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Philosophy and Literature

Course overview

(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Literature
University of Essex
University of Essex
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes 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. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

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.

External Examiners

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer

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.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


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
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
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 2 - 2020/21

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 PY404-5-AU Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing Compulsory 15
02 Literature options(s) from list Compulsory with Options 30
03 Literature options(s) from list Compulsory with Options 30
04 Recommend PY400-5-AU or Philosophy option Optional 15
05 Recommend PY437-5-AU or Philosophy option Optional 15
06 CS200-5-AU or (CS712-5-FY and Philosophy option) Optional 15

Year 3 - 2021/22

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 Final year Literature option(s) from list Optional 30
02 Final year Literature option(s) from list Optional 30
03 Philosophy option(s) from list Optional 30
04 PY455-6-SU Philosophy Capstone Module Compulsory 30

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 provide a wide-ranging and flexible philosophy curriculum, embracing both analytic (or Anglo-American) and Continental (Modern European) philosophical thought, and a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum focused on the study of English literature and encompassing several genres and periods, together with a curriculum which focuses on the interrelations between the disciplines of philosophy and literature.

To encourage students to identify the relevance of philosophy to other forms of enquiry and its interconnections with other disciplines, in particular literature, and its applicability to issues in public and moral life.

To develop students' capacities for independent philosophical thought and critical reflection, and to encourage students to exercise their own judgements in the reading of both primary and secondary literary texts.

To provide students with the skills necessary for subsequent research or further study and which will enhance their graduate careers.

The outcomes listed below represent the minimum that might be expected of a graduate of the Departments of Philosophy and Literature of the University of Essex.

It is the intention of the Departments that the vast majority of graduates will achieve significantly more.

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 For philosophy modules: one or more philosophical texts from a variety of traditions (historical, analytic and Continental). For literature modules: a range of English literature from the early modern period to the present-day including knowledge of a variety of genres.
A2 For philosophy modules: significant figures in the history of philosophy and of some central theories, arguments and issues connected with them. For literature modules: some major figures in the field of English literature and some major tendencies or movements in its history.
A3 For philosophy modules: techniques of philosophical reasoning and conceptions of philosophical method, embracing diverse traditions and approaches. For literature modules: the basic methods of critical analysis and argument in literary study.
A4 For philosophy modules: major issues currently being debated by philosophers. For literature modules: some key critical debates which have informed the field of literary studies.
Learning Methods: A1-A4 are acquired through: teaching in lecture and class format; lecturers conveying module content in a general manner while allowing for, and encouraging, questions from students, while classes generally focus on specific textual, argumentative or practical examples.
In year 3 literature modules the format changes to a two hour seminar giving further scope for students to practise their oral communication skills.

The use of books and journal articles to convey module content and to write essays and prepare for examinations.
Assessment Methods: A1-A4 are assessed through continuous coursework and unseen written examinations.
Coursework consists of essays written during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written feedback for the student.

Students are expected to display techniques of philosophical reasoning and conceptions of philosophical method in their philosophy coursework, while in literature they are expected to analyse texts in the light of the contextual, conceptual and comparative frameworks offered to them on the course, while also formulating their own arguments and displaying critical competence.

Coursework tests the ability to research a topic using, for example, library and internet resources, expound specified texts and enter into detailed argumentation with them.

Unseen exams test the ability to rehearse and assess arguments in relation to specific questions posed within a limited time frame.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 For philosophy modules: ability to identify complex philosophical arguments and present one's own evaluation of them. For literature modules: analyse and interpret literary texts.
B2 For philosophy modules: ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology. For literature moduels: to read and comment cogently on complex literary texts.
B3 Ability to reason critically, argue coherently, and assess the merits of various arguments.
B4 For philosophy modules: ability to summarise complex and demanding philosophical texts and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose. For literature modules: to identify critical positions and interrogate them.
B5 For philosophy modules: ability to identify underlying issues in philosophical texts, debates and arguments, and to highlight deficiencies such as unquestioned assumptions, and superficial analogies and unsubstantiated claims. For literature modules: to make and account for connections between literary texts.
Learning Methods: Skills B1-5 are obtained and developed through the teaching and learning methods described above.

Students are expected to read background material for lectures and classes, and to participate fully in class discussion.

In literature, the seminar based work of year 3 encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of texts with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently and to present one's own viewpoint persuasively.
Assessment Methods: Outcomes B1-5 are assessed through continuous coursework and unseen written examinations.

Coursework and examinations are as described above under A (Knowledge and Understanding).

C: Practical skills

C1 For philosophy modules: ability to write a philosophical essay, expressing oneself clearly. For literature modules: to deploy a vocabulary and a critical terminology for the analysis of literary texts.
C2 Ability to abstract and synthesise relevant information from a range of sources, using books, journal articles, library and internet resources.
C3 Ability to use accepted conventions for presenting references and bibliographies in academic writing.
C4 Ability to use a knowledge of literary and generic conventions.
C5 Ability to use a literary critical methodology in written work, employing reasoned argument to appreciate and evaluate a literary text.
C6 Ability to use an effective style of writing to convey a range of responses as readers of a literary text.
C7 Ability to use a range of methods (library and internet resources) to perform bibliographical searches.
Learning Methods: Skills C1, C2, C3, C5, C6 and C7 are gained by the preparation for and writing of coursework, in conjunction with guidance given in teaching, comments on essays and in departmental handbooks for both philosophy and literature.

Skill C4 is developed in literature through classes (first and second years) and seminars (third year).
Assessment Methods: Assessment is by coursework and unseen examinations (as described above under A: Knowledge and Understanding).

Coursework assignments test all skills.

Examination questions test skills C1 and C4-C6.

D: Key skills

D1 For philosophy and literature modules: ability to write clearly and to produce effective written communication. For literature modules: ability to produce effective oral communication.
D2 Use of relevant information technology to research and present written work.
D4 For philosophy modules: ability to identify the problem to be solved, to articulate critically the assumptions underlying or connected with the problem, to compare and contrast differing and often contradictory solutions to the problem: and to provide argument and evidence in defence of one`s solutions to the problem. For literature modules: finding, understanding and organizing information
D5 Ability to work in a variety of work contexts.
D6 Ability to organize one's reading and thinking in relation to specific topics, to work to a deadline, and to learn from comments on coursework and oral communication from teachers.
Learning Methods: Skills D1-D6 are acquired and developed through the teaching and learning methods described above and in class and, for literature, in seminar discussion.

Students are encouraged to use the university key skills on-line package, work processing packages, library searches and internet philosophy resources.
Assessment Methods: Outcomes D1, D2, D4 and D6 are assessed through continuous coursework and unseen written examinations.

Assessment is by coursework and unseen examinations (as described above under A: Knowledge and Understanding).

Outcomes D1 and D5 are assessed in literature through a participation mark.


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.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: