This module aims to introduce students to a selected number of texts ranging from Shakespeare to the contemporary period. Students who complete the module successfully will gain a broad overview of some of the major movements in literature written in English over the last half millennium. The historical context of the texts will also be considered, as well the individual concerns of each writer. Texts will be as representative as possible and will include drama, poetry and prose fiction. Some major works will be studied in detail, giving students a chance to deepen their approach to literature by describing, analysing and reflecting on the work in question. This will be done both in class during discussions and close readings, and at length in their written assignments. An important aspect of the module lies in the vocabulary used to discuss and describe literature, and students will be encouraged to become familiar with using key terms accurately and appropriately in their work.


1. To encourage students to develop interest and enjoyment in literary studies
2. To develop students' understanding of works in different genres, from different periods
3. To provide students with the opportunity to explore the relationship between literary form and expression
4. To enable students to think about the importance of the historical, literary and philosophical contexts of the text
5. To encourage students to express their responses effectively and with appropriate terminology

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be expected to be able to:

1. Communicate clearly the knowledge, understanding and insight appropriate to literary study, using appropriate terminology and accurate and coherent written or oral expression.
2. Evaluate the significance of cultural, historical and other contextual influences on literary texts being studied.
3. Show detailed understanding of the ways in which writers' choice of form, structure and language shape meanings.
4. Engage fully with the study of literature through the taking of lecture notes, participation in class discussion and the undertaking of independent study.
5. Analyse assignment questions, and research and construct a response using appropriate terminology, and in suitably academic register.
6. Analyse exam questions and formulate an appropriate response using appropriate terminology, and in suitably academic register.
7. Articulate independent opinions and judgements on the texts being studied in order to present information to a wider audience.
8. Reference all reading sources correctly, and to construct an accompanying bibliography.


Autumn term
Vocabulary of Drama
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night or The Tempest
Shaw’s Pygmalion
Vocabulary of Poetry
Introduction to Romanticism: Burns, Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Wordsworth
World War I poetry: Owen, Rosenberg, Sassoon, Thomas
Comparisons with Modern Poetry: Heaney, Hughes, Larkin, Plath

Spring term
Vocabulary of Prose Fiction
Background to the Novel
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Modern and contemporary short stories: Angela Carter, Raymond Carver, Roald Dahl, Alasdair Gray, Kazuo Ishiguro, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield
Contemporary poetry: Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Kathleen Jamie, Paul Muldoon, Daljit Nagra, Alice Oswald
Performance Poetry: Patience Agbabi, John Cooper Clarke, Luke Wright, Benjamin Zephaniah

Summer term
Revision and exam preparation