(BA) Bachelor of Arts
English and United States Literature (Including Foundation Year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
- think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
- have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
- are returning to university after some time away from education; or
- are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
- A-levels: DDD
- BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
- T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Student 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 required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Student 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.
Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen 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.
Rules of assessment
Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.
Dr Doug Haynes
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture University of Sussex
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.
To offer a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum focused on the study of English and United States literatures and encompassing several genres and periods.
To encourage students to exercise their own judgements in the reading of both primary and secondary texts.
To enable students to:
Understand the methodology necessary for undertaking a close analysis of a text passage or film extract.
Acquire the critical terminology to identify and name the literary devices at work in a text.
Work in a small group to prepare a presentation that demonstrates the skills involved in the close reading of an unseen text.
Appreciate the relationship between the written and the spoken language.
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 and spoken communication and presentation) that will not only stand students in good stead for more specialised academic study, but will also enhance their graduate 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 and United States literature, from the early modern period to present-day, including knowledge of a variety of genres (poetry, fiction, and drama)
A2: The major figures in the field, and the major literary tendencies or movements covered by the degree scheme
A3: The complex relationship between literature and culture (an appreciation of the way in which literary texts are embedded in their cultural and historical milieux, and an awareness of their role in creating cultural change)
A4: The key critical debates that have informed the field (and some familiarity with the most recent critical interventions)
A5: The basic methods of critical analysis and argument
A6: Specialised study in the final year in areas students have identified as being of particular interest
1-6 are acquired through lectures, classes and continuously assessed coursework (with regular feedback, both oral and written, from tutors).
The lectures offer surveys of the major periods of literature covered in the scheme and address the major approaches and issues (mainly 1-4).
The classes, on the other hand, tend to focus in more detail on textual examples, and give emphasis to student discussion and/ or presentation, preparing their argumentative skills for formal assessment (5).
In Year 3, the format changes to a two-hour seminar, which may include informal lectures/ presentations by the teacher and gives further scope for students to practise their oral communication skills as well as to pursue more specialised areas of interest (5, 6).
In addition, students are expected to extend and enhance the knowledge and understanding they acquire from classes and lectures by regularly consulting archival materials related to the course.
This independent research is then consolidated in essay work.
Formal assessment of students' knowledge and understanding (1-4, 6) takes place through coursework essays and unseen written examinations.
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 (5).
B: Intellectual and cognitive skills
B1: Analyse and interpret
B2: Read complex texts and comment cogently on them
B3: Reason critically and argue coherently
B4: Identify critical literary positions and interrogate them
B5: Make and account for connections between texts and their contexts
B6: To think independently and to make connections between familiar and new ideas
Intellectual and cognitive skills are initiated through lectures in Year 1 and 2, and further developed in seminars, as well as one-to-one tutorials where appropriate.
The seminar- based work of Year 3, like that of Years 1 and 2, encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of texts with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently, argue coherently and present one's own viewpoint persuasively.
Year 3 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 in situ 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, Year 3 further develops and hones skills 1-5, but it is also where cumulatively 6 comes into its own (see also Independent Study), and where we seek evidence of the successful deployment of skill 6 in the assessment.
The seminars are intended as practice sessions for skills 1-6.
Students translate the skills acquired there collectively into individually assessed essays.
In turn, the essays prepare students for the exam.
As the summative assessment for any given course, the exam tests their ability both to demonstrate and to sustain the same skills in controlled conditions.
C: Practical skills
C1: A vocabulary and a critical terminology for the analysis of literary texts
C2: A capacity for working independently and under guidance
C3: The use of accepted conventions of presenting essays, references and bibliographies, and an ability to challenge these
C4: The utilisation of a knowledge of literary and generic conventions
C5: The use of a critical methodology in written work, employing reasoned argument to appreciate and evaluate a literary text
C6: An effective style or range of styles to convey a range of responses as readers of literary texts
C7: A range of methods to perform a bibliographical search.
Skills 1 and 4 are introduced in lectures and developed through classes (first and second years) and through seminars (third year).
Guidance on skills 2, 3, and 5-7 is given in teaching, in supervision of essays, and in Departmental Handbooks.
The strategy ensures that, having acquired a basic command of them, students exercise these skills in the third year in more specialised modules.
Assessment is by essays and examinations.
Provision is made for students to be assessed on an Independent Study project in the third year.
There is a presentation element to the project which consists of 20% fo the final mark.
Essay questions are designed to test all skills.
Examination questions test skills 1 and 4-6.
D: Key skills
D1: Clear, focused, relevant and effective written expression and oral communication
D2: Use appropriate IT to research and present materials
D3: Management of projects and timetables. Finding, understanding and organising information.
D4: Ability to "read" an argument in seminar discussion; ability to respond effectively; ability to work in a variety of group contexts
D5: Receptivity to feedback in the form of written comments on coursework and oral communications.
The five relevant key skills are implicit throughout the degree, and are supported in their development by seminar work, feedback on essays, and key skills packages.
D1-2, 3-5 are assessed through coursework and dissertations.
D4 is assessed through a particpation mark.