Take yourself on a literary adventure around the world. Our BA English and Comparative Literature offers a unique opportunity to explore English literature alongside writings from across the globe, both in English and in translation. We place the study of English firmly in the global context from which it emerges, and explore the ways in which English interacts with the literatures of Europe, the US, Caribbean and beyond.
Deepen your knowledge of literary traditions and movements across a variety of genres in order to develop your skills as a reader and to sharpen your critical intelligence. Studying different literary traditions from around the world and across history enables you to understand literary movements and developments in their global context, whether in relation to the evolution of the epic, the novel or poetry.
From ancient texts to contemporary literature, from US literature to Petrarch and the English Imagination, our course provides the chance to immerse yourself in a wide range of topics, whilst also providing the opportunity to focus on a specialist area of your choice. Topics covered include:
- US and Caribbean Literature
- Modern Literature
- Petrarch and the English Imagination
- The Victorians
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.
Your degree in literature takes place in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, which is home to a variety of Academic disciplines. You will have the opportunity to benefit from seminars, lectures and events from all the disciplines available in the department. These include film studies, drama and theatre studies, creative writing and journalism.
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
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.
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 is 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.
- 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 – 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 at no extra cost alongside your course – a great opportunity when you are studying literature from around the world
- Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Produce content 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 on-Campus, 200-seat Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
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
- Museum and library work
- Commerce and finance
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- You can respond both critically and artistically to your studies in our unique literary conservatoire.
- Our literature and creative writing courses are taught by leading academics and writers who encourage experimentation and originality in writing and thinking.
- You can study a diverse range of literature including Arthurian legends, writings from Europe, the US and the Caribbean, the plays of Shakespeare, Romantic poetry and so much more.
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.
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 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
- 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