Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Grade A or above at A level in a foreign European language, or equivalent qualification.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian Language 1B (ITAL1102) OR Italian Language 1A (ITAL1071). Others: See Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To offer students the opportunity to examine essential aspects and themes of Italian cultural legacy in the areas of literary culture and theory.
  • To offer students a bird’s eye view of the variety of Italian texts and approaches to them, and to help them appropriate the necessary terminology and skills to deal with them effectively and engagingly.
  • To help students recognise the importance of the codification of literary expression and the role it plays in the wider Italian society.
  • To have students engage with their topics through a variety of critical approaches and appreciate the uniqueness of certain specific traits of Italian literary culture.
  • To encourage students to acquire critical modes of enquiry that may be successfully redeployed in a variety of contexts.
  • To let students experience initial contacts with the topics and disciplines they shall be dealing with in the following years.


  • This module, which is taught and assessed in English, is open to students taking Italian Language 1A or 1B. It offers an introduction to the study of Italian culture, from the Middle Ages to the present, through the techniques of literary and cultural analysis. Throughout the module Italian culture is seen in global perspective and students are invited to think transnationally about the literary and cultural phenomena that they examine. The module will introduce First-Year students to some of the most important texts within global Italian culture and areas covered will include the analysis of traditional forms of literature (narrative prose, lyric poetry and theatre) with reference to other forms of cultural expression such as painting, photography and film. The works studied range from the masterpieces of the medieval (Dante and Boccaccio) and early modern tradition to 20th and 21st-century literary and cultural production. By the end of the module students will have received a firm grounding in transnational Italian literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period and will be able to engage critically with a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to analysis. This module has been designed to reflect a commitment to diversity in its resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To gain familiarity with the position and significance of literary culture in Italy.
  • To acquire familiarity with basic notions of literary history and literary theories.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To become aware of the importance of codification and conventions in literary production.
  • To identify, define and carry out a critical appreciation of literary texts.
  • To acquire the basic skills that allow access to information about the literary world of Italy.
  • To acquire awareness of such notions as originality, significance and rigour in the field of literary studies.
  • To allow students to orientate themselves in the literary panorama of past and contemporary Italy.
  • To get students acquainted with Italian cultural geography.
  • To encourage students to examine the relations between literary output and readership.
Key Skills:
  • To be able to select and evaluate primary and secondary sources.
  • To work independently in order to complete to a deadline a project providing an interpretation or a solution of questions and problems posed by the module topics and in-class discussions.

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

  • The module is taught by means of a weekly lecture and fortnightly seminars.
  • Students will be required to attend all lectures and seminars and are expected to prepare themselves for classes
  • Students will be encouraged to participate in class discussion, to contribute with seminar presentations and to work in close relationship with their peers.
  • The summative essay will enable students to demonstrate and develop their knowledge of the subject as well as that of particular set texts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2000 word 100% Yes
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2000 words 100% Yes

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