English Literature and Digital Media and Communications year 1 modules

Compulsory modules 

Media History and Technologies 

This module introduces students to the history of the media, focusing especially on the ways in which technologies for making and distributing meaning have changed over time. It explores the development of technologies such as writing, the printing press, radio, cinema, television, and the internet. It asks how each of these technologies has related to social, political and communicative changes, and asks; what kinds of society do different media technologies allow us to develop and how?

Theories of Communication

For millennia, scholars have asked questions about what communication is and how it works. What does it mean to communicate effectively? What is the relationship between communication and our social lives? How does communication relate to our bodies? Are some ways of communicating better, or more ethical, than others? What differences are there, if any, between human communication and that of other organisms? Can machines communicate? This module addresses such questions, encouraging students to develop their own views, and highlighting the connections between theories of communication and theories of psychology, society, and politics. 

English in the World 

This module encourages students to understand the role of English Literatureas it might be applied in the world. You will be encouraged to explore the ways in which literature teaches us to understand ourselves and others, and our past, present and future, and to recognise how telling stories makes meaning in the world. You will learn the importance of being able to evaluate and rethink these stories, and how reading and rereading literature is important for understanding and making a difference in the world. Lectures and seminars will focus on topics such as ‘Literature and Human Rights’, ‘Literature, Science & the Environment’, ‘Stories of Nations and the World’, ‘Literature, Medicine & Health’, and ‘Literature and an Inclusive Heritage’.


The key aim of the module will be to develop skills in close reading, informed by a sampled knowledge of the historical and geographical varieties of verse written in English. Each week’s work will be structured around a key text, or group of texts, which will form the basis of that week’s lectures; in seminars, these key texts will be related to, or contrasted with, a variety of extension texts, some suggested by the module convenor in the form of ‘flat pack’ teaching plans, and others by the seminar leaders’ own interests and enthusiasms. The key texts will be grouped by three themes, each of which will form the basis of three weeks’ work: Love, Loss and Location, allowing the students to shape arguments about change and variety in English verse around an idea of shared attention to related topics. Detailed attention to and development of the skills in close reading, and the conversations between poems that these enable, will be the chief outcome (and pleasure) of the module; its key technical and historical vocabulary will provided by a critical course book such as John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook, 2nd edn (Oxford, 2005), and its primary texts will be drawn from a commercial anthology.


This module introduces students to a range of styles and stylistic devices that constitute writing in prose. They will explore how a variety of authors across a wide historical and geographical spectrum think about prose as a literary medium distinct from, but interacting with, other forms of writing, such as poetry. Time will be spent analysing how prose works and the different grammatical and rhetorical devices it employs as well as thinking about the modes of writing with which it has become associated (e.g. the novel and short story, essay writing, confessional memoir and prose-poem). Students will be introduced to a diverse field of critical approaches and will practice writing clear and thoughtful sentences and paragraphs of their own in order to develop their academic prose style.

Reading English 

This module supports students’ transition to university, and aims to help you develop basic skills in ways of reading and approaching literature, using the library, research, working with criticism, planning and writing assessments of different kinds (including close reading, essays, posters, presentations), and making the most of lectures and seminars. You will be encouraged to understand the practices and principles of studying English Literature, key disciplinary debates, and the purposes and pleasures of reading. You will also be introduced to the diverse range of literature study at university, and guided in how to approach and work with areas of study that might be new to you, including transnational literature, digital texts and popular fiction.

Discovering Creative Practice 

Discovering Creative Practice will explore how to develop story ideas from scratch. Working both individually and with peers, during the weekly workshops, students will focus on the elements and processes of storytelling – people (creators, characters and consumers), storyworlds (where stories are made, take place and are interacted with), journeys (approaches to narrative, character arc and plot) and forms (scripts, poetry, fiction, creative on-fiction) – using these to discover and reflect on their creative practice.