Undergraduate Course

BA Literature and Creative Writing

Now In Clearing
BA Literature and Creative Writing

Overview

The details
Literature and Creative Writing
QW30
October 2022
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

All writers are first of all readers and all readers are writers, for without the active participation of readers a book is never fully realised. Our BA Literature and Creative Writing offers a unique approach to the practice of reading and writing, combining more familiar British and American perspectives and readings with other influential schools of writing, from the study of tradition and myth to the innovative practice of the Workshop of Potential Literature or Oulipo in France.

You deepen your knowledge of literary tradition across a variety of genres in order to develop your practical skills of understanding, expression and invention. Pursue your love of reading and explore some of the most important novels, poems, and plays from the United States, the Caribbean and Europe while developing your own writing through a variety of planned readings and writing exercises. We’ll teach you to be your own editor; critically judging your own and others’ work is invaluable in transforming your work from something good to something great.

At the beginning of your course, you 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
  • Shakespeare
  • 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.

Why we're great.
  • Push your writing further by experimenting with a range of unusual techniques across a variety of forms, from nature writing to the novel
  • Immerse yourself in the local literary scene – get involved with the Essex Book Festival where you can hear authors talk about their work
  • You don’t have to limit yourself to just English literature – we specialise in literature from around the world

Study abroad

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

Placement year

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 the placements team.

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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 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.

Specialist facilities

  • 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

Your future

Many of our creative writing students have gone on to successfully publish their work, notable recent alumni including:

  • Ida Løkås, who won a major 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 Patrician 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, advertising, and the film and theatre industries. Two particular areas in which our recent 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.

“My Oulipo module was a major highlight of the course and gave me so many tools to use to enhance my writing. Using these Oulipian techniques was fun and challenging - it forced my brain into overdrive and I know I’ll never have writer’s block again!”

Janine Hornsby, MA Creative Writing

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2022 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Structure

Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama
(30 CREDITS)

Which writers re-worked Homer’s Odyssey? Or borrowed ideas from Dante’s Inferno? Examine how key literary texts and genres have been used by successive generations of writers up until the present day. Shift from classical text to a more modern example, studying the long cultural traditions that exist.

View Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

The Writer's Toolkit
(15 CREDITS)

How do you get started as a writer? How do you practise your writing? And how can you make improvements? Using exercises and texts, focus on your basic skills and essay writing. Cover topics like characterisation, dialogue, point of view, plotting, suspense, and metaphor and imagery.

View The Writer's Toolkit on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Text Up Close: Reading for Criticism
(15 CREDITS)

How do you read a text closely? What is involved in close reading? With emphasis on you to active do the close reading, learn how this approach can contribute to your appreciation of meaning and significance in a diverse range of texts.

View Text Up Close: Reading for Criticism on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Poetry: A Very Short Introduction
(15 CREDITS)

This module in creative writing will explore poetry from its origins to the present by asking you to engage with both traditional forms and recent experiments. By taking a long view of poetry it will explore the way in which poetry changes over time, migrating from one place to another, one form to another, from cave wall to bark, to page, to body, to building, to advertising billboard, to electronic media. Contemporary work will be explored which both engages with and departs from traditional forms of poetry, including work that extends the boundaries and the language and forms of poetry towards actions, non-poetic language, and word-games. While the history of poetry might seem to demonstrate that the best poets – Mallarmé, Maxwell – are essentially unemployable, poetry and its utilitarian functions in advertising and related fields connecting to employability will be a central feature. Teaching itself, as far as possible, will itself be experimental – including the gathering of feathers and objects, five-minute lectures, and field work – attempting to perform the "restrangement" that underpins much poetic activity.

View Poetry: A Very Short Introduction on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

The Humanities Graduate: Future Pathways
(15 CREDITS)

This interdisciplinary module serves several functions. Firstly, you will develop an understanding of your degree in the context of the wider world and specifically the graduate jobs market. You will come to understand the employability and career-development opportunities that are available to you during and after your time at Essex, and you will begin the life-long process of continuous professional development with a firm grounding in the practical skills and reflective practice involved. The module is divided into two parts: career-development learning; and Speaker Weeks, when a member of staff will interview guest speakers about their careers in fields that are allied to the arts and humanities. These will cover a range of career areas that may be of interest to humanities graduates in general: from media, arts, journalism, education, publishing, to entrepreneurship in related areas. These weeks are intended to be inspiring but also full of practical tips and ideas, with an emphasis on showing how careers develop over time, and what pathways students can explore to get to where they want to be; as well as what kinds of extra-curricular activities students can engage in now to open more doors professionally before and after graduation. In the career-development learning part of the module, you will cover topics such as the Graduate Labour market, the Humanities graduate, self-reflection and personal development, and how to research and apply effectively for jobs. Skills such as CV writing and interview technique will be covered. Two-hour interactive lecture/seminars will introduce students to careers resources and ideas, but will also include discussion and group work.

View The Humanities Graduate: Future Pathways on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT146-4-AU or LT151-4-AU or Autumn option from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: OPTIONAL

Spring option from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Creative Non-Fiction
(30 CREDITS)

What is creative non-fiction? How does it engage and experiment with the world around us? Explore the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, from Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year to today’s “misery memoir”. Understand the creative aspect of others kinds of writing, widening your own scope and sense of possibility.

View Creative Non-Fiction on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Writing the Short Story
(15 CREDITS)

This module will explore, through practice and discussion, the discrete art of the short story form. You will read a diverse selection of short stories drawn from various literary and cultural traditions, both historical and contemporary, to inspire and form the writing of your own short stories, attending to the specific qualities and techniques of this literary form.

View Writing the Short Story on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Writing Structures
(15 CREDITS)

What are the key theories for creative writing? And how do writers (such as Wordsworth or Pound) theorise their own work and that of others? Study a range of genres, from poetry and fiction to autobiography, with practical writing exercises. Explore “making the familiar unfamiliar” (defamiliarisation), and focus on narrative.

View Writing Structures on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT204-5-FY or LT204-5-AU
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

LT269-5-SP and/or option(s) from list
(45 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

LT831-6-FY or LT832-6-FY
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: OPTIONAL

Final year Creative Writing option(s)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Final year option(s)
(30 CREDITS)

Placement

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.

Year abroad

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

  • Guided creative writing exercises
  • Workshopping your writing
  • Critical analysis of how a novel is built
  • Literature modules will involve lectures and seminars to discuss texts
  • Innovative ways of engaging with texts include editing 16th century sonnets and conducting archival research

Assessment

  • Assessment may take the form of essays, presentations, or creative writing accompanied by a critical commentary

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£17,700

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2022 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 17, 2022
  • Saturday, October 22, 2022

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision.

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following courses after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

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