Module code: ELIM045

Module Overview

This module introduces students to some of the key debates, theories, and methods currently shaping 21st-century literary studies. It builds on the more traditional introductions to literary theory that students receive at undergraduate level, but also moves significantly beyond this to focus specifically on the approaches currently driving new, ground-breaking scholarship. The module interrogates the changing role of the author and reader, genre, form and structure in light of the major cultural changes of the 21st century. In doing so, it builds on the core skills students have learned in previous and current modules, particularly in relation to close reading, intellectual history and the cultural context of literary texts, to encourage students to develop a more sophisticated critical language with which to engage with contemporary critical thinking.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

NICOL Bran (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 89

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 28

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The following areas are indicative of topics to be covered: ecocriticism and animal studies, the new book/bibliographical studies, New Formalism, digital humanities, material culture and thing theory, mobility, affect theory, sensory studies, memory and trauma, ethical criticism.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 750 word Report 30
Coursework 4000 word Essay 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • the development in their critical writing skills in analysing and comparing a broad range of current theoretical approaches and intellectual debates

  • their understanding of the context of their work in historical, cultural and theoretical terms, and to familiarize themselves with key debates currently animating the scholarly community

  • their development of research and writing skills; productive and informed critical reflection on both critical and political agendas of literary studies and on their own place within theoretical positions


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 750-word report on one theory studied to date (to be set early in semester as diagnostic of essay writing skills) (30%)

  • 4000-word Essay (70%)


Formative assessment and feedback

Formative feedback is provided through seminar discussions, tutor feedback in seminars, and a range of other feedback mechanisms such as seminar contribution and writing exercises. The first assignment (750-word report) also has a formative element as it will allow us to diagnose early in the course any problems in writing style or essay organization, and if necessary direct students to study support services. In addition, during the semester students will be expected to submit for formative assessment:

* 1000-word essay plan and annotated bibliography

Module aims

  • The module aims to provide: an advanced overview of current debates, theories and methodologies in 21st century literary studies
  • an appreciation of issues in contemporary writing and scholarship

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will: have a knowledge of major themes, approaches and methodologies in contemporary literary studies KP
002 Be able to develop critically informed arguments about 21st century literary theories KC
003 Be able to situate their own research projects within the most relevant and useful discursive contexts KCPT
004 Be able to critically evaluate the implications of a range of contemporary approaches to literary criticism KCT
005 Have refined their ability to describe key developments in 20th century literary criticism which led to subsequent literary criticism and theory in the 21st century KCT

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 expand and develop students’ theoretical understanding of both literary texts and the larger field of literary studies, thereby enabling them to develop more critically informed research projects Through focusing on a range of varying critical approaches each weeks, students  are assisted in locating literary texts in the theoretical and intellectual contexts most relevant to current scholarly enquiry. Ongoing formative feedback equips students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed analyses of literary texts and engage with contemporary literary criticism and theory, and the interactive seminars facilitate students’ productive reflection on both the critical and political agendas of literary studies and on their own place within theoretical positions by developing an extended, coherent and compelling argument or narrative

The learning and teaching methods include: 2 hour seminar 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: ELIM045

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Writing MA 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
English Literature MA 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2025/6 academic year.