Literature and Art History

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Academic Year of Entry: 2023/24
Course overview
(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Literature and Art History
University of Essex
University of Essex
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
History of Art, Architecture and Design


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A-levels: ABB


IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit

T-levels: Distinction

What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped? If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.

You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here

If you are a mature student, further information is here

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

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 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 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.

Course qualifiers

A course qualifier is a bracketed addition to your course title to denote a specialisation or pathway that you have achieved via the completion of specific modules during your course. The specific module requirements for each qualifier title are noted below. Eligibility for any selected qualifier will be determined by the department and confirmed by the final year Board of Examiners. If the required modules are not successfully completed, your course title will remain as described above without any bracketed addition. Selection of a course qualifier is optional and student can register preferences or opt-out via Online Module Enrolment (eNROL).


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes

Final year students take a capstone project in Art History (AR383 or AR347) The project in art history will be assessed by a single mark, should be 8 4,000 words in length (plus or minus 10%) and must be submitted by the published deadline in the School's Undergraduate Student HandbookModule Description Students need to plan their research, make full use of the vacations and consult with their supervisors. If students wish to take the 30 credit final year Art History capstone project (AR382-6-FY) or the capstone project in the LiFTS Department, then they will need to submit a special syllabus request.

External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Dominic Paterson

Senior Lecturer in History of Art / Curator of Contemporary Art

University of Glasgow

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  LT111-4-FY-CO  Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama  Core  30  30 
02  AR122-4-AU-CO  Writing and Researching Art History  Compulsory  15  15 
03  AR119-4-SP-CO  Art and Ideas: I  Compulsory  15  15 
04    Outside option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
05    Recommend AR116-4-AU and/or Art History option(s)  Optional  30  30 

Year 2 - 2024/25

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  AR220-5-AU-CO  Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art  Compulsory  15  15 
02    LT210-5-AU and (LT267-5-SP or LT262-5-SP)  Compulsory with Options  30  30 
03    (LT248-5-AU and LT249-5-SP) or LT203-5-FY or LT204-5-FY  Compulsory with Options  30  30 
04    Art History option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
05    CS200-5-AU or (CS712-5-FY and option from list)  Optional  15  15 

Year 3 - 2025/26

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  AR383-6-SP-CO  Final Year Dissertation Project  Compulsory  15  15 
02  AR323-6-AU-CO  Art and Ideas III  Compulsory  15  15 
03    Art History option(s)  Optional  15  15 
04    Literature option(s)  Optional  30  30 
05    Art History or Literature option(s)  Optional  45  45 

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

  • To offer a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum across the fields of literature and art history.
  • To promote awareness of the interactions and differences between the literature and the visual arts in history.
  • To introduce students to a variety of interpretative methods appropriate to texts and visual artefacts.
  • To acquaint students with a range of contextual, conceptual and comparative frameworks.
  • To provide the knowledge and skills (critical inquiry and argument, imaginative understanding, written, spoken and visual communication and presentation) that will not only stand students in good stead for more specialised academic careers, but will also enhance their opportunities for employment in a wide range of other careers.

  • Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

    On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

    A: Knowledge and understanding

    A1: A range of English literature (and European literature translated into English), from the Early Modern period to the present day, including knowledge of a variety of genres (poetry, fiction, and drama)

    A2: A range of visual art and visual culture from the Early Renaissance to the present day, including theoretical issues that have been central to the Western European tradition in visual art.

    A3: The relationships of works of literature or visual art to the broader cultural context covered in 1 and 2.

    A4: (In greater depth) the art, architecture and/or visual culture of one or more periods and places, as well as its/their attendant theoretical texts.

    A5: Some substantive areas of current research in the two fields of study including an awareness of the development of these areas of research

    A6: The basic methods of critical analysis and argument appropriate to the fields of study

    A7: Some of the concepts, values and debates that inform study and practice in the field.

    Learning methods

    A1-7 are acquired through lectures, classes, and coursework.

    Literature lectures offer surveys of the main periods covered in the scheme and address the major approaches and issues. Literature classes, on the other hand, tend to focus in more detail on textual examples, and emphasise student discussion and presentation, preparing students’ argumentative skills for formal assessment. In Year 3, optional literature classes are structured to enable students to pursue more specialised areas of interest.

    Art History lectures encourage students to develop knowledge and understanding of visual analysis and theoretical work in the context of a particular historical/geographical framework. Knowledge and understanding are developed further through seminar discussions and presentations with regular oral feedback from tutors.

    Throughout, students are expected to extend and enhance the knowledge and understanding they acquire from classes and lectures by regularly consulting library materials related to the course. This independent research is then consolidated in essay work and through feedback in written form.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment of students' knowledge and understanding takes place through a variety of assessment instruments including coursework essays, presentations, virtual exhibitions, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form. Students are expected to analyse texts in the light of the contextual, conceptual and comparative frameworks offered to them during the scheme, whilst also formulating their own arguments and displaying critical competence.

    B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

    B1: Analyse a given body of material, breaking it down into component points or parts and highlighting the most significant among them.

    B2: Synthesise evidence, arguments or ideas from different sources productively in a self-directed manner

    B3: Reason critically and offer judgements based on argument

    B4: Respond to unfamiliar artefacts, issues or ideas with an open mind

    B5: Solve problems using knowledge and experience.

    Learning methods

    Intellectual and cognitive skills are initiated through lectures, and further developed in seminars, as well as one-to-one tutorials where appropriate. The seminar-based work encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of texts or visual artefacts with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently, argue coherently and present one's own viewpoint persuasively. For Literature courses, Level 6 students are guided towards the acquisition of a reflective understanding of the arguments they and others propose, the analyses they and others offer, and the critical positions they and others employ. This is done through feedback (formally and informally, as appropriate) in oral and written presentations, group-based critical discussions and the analysis and interpretation of texts and critical positions. Therefore, Level 5 further develops and hones skills 1-3, but it is also where, cumulatively, 4 comes into its own.

    The theoretical work done in Art and Ideas at Levels Four, Five and Six particularly emphasises skills 1-5 through the guidance given in seminar discussion and through feedback on essays. The seminars are intended as practice sessions for cognitive skills. Students translate the skills acquired there collectively into individually assessed essays. In those modules that include examinations, the essays prepare students for the exams. These test students’ ability both to demonstrate and to sustain the same skills in controlled conditions.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment of B1-B5 is by written essays, take-home research papers, in-class slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.

    C: Practical skills

    C1: Visual Skills; including observation (recognition of materials and techniques but also other aspects of works of visual art such as formal organisation or narrative structure), description (using ordinary as well as specialised language) and analysis

    C2: Research Skills: including use of appropriate methods to locate primary and secondary sources, and works of visual art.

    C3: Critical Skills: including selection of relevant material, and appraisal of other people's arguments on the basis of familiarity with source materials and current literature

    C4: Writing Skills: including use of proper academic conventions, creating logical and structured narratives, and effective use of language to convey particular and general responses of readers or viewers to works of visual art, and to articulate complex conceptual issues and create frameworks for understanding them

    Learning methods

    Skills C1 and C3 are introduced in lectures and classes and developed through classes and seminars. Guidance on skills C1, C2, C3 and C4 are given in teaching, in supervision of essays, and to a limited extent in Departmental/School Handbooks. The strategy ensures that, having acquired a basic command of the range of skills, students exercise these skills in the more specialised courses.

    A member of staff gives students choosing an Art History capstone module formal guidance on the development, research and writing of specialist studies in the form of written instruction and in presentations.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment is by essays, take-home research papers, slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and written examinations. Provision is made for students to be assessed on a dissertation in Art History or Literature (a capstone) in the third year in lieu of a taught module, in consultation with a chosen supervisor. Essay questions are designed to test all skills. Slide tests and unseen written examination questions on visual material in photographic form test skills 1, 3 and 4.

    D: Key skills

    D1: The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts using a range of different aids or resources; special ability to deploy visual material in a variety of media in the context of presentations or written work

    D2: Students should be able to make use of IT for research purposes (including searchable databases such as library catalogues and internet sources), to present assessed work, and be able to use email.

    D3: Management of projects and timetables. Students should be able to apply knowledge and understanding in order to make judgements and offer solutions in a range of contexts.

    D4: Ability to 'read' an argument in seminar discussion; ability to respond effectively; ability to work in a variety of group contexts.

    D5: Students should have the ability to: work to briefs and deadlines; take responsibility for their own work; reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback; develop their work independently of guidance for extended periods.

    Learning methods

    The University’s Key Skills On-Line website (including self-assessment tools) will be listed in Department Handbooks.

    The four key skills are implicit throughout the degree.

    Communication is developed through seminar discussion, but also through attending lectures (either in person or online).

    Visual media skills are developed through presentation exercises in which students create PowerPoint presentations, and through drawing attention to the media whereby visual images are presented to us, both in terms of informing students but also developing a critical appreciation of the relationship between image and context in any medium.
    Students are expected to acquire IT skills based on some initial guidance.

    Students will be given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, and be able to participate effectively in seminars.

    Students are encouraged to share responsibility for their own programme of studies.

    Assessment methods

    Essays and dissertations are assessed for qualities that incorporate skills D1, D2, D4 and D6.
    D5 is assessed through a participation mark in Literature courses


    The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.


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