Surrey University Stag


Module code: ELI3047

Module Overview

This module explores representations of health and illness in contemporary fiction, addressing how literature raises ethical concerns around current medical interventions and technologies. It covers a range of texts that are diverse in form and genre, which may include science fiction, drama, the graphic novel and memoirs. It specifically asks what the relationship is between form and the political and ethical issues addressed in the texts, while also exploring a broad range of health issues, which may include: HIV, reproductive technologies, organ donation, gene banking and medical global injustices. Discussion and analysis will focus on recurrent themes and ideas in representations of health and illness, with a particular focus on contemporary imaginaries, the relationship between the body and politics, illness as metaphor, health crises as social anxieties, and care as violence. The analysis of texts and varying national and global contexts will be informed by a range of relevant theoretical perspectives including postcolonialism, feminist, queer and gender theory, and the medical humanities. Throughout the module, health and illness will be critically analysed through the concept of imaginaries to explore how fiction engages the political axis of the personal and grapples with the body in its diverse forms.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

OKULU Gizem (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: Q320

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 20

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 78

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 48

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content:

Week 1: Narratives of Health and Illness

Week 2: Alzheimer’s and the Loss of Self

Week 3: Politics and Poetics of Cancer

Week 4: Global Medical Injustices

Week 5: Organ Donation and the Body Politic

Week 6: Isolated Populations and Genetics

Week 7: Mental Health and HIV

Week 8: Hearing Voices

Week 9: Reproductive Technologies and Its Dystopias

Week 10: Technologies of the Future

Week 11: Essay Preparation

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (3500 WORDS) 100

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 critical theory used in English literature and cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in using theory in the close reading of literary texts.


The annotated bibliography and essay assess subject knowledge in the different forms of critical theory used in contemporary literary analysis and cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking. They also assess practical/professional skills in expressing ideas and critical analysis in written communication and transferable skills in working independently. 


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Essay Plan and Annotated Bibliography (1000 words)

  • Essay (2500 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

  • broaden and deepen students' knowledge of how contemporary fiction engages with issues of health, illness and technologies;
  • increase knowledge and awareness of how health and illness narratives reflect and critique broader socio-political anxieties;
  • develop an understanding of theories relating to health, illness and technologies in fiction, particularly in relation to local and global politics, and gender, sexuality and race;
  • further students' skills in terms of written communication and oral presentation;
  • strengthen students' ability to undertake analytical and critical thinking and independent research;
  • further develop skills relating to team-working, coherent argumentation and project management.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Have knowledge of and ability to analyse how fiction engages with issues relating to health, illness and technologies K
2 Understand how to locate such analyses in their broader political, historical and socio-cultural contexts K
3 Gain a critical perspective on the role of literary genres in reflecting and creating understandings of health, illness and technologies, as well as on how health, illness and technologies may function as critiques or manifestations of socio-political anxieties C
4 Be able to structure and communicate complex arguments orally and in written form T
5 Be able to research, interpret, and evaluate sources, debates, and ideas independently and as part of a group PT
6 Have advanced skills in independent learning and time and project management 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. The weekly seminars involve student-led discussions that develop cognitive and analytical skills in analysing fiction in its historical, socio-political and historical contexts. 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 FHEQ Level 6, is designed to develop subject knowledge through extended two-hour seminars and to develop transferable, practical, and professional skills, with an emphasis on sophisticated student-led involvement, critical analysis, discussion, and rhetorical ability.

The learning and teaching methods include:

2-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: ELI3047

Other information

This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the International Engagement Office email:

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Film Studies BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 1 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 2021/2 academic year.