Year One Modules

Compulsory Modules 


The key aim of this 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. 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 students to shape arguments about change and variety in English verse. 


This module aims to provide an introductory exploration of prose as a medium of art and thought. Through encounters with specimens of prose from across recent history, students will be brought into contact with the ways in which prose writing has been theorised and understood. They will learn different critical approaches to prose and become practiced in conceiving and producing academic prose of their own. The module’s ten weeks are divided into a number of sections, each of which focusses on one of the core texts. Within the sections, each week focuses on a different critical theme, inviting students to familiarise themselves with a range of different ways of reading and writing about literature. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with a spectrum of critical theory, as well as the specific works in question; they will have encountered prose through various lenses such as history and biography, gender and sexuality, race and politics.

Plays and Performance

The primary aim of this module is to explore plays both as pieces of prose and verse and as the basis for performance. The module will equip students with the analytical, critical and technical skills necessary, both to analyse plays as literary texts and to evaluate performances as theatrical productions of these works. Students will be encouraged furthermore to consider the process of reception and adaptation, whereby plays are refashioned into cinematic or other media. The module is structured chronologically. It analyses a group of key texts with close reference to genre and mode (comedy, tragedy, the absurd and so on); it examines staging and performance history and the reception of plays by later writers and filmmakers. These themes will enable students to reflect on the significance and the shaping effects of genre, mode and place on the style and structure of dramatic texts and to consider the effects of media (and re-mediation) on the meaning and significance of individual plays.

Discovering Shakespeare

This module introduces students to the legacy and role of Shakespeare in twentieth and twenty-first century culture. It is divided into four main study blocks, focused on Shakespeare in the theatre and Shakespeare in education, Shakespeare in society and Shakespeare in heritage culture. Students will explore a number of Shakespeare’s plays as they have been and are used and interpreted within these contexts. The module includes opportunities for formative presentation and involves two study days at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.

Reading English

This module supports students’ transition to university and helps them to 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. Students will be encouraged to understand the practices and principles of studying English literature, key disciplinary debates and the purposes and pleasures of reading.

English in the World

Students will be encouraged to understand 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. They will learn the importance of being able to evaluate and re-think these stories and how reading and re-reading 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 and the Environment’, ‘Telling Stories: Communities, Nations and the World’, ‘Literature, Medicine and Health’, ‘Everything to Everybody: Literature and Inclusive Heritage’ and ‘Reading Social Media’.

Optional Modules 

Language for Literature or Theory for English Literature