute to your appreciation of meaning and significance in a diverse range of texts.

View Text Up Close: Reading for Criticism on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT109-4-SP or LT137-4-SP or LT171-4-SP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

The Humanities Graduate: Future Pathways
(15 CREDITS)

This interdisciplinary module serves several functions. Firstly, you will develop an understanding of your degree in the context of the wider world and specifically the graduate jobs market. You will come to understand the employability and career-development opportunities that are available to you during and after your time at Essex, and you will begin the life-long process of continuous professional development with a firm grounding in the practical skills and reflective practice involved. The module is divided into two parts: career-development learning; and Speaker Weeks, when a member of staff will interview guest speakers about their careers in fields that are allied to the arts and humanities. These will cover a range of career areas that may be of interest to humanities graduates in general: from media, arts, journalism, education, publishing, to entrepreneurship in related areas. These weeks are intended to be inspiring but also full of practical tips and ideas, with an emphasis on showing how careers develop over time, and what pathways students can explore to get to where they want to be; as well as what kinds of extra-curricular activities students can engage in now to open more doors professionally before and after graduation. In the career-development learning part of the module, you will cover topics such as the Graduate Labour market, the Humanities graduate, self-reflection and personal development, and how to research and apply effectively for jobs. Skills such as CV writing and interview technique will be covered. Two-hour interactive lecture/seminars will introduce students to careers resources and ideas, but will also include discussion and group work.

View The Humanities Graduate: Future Pathways on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT151-4-AU or LT161-4-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT210-5-AU or LT218-5-AU
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT215-5-SP or LT262-5-SP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Criticism: Practice and Theory
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View Criticism: Practice and Theory on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(60 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: OPTIONAL

Final year Literature option (English)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: OPTIONAL

Final year Literature option (English)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

Final year option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Independent Literature Project
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View Independent Literature Project on our Module Directory

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

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
  • Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
  • 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 by coursework
  • A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250 per year

International fee

£19,500 per year

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 17 August 2024 - Colchester Clearing Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details on how to apply can be found on the filling in your UCAS undergraduate application web page.

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.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.
A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of 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. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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