Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module ENGL43030: Twentieth-Century Satire

Department: English Studies

ENGL43030: Twentieth-Century Satire

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2017/18 Module Cap None.


  • •Students must hold a good BA degree in English or a related subject to be eligible for entry onto the MA in English Literary Studies.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to:
  • examine in depth a range of prose and verse satires written in the first half of the twentieth century, in part through comparison and connections between works of several modern satirists
  • challenge students to consider the cultural, social and political contexts underpinning these prose and verse satires
  • give students an enhanced understanding of the rhetorical techniques employed in satire as a sophisticated literary genre
  • develop analytical, interpretative, critical skills to postgraduate level


  • Texts will be selected from a range of twentieth-century satires, including:
  • Verse satire: Thomas Hardy’s verse sequence “Satires of Circumstance” (1911); Siegfried Sassoon’s anti-war poetry collected in Counter-Attack (1918); T. S. Eliot’s controversial quatrain poems collected in Poems (1920)
  • Prose satire: Aldous Huxley’s dystopian treatment of progress and modernization in Brave New World (1932); George Orwell’s attack on respectable conformism in the age of dictators in Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936); Evelyn Waugh’s satire of Fleet Street war reporting Scoop in (1938)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An extensive and detailed knowledge of the texts covered
  • A sense of the different uses to which the satire was put during the twentieth century
  • An awareness of the rhetorical techniques employed by modern satirists
  • An appreciation of the political and social contexts in which these satirists worked
  • A knowledge of the reception and critical debates surrounding these satires
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • Advanced critical skills in the close reading and analysis of literary and historical texts;
  • 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 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

  • Students are encouraged to develop advanced conceptual abilities and analytical skills as well as the ability to communicate an advanced knowledge and conceptual understanding within seminars; the capacity for advanced independent study is demonstrated through the completion of two assessed pieces of work.
  • 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 hours 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
Summative essay 3,000 words 50%
Summative essay 3,000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of not more than 2,000 words.

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