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.
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
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
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.
- 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
- Write 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 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.
* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.
Why we’re great
- You can respond both critically and artistically to your studies in our unique literary conservatoire.
- Three-quarters of our research is rated ‚world leading’ or ‚internationally excellent’ (REF 2014)
- Our literature and creative writing courses are taught by leading academics and writers.
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 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.
- 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