How has English literature changed since the time of Shakespeare? What are the differences between literature written in the UK and literature written in other English-speaking countries? How has social and geographical mobility given rise to the formation of new accents and dialects of English?
An understanding of our language enhances our self-awareness, inspiring us to address fundamental questions about our communication as human beings; and this is epitomised in literature.
Our course provides a sound foundation in linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects of the structure and use of modern English, and offers you the chance to study a range of literary genres and approaches to literary criticism. This degree offers you the opportunity to explore a wide range of topics including:
- The structure and use of English language
- The relationship between language and society
- Literatures of the United States and the Caribbean
- English (and European) literature of the 15th-17th centuries
- Writing science fiction
We are a leading UK university for language and linguistics research (REF 2014), a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. We’re also ranked in the top 250 for English Language and Literature in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021).
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, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry.
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 language and linguistics staff are internationally recognised for their language research (REF 2014). We maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.
At Essex, we also 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 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
- Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
- 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 ‘Visual World’ Experimental Lab records response times and eye movements when individuals are presented with pictures and videos
- Our Eye-Tracking Lab monitors eye movement of individuals performing tasks
- Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
- Our Linguistics Lab has specialist equipment to analyse sound
- Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
Studying language and literature allows you to develop your research and IT skills by collecting and analysing linguistic data using state-of-the-art technology, and a combination of team-work and independent projects enhances your communication, problem-solving, and management skills.
Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a wide variety of fields, including teaching (in the UK and abroad), journalism, branding, advertising, marketing, travel, communications, publishing, speech and occupational therapy, interpreting, translating and media.
For example, one of our department’s recent graduates is now an Assistant Editor at Scholastic, whilst another teaches English in South Korea. Other graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- Royal National Institute for the Blind
- Macmillan Publishers
- Cambridge University Press
- Decisive Media Ltd
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- British Telecom
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
- Tailor your degree to suit your interests and career goals thanks to our wide range of optional modules
- You are taught by lecturers who are internationally recognised for their language research.
- You join our diverse community of students from all corners of the globe – the world in one place.
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. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about modules on your year abroad.
- Teaching is arranged to allow freedom in how you organise your learning experience
- Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
- Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
- Other teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others
- You’re assessed through a combination of coursework (assignments, essays and tests) and end-of-year examinations.
- Weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams depending on which modules you choose.
- Other assessment methods include quizzes, presentations, portfolios, group work, and projects.