English Literature BA (Hons) module descriptions

First year | Second year | Third year

First year

Block 1: Approaches to Reading and Writing

This module will equip you with core study skills in critical reading and writing at university level. You will develop your understanding of standard English grammar and sentence construction and knowledge of how terminology can be applied to the description of diverse forms of language and writing techniques. The module will be taught using a variety of literary and non-literary texts and modes, for example, poetry, dramatic monologues, myth and fairy tales, and film. You will put this knowledge into practice in your own writing alongside learning how to organise and reference writing appropriately.

Block 2: Introduction to the Novel

This module is designed to provide you with skills in reading, writing and analysing fiction that you can build on throughout your degree. You will learn to engage with critical texts and different theoretical approaches to literature. The module will get you thinking about how novels work and how, as readers, we can understand the content from different points and perspectives. You will learn to recognise subtle changes in narrative position, how to know when and when not to trust the narrative voice, how to recognise and read of different subgenres, for example Neo-Victorianism, Realism, Romanticism, Modernism and Postmodernism, and how to use literary criticism to help reveal the novel in ways you had not expected or imagined.

Block 3: Introduction to Drama: Shakespeare

The module will introduce you to the playwright, William Shakespeare. It will explore textual production and the performance of plays in the early modern period. It will also examine Shakespeare’s meaning in contemporary culture by considering the continued adaptation of his work in other media forms such as novels or films. You will use examples of Shakespeare in adaptation to discuss key topics such as gender, social justice and (post)colonialism. In doing so, you will explore Shakespeare’s significance to British culture, as well as his global legacy.

OR you can select to study one route from the list below:

Creative Writing route - Writers Salon

Writers always learn from reading. Drawing on the tradition of the literary salon and writers’ salons in the 21st century, this module provides a framework for you to extend your writing skills through an exchange of ideas and collaborative learning. You will reflect on how your reading can inform and improve your own practice as a writer. Areas for consideration may include voice, form and structure, pace and development, genre, language, and the relationship of writer to reader. Reading for craft will be introduced through core readings in poetry and prose and will draw on materials from a range of countries and cultures, including published work from writers of colour and writing in translation. As well as producing new creative work, you will be expected to work individually or collaboratively to host the salon, selecting material, leading discussions, and devising exploratory writing activities

Drama Route - Shifting Stages

On this module you will develop and demonstrate performance skills relevant to chosen theatrical texts. Analysing the structures, both linguistic and narrative, of play texts and performances, you will explore a range of critical and technical perspectives. Through workshops, you will engage in a practical exploration of the module topic through a range of tutor led exercises, consolidating your knowledge through creative practice and working collaboratively with others. 

Education route - Childhood, Social Justice and Education

This module is an introduction to some of the important contemporary debates in Childhood Studies and society. The module will explore and evaluate the construction of childhood, the inequalities which surround childhood, and what it means to be a child in the UK in the 21st century. Drawing on a range of sociological and political conceptualizations of childhood and the many factors that shape our understanding of it, you will critically evaluate key issues impacting on childhood and how these issues are reflected in, or sustained by, or challenged by society. You will be encouraged to contest and interrogate your own thinking and assumptions about children, childhood and society.

English Language route  - Evolving Language

This module is focussed on the history and development of English from its beginnings to the present day and beyond. The module will examine theories about the origins of language, and use English as a case study to show how languages change over time. You will examine the history of English through the close study of texts chosen from the full range of the language's history; including early Celtic languages and Anglo-Saxon. The vexed question of language 'decay' will also be addressed and you will consider the various ways English is evolving in a globalised, IT-saturated world. You will examine differences between varieties of English spoken within the UK and globally and reflect on how such differences impact on communicative interaction.

Film Studies route - Disney, Warner Bros and the Business of the Film Studio

You will develop your understanding of the historic and current operation of major film studios, by reviewing their releases, changing structures over time, and their practices today. You will explore the history of movie studios and the evolving business practices of studios, focusing on the activities of two studios, the Walt Disney Company and Warner-Discovery. You will discover the key activities carried out by studios, including production, distribution, license sales and marketing.

History route – Global Cities

This module examines the role of cities in global history, particularly the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You will gain an understanding of the significance of urbanisation in modern history, and the development of cities as key sites of global trade and exchange of ideas. Topics covered may include sanitation processes and hygiene movements, city planning, migration, the slave trade, colonialism, sport and leisure, religion and the arts. You will be introduced to cultural and social history concepts and engage with different types of history, such as urban history, medical history, environmental history, visual and material history and migration history.

Journalism route - Understanding Journalism

This module introduces you to classic and new theories and practice of journalism, and the role the news media have in explaining and shaping society. You will reflect on the evolutions and the current state of the sector, and develop your understanding of global news debate and the role of journalism in shaping communities. Theories introduced include journalism and its role in society, theories of news production, content, and audience theories, and digital news theories.  You will also dissect current events in order to understand how journalists have covered and responded to activism and social justice issues in the UK and worldwide both in mainstream media and social media.

Media route - Media, Culture and Society

This module considers a range of approaches to the study of media, culture, and society, particularly focusing on the socio-cultural contexts in which contemporary media operate on a domestic and global scale. You will examine the notion of 'culture' as a range of mediatised practices and explore the everyday significance of contemporary cultural and media forms.

Block 4: Poetry and Society

Through this module you will develop your understanding of poetic form and genre and consolidate your close-reading skills by scrutinising a range of poems and poets from different historical periods. You will explore the historical origins and development of specific poetic genres such as epic and pastoral and learn the conceptual tools and technical vocabulary needed for critical analysis of poetry.

Second year

Block 1: Exploration and Innovation: Medieval to Early Modern Literature

This module looks at the birth of English literature, offering an introduction to literature written between the medieval era and the early modern era in England and Europe. Text will be considered in their national, cultural, and historical contexts. You will explore examples of poetry, drama and prose organised around key themes such as power, faith, love and sexuality.

Block 2: Romantic and Victorian Literature

This module introduces you to the exciting and significant range of literature from the Romantic and Victorian periods between 1780 and 1901. You will explore texts by writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen and Byron in relation to the huge social upheavals of the time (including the impact of the French Revolution) and the new and radical ideas about childhood, the rights of man, and of woman, the natural world and the imagination emerging at the time. We then examine how Romantic ideas mutate in the literature of the Victorian period (1837-1901). The primary focus in this part of the course is on the novel, the dominant literary genre of the period, and students study writers like Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Thomas Hardy, and examine the ways in which they represent issues such as class-conflict, urban poverty, faith, national identity and changing gender-roles. Students also look at the changing forms of Victorian poetry and the emergence of a distinctively female poetic tradition during the period.

Block 3: Text Technologies

Literary and historical texts have always come down to us in material forms - from stone and wax tablets inscribed with a chisel or stylus to being held as electron charges within capacitors on computer microchips. This module is concerned with how these material forms function and how they have shaped the writings we read. You will explore three topics: '‘Manuscript, writing up to the year 1500’, ‘Printing, 1440-2000’, and ‘Digital texts, the 20th century and beyond'. You will discover the revolutionary aspects of each of these developments in text technologies and how they transformed writing, its dissemination and consumption. We will consider such questions as how print disrupted and displaced manuscript culture, how the changing economics of textual dissemination affect what gets written and disseminated, and how reading is shaped by the medium in which the writing is embodied.

OR continue with the route selected in the first year:

Creative Writing route - Story Craft

Narrative remains a tremendously powerful tool in all aspects of media, in marketing, advertising, gaming, as well as all aspects of fiction. This module will remind you why, and how, this is so. Main themes may include narrative arcs and structures, characterisation, pace, event, story-world, dialogue, clue-laying, revelation, and concealment, and means of involving the reader. The module will focus on storytelling and prose, looking at story structure, narrative structure, and drive, and how writers compel us to turn the pages. It will consider how the art of storytelling has adapted to its contemporary setting and the relationship between form and content. You will develop your understanding of the importance of showing rather than telling and of the capacity strong image has to carry emotional content.

Drama Route - Theatre Revolutions

You will engage with key moments of transition in theatre practice and develop your understanding of those changes from a range of cultural and historical perspectives. Theatre is an ever-changing form and this module provides you with the opportunity to explore exciting moments of change throughout history such as the shift from melodrama to naturalism or the shift from naturalism to post-dramatic performance. Themes you will explore could include Justice, War and Love.

Education route - Cultural and Technological Transformations in Education

This module explores how technology has impacted education and learning. We will consider key cultural changes, for example, that we now live in the ‘digital age and how technological change has impacted on notions of children’s and young people’s media literacy, e-learning, e-safety and social networking. Many students do not have access to technology and you will consider the inequalities this perpetuates, as well as how technologies can create a more inclusive form of education for neurodiverse students and students with disabilities. You will also consider how technology can create empowering learning opportunities, through gaming, podcasting, wikis and virtual world platforms for all students.

English Language route  - Sociolinguistics

This module develops your awareness of the link between language and society and the issues that may arise from this link. You will explore topics such as the relationship between language and society, how English varies between regions and countries, the debate on Standard English, multilingualism and language choice, attitudes to language use in society, language and gender, language and class/age, language planning and maintenance, linguistic imperialism or a global language, language and societal problems and researching sociolinguistics.

Education route - Preparing for Professional Practice

The educational landscape of the UK is changing rapidly and the range of graduate professional roles on offer is broader than ever before. This module is intended to support students who wish to go into both teaching and non-teaching-based careers. It will equip you to make informed, critical and confident assessments of the opportunities, debates and challenges that are available to you. You will identify your personal strengths, areas for personal and professional development, and opportunities by which this development might be achieved. You will also gain the practical skills and reflect on the development of your professional identity and application of academic knowledge in practical environments. You will attend career guidance sessions throughout the academic year and have the opportunity to undertake a placement.

Film Studies route - Screen Archives - Preservation, Conservation and Usage

In this module you will learn about the management and usage of screen archives. You will discover how to identify, approach and mitigate the threats that time and space pose to the preservation of film and media heritage for future generations, while also identifying and exploring the various purposes for which this archival material is utilised by a range of external stakeholders. The module’s hands-on practical evaluation of historical material will encourage you to consider: what can we find and study in film archives? How do we present these items to the public? Who is an archivist and who a collector? And what, ultimately, are the purposes and uses of an archive’s holdings and how can they best be served? You will benefit form learning in the DMU film archives, where you will observe, evaluate film ephemera and their broad historical and socio-cultural contexts.

History route – Humans and the Natural World

This module will examine how humans have used, adapted, represented, changed and explored the natural world through the sciences and medicine, sport and leisure, industry, religion and visual culture, among others. You will be introduced to a diversity of historical approaches, including the history of science, medicine and technology, environmental history, sport history and visual history.

Journalism route - Beyond News: Peace journalism and Opinion writing 

You will explore innovative and constructive approaches to journalism, such as peace journalism, constructive journalism, and solution journalism, which aim to create opportunities for change through journalism. You will gain an understanding of practical elements of writing an entertaining, interesting and compelling first person opinion column, why these columns are more popular today in magazines and newspapers and write your own columns on your own blog. We will also look at review writing and the journalistic similarities here with opinion writing. You will be encouraged to find an area of popular culture they are interested in and review your experience of it, honing your work, practising techniques and styles, until your writing is up to industry standard.

Media route - Public Relations and Strategic Communications

This module introduces you the concepts and debates that underpin both the practice and the academic discipline of public relations. You will learn about the different strands of public relations, the industry structures and the tools used by practitioners to engage with their audiences. You will develop an understanding of mediated communications and the relationship between practitioners and journalists. The ability to practically utilise new media and technology as part of strategic communications will also form a key strand of the modules learning and teaching strategy.

Block 4: Adaptations of the Classics

What happens when an iconic literary text is adapted from one genre to another, one medium to another, and one cultural platform to another? What are the processes at work in these transformations? This module explores the practice of the textual transformation of both historic and contemporary literary classics. You will examine the term 'adaptation' in its widest cultural context by engaging with a range of adaptive responses to these texts, tracing their transition from authorised works of 'high art' to products that thrive within popular culture. You will also focus on the ideological, political, and cultural contexts of adaptations via debates focusing on their social, cultural, historical, and industrial production contexts. Issues related to gender, sexuality, race, and class are central to this module.

Third year

Year long: Dissertation

You will propose, refine, develop, research and write a dissertation on a topic supervised by a member of the English team. We will support you throughout the year with skills-oriented workshops on devising and planning a project, engaging with scholarship, writing, editing and referencing. This will be complemented by workshops on key theoretical approaches such as structuralism and poststructuralism, Marxism, feminism, ecocriticism, queer theory or critical race theory as well as anti-theory or ‘against theory’ movements.

Block 2: Textual Studies Using Computers

More texts are now stored electronically in the world’s computers than on paper in its libraries. But as well as preserving these texts, the same machines allow us to adapt, recreate, circulate and ask new and sophisticated questions about literature. This module seeks to explore the varied ways in which technology allows us to remediate literary texts. We will look at such topics as: how literary analysis can transform the electronic text and vice versa; how turning literary texts into lists, indexes and concordances throws new light upon them; and how to mash-up literary texts with other sources of knowledge such as geographical, biographical and linguistic data to produce new insights.

Block 3: World Englishes: On the Page and Beyond

This module explores a diverse range of ‘World Englishes’ or English-language literature from across the globe. You will develop your knowledge on the production of English literature in a variety of national, ideological, historical, or social contexts and examine examples both on and off the written page. The module focuses on the legacy of colonisation in anglophone and/or postcolonial nations, and the literature thereof. There is an emphasis on the interactions between text and context, and you will be encouraged to explore a range of concepts such as memory, nationality, class, ethnicity, and gender.

OR continue with the route selected in the first year:

Creative Writing route - Uncreative Writing, Creative Misbehaviour

This module encourages you to rethink the very premise of ‘Creative Writing’ as self-expression. Creative Writing is founded upon notions of ‘original’ composition, and the quest to find a ‘unique’ voice. The ability to generate new writing that expresses creative thought and reflects upon experiences is one of the enduring definitions of what it means to be human. But there is an alternative history of ‘Uncreative Writing’ that challenges these ideas and welcomes kinds of writing practice open to chance procedures, ‘conceptual writing’, ‘found’ and ‘appropriated’ texts, and experiments with artificial constraints. You will learn about the innovations of Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Oulipo, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and Conceptual Writing. You will also explore a range of ideas, attitudes and practices that have been central to visual art, musical composition, mathematics, and Zen. Central to the module is a celebration of the importance of play and experimentation and you will rethink notions of originality, authenticity, authorship, inspiration, and self-expression.

Drama Route - Performance, Identity, and Activism

This module explores the ways in which theatre and performance has been, and can be, used as a vehicle to discuss politics, to emancipate individuals and communities, as a tool for intervention and liberation, or as a means of engagement and communication within society.  Exploring politics of personal identity and social relations, the module enables you to make connections between performance and political activism, using intersectional perspectives – race, gender, sexuality, class, and (dis)ability – to create work that pushes beyond pure entertainment. It also considers ways in which drama, theatre and performance functions as a means of engagement and communication within society.

Education route – Adult Learners and Lifelong Learning

This module explores the differences between adult education and adults in education, including Further and Higher Education and HE in Further Education. It will examine the theoretical and practical distinctions between adults and school-based learners and will provide you with an opportunity to explore possible routes for your degree beyond the primary sector. The growth and expansion of adult education will be discussed within the contemporary political context and the changed and changing FE and HE landscapes and the concept of Lifelong Learning and Employability will be explored in depth.

OR

Education route - Reflection on Practice: Teaching and Learning

You will undertake a placement in a learning environment which could be within schools, arts and community projects, gallery education, post-compulsory education, prisons, early years settings, Scout groups, extra-curricular clubs, hospital schools, as well as alternative educational settings. You will adopt the approach of a reflective practitioner and get involved in the 'process' of critical reflection. In so doing, you will use this as a tool for developing and consolidating your knowledge and understanding of the teaching and learning process.

OR

Education route – Gender and Education

The module examines current debates concerning gender and education. It begins with the historically disadvantaged position of girls and women in education and examines the literature on this subject as it has developed over the past 20 years. The notion of equal opportunities is interrogated and the social construction of gender is problematised and examined. You will also consider recent debates on gender and achievement and the 'problem of boys'.

English Language route  - Language and Identity

This module examines the complex role that language plays in the construction of identities in contemporary society. You will learn about a range of theoretical approaches to the study of language and identity, including performativity and intersectionality. These approaches will be examined in relation to various spoken and written data from domains such as the media, the workplace and online spaces. You will critically evaluate the role that language plays in the construction of identities and in real-world issues such as sexism and racism.

Film Studies route - British Cinema - Creativity, Independents and Interdependence

This module explores British cinema, its cultural specificity and its remarkable creative and cultural diversity within an industry-grounded framework, with a particular focus on the post-studio period since the late 1960s and developments between the 1980s and the present. You will gain an understanding of some of the creative figures, individual producers and production companies, films, cycles, genres and trends which have shaped post-1960s and contemporary British film. You will also discover the structural and cultural challenges faced by the UK film industry and the strategies UK filmmakers and institutions have deployed to bring ‘culturally British’ films to audiences at home and worldwide.

History route – The World on Display

This module explores the complex histories of collecting and displaying. You will examine the relationship between museums and history by looking at the origins of museum objects and the histories that shaped collecting practices. You will examine these which may include public history and heritage sites, the impact of colonialism and decolonisation processes in the formation of museums, as well as the effects of the emergence of academic disciplines such as archaeology and anthropology in the shaping of collecting and displaying practices.

Journalism route - Music, Film & Entertainment Journalism

This module will develop your understanding of music, film and entertainment journalism, its history and its cultural importance. It is a practical module designed to prepare you for a career as a journalists, PR or promoter. You will produce a varied multi-media journalism portfolio showcasing your ability to preview events and write reviews of gigs/albums/films/theatre/TV/comedy and other arts forms to industry standard on various media platforms, including digital, print and social media. The curriculum will include guest speakers, including musicians, directors, and working music, film, and arts journalists, to enhance the learning experience. Supported where possible with trips to relevant music venues, theatres, to speak to staff about media management and how their venues are reported by the media.

Media route – Gender and TV Fictions

What have women/those who identify as women contributed to the production of television drama and sitcom? How have women been represented within these genres in terms of their gender, class, sexuality, race and age? These are key questions which this module addresses by exploring British feminine-gendered fiction from the 1960s to the contemporary period. Taking an historical approach, this module contextualises key shifts to women’s positioning on both sides of the television screen in relation to broader cultural, economic, social and industrial change. You will feminine forms of British television fictions’ negotiations and responses to feminism, postfeminism, neoliberalism, postcolonialism and broadcasting policy. 

Block 4: Modernism and Magazines

You will examine the origins of Anglo-American modernism by considering a selection of key authors, critically analysing how they responded to modernity. You will also consider where modernism was first published, that is, in the pages of the modernist 'little magazine'. This module encourages you to interrogate the relationship between modernism and wider culture through study of a range of modernist texts and magazines.