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Our department offers a distinctively comparative approach to the study of literature; at Essex you don’t just study English literature, you study world literature in English. You explore literature across time, geography, and genre, combining scholarly research with innovative, practical ways of engaging with texts.

You grapple with the challenges of conducting research into Shakespeare and other early modern literature, acquiring specialist skills in archival research, palaeography, and the study of rare and antiquated books. You study materials on 18th century drama and literature, visiting the UK’s only surviving Regency Theatre to investigate how architecture affected the content of drama, and how drama reflected Georgian society. You have the opportunity to explore the history of genres such as the novel and lyric poetry, and study a truly extensive range of work; your reading takes you from African American literature, through Caribbean literatures, to the literature and performance of New York, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow and London.

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Why we're great.

  • Explore an extensive range of world literature across time, geography and genre
  • Join a diverse network of distinguished alumni including Booker Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners
  • Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society and our Myth Reading Group

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 is a vibrant conservatoire of scholars and practitioners who 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, modernism, travel writing, nature writing, translated literature, cultural geography, Irish and Scottish writing, U.S. and Caribbean literatures, and the history of reading.

Specialist facilities

  • Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at our department’s Myth Reading Group
  • Write for our student magazine REBEL or host a REBEL Radio show
  • 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 on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
  • Improve your playwriting and performance skills at our Lakeside Theatre Workshops
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested

Your future

A good literature degree opens many doors.

We offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers, and others are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

See full list of modules

Teaching

  • Five modules are followed over the autumn and spring terms, and generally consist of ten two-hour seminars
  • Innovative, practical ways of engaging with texts include visits to theatres and archival research
  • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
  • Visiting scholars are invited to speak about their research

Assessment

  • Four essays of 4,000-5,000 words
  • There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays
  • A reflective piece on research methods

Dissertation

  • You produce a dissertation (of approximately 12,000 words) written between April and September

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

If you are applying to a masters course in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.


Visit the Literature - MA page on the University of Essex website for more details!

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