Postgraduate Course

MA Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment

MA Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment

Overview

The details
Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment
October 2022
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Essex is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the British Isles, a landscape shaped by human history. Our MA Wild Writing allows you to explore this landscape and the wilder landscapes of Britain, as well as those across the world, through a combination of science and literature modules. Our field trips take you outside the classroom, often in sun, sometimes in snow or rain. You gain an understanding of key environmental challenges while building your own ways of approaching writing about the wild: creative, critical, and scientific.

One of only five universities in the UK to offer a taught postgraduate course on literature and the environment, we are unique in our combination of modules on contemporary nature writing, ecocriticism, and psychogeographic literature.

Our full-year focus on writing about landscape, place, and the environment allows you the choice of focusing on developing your scholarly abilities through exploring ecocriticism, or on developing your creative writing practice about the natural world – or you can aim to advance both.

Your core modules cover topics including:

  • the emergent creative non-fiction genre exemplified by figures such as Robert Macfarlane, Kathleen Jamie, and Helen Macdonald
  • 19th – 21st century environmental poetry and prose
  • contemporary ecocriticism and environmental literature
  • psychogeography

An unusual collaboration between the departments of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies and Biological Sciences, we also offer you the opportunity to gain a greater scientific depth of knowledge about the natural world as you develop as a writer. You might want to explore the impacts and management of pollution or the ecology of fisheries.

You will explore the literature of landscape and the environment both within the seminar room and beyond, exploring the wild spaces of Essex and East Anglia through field trips that take you to wonderfully wild worlds in the company of leading experts. We visit inspiring areas including Mersea Island, Orford Ness, Tilbury, and the Norfolk Fens.

Why we're great.
  • Explore the emergent creative non-fiction genre, including work by Robert Macfarlane, Kathleen Jamie and Helen Macdonald
  • Take your studies outside the classroom, exploring the wild spaces of Essex and East Anglia
  • Find out more by reading Wildeasters, a nature writing blog with contributions from current students and alumni
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Teachers on the course include the internationally renowned ecocriticism scholar Dr Susan Oliver, who is a specialist in Romantic and 19th-century studies; the poet and nature writer Dr Chris McCully; and, environmental scholar and writer Professor Jules Pretty.

The MA Wild Writing is led by the nature and travel writer Dr James Canton, author of the critically acclaimed Ancient Wonderings.

Specialist facilities

  • Start to get some publications to your name by writing for our student nature writing blog Wildeasters
  • Access our archives – the University of Essex is home to the notebooks, diaries, maps, letters, and binoculars of J. A. Baker, author of the critically acclaimed The Peregrine (1967)
  • Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
  • Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading literature specialists at the Essex Book Festival – the festival director is based in our department, and loads of events take place on campus
  • Get involved onstage or behind the scenes at our on-campus Lakeside Theatre
  • Learn a language for free alongside your course

Your future

A number of our graduates from the MA Wild Writing have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers; others are practicing artists, scholars or environmentalists. One now works on climate change in Washington, another is a “wild practitioner” who work on the relation between nature and mental health and another now works for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police around Chesapeake Bay!

We work with the university's Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages. Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK, which means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

“I see the edge of the grey tarmac and every individual blade of grass, I see the hare leaping out of its hiding place, with its ears laid back and a curiously human expression on its face that was rigid with terror and strangely divided; and in its eyes, turning to look back as it fled and almost popping out of its head with fright, I see myself, become one with it.”

W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, writing about a visit to Orford Ness – a site for one of the course field trips

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages , Art History, Music, Philosophy, History, American Studies, Performance studies, Journalism, Law, Politics and Sociology.

You may be asked to provide a piece of creative writing if you do not hold a degree in a relevant field.

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 select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

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: CORE

Dissertation - Wild Writing
(80 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

The New Nature Writing
(20 CREDITS)

On this module, you approach writing about the natural world through a series of three-week units on subjects such as trees, marshes, coasts, and birds. Each unit will begin with a focus on the local – the wild east of Essex and Suffolk – before moving outwards to larger perspectives. Several of the units will involve field trips led by the writers being studied, which will include such figures as Richard Mabey and Robert Macfarlane.

View The New Nature Writing on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
(20 CREDITS)

Are you ready for your dissertation? Examine a variety of research methods and methodologies, building the research skills and understanding needed to complete your postgraduate-level research project.

View Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Option from list
(20 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

LT975-7-SP or option from list
(20 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY

Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography
(20 CREDITS)

A new genre of literature has been emerging: moving between fiction, history, traveller's tales, and memoir, it explores the spirit of place. This tradition of “psychogeography” has been most vividly taken up and given a new contemporary twist by writers in the eastern stretches of England, in the work of writers such as Ronald Blythe, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair. This module is concerned with writing on the landscape of this region – the ways the wilder reaches of Essex and Suffolk have been depicted – and allows you to develop your critical and creative writing about place. This module usually involves a walking tour around Colchester where we will have the chance to explore these literary landscapes and experience these worlds for ourselves. Students will incur travel costs of approximately £2.50 for this trip.

View Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • An emphasis on practice, going outside of the classroom where possible
  • Field trips to the local area
  • Visits from the authors you are studying
  • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
  • Training in research skills in the social sciences including practical work in computer labs

Assessment

  • Literature modules assessed by essays of 4,000-5,000 words, usually combining a creative piece and critical commentary
  • Sociology modules include assessed coursework

Dissertation

  • You produce a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words
  • This takes the form either of a critical essay, or a creative piece with an accompanying critical commentary

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,200

International fee

£19,740

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you 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

If the dates of our organised events 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.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Saturday, November 13, 2021

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

If you are applying to a masters course in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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.

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 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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