Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 280 Location Durham


  • A level English Literature or Literature/Language at nothing less than Grade B.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to ways of reading English novels and various contexts for studying them.
  • To familiarise students with strategies for engaging with fictional texts formally as well as historically, by situating the novels studied in their distinctive cultural environments while also allowing students to understand ways in which novelistic form and technique have changed over time.
  • To provide students with critical tools for investigating how the novel translates into media other than print, including film adaptations and graphic novels.


  • The module covers debates about the history of the novel and its emergence as a distinct genre, alerting students to different ways of understanding its evolutionary trajectory.
  • The module also covers concepts that have come to have special importance for the study of the novel, including concepts of realism, the language of fiction, narrators and narrative, metafiction, and space and place.
  • Students will explore the relationships between the novel and broader social, philosophical, and other developments; to do so, they will be familiarised with a range of critical approaches to the novel, including historical, feminist, narratological, and other approaches.
  • Students will consider how the novel translates into media other than print, by studying particular film adaptations and a graphic novel.
  • Specific texts to be studied will vary from year to year; a typical selection might be Moll Flanders, Sense and Sensibility (Austen's original text plus recent film and TV mini-series adaptations), Jane Eyre, Bleak House, Heart of Darkness, Wide Sargasso Sea, and V for Vendetta.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Expertise in literature from the 18th century to the contemporary period.
  • Knowledge of a substantial number of authors and texts from different periods of literary history.
  • Appreciation of the power of imagination in literary creation.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the distinctive character of texts written in one of the principal literary genres, namely, the novel
  • Knowledge of linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts in which literature is written.
  • Knowledge of useful and precise critical terminology.
  • Awareness of the range and variety of approaches to literary study.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • critical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts
  • an ability to demonstrate knowledge of a range of texts, authors, and critical approaches within this literary genre
  • an informed awareness of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature and an ability to offer cogent analysis of their workings in specific texts relating to this literary genre
  • a sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects on communication of historical circumstances, and to the affective power of language
  • an ability to articulate and substantiate an imaginative response to literature
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to this literary genre
  • skills of effective communication and argument
  • a command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology
  • an awareness of literature as a medium through which values are affirmed and debated
Key Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • a capacity to analyse critically
  • an ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of distinctive interpretative skills derived from the subject
  • a competence in the planning and execution of essays
  • a capacity for independent thought and judgement, and ability to assess the critical ideas of others
  • skills in critical reasoning
  • an ability to handle information and argument in a critical manner
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access information
  • organisation and time-management skills

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

  • Lectures: enable students to gain subject-specific knowledge of cultural, aesthetic and intellectual issues in relation to individual works and authors, an area or period, or a theoretical or language-related topic; encourage students to be aware of the range and variety of approaches to literary study; present ideas and information to encourage, on the part of students, further thought and discussion
  • Tutorials: enable students to explore, in a selective way, through small-group discussion, specific texts and topics (many of which will be addressed by lectures); to focus on selected literary issues and problems; and guide them in developing subject-specific analytical skills and knowledge
  • Formative essays: are written on a text or texts, or a literary topic, and they require the student to demonstrate appropriate subject-specific knowledge and skills, such as the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to literary study. A considerable element of choice of essay topics encourages development in students of their capacity for independent thought and judgement.
  • Essay feedback: encourage students to reflect critically and independently on their work
  • Independent but directed reading in preparation for lectures and tutorials provides opportunity for students to enrich subject-specific knowledge and enhances their ability to develop appropriate subject-specific skills.
  • Examination: tests the student's ability to present subject-specific knowledge, to select appropriate materials, and to construct and manage clear and effective arguments in a timed period; to demonstrate independent thinking, and test that students have achieved stated learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Tutorials 7 1 hour 7
Essay feedback sessions 2 15 minutes 0.5
Preparation and Reading 171.5
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one three-hour written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

2 tutorial essays (c.2000 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