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Unit information: Understanding Critical Theory and Thought in 2020/21

Unit name Understanding Critical Theory and Thought
Unit code ENGL10056
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Gournet
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts



Building on the work undertaken in 'Introduction to Critical Theory and Thought', this unit will offer an introduction to a broad range of critical thinkers and theorists, and to creative writers thinking reflectively about their work. Students will be asked to consider the relevance of these materials to a range of primary texts and to the development of their own critical voice. There will be opportunities to compare and contrast a variety of approaches to literature, and to consider the relationship between critical or reflective thought and creative writing.


This unit aims to build on the work of 'Introduction to Critical Theory and Thought', encouraging students to consider a variety of approaches to literature - in part through engagement with a range of critical thinkers and theorists. The unit will focus these discussions on four or five literary texts, which will be read from a variety of perspectives; a range of shorter critical texts and essays will also be introduced. Students will be encouraged to develop and/or to reflect on their own critical voice

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Explain the ideas of a range of critical perspectives and discourses
  2. Apply these ideas to a range of primary materials.
  3. Enhance their own critical voice.

Teaching details

The unit will be delivered through a combination of Synchronous and asynchronous teaching per week for 10 weeks; each of which will utilise a range of teaching methods including lectures by the tutor(s), formal and informal presentations by students, small group discussion supported by practical activities and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

1 x presentation (33%) [ILOs 1-2]

1 x 3000-word essay (67%) [ILOs 1-3]

Reading and References

  • Bennett and Royle, Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th edition.
  • Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to cultural and Literary 'Theory 4th edition
  • Fred Rush, The Cambridge 'Companion or' Critical Theory