Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Spanish)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Spanish Language 2A (SPAN2011) OR Spanish Language 2B (SPAN2111) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Spanish Language 4 (SPAN3011) or Spanish Language 4 following Year Abroad (SPAN3121). Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module offers an in-depth analysis of the cultural production of early modern Spain and particularly focuses on Miguel de Cervantes, Spain’s most celebrated writer;
  • It aims to provide a detailed understanding of the currents of containment and subversion which characterise literary output in Golden Age Spain as well as the socio-cultural and political context in which this literature was produced;
  • It aims to appraise Cervantes as a writer working against the grain of contemporary narrative and dramatic conventions and, more significantly, against the ideological infrastructure of seventeenth-century Spain;
  • It aims to assess issues of identity (individual, collective and national) as represented by Cervantes within the context of current criticism which argues against a ‘homogenous’ early modern Spain;
  • It aims to explore issues of and theories of reception: it will position Cervantes within his own time and place to determine the implications of his challenging of dominant ideology for a contemporary readership/audience.


  • The texts will focus on Cervantes’s prose and drama and will lay emphasis on those texts (especially the Ocho comedias) traditionally excluded from scholarly analysis of the Cervantine canon;
  • These texts will be complemented by a selection of critical readings on the author, early modern Spain (which will include socio-cultural, historical and political perspectives) as well as engage with appropriate current critical trends in Golden Age studies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the socio-cultural, historical and political landscape of Golden-Age Spain
  • Demonstrate sound understanding of Cervantes as author and dramatist
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Make a discerning response to representative texts of the period and relate these to their cultural context
  • Argue at length and in detail about an aspect of the topic, supporting the argument with evidence from the text with opinions from secondary literature
  • Assess and evaluate critically secondary reading material and other relevant resources
  • Develop skills in close textual reading
Key Skills:
  • Undertake independent research
  • Construct critical arguments and develop analytical skills
  • Demonstrate ability to combine a variety of IT skills in researching and reporting on a topic (Word, PowerPoint, Internet etc.)

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

  • Weekly lectures will deliver key content
  • Fortnightly seminars with smaller groups will allow for individual presentations and active discussions

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 Hour 21
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 1 2,500 words 100% No
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 2 2,500 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

In seminar classes students are expected to contribute actively to class discussions and engage with exercises based on set questions and reading materials. As formative preparation for the summative assignments, students have the opportunity to present a short piece of their own guided research on certain aspects of the primary materials.

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