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:
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.
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.
For students who commence their course in 2020, if you spend a full year abroad you’ll pay no tuition fees to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university either.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2020 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. 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. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.