Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The aims of the module are:
  • To develop students' appreciation of the work of James Joyce, whose writing is widely given huge importance. It will develop in greater detail their undergraduate contact with Joyce's work both by in-depth analysis and by reading that work in its literary, historical and intellectual contexts.
  • To enable students to have a detailed understanding of Joyce's work Ulysses.
  • To promote awareness of the literary, historical and intellectual contexts of Joyce's work.
  • To situate James Joyce in relation to: questions of canonicity; different genres: English and Irish literary traditions and their contexts.
  • To promote knowledge of the history of critical interpretations in James Joyce studies.
  • To provide a platform for possible future research on Joyce.


  • This module will focus on Ulysses but reference will also be made to Joyce's other work, including discussion of Giacomo Joyce and Finnegans Wake. Seminars will be based around discussion of specified chapters of Ulysses each week with reference to particular contextual concerns. In this way, the text of Joyce's great work will remain the cornerstone of discussion and the course will proceed through it sequentially. Typically, the concerns of seminars will include, in relation to Joyce: the historical context in Ireland, c.1880-1930; national literary traditions; genre; the notions of canonicity and the popular; the contemporary idea of an 'ordinary reader', and its correlate 'specialised' reader. Thus 'Scylla and Charybdis' and 'Oxen of the Sun' may be discussed in relation to national literary traditions; Bloom, Stephen and others may be considered as different types of reader. In each case, brief relevant historical, critical and/or theoretical material will be specified reading. For example, in relation to the 'ordinary reader', students may read one or more of the following: Judge Woolsey's 'Decision', a selection from Charles Duff's short book James Joyce and the Plain Reader (1932) and an essay by Jean-Michel Rabate on 'Modernism and the "plain reader's rights"' (2002). The impetus of the course comes from Derrida's suggestion that 'in literature anything can be said' and the idea is to read Joyce's writing - so often taken as 'unreadable' or extreme (if not a dead-end) - against the notion of 'literary limits', understood culturally, generically and/or conceptually.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the course students will have a detailed understanding of Joyce's Ulysses and a secure grasp of a range of his other work.
  • They will be able to relate Joyce's work to its literary, historical and intellectual contexts.
  • They will have grasp of Joyce's complex relationship to questions of genre, canonicity and literary traditions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will refine their skills of argumentation, reasoning, verbal presentation, and close analysis. They will develop their abilities to compare and marshal a variety of complex materials.
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 their knowledge, analytic literary judgment, conceptual reasoning , independent thought and verbal presentation through seminar discussions and non-assessed seminar presentations. These skills will add to their capacity for advanced independent study which will be tested by the completion of two assessed essays.
  • 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 1 3,000 words 50%
Summative essay 2 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