Our BA Literature and Creative Writing (including foundation year), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance.
This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
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.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.
At the start of year one, you will receive a highly focused introduction to the study of literature alongside intensive modules in creative writing, covering myth, innovation and tradition, prose, and poetry. A module on writing for radio allows you to go into a studio and record a radio play. You then progress to look at a range of specialist topics such as:
- experimental writing and surrealism
- myth and fairytale
- translating novels for the screen
- American literature
- science fiction
Our course develops your abilities as a reader and writer while allowing you to take options from the other courses within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies including filmmaking, journalism and drama.
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.
We are rated among the top 200 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2018).
Our expert staff
We have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.
Our creative writing and literature teaching staff are experienced and established writers who have a breadth of experience in the literature of different cultures and forms, including novels, short stories, poetry and song, sound poetry, translation and versioning, theatre writing, nature writing and science fiction.
The Centre for Creative Writing is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers students the skills, support and confidence to respond artistically and critically to the study of writing with the guidance of experts.
We also currently host two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional writers who are on-hand to help students develop their writing on a one-to-one basis.
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 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.
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources in our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies to assist you in your studies:
- 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 for free alongside your course – a great opportunity when you are studying literature from around the world
- Your Writing for Radio module will involve use of the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, audio equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Write for our student paper Rebel or host a Red Radio show
- Handle unique, fascinating items including manuscripts, letters, early drafts, and recordings of unpublished interviews in our library archives
- Get involved onstage or behind the scenes at our on-campus Lakeside Theatre
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
Many of our students have gone on to successfully publish their work, notable recent alumni including:
- Ida Løkås, who won a literary prize in Norway for The Beauty That Flows Past, securing a book deal
- Alexia Casale, whose novel Bone Dragon was published by Faber & Faber and subsequently featured on both the Young Adult Books of the Year 2013 list for The Financial Times, and The Independent’s Books of the year 2013: Children
- Elaine Ewert, recent graduate from our MA Wild Writing, placed second in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2015
- Patricia Borlenghi, the founder of Patricia Press, which has published works by a number of our alumni
- Petra Mcqueen, who has written for The Guardian and runs creative writing courses
Our graduates are also ideally prepared for careers in the media, education, publishing, and the film and theatre industries. 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.
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
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.
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
- 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 reviews, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects