Our distinctive curriculum allows you to take advantage of the most up-to-date developments in the field, and to understand the interactions and differences between literature and the visual arts in history.
You have the opportunity to:
- Study the relationship between text and image and the relationships that exist between the two
- Develop your interests and explore a variety of interpretative methods which are appropriate to both the text and to the visual artefact
Literature is introduced in your first year through a series of seminal works in drama, poetry and narrative which have helped to articulate the literature of England and Europe both past and present. By adopting and practising close reading skills you develop your abilities in analysis and interpretation, and grow in confidence from the beginning of your undergraduate study.
Similarly in your art history modules you cover a broad history from your first year of study and can choose from a variety of specialist options to suit your own interests. Engage with art works that range from Old Master paintings, through the Pre-Raphaelites and Surrealists, to the most up-to-date contemporary art and visual culture.
Your modules explore a wide variety of media, including architecture, urbanism, photography and video, as well as painting, drawing, printmaking, performance art and sculpture. This understanding of visual history allows you to complement and enhance your exploration of different textual sources, from the earliest modern works to the literature and theory of the present day, in a variety of contexts.
One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are ranked top 10 in the UK for History of Art (CUG 2018) and ranked 6th among Art History departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014). You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses.
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
Our expert staff
We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the early modern period to the present day.
Our art history staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship of art and science, the artistic status of body modification, expressions of societal anxiety in art, as well as architecture and urbanism.
Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies is committed to unlocking creative personal responses to literature. Our 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.
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
- Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks by curators and artists, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
- Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
- Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
Our combined honours graduates in literature and art history gain deep insights into the communication skills required for work.
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
- We are distinct – study the social and political implications of art and go beyond its historic institutions.
- Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space.
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.
- Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
- Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
- Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
- Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
- Innovative ways of engaging with literary texts include editing 16th century sonnets and archival research
- Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
- Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year