Undergraduate Course

BA Literature and Creative Writing

BA Literature and Creative Writing

Overview

The details
Literature and Creative Writing
QW30
October 2018
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

All writers are first of all readers and all readers are writers, for without the active participation of readers a book is never fully realised. Our BA Literature and Creative Writing offers a unique approach to the practice of reading and writing, combining more familiar British and American perspectives and readings with other influential schools of writing, from the study of tradition and myth to the innovative practice of the Workshop of Potential Literature or Oulipo in France.

You deepen your knowledge of literary tradition across a variety of genres in order to develop your practical skills of understanding, expression and invention. Pursue your love of reading and explore some of the most important novels, poems, and plays from the United States, the Caribbean and Europe while developing your own writing through a variety of planned readings and writing exercises. We’ll teach you to be your own editor; critically judging your own and others’ work is invaluable in transforming your work from something good to something great.

At the beginning of your course, you receive a highly focused introduction to the study of literature alongside intensive modules in creative writing, covering myth, innovation and tradition, prose, and poetry. A module on writing for radio allows you to go into a studio and record a radio play. You then progress to look at a range of specialist topics such as:

  • experimental writing and surrealism
  • myth and fairytale
  • translating novels for the screen
  • American literature
  • Shakespeare
  • science fiction

Our course develops your abilities as a reader and writer while allowing you to take options from the other courses within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies including filmmaking, journalism and drama.

Essex has nurtured a long tradition of distinguished writers whose work has shaped literature as we know it today, from past giants such as the American poets Robert Lowell and Ted Berrigan, to contemporary writers such as mythographer and novelist Dame Marina Warner, and Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri.

We are rated among the top 200 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2017), and our students are some of the happiest in the country; we are consistently ranked among the top in the UK for student satisfaction.

Why we're great.
  • Push your writing further by experimenting with a range of unusual techniques across a variety of forms, from nature writing to the novel
  • Immerse yourself in the local literary scene – get involved with the Essex Book Festival where you can hear authors talk about their work
  • You don’t have to limit yourself to just English literature – we specialise in literature from around the world

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

Our creative writing and literature teaching staff are experienced and established writers who have a breadth of experience in the literature of different cultures and forms, including novels, short stories, poetry and song, sound poetry, translation and versioning, theatre writing, nature writing and science fiction.

The Centre for Creative Writing is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers students the skills, support and confidence to respond artistically and critically to the study of writing with the guidance of experts.

We also currently host two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional writers who are on-hand to help students develop their writing on a one-to-one basis.

Specialist facilities

  • 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
  • At Essex, we give you the opportunity to learn a language for free alongside your course – a great opportunity when you are studying literature from around the world
  • Your Writing for Radio module will involve use of the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, audio equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
  • Write for our student paper Rebel or host a Red Radio show
  • Handle unique, fascinating items including manuscripts, letters, early drafts, and recordings of unpublished interviews in our library archives
  • Get involved onstage or behind the scenes at our on-campus Lakeside Theatre
  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre

Your future

Many of our creative writing students have gone on to successfully publish their work, notable recent alumni including:

Our graduates are also ideally prepared for careers in the media, education, publishing, advertising, and the film and theatre industries. Two particular areas in which our recent 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.

We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

“My Oulipo module was a major highlight of the course and gave me so many tools to use to enhance my writing. Using these Oulipian techniques was fun and challenging - it forced my brain into overdrive and I know I’ll never have writer’s block again!”

Janine Hornsby, MA Creative Writing

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.

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.

Literature: Origins and Transformations

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 Literature: Origins and Transformations on our Module Directory

Creative Writing Skills

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 Creative Writing Skills on our Module Directory

Writing for the Radio

What possibilities does radio offer a writer? What techniques are required? How can the main tools of dramatic construction be exploited for radio? Focusing on drama, study work currently being broadcast plus classic pieces. Make use of the University’s studio to record extracts of your own radio scripts.

View Writing for the Radio on our Module Directory

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

Creative Writing: Tradition and Innovation

Want a thorough grounding in creative practice? Keen to engage creatively with texts from your other modules? Explore creative writing practice in seminars, workshops and writing exercises. Use literary themes as a springboard for writing, studying the forms and traditions but exploring ways of adapting approaches for a contemporary audience.

View Creative Writing: Tradition and Innovation on our Module Directory

Essex Cultural Outreach (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Introduction to European Literature (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Creative Non-Fiction

What is creative non-fiction? How does it engage and experiment with the world around us? Explore the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, from Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year to today’s “misery memoir”. Understand the creative aspect of others kinds of writing, widening your own scope and sense of possibility.

View Creative Non-Fiction on our Module Directory

Creative Writing: Theory and Practice

What are the key theories for creative writing? And how do writers (such as Wordsworth or Pound) theorise their own work and that of others? Study a range of genres, from poetry and fiction to autobiography, with practical writing exercises. Explore “making the familiar unfamiliar” (defamiliarisation), and focus on narrative.

View Creative Writing: Theory and Practice on our Module Directory

Approaches to Text

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 Approaches to Text on our Module Directory

Early Modern Literature (optional)

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.

View Early Modern Literature (optional) on our Module Directory

Independent Literature Project (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Understanding and Writing Science Fiction (optional)

How did science fiction develop as a genre? What are the key themes? How do you write your own science fiction story? Explore key science fiction works, alongside texts from film, TV and the internet. Write your own science fiction short stories and complete world-building exercises in group workshops.

View Understanding and Writing Science Fiction (optional) on our Module Directory

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

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

Myth and the Creative Process (optional)

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.

View Myth and the Creative Process (optional) on our Module Directory

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

  • Guided creative writing exercises
  • Workshopping your writing
  • Critical analysis of how a novel is built
  • Literature modules will involve lectures and seminars to discuss texts
  • Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and conducting archival research

Assessment

  • Assessment may take the form of essays, presentations, or creative writing accompanied by a critical commentary

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£14,020

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.

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

We want you to throw yourself in at the deep end, soak up life and make the most of those special Essex moments.

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.

 

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.

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