ROMANTIC LITERATURE: 1789-1830 - 2023/4

Module code: ELI2031

Module Overview

Following on from the brief introductions to Romanticism at Level 4 , this module allows students to explore in more depth and detail the profound literary and cultural innovations that took place in the Romantic period (roughly, 1789-1830), and which continue to shape culture and society today. The module forms part of a set of historically focused pre-1900 ‘period’ modules that focus on specific literary periods as a way of studying literature: students must take at least one of these modules to complement the more contemporary focus of other modules, so as to gain greater knowledge of both the evolution of English literature over time and the variant forms and concerns of literature in different historical periods. Examining a broad range of canonical and non-canonical Romantic texts (and thus highlighting the diversity of authors and styles in the period), the module each week uses a selection of representative writers to explore a key form or theme: for example, Nature, imagination, the self and subjectivity, sentimentalism and feeling, and shifting notions of masculinity and femininity. Famous writers such as Blake, Wordsworth, Keats and Byron are read alongside authors who are less well known today (for example, Charlotte Smith, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Ignatius Sancho and Henry Derozio) to give students a rich, synchronic understanding of the key concerns, debates, alliances and animosities distinctive to this specific period in British literary history. At the same time, students explore the global contexts and connections driving the evolution of English literature and of British culture more broadly in this period, and they also consider the ongoing relevance of Romantic-era concerns and debates to 21st century society (for example, Romantic writers’ diverse reactions to increasing globalization, and the emergence of modern environmental and conservationist thinking).

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

THOMPSON Carl (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: 66

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 55

Captured Content: 7

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

* Introducing (and debating) ‘Romanticism’
* Pre-Romanticisms: Sentimentalism and the Gothic


* Following weeks map the emergence of the ‘high’ Romanticism associated with figures such as  William Blake, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, introducing students to key concepts like imagination, nature and the sublime.


The second part of the module then introduce students to a range of writers who in various ways contest or fail to conform to the High Romantic paradigm. These include women  writers like Charlotte Smith and Anna Letitia Barbauld, lower-class writers like Robert Burns and John Clare, writers of colour like Ignatius Sancho, Phillis Wheatley, Henry Derozio, and also ‘second-generation’ figures such as Shelley, Keats and Byron who saw themselves as oppositional to earlier figures such as Wordsworth

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online 4-HOUR TAKE-HOME EXAM (2 HOURS) 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 develop transferable skills in communicating ideas orally and in working individually and in a group [Employability]. It also develops subject knowledge in Romantic-period writers and historical context [Global and Cultural Capabilities] and in theoretical/critical methodologies, and cognitive/analytical skills in analysing literary form in close relation to historical/cultural context.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 2-hour exam, consisting of a critical commentary/close reading of a short extract of Romantic-era writing and an essay [4-hour take home exam format]

This is prepared for by the following formative assessment and feedback

    • Seminar discussions with ongoing tutor feedback

    • 1000-word formative critical commentary (normally to be submitted in week 8): this exercise builds to some extent on the close reading exercises in  Level 4 modules, and further prepares students for the part of the final exam least familiar to them.

Both the formative essay and the exam assess subject knowledge in Romantic-period writers and historical context and in theoretical/critical methodologies; cognitive/analytical skills in analysing literary form in close relation to historical/cultural context; transferable skills in communicating ideas in written form, and in planning and implementing timetables for essay deadlines and exam revision.

The essay further assesses professional/practical skills, namely the ability to conduct research for written work in an organized and critical fashion. The exam further assesses professional/practical skills, namely the ability to present ideas coherently under time constraint.[Employability]

Module aims

  • The module aims to: expand and deepen students' understanding of the literature and history of the Romantic period
  • develop and strengthen skills in close reading and the critical analysis of literary texts, and especially to enhance understanding of how literary forms and techniques may vary and evolve across different historical contexts
  • introduce students to the scholarship and critical methodologies that underpin contemporary, 21st-century study of the Romantic period
  • develop and extend students¿ understanding of the complex interrelationships between earlier historical periods / older forms of literature and modern, 21st-century concerns, themes and literary forms
  • develop and strengthen skills and resilience both in working independently and in engaging in collaborative group discussions

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have developed: the ability to analyse literary form closely in relation to historical and cultural context CT
002 An understanding of the theoretical and critical methodologies used to analyse Romantic-era forms and contexts K
003 Developed the ability to identify key writers of English literature in the Romantic period and how they relate to historical context KC
004 Their ability to communicate ideas both orally in class discussions and in written form in essays PT
005 Their ability to plan and implement timetables for essay deadlines and exam revision T

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 lecture sections in the weekly 2-hour seminars deliver subject knowledge related to literature of the Romantic period and develop cognitive/analytical skills in analysing literature in cultural and historical context. The lecture sections are interspersed with student-led discussions that develop skills in communication and in working individually and as a group. Emphasis is put on students performing (in groups) their own close readings of key short texts and passages [Resourcefulness and Resilience]; their own interpretations then form the starting point for wider discussion. The seminars also provide students  with instruction on planning and implementing timetables, on conducting research in an organised and critical fashion, and on presenting ideas coherently under time constraint.

This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at FHEQ Level 5, is designed to continue the delivery of subject knowledge through lectures, seminars and SurreyLearn and to develop through seminar discussion 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 a combination of lecture materials, seminars, captured content, guided learning and independent learning

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: ELI2031

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing 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:

Digital Capabilities: The module requires students to use and navigate Surrey University’s Virtual Learning Environment, SurreyLearn. The supplementary captured content supplied to them via SurreyLearn requires them to navigate other online resources (for example, YouTube). For assignments, they must draw on a variety of online research tools (for example, the University Library’s online catalogue and its various databases; Google Scholar; JSTOR) to identify relevant critical and theoretical material.

Employability: The module develops a variety of important transferable skills. These include the ability to process quickly large amounts of information and complex ideas, and then to summarize, appraise and critique these ideas both through oral communication (in seminar discussions) and through written reports (the formative and summative assignments). The written assignments must also be written, proof-read, formatted and referenced to a high standard appropriate to a professional workplace, skills highly in demand with contemporary employers.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Greater cultural literacy is promoted on this module by the student’s immersion in an unfamiliar literary landscape and in political and social contexts very different from our own. At the same time, the module offers new perspectives on our own cultural and political moment, through exploration of developments and concerns that continue to resonate today (for example, the emergence of modern environmental concerns). Global perspectives that resonate today are introduced by exploration of the ways in which late 18th-century Romanticism emerged in response to contemporary globalization and empire-building, while issues of intersectionality, diversity and equality are introduced by the module’s inclusion of women writers, lower-class writers and writers of colour.

Sustainability: This module introduces students to the period which saw the emergence of modern environmentalist and conservationist thinking; as a consequence it makes explicit and encourages student reflection on some of the key ideas underpinning modern environmental consciousness (for example, the understanding which emerged in the Romantic period of nature as a holistic system in which humanity was necessarily integrated). More broadly, the module encourages critical thinking, humanist reasoning and cultural analysis: all skills vital to any attempt to develop effective large-scale societal responses to the challenges of sustainability and environmentalism.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing 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 2023/4 academic year.