Travel the world with the turn of a page. Our literary expertise is geographical as well as chronological – here you don’t just study English literature, you study world literature in English. Alongside the English literary canon, you read some of the most important novels, poems, and plays from the United States, the Caribbean and Europe.
Studying literature alongside sociology means that you can investigate what connects people with each other, as well as what divides them. We consider every aspect of our daily lives, from how we relate to politicians, celebrities and friends, to how we define ourselves, our families, and others. You can study topics ranging from digital media and society, to psychiatry and mental illness, to Japanese culture, to the art, film and personal testimony of war.
Topics from both literature and sociology you can choose from include:
- Modernist cityscapes in literature
- Writing of the US South
- Victorian literary realism
- Culture, identity and subjectivity
- Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights
Our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies offers 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.
Meanwhile our Department of Sociology is rated Top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and we are ranked among the top 50 departments in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2020) for English language and literature.
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. 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
Our world-leading sociology academics have their fingers on the pulse of modern society; whether it’s the battle between Apple and Spotify or the exploitation of female bodybuilders, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.
As well as publishing bestselling books, our academics have appeared in radio and television broadcasts such as Professor Mike Roper on the BBC World Service broadcast, London: The Psychology of War and Professor Pam Cox in the BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter and Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.
Our literature 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.
- Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
- Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates
- Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at the department’s Myth Reading Group
- Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
- Write for our student magazine Rebel or host a Red Radio show
Sociology and literature students can acquire key skills in communication, time-management, research and analysis, and good standards of presentation.
The number of careers that lead from courses in literature and creative writing is almost as large as the number of graduates. Two particular areas in which graduates have had recent success are publishing and the theatre.
In addition, former students of our Department have become professional writers, or have gone into teaching, journalism, broadcasting, marketing, film and video production, museum and library work, graphics and printing, finance, and the Civil Service.
Recent graduates have been employed as:
- Subtitling for Sky TV
- An assistant director for a music video for an internationally-acclaimed band
- An English teacher
- A media studies teacher
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.
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. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about modules on your year abroad.
- 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
- Lab sessions to improve technical research skills
- 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 Literature coursework mark