Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Building on the analytical, interpretive, critical and persuasive skills acquired at undergraduate level, this module will introduce students to a range of Victorian poets whilst also exploring the social and cultural context of the period. Students will be introduced to an interdisciplinary approach to these literary texts through the analysis of visual arts. In addition, independent research will be fostered.


  • This module will examine the position of women as both the writers and subjects of Victorian poetry. During this period, women continued to inspire some of the most celebrated poetry and enduring images of the Victorian age whilst also creating their own poetic discourses. We shall explore a range of depictions of women in the poetry of the period, which may include selections from the work of Tennyson, Robert Browning and Coventry Patmore, alongside the paintings of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and other prominent Victorian artists. Women poets who respond to these constructions and generate their own literary commentaries on such issues as femininity, sexuality, the working woman, the writer, and the muse, might include, but are not limited to, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Bronte.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An extensive and detailed knowledge of the literature covered.
  • A sophisticated awareness of the social and cultural contexts of the period as well as the highly involved interrelationship between Victorian poetry and the visual arts.
  • An understanding of the complex and changing debates surrounding gender and the various ways in which these issues are reflected, reinforced and revised in the poetry of both male and female writers.
  • An appreciation of the 'constructedness' of gender through the interdisciplinary study of poetry and the visual arts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • advanced critical skills in the close reading and analysis of literary texts;
  • an ability to demonstrate advanced knowledge of a chosen field of literary studies;
  • an ability to offer advanced analysis of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature;
  • an ability to articulate and substantiate at a high level an imaginative response to literature;
  • an ability to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the cultural, intellectual, socio-political and linguistic contexts of literature;
  • an ability to articulate an advanced knowledge and understanding of conceptual or theoretical literary material;
  • an advanced command of a broad range of vocabulary and critical literary terminology.
Key Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically;
  • an advanced ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in structured and systematic ways;
  • an advanced ability to interpret complex information of diverse kinds through the distinctive skills derived from the subject;
  • expertise in conventions of scholarly presentation and bibliographical skills;
  • an independence of thought and judgement, and ability to assess acutely the critical ideas of others;
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning;
  • an advanced ability to handle information and argument critically;
  • a competence in information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access;
  • professional organisation and time-management skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Through a variety of teaching activities and approaches, seminars will develop communication skills through class debates whilst also encouraging individual interpretation and enquiry. Sessions will introduce specific texts and images for analysis in conjunction with relevant contexts and critical frameworks to aid conceptual understanding. Formative written work and consultation with the module tutor will allow the investigation and testing of ideas and readings. Two summative assignments will assess the competencies and outcomes outlined above, and foster advanced independent study.
  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for presenting their ideas or findings (sometimes electronically) to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Fortnightly 2 18
Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
Preparation and Reading 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 50%
Essay 3000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

A formative essay of 2,000 words or, in consultation with the convenor, a presentation.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University