On our four-year BA English Literature (including foundation year), we work with you to develop your subject-specific knowledge, and to improve your academic skills. You receive a thorough grounding in these areas during your foundation year (known as Year Zero) to prepare you for a further three years of undergraduate study at Essex.
You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.
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.
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, and the history of reading.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
Our Department Literature, Film and Theatre Studies also offers excellent on-campus facilities:
- 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
- Host our student radio station; Rebel Radio
- 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
- Participate in regular workshops at the Lakeside Theatre which help you to improve your performance skills
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
Many employers want graduates with critical thinking skills who can think logically and creatively about practical problems.
Our students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including law, PR, journalism and the media, the Civil Service, charity work, banking, and the NHS. Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies.
Philosophy develops your transferable skills, providing you with:
- The ability to understand all sides of a dispute objectively and without forming a premature opinion
- The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
- The ability to interpret dense text and to communicate effectively
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
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
- We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
- Guarantee your place on your chosen degree upon successful completion of your foundation year
- Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.
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.
- Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
- Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
- A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
- Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
- Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, book reports, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects