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Study information

Approaches to Criticism

Module titleApproaches to Criticism
Module codeEAS1032
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Mark Steven (Lecturer)

Dr Paul Young (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will introduce you to a broad range of critical and theoretical approaches to reading texts. Such approaches, developed throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century and deployed by English Studies scholars, are intended to be both worthy of historical study in their own right and useful to your own research at university. Over the course of the module you will explore a range of ways in which you might approach familiar and unfamiliar texts, and be encouraged to question exactly what a text might be and why it is worth our critical attention.

Module aims - intentions of the module

To cover a significant range of critical and theoretical approaches to literary and film studies in the context of English Studies, including work on language and meaning, texts and reading, the mind and the brain, ideology and power, gender and sexuality, race and empire. The module encourages you to recognise dialogue and dissent within the field, and introduces the ground rules for scholarship in the discipline of English Studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an appreciation of a range of important problems in textual interpretation
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of the broader context for and history of English Studies
  • 3. Demonstrate a capacity to apply a variety of methodologies and theoretical approaches to literary and film texts
  • 4. Demonstrate a basic appreciation of the concepts of 'authorship', 'textuality', 'ideology', 'discourse', 'subjectivity', 'performativity' and 'space and place' and of their role in our study of texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate a basic ability to understand and analyse theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts
  • 6. Demonstrate a basic ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. Demonstrate a basic ability to analyse contemporary debates in light of the history of the discipline

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Through writing assessments, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a basic capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 9. Through research for module discussion and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 10. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate basic proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content varies from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Term 1:

  • What is Criticism?
  • The Critique of Political Economy
  • Culture and Ideology
  • Empire and its Discontents  
  • World-Systems, World Literature
  • Structuralism
  • Poststructuralism & Deconstruction
  • Discourse and Power
  • New Media Studies
  • Environment in Crisis

Term 2:

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Neuroscience
  • Bodies + Medicine
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Feminism
  • Gender
  • Queer Theory and Sexuality
  • Affect and Emotion
  • Humanities After the Human

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities20Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities442-hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching1.5Film screening and Q&A session (2 hours). Attendance compulsory and assessed (Term 1)
Scheduled learning and teaching2Film screening and Q&A session (2 hours). Attendance compulsory and assessed (Term 1)
Guided independent study130.5Reading, research and essay preparation
Guided independent study80Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study22Student-led study group activities 2-hour

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Glossary entry1000 words1, 4-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay451500 words1-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up
ExaminationTake-home examination4524 hours1-7, 10Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up
Module participation10Continuous1-7, 9Oral feedback from tutor with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay 1500 words1-9Referral/Deferral period
Take-home examination24 hours1-7, 10Referral/Deferral period
Module participationRepeat study or Mitigation1-7, 9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Module Pack available to students at the beginning of term (from Print Services).

Secondary reading:

  • Peter Barry, Beginning Theory. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000.
  • Eagleton, Terry. The Function of Criticism. London: Verso, 2005.
  • 2008.
  • Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie Finke, and Barbara Johnson, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: Norton, 2010

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Critical Theory, Theory, Criticism, Marxism, Ideology, Hegemony, Poststructuralism, Discourse, Postmodernism, New Historicism, Cultural Studies, Authorship, Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Feminism, Gender, Queer Theory, Body Studies, Disability Studies, Critical Race Studies, Masculinity, Affect, Postcolonialism, Decolonisation, Ecocriticism, World-Systems

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date