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Unit information: Critical Practice in 2018/19

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Unit name Critical Practice
Unit code ENGL20062
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tamsin Badcoe
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit is designed as an introduction to advanced literary studies. Its aim is to introduce students to undergraduate-level academic discourse and to academic writing as a critical practice. Closely tied lectures and workshops will provide a space in which to think about how to make convincing arguments and how to handle and present evidence and analysis. Students will be encouraged to assess the quality and pertinence of secondary sources and to think about how to use sources responsibly. Students will also be encouraged to engage with the work of other writers and to think about how to incorporate a range of perspectives within their own writing. The unit will introduce scholarly practices such as referencing, editing, redrafting, and using feedback effectively, and, as a whole, aims to support the development of scholarly and intellectual independence.

For students on joint honours or cross-disciplinary programmes taking this as an optional 1/5 unit, the course will also provide the space to reflect on the subject-specific skills practiced by literary critics and how these may complement and/or differ from the skills required by the other disciplines studied.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate both knowledge and understanding of the conventions of academic discourse and academic writing.
  2. apply an understanding of the formal qualities of expository writing to their own practices.
  3. discriminate between and evaluate different critical perspectives and different styles of expository writing.
  4. identify and critically assess the pertinence and quality of evidence and understand how to use evidence effectively when developing a cogent argument;
  5. demonstrate skills in textual analysis, argumentation, and critical interpretation using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources;
  6. contribute to group tasks and discussions and demonstrate good skills in oral presentation.
  7. reflect upon and articulate the opportunities and challenges of working across different disciplines.

Teaching details

1 x one-hour lecture and 1 x two-hour seminar weekly.

Assessment Details

  • One annotated critical bibliography (25%) [ILOs 1-4, 7].
  • One group presentation [duration of 15 minutes; 4 students per group] with handout (25%) [ILOs 1-7].
  • One take-home exam [essay review] (50%) [ILOs 1-5].

Reading and References

  • Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, 3rd edn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)
  • Diané Collinson, Gillian Kirkup, Robin Kyd, and Lynne Slocombe, Plain English (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1992)
  • Mark Gaipa, ‘Breaking Into the Conversation: How Students Can Acquire Authority for Their Writing’, Pedagogy, 4:3 (2004), 419-37

  • Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, 3rd edn (London: W. W. Norton, 2014)
  • Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Longman, 2013)
  • ‘Reading English and Writing Essays: A Student’s Guide’ (Department of English)