Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ENGL53630: Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance Epic

Department: English Studies

ENGL53630: Narrative Transformations: Medieval Romance to Renaissance Epic

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap 10


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to introduce students (through a selection of texts) to varied forms and practices of fiction from Antiquity to the Renaissance;
  • to explore the processes whereby some of the great story-matters of the Western Tradition have been transformed over the centuries;
  • to provide bases for possible future research in Medieval or Renaissance literature.


  • This will be drawn from a range of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance writers normally including Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, Gower, Malory, Spenser and Shakespeare.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • to engage critically with a wide range of texts from different periods;
  • to have an enhanced understanding of the development of literary genres, particularly epic and romance;
  • to reflect on the interplay between various genres, particularly epic and romance, history and legend.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • advanced skills of argumentation, reasoning, verbal presentation, and close analysis;
  • ability to compare and marshal a variety of complex scholarly and literary-critical materials;
  • ability to analyse both the mechanics and the implementations of narrative transformations.
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically;
  • an advanced ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in structured and systematic ways;
  • an advanced ability in the writing of critical essays
  • 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 facilitate the development of communication and critical skills. Sessions will introduce broad topics and genres, contexts and frameworks to aid conceptual understanding and specific texts for analysis as well as encourage individual interpretation and enquiry. 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 2hrs 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 40%
Essay 3000 words 60%

Formative Assessment:

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