Interdisciplinary Studies Centre

Liberal arts

Mosaic art

Student profiles

Some of our current students tell you about their experiences so far. You can also read our graduate profiles and see what our students have gone on to do after their time at Essex.

Studying at Essex

  • Kristin Aakvik, second year BA Liberal Arts

    Kristin Aakvik “I am an international student from Norway, so the decision to study abroad was a big one. I chose the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre at Essex because of its good reputation, for being one of the best humanities departments in the country and providing degree courses like no other. I could not be happier to have made the decision to come here, as it is a great University, with so many exciting opportunities, experiences and outstanding educational facilities.

    “What is so good about liberal arts is that you only have one compulsory module each year and the rest is up to you. This gives you the opportunity to build up your degree to how it would suit your particular future career, or if you are not quite sure yet what you want to do, you can prepare yourself for anything and everything. It is the perfect course to study no matter what you think about the future. You can choose from hundreds of different modules from the fields of sociology, film, literature, art theory and history, linguistics, history, languages, politics, psychology, health studies, psychoanalytic studies, mathematical sciences, among others.

    “Throughout my time here so far, I have studied politics, history, sociology, film, literature and Spanish language. This has given me such a broad degree which I am very happy with, as it provides me with a lot of prospects for my career and further studies. My favourite module taken so far at the University has been the second year compulsory module; CS201 The World in Question, where you study three sections; the empire, the self and the environment. It is a great module. It stands out from all others, it is very in-depth, interesting and you learn so much. It picks on every possible topic that you could study.

    “I would recommend the Liberal Arts program to those who are interested in a future with plenty of possibilities. Coming to this University is one of the best decisions you will ever make. You will meet so many great people, inspirational teachers, lecturers and course mates. Essex also has a very active and social students' union, with lots of opportunities for sports and other activities through societies, such as political interests, hobbies, and so on. The campus has a nice environment, surrounded by nature and the lovely town of Colchester is very close. You will love it here.”

  • Jennifer Harrison, second year BA Liberal Arts

    Jennifer Harrison “I chose to study at Essex because I was impressed by the campus environment and facilities on offer. I also thought that Colchester was a beautiful town, which has everything you need, only a short bus ride away. The most important factor, however, was the uniqueness of the liberal arts course which enables me to tailor its structure to suit my own interests. I was surprised at being able to develop my German language skills alongside contemporary sociology modules.

    “I believe the diverse range of modules on offer will prepare me well for my future career. Although I am still undecided as to what I want to do, I know that I am gaining the skills and experiences that will enhance my adaptability. As I continue to construct my course, I feel well equipped to access a wide range of career paths.

    “Living on campus, and making so many new friends, is enriching my knowledge about the world in a way I didn’t expect. The multicultural environment at Essex definitely makes it a special place to be.”

  • Rachel Simson, third year BA Liberal Arts

    Rachel Simson “Originally I chose Essex because it was the closest institution from where I lived that offered a course on Liberal Arts. However as soon as I went to the open day my mind was set that I wanted to be an Essex student. The grounds were beautiful, the course seemed so interesting and everyone I met was so friendly.

    “It took me about a term to settle in first year, but ever since I have found that I have been growing as a person so much more than I could have imagined. I found new academic interests that helped decide my future career as well as finding a confidence in myself that I never knew I had. I have made some great friends and I have learnt to look at the world in a new light.

    “My department have been fantastic in my three years. Even after I leave Essex I’ll still identify as an ISC student because studying with them has opened up so many paths in my life. The department may be small but it is mighty, we even won the Essex Crown this year. The staff are always friendly and on hand to help, and everyone is recognised as an individual and the staff make time to learn everyone’s names and aspirations, so you really feel like you are a part of something.

    “I have enjoyed practically all of the modules I have taken through Liberal Arts as I had the option to study various, exciting disciplines I hadn’t had the chance to experience before.

    “My favourite module in first year was The Life the Universe and Everything, where I was taught both biology and physics. Both of which have become very useful in aiding my later interest in science fiction.

    “My favourite second year module had to be core module The World in Question. Not only were the classes engaging and the lectures fascinating, but I was taught to look at the world from so many perspectives I learnt a lot about the planet, humanity and myself.

    “My favourite module this year has to be Understanding and Writing Science Fiction. Since starting at Essex I have decided that I want to become a science-fiction writer and this class has been so perfect in teaching me everything I need to know to be prepared for that.

    “I think my creative writing modules this year will be the most useful to my future career as a writer. However, all of the modules I have taken over the three years have found their own way to be useful at some point already. The interdisciplinary core modules have given me a unique perspective of the world that I draw on a lot within my writing.

    “I have been a member of the writing society this year and it has been the most incredible experience. I would urge everyone to join a society if they can because if it is anything like the writing society, I have found a second family in them all. I have also been elected to be media officer and secretary for the society next year which I am especially excited about.

    “My fondest memory of my time at Essex is a tie between Summer Ball last year and spending time with the writing society this year. Academically my fondest memory was the science fiction class I had this term where my lecturer spoke to us about what it is really like to be an author and discussed all the ins and outs of the publishing industry.

    “My top tip for Freshers would be to enjoy the most out every second of your degree. If you get the opportunity to do something, do it! The time passes so fast, you will miss it all when it is over.”

Internships with liberal arts

  • Daniel Ruiz Viejobueno, second year BA Liberal Arts

    Daniel Ruiz Viejobueno “Reading liberal arts has given me the opportunity to acquire a great breadth of knowledge in various academic fields such as philosophy, politics and history. Throughout my first year, I was looking for interesting internship opportunities. Excited by the variety of positions, I enthusiastically filled out six different application forms for intern placements with banks and companies in Luxembourg. Unfortunately, with no success.

    “I focused on improving my CV and rewriting my cover letter. I looked at my first year modules; a lot of them were based on topics of political science and international relations. The more I read about diplomacy and national representations, the more I wanted to experience working at an embassy. I applied to four different embassies of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. One got back to me with an offer: Bangkok. The details were cleared very quickly and my one-month trip to the capital of Thailand was booked within a week.

    “During my time in Bangkok I completed a multitude of tasks including taking part in EU Economic and Commercial Counsellors meetings, assisting the Deputy Head of Mission in preparing a visit of Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign Affairs to the 21st ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, as well as a visit of Luxembourg's Prime Minister to Bangkok and Singapore.

    “I have been able to use and expand my knowledge from my political studies while also working towards proficiency in new topics such as FinTech (financial technology) or Islamic Finance. Overall I found this experience to be highly intellectually stimulating.

    “Aside from my professional endeavours in Thailand I also got the chance to travel around South East Asia with a number of fellow embassy interns, including a weekend trip to the small island of Koh Samet, and a three-day trip to the incredible city of Hong Kong. Both destinations were an amazing discovery and a great balance to my busy work schedule during the week.

    “I worked alongside an incredible and passionate team, learned and developed new and highly useful skills, and created meaningful relationships with new friends both in and out of the embassy. I have really enjoyed my time in Bangkok and urge everyone to keep looking out for interesting opportunities. Don't be afraid to go to a place you've never been before - get out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself.”

What our students say

In this video, our students talk with Course Director Professor Colin Samson about the exciting range of subjects available on our BA Liberal Arts course as well as the benefits of studying abroad.

UG Open Days

Book a place at our undergraduate Open Day. Our department and admissions staff can answer any questions you have, and you can speak to current students about life at Essex while taking a campus tour.

frontrunners placements

Frontrunner students gathered round a table

frontrunners is our original placement scheme that offers students paid work opportunities on campus. You'll get on-placement training and great experience to add to your CV.

Essex Interns

Students walking up stairs

Internships are an excellent way to earn money and develop a stand-out CV. Register with us for information on paid internship opportunities with local, national and even international employers.

Graduate profiles

Leila Bow

Our graduates acquire an exceptionally diverse range of skills during their time at Essex and have entered a wide variety of industries. Their stories demonstrate the versatility of an interdisciplinary qualification.