Undergraduate Course

BA English Literature

BA English Literature

Overview

The details
English Literature
Q300
October 2019
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.

Why we're great.
  • You can respond both critically and artistically to your studies in our unique literary conservatoire.
  • Essex is top 15 for the sixth year running in the NSS (2018, overall student satisfaction, English mainstream universities*)
  • Our literature and creative writing courses are taught by leading academics and writers.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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 our Employability and Careers Centre 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.

“Studying literature at Essex has been very helpful to me, and should definitely aid me in my future career teaching in a primary school. My passion for reading and literature has been taken new heights at Essex, and I hope to share the same passion for literature with children and encourage reading in the way that I have been encouraged.”

Claire Tye, BA English Literature, 2011

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject

IB: 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

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

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

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.

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

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 here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Contemporary Texts and Contexts

What is contemporary writing? And how is it characterised? Don’t just study known “traditional” genres of literature, what about the emerging new genres of writing that are challenging readers? Analyse contemporary English writing, published within the last ten years, looking at themes, forms, issues and language.

View Contemporary Texts and Contexts on our Module Directory

Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama

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

Text Up Close: Reading for Criticism

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

Essex Cultural Outreach

Gain first-hand professional experience in the cultural and creative sector with this practical skills-based module. You will work with the Arts Education team on an arts projects with a local school, discovering how to plan and deliver effective and engaging sessions, whilst learning about the career opportunities in this sector. By helping children develop, you’ll reflect upon your own strengths and capabilities, building on vital transferrable employability skills such as teamwork, resilience, leadership, and experience of working with outside organisations. You will have the opportunity to put yourself forward for extra Arts Award training, helping you to stand out from the crowd. Complementing other modules on the course, this module will also prepare you for a placement or year abroad.

View Essex Cultural Outreach on our Module Directory

The Writer's Toolkit

How do you get started as a writer? How do you practise your writing? And how can you make improvements? Using exercises and texts, focus on your basic skills and essay writing. Cover topics like characterisation, dialogue, point of view, plotting, suspense, and metaphor and imagery.

View The Writer's Toolkit on our Module Directory

Introduction to European Literature

This module is an introduction to some of the most influential European writers from the Enlightenment period up to the present day. You study significant works of literature that sparked particular movements or represent crucial literary innovation. The works selected are novels, novellas, short stories and plays, and we examine these texts within their historical and political contexts. This module will help you to build understanding of the development of genres, forms, styles, content and ideas.

View Introduction to European Literature on our Module Directory

Introduction to United States Literature

What is US literature? What makes it different from other writing in the English language, particularly work from the UK? Study classic texts that have established US literature as a distinct tradition in itself and gain an understanding of the issues surrounding this.

View Introduction to United States Literature on our Module Directory

Rights and Wrongs: Literatures of Slavery and Emancipation
Dystopias

A utopia is an imagined social order in which human flourishing has either been perfected or realised to an exceptionally high degree. A dystopia, by contrast, is a radically dysfunctional society in which the lives of the inhabitants are significantly impaired, damaged, or otherwise undesirable. In this module, we will study nine landmarks from the history of dystopian fiction, beginning in the early twentieth century and ending in the early twenty-first. Topics and issues addressed on the module include, but are not limited to, authoritarianism, surveillance, censorship, consumerism, the culture industry, feminism, Afrofuturism, genetic engineering, cloning, artificial intelligence, and global warming.

View Dystopias on our Module Directory

Black Lives Represented: Writing, Art, Politics and Society
"I, too, sing America": Identity, Diversity, and Voice in United States Literature

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.

View "I, too, sing America": Identity, Diversity, and Voice in United States Literature on our Module Directory

Wits, Women and Wonder: British Literature in the Eighteenth Century
Children's Fiction and the Turn to Young Adult Adventure
The Victorians: Writers and Society (optional)

How did literature respond to scientific and technological developments during the Victorian period? What about urbanisation and the growth of industrial cities? What impact did the British Empire expansion have? Explore a range of poetry and prose to understand how writing evolved during sixty-four years of unprecedented vitality and change.

View The Victorians: Writers and Society (optional) on our Module Directory

Shakespeare: The Tragedies (optional)

To what degree are Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello tragedies? How useful is this term in understanding them? Undertake a close reading of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. Critically discuss recent issues about each, in groups and in your own work. Gain an understanding of their enduring and/or present significance.

View Shakespeare: The Tragedies (optional) on our Module Directory

Dreaming and Writing (optional)

Great literature – the stuff that dreams are made of? This workshop-based module investigates experimental film, art, literature, and poetry. Drawing inspiration from your own dreams, as well as dream theories and literary dream works, you are encouraged to experiment with character and voice, developing your own distinct identity as a writer.

View Dreaming and Writing (optional) on our Module Directory

Expanding the Caribbean (optional)

How have contemporary Caribbean writers transformed classic texts such as Jane Eyre or The Tempest? And why? Deepen your knowledge of European canons by approaching them from a vibrant and exciting perspective. Understand the politics and poetics of writing and re-writing. Engage with critical debate on modern Caribbean literature.

View Expanding the Caribbean (optional) on our Module Directory

The Story and Myth of the West (optional)

Investigate the myths surrounding the founding of the United States. Crossing disciplines of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and cinematic and theatrical texts, you compare the classic Western against a range of counter-narratives from black, Hispanic, latino, and aboriginal storytellers. This module interrogates the concept of a 'national literature', explores the relationship between folklore and contemporary society, and investigates the relationship between the Western as a narrative form, and the history of colonialism in the U.S.A.

View The Story and Myth of the West (optional) on our Module Directory

Independent Literature Project

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

Suffragettes, Rebels and Reactionaries: Writing for the Vote 1894-1928 (optional)

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 half by coursework and half by examination
  • A mark for class participation is included in your coursework mark

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£15,000

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

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.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

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.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 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 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.

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.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder 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 a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 prospective 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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