UNDERSTANDING THE NOVEL - 2023/4

Module code: ELI1037

Module Overview

This module is designed to introduce students to the academic study of the novel. Over the course of the module students will learn to read narrative fiction closely and critically, and to consider the relations between prose texts and the political, cultural, and intellectual contexts in which they are written and read. Focusing on novels in English from a range of historical periods and national contexts, the module examines fundamental aspects of the novel such as formal structure, characterisation, narrative, and voice, and important novelistic genres such as realism and the Gothic. It also considers the novel form's representation of key issues such as subjectivity, gender, race, and politics. By enabling students to acquire the knowledge and critical skills needed to study and analyse novels, this module will provide a foundation for the study of prose fiction at degree level. This module connects to other period specific modules throughout the degree at levels 5 and 6.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

MATHIESON Charlotte (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 80

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 67

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 50

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

Indicative content covered in this module may include:


  • Introducing the novel

  • Romanticism and the novel

  • Early Nineteenth-Century novel

  • Close reading

  • The Victorian novel

  • Modernism to postmodernism

  • The postmodern novel


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Essay (2000 Words) 100

Alternative Assessment

n/a

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes in addition to the development of employability skills, digital capabilities, global and cultural capabilities, and resourcefulness and resilience.

Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed mainly to assess transferable skills in communicating ideas orally and in working individually and as part of a group. It also assesses subject knowledge in British writing, in literature's historical and intellectual contexts, and in theoretical/critical methodologies. Seminars also assess cognitive/ analytical skills in critical thinking and in analysis of literary form.

Both the essay and the close reading assess subject knowledge in English writing, in literature's historical and intellectual contexts, and in theoretical/critical methodologies. They also assess cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in analysis of literary form, and transferable skills in communicating ideas in writing. The essay and close reading further assess professional/practical skills, namely the ability to plan and implement timetables for revision and assessment deadlines.

Summative Assessment 

Essay (2000 Words)

Formative Assessment and Feedback

Verbal feedback and formative 'feed forward' is provided through seminar discussions, and tutor and peer feedback in seminars. Written and/or oral tutor feedback will also be provided on an essay plan (maximum of 250 words or equivalent) during the course of the module (the student is free to submit this at any point of the semester).

Presentation and critical analysis skills will be developed and honed which will feed forward to the summative assessment at the end of the module. 

There is the option of a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and writing exercises.

Module aims

  • The module aims to deepen and expand students' understanding of: the novel in English
  • developments in the novel since the 18th-century
  • the theoretical and critical methodologies that underpin the study of the novel
  • the distinct development of the novel as a form
  • key themes in the English novel
  • individual authors' writing
  • 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 revision planning

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 On completion of this module, students will be able to: demonstrate knowledge of key periods, writers, and themes in English novel from the 18th-century K
002 Understand key themes and issues in the English novel K
003 Understand the primary theoretical and critical methodologies used to analyse these themes and ideas K
004 Use critical material and theoretical concepts in relation to close textual analysis and critical thinking C
005 Communicate orally in class discussions and in written form in an essay T
006 Work both individually and as part of a group T
007 Plan and implement timetables for assessment 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 the English novel and develop cognitive/analytical skills in analyzing literature and its historical and intellectual contexts. The weekly seminars involve student-led discussions that develop key employability 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 FHEQ Level 4, is designed to consolidate foundational subject knowledge through lectures and SurreyLearn and to develop transferable, practical, and professional skills, with an emphasis on student-led involvement, critical analysis, discussion, and rhetorical ability.

The learning and teaching methods include: lecture content, seminars, captured content, guided learning and independent learning, as well as 1-1 revision/essay writing appointments in week 12.

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

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI1037

Other information

The School of Literature and Languages is committed to developed graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: Along with the other first year modules, this module enables students to start on their journey as independent researchers and will support them in developing transferable professional skills, which will prove essential across a variety of career pathways. In particular, the learning, teaching, and assessment strategy for this module has been designed to support and develop students' skills in communication, critical thinking, and independent research, all of which are valued by employers. 

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Lectures and seminars are scaffolded by pre-class requirements including the completion of set reading and pre-seminar questions to help guide students' learning. The aim of this is to encourage self-directed study and to promote independence and individual resourcefulness. Peer and tutor feedback in seminar discussions develop students' confidence in communicating analytical and critical ideas. Group work will also provide opportunities for students to develop their thinking both independently and in conjunction with others. The lectures and seminars in weeks 1, 5, and 11 are dedicated to study skills, essay writing, and the successful completion of assessments, all of which offer further tools for independent learning and self-organisation. 

Digital Capabilities: The module facilitates the development of digital capabilities to aid students in navigating an increasingly digital world. The university's online learning platform, SurreyLearn, requires students to engage with learning material and resources. In addition to attending lectures and seminars, students on this module are actively encouraged to engage with captured content, along with other multi-media resources, such as online archives, scholarly websites, documentaries, and podcasts. The skills sessions in weeks 5 and 11 will introduce students to digital tools, library catalogues, and online databases that will prove central to undertaking relevant research for the summative assessment. 

Global and Cultural Capabilities: This module asks students to respond critically and/or creatively to a wide range of novels produced in different historical periods, cultures, and societies by authors who are themselves diverse in their ethnicities, political views, social backgrounds, and geographical locations. It requires students to consider the changing form of the novel in its many iterations across time and space. Another key concern of this module is to explore and analyse the way in which fictional protagonists' identities, such as race and nationality in particular, are constructed and negotiated within the novels' fictional worlds, in order to promote understanding and respect of other cultures. 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 1 Compulsory 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 2023/4 academic year.