Skip to main content

Unit information: Critical Issues in 2017/18

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Critical Issues
Unit code ENGL10017
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. James
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The aim of this unit is to build a bridge to University study by training students to respond to literary texts in more flexible, sophisticated and open-minded ways and to expand and cross-question their current literary critical practices and preconceptions. In the process, they will be introduced to some of the major theoretical and critical preoccupations informing degree-level English studies. The weekly seminar discussions will be grounded in the analysis of designated literary works, drawn from a diverse range. These works will be considered in the light of specific weekly topics, informed by further reading, so that students will examine the potential usefulness of discussing literature in the context of ideas derived from, for example, narratology, feminism and postcolonialism. Students are encouraged to develop and defend textual responses and lines of critical reading through discussion and clear, effective communication in seminars. While the unit is free-standing and has its own intrinsic rationale, the approaches it introduces will provide an important foundation for English students throughout their degree studies.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a diverse range of literary texts;

2. apply an understanding of critical and theoretical reading to specific issues articulated in the designated literary texts;

3. discriminate between different critical perspectives on the literature studied;

4. identify and present pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument;

5. demonstrate skills in textual analysis, argumentation, and critical interpretation, using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 1,500 word essay (33%) [ILOs 1, 4, 5]
  • 1 x 2,500 word essay (67%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Text book:

Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th edn (Routledge, 2016)

Indicative texts:

Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine (1979)

Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)

James Joyce, ‘The Dead’ (1914)