Module code: ELI2034

Module Overview

This module gives students a broad and deep understanding of Victorian literature in relation to a range of social, cultural and political contexts. Following a roughly chronological trajectory the module picks up key issues (industrialisation, the significance of empire, faith and doubt) and examines them through key texts and authors of the period.


Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

PALMER Beth (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None. This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.  

Module content

Week 1.  Introduction to the Module: Victorian texts and contexts

Introduction: The Victorian Age (979-999)


Week 2-3 Urban Life and Industry

Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854, any scholarly edition, eg Penguin or Oxford World’s Classics)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘The Cry of the Children’ (1124-1128)

‘Industrialism: Progress or Decline?’ (1580-1607)

Selection of working class poetry. See Surreylearn.


Week 4-5 Men and Women

‘The “Woman Question”: The Victorian Debate About Gender’ (1607-1636)

J.S. Mill extract from The Subjection of Women (1105-1115)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, extract from Aurora Leigh  (1138-1152)

Christina Rossetti ‘In an Artist’s Studio’ (1493)

D.G. Rossetti, ‘Jenny’ (1478-1487)

Algernon Charles Swinburne ‘Hermaphroditus’ (1530-1531)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘The woman’s cause is man’s’ (from The Princess) (1184)

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, ‘The Other Side of a Mirror’ (1849-1850), ‘The Witch’ (1850-1851)


Week 6-8 Faith and doubt

Charles Darwin, extracts from On the Origin of Species (1561-1569)

Alfred, Lord Tennsyon, Selections from In Memoriam (verses 1 – 15, 50, 54-59, pp.1187-1196, 1205-1208)

Emily Bronte, ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ (1334)

Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘God’s Grandeur’ (1548)

Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’ (1387-1388)

Mrs Humphry Ward, Robert Elsmere. Book IV – ‘Crisis’. Chapters 26 and 27. Available on Project Gutenberg


Week 9: Science, technology and fantasy

H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau (1896, Penguin Classics, 2005)


Week 10. Victorian Britain and the World

Empire and National Identity (1636-1667)

Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ and selected poems (1851-1883)


Week 11. The end of the century.

Poems by Michael Field, (1671-1675), Oscar Wilde (1722), Ernest Dowson (1883-1884)

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts (1881, any scholarly edition)


Week 11. Module summary

Week 12. Revision

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework BLOG POST (500 WORDS) 25
Coursework ESSAY (2000 WORDS) 75

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes.


Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed mainly to assess transferable skills in working as part of a group and practical/professional skills in expressing ideas and critical analysis in oral communication. It also assesses subject knowledge in the different forms of cultural contexts approached in the module and cognitive/analytical skills in close reading.


The blog and essay assess subject knowledge in Victorian literature and culture and cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in using criticism and theory in the close reading of literary texts. They also assess practical/professional skills in expressing ideas and critical analysis in written communication, and transferable skills in working independently and with negotiating different forms of writing –ie a short blog post and a longer essay. 


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Blog post (500 words)

  • Essay (2000 words)


    Formative assessment and feedback

  • Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback in seminar


Students receive both written feedback and verbal feedback in tutorials that informs the final summative assessment, i.e. the essay.

Module aims

  • This module aims to deepen and expand students’ understanding of: A range of poetry, prose and drama written during the Victorian period;
  • key social, political and cultural issues of the Victorian period;
  • An understanding of how text and context inform one another;
  •  The module aims to develop and strengthen students' skills in: Close reading, analysis and critical thinking;
  • Oral and written communication;
  • Independent work and group work in seminars;
  • Time management through essay submission and planning to deadlines.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Have a wide knowledge of key issues and themes in Victorian literature and culture K
2 Have a wide knowledge of the ways in which writers of the period engaged with social, political and cultural contexts K
3 Have a wide knowledge of modern and contemporary critical attitudes to Victorian texts and contexts K
4 Use critical and contextual material in relation to close textual analysis and critical thinking C
5 Communicate orally in class discussions and in written form in essays T
6 Work both individually and as part of a group P
7 Plan and implement timetables for assignment deadlines P

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to deliver subject knowledge, to develop cognitive/ analytical skills, and to develop in-depth transferable, practical, and professional skills. Specifically, the weekly lectures deliver subject knowledge through an overview of Victorian literature, and develop cognitive/analytical skills in analysing literature and its historical and intellectual contexts. The weekly seminars involve student-led discussions that develop skills in communication and in working individually and as part of a group. The seminars also provide students with instruction on planning and implementing timetables for work and on presenting ideas coherently under time constraints.

This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at Level 5, is designed to continue the delivery of subject knowledge through lectures and SurreyLearn and to develop in-depth transferable, practical and professional skills, with a greater emphasis on student-led involvement, critical analysis, discussion and rhetorical ability.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 1-hour lecture per week x 11 weeks

  • 1-hour seminar per week x 11 weeks

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI2034

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.