What you'll study
The course consists of 120 credits per year. Most modules are 20 credits, meaning you’ll study six modules each year. Some longer modules, such as a dissertation, are worth more (e.g. 40 credits). In these cases, you’ll study fewer modules - but the number of credits will always add up to 120.
First year modules
In this introductory module you will focus on the key skills needed at the start of your University studies in English Literature and English Language (such as finding and using library resources, referencing and writing a bibliography, presenting, and essay writing skills) to help you transition from your pre-university studies to the work that you will do at university. You'll learn how to collaborate with your peers in practical skills workshops and start building up an academic support network. Your tutors will monitor your individual progress by means of an e-portfolio.
Young Worlds: Literature of Childhood
An introduction to the ways in which authors, artists and film-makers have represented childhood in diverse cultures from the mid-nineteenth to the twenty-first century. You will consider how the assumed innocence of childhood has been both idealized and challenged over time, and what the child’s perspective on adult life has contributed to our understanding of social attitudes to childhood. Themes range from Alice’s bewilderment at the seeming madness of adult institutions in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to the mother’s creative attempts to entertain her young son held in captivity in Emma Donoghue’s recent novel Room.
Poetry, Past and Present
Discover English-language poetry from across the globe – poetry that crosses continents and cultural perspectives and gives voice to the complexities of gender and sexuality. You will explore the power of poetry to express some of the most significant global issues of recent decades. You will learn about the key poetic concepts of metre and rhyme and about different verse forms, including sonnets, songs, and ballads. Reading a range of poems from past to present will help you to arrive at a fuller understanding of how different verse forms have developed over time, and in response to social and political challenges.
The Power of the Word: Stylistics
Analyse the language techniques used by inspirational writers and public figures in their fights against racism and sexism. The module will focus on how we can analyse fiction and non-fiction to uncover the distinctive styles of inspired wordsmiths, of different genres of writing and speaking, and how powerful effects give meaning to the texts that inspire us.
Drama, Conflict and Identity
Study landmark plays, ancient Greek to contemporary British, which highlight enduring issues of identity and human conflict. You will develop the critical skills, technical vocabulary, and knowledge of staging practices needed to analyse plays as text and performance, and will discover that drama is a malleable form where direction, performance and changing audiences can open up very different interpretations.
Reading the World: Intercultural Encounters
This module introduces you to writing which crosses international borders and cultural boundaries. Focussing principally upon novels and short stories published in English between 1818 and 2018, you will examine a series of intertextual encounters between writers variously engaged in the exploration of fundamental and enduring questions relating to individual and cultural identity.
Second year modules
In Year 2 you will be encouraged to expand and deepen your knowledge of literature chronologically and thematically. You take a total of six modules.
Crime and Transgression
‘Crime and Transgression’ is a key departmental strand. Societies, cultures and communities often construct themselves around what they define as ‘criminal’ or ‘transgressive’. Exploring a range of texts – fiction, non-fiction, creative writing and linguistic – you will be encouraged to question how societies and cultures enforce discipline upon ‘transgressive’ individuals and groups: what is a ‘crime’ and who effectively gets punished? You will also explore how societies respond to those who transgress against heteronormative relationships or those whose gender identities put them beyond their societies’ very narrow definitions. Finally, you will question who goes to jail and why, and encounter lived experiences of imprisonment and other forms of punishment.
All the World’s a Stage
Rather than studying Shakespeare in isolation, this module returns him to the vibrant theatrical and cultural surroundings of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century London, where we encounter him as one of many inventive and influential playwrights of the time. You will be introduced to ground-breaking plays in key genres (tragedies and comedies) and sub-genres (such as revenge drama and city comedy) which flourished in the purpose-built commercial playhouses. This module explores the drama’s extraordinary legacy: a rich trove of plays of exceptional emotional reach, eloquence, invention, and imaginative daring. Provocative, moving and evocative—these plays form part of a golden age of English theatre.
Secrets, Scandals and Rebellions
Explore the nature of secrecy, scandals and rebellions, from the nineteenth century onwards, via close study of focal texts, including Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights. You'll then considers ways in which aspects of these controversies are still live issues reflected in real-world scenarios. You begin by working on a literary text of your own choice, and then collaborate with other students on a written submission in the style of investigative journalism, linking a fictitious scandal of the past with something you identify as a continuing controversy today.
Writing the Environment
This module showcases the power of language, literature, and the creative word to shape and shift attitudes towards our planet and its future survival. It will encourage you to explore eco-writing and environmentalist discourse responding to three of today’s urgent environmental challenges: pollution, the climate crisis, and sustainability. Writers studied will include British and American poets and novelists, indigenous Native American poets, and climate activists.
Travel, Cultural Encounters and Conflict
Take the notion of travel in its broadest sense to explore the experience of individuals and groups who come into contact with each other. This module's approach is interdisciplinary and it starts in the eighteenth century with an exploration of Turkish painting alongside French and British Orientalist art. You will consider representations of countries such as Ireland in the Famine years, Egypt at the end of the nineteenth century, Italian prisoner of war camps in the Second World War, accounts of the Rwandan genocide, and Afghanistan at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Study exciting dystopian fiction from the past and right up to the present day. As well as reading and responding to a range of texts (including Young Adult literature), you will have creative opportunities to build and explore new worlds, implementing your own survival strategies. The assessments include academic and creative options, giving you a range of opportunities to excel.
Love, Desire, Death
Trace the development of representations of love, desire and death in English poetry and drama over the course of almost three hundred and fifty years, from the early 1300s to the 1660s. Following on from ‘All the World’s a Stage’ in trimester one, this module will encourage you to deepen your engagement with familiar writers like Shakespeare and Marlowe, but will also introduce you to important Medieval writers, like Chaucer and Petrarch, and to key Renaissance poets like Sidney, Spenser, Donne and Milton, through the specific lens of their treatment of love, desire and death.
Making It New
Explore experimentation, radicalism and innovation in literature. Many writers of the 20th century rebelled against previous ways of writing, thinking these methods were no longer relevant to a rapidly changing world. You will have the chance to study a range of exciting, ground-breaking texts from the early 1900s to the 1990s.
Final year modules
Our Year 3 modules are designed to allow you to explore particular topics and genres in greater depth. These modules often develop from the research interests of individual members of staff. You will write a Research Project, on a topic chosen by you, with the support and guidance of your supervisor. On top of the Research Project, you choose a further 4 modules.
Research Project (40 Credits)
This module supports you in the design and completion of a final-year independent or collaborative research project. Develop your intellectual autonomy and produce a distinctive and dynamic project which reflects your growing expertise as a researcher in any field of English Studies.
Unruly Subjects: Voices from the Margins
Study writing which was regarded with suspicion by the authorities and incorporates marginal figures, such as prostitutes, the poor, rebels, same-sex lovers, cross-dressers, witches, female adventurers. Our subject is unruliness: how it was defined, represented, attacked and, on occasion, celebrated in writing from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. You will also be introduced to related works of non-fiction to enrich your understanding of the wider cultural and historical context. What you encounter will surprise you and challenge you to re-think what you thought you knew about the past – and the present.
You will explore a number of key themes within the ever-developing global field of crime fiction, involving literary and non-fiction texts, film and television, and the lived experience of crime. Engaging with a key genre within popular culture, you will analyse contemporary society via a number of prismatic themes, or re-framings of the ‘crime scene’: crime and its (social) environment; the status of the murdered body; the mind of the psychopath; crime fiction’s early engagement with LGBTQ+ issues, and with racial discrimination and oppression.
Voyage Out: Navigating the Language and Literature of the Sea
An introduction to sea narratives from the eighteenth century to the present day. You will engage with a range of fictional and non-fictional representations of seafaring and maritime adventure, and diverse perspectives on the individual’s negotiation of the threshold between land and sea.
Writing Britain Now
Read and respond to texts written during the 21st century such as novels, short stories and plays that focus on topical issues such as Brexit, immigration, racial inequality, climate change, and terrorism. You will engage in lively discussion about a wide array of issues that affect our daily lives. You will also have an opportunity to reflect on the different perspectives diverse contemporary writers brings to the concerns of our time.
An intensive study of Shakespeare plays from an intercultural perspective. You will examine four Shakespearean texts that dramatise or examine an intercultural encounter, and consider how these plays have been appropriated by and adapted in other cultures and by those intent on challenging dominant cultural norms. The module will be of particular interest to students who want to acquire a detailed understanding and knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays, particularly in relation to debates regarding race, colonialism, gender and sexuality, and cultural appropriation. There will be an opportunity, wherever possible, for you to attend a live performance or screening of one of the set plays, plus scheduled film screenings.
Explore the Gothic as a literary genre and cultural mode from its origins in the late eighteenth century to its contemporary international manifestations. Gothic responds to the dominant culture of its time and represents an important mode of articulation for socially, politically, sexually marginalized groups. It responds to and negotiates racial, religious, gender and political issues and demonstrates an ongoing capacity to register the tensions that lie behind the surface of culture and identity. You will gain a thorough knowledge of the genre and its themes on this module, and will produce a Gothic case study.
Written on the Body
Feminist and gender criticism and theory are going through major developments in contemporary culture. At the same time, new and traditional gender identities, sexual orientation and intersectional, blended identities as well as intersectional discrimination (discriminating specific intersectional groups, such as black working-class women) are raised and analysed in literary texts. This module will allow you to take account of the newest developments in its critical engagement with feminism and gender in relation to a range of contemporary texts.
All modules are subject to availability and this list may change at any time.