Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap 20


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an advanced study of a single poetic genre, drawing on critical and theoretical procedures appropriate to the level of which it is designed. It will build on the knowledge of literary history and the analytical skills acquired by students at undergraduate level, gradually extending the scope of historical enquiry and intensifying the critical process. The module will consider the ways in which classical elegiac conventions have been adopted and modified by British, Irish and American poets, including Milton, Shelley, Tennyson, Hardy, Yeats, Heaney, Lowell and Plath.


  • The module will open with John Milton's 'Lycidas', generally acknowledged as the first great English (and Christian) elegy, and it will proceed in subsequent weeks to the study of other well-established canonical texts, including Shelley's 'Adonais' and Tennyson's 'In Memoriam'. Developments in elegiac writing in the twentieth century will be well represented by Thomas Hardy's 'Poems of 1912-13' and Poems by W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Douglas Dunn and Tony Harrison. Studies of modern Irish elegies by W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney will provide an opportunity for students to think about the shaping pressures of political conflict on poetic composition, while the exploration of elegies by Walt Whitman, Edward Arlington Robinson, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Amy Clampitt will lead to further discussion about language, identity and nationality in elegiac writing. The module content will also include extensive reference to relevant critical works, such as Peter Sacks' The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats and Jahan Ramazani's Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should have a comprehensive knowledge of the origins and development of elegiac poetry in English, a sophisticated critical awareness of current theoretical debates about poetic inspiration and poetic consolation, and an ability to speak and write persuasively about specific literary works and their generic conventions.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

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

  • Intensive seminar teaching is intended to promote high standards of intellectual enquiry and critical debate, based on extensive reading of primary and secondary texts. Assessment in the form of written assignments is designed to encourage and measure the quality and extent of independent judgement and argument.
  • 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
One summative essay 3,000 words 50%
One summative essay 3,000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One essay, 2000 words max.

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