Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

English and Comparative Literature

Wall of colourful books

Study with us

Undergraduate courses

Undergraduate courses

Our undergraduate courses cover a full range of English and world literature, from Milton and Shakespeare to romanticism, modernism and myth, and include opportunities to explore the literature of the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.

We offer a distinctively comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the study of English and world literature. Our teaching draws on our internationally recognised expertise across a range of research specialisms, from Early Modern literature, including Shakespeare, to Romanticism and Modernism, as well as European, American, and Caribbean literature.

Our undergraduate courses explore a full range of literature - novels, poetry, and plays - as well as critical approaches to them. We offer joint degrees including English with a particular focus on US literature, as well as the chance to combine literature with creative writing, drama and film studies, among many other subjects.

At postgraduate level, our Masters courses offer an intensive and in-depth focus on literature through a range of specialist modules, including the history of the novel, African American literature, myth and the unconscious, as well as environmental writing and psychogeography. We have a large and active community of doctoral researchers and welcome applications for PhD study.

Why literature at Essex?

Learn from leading names in literature

You will be taught by leading academic literature specialists with a wide range of expertise:

  • Literature research expertise

    • Professor Sanja Bahun - Modernism, comparative and world literature, psychoanalysis, women’s and gender studies, the arts and transitional justice
    • Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli - Caribbean literatures, art and cinema, border studies, contemporary poetry, Derek Walcott, postcolonial studies
    • Professor John Gillies - Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, the cultural poetics of space and place
    • Dr Patricia Gillies - theoretical approaches to early modern literature
    • Annecy Lax
    • Professor Karin Littau - film adaptation, intermediality, comparative literature, translation studies, silent cinema, history of reading
    • Dr Roger Moss - self-reflexive fiction, rhetoric, Modernism, turn-of-the-century and modernist representations of the “homosexual”
    • Dr Susan Oliver - Romantic period, Scottish literature, transatlantic literature, nature writing and ecocriticism
    • Dr Jak Peake - Caribbean literature, African American literature, black British writing, postcolonial and colonial writing, ecocriticism
    • Dr Owen Robinson - literature and culture of the American south, contemporary US literature, cultural geography
    • Dr Jordan Savage - US literature, particularly modern and contemporary poetry
    • Dr Deirdre Serjeantson - Early Modern literature, Petrarchism, Irish and Scottish writing in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, manuscript studies
    Interdisciplinary expertise

    We also offer a range of interdisciplinary research expertise across drama and theatre studies, film studies, journalism and creative writing.

Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott was Essex Professor of Poetry from 2010 to 2013, and made annual visits to the department to give special masterclasses and direct performances of his plays at the University's Lakeside Theatre.

Your study environment

Throughout the year we hold weekly research seminars and film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre, as well as hosting conferences and symposia, allowing you to expand your horizons beyond what you study on your course.

We regularly invite writers to give talks as part of our Writers at Essex series and our University’s Lakeside Theatre runs an exciting programme of plays as well as providing opportunities for students to get involved through our Student Company and Research Laboratory.

Life after graduation

We have an excellent student support system to offer advice and guidance during your studies, and to prepare you for success after graduation.

Our University's Employability and Careers Centre can also provide support to make sure you have the skills employers are looking for.

Masters courses

Master courses

Our masters courses offer in-depth study of a range of literature specialisms including modernism, the novel, myth and fairytale, as well as United States and Caribbean literature, and are an excellent preparation for PhD study.

PhD study

PhD study

By undertaking PhD study in literature at Essex, you will become part of an active research community and benefit from the expert supervision of our internationally recognised staff.

Research excellence

Research excellence

Three-quarters of our research is rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014). We do both creative and critical work across genres and media forms using a distinctly comparative approach.

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).