Critical Theory (TRU1103)

StaffDr Christopher Stokes - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Introduce you to a range of critical and theoretical perspectives, providing a conceptual framework for the English degree
  • Set out fundamental modes of critical analysis and inquiry
  • Prepare you for engaging with literary and cultural ‘texts’ at levels 2 and 3
  • Focus on broad questions such as politics, identity and interpretation, as well as introducing foundational knowledge of key theoretical schools
  • Introduce you to subject-specific and transferable skills such as using a library, compiling bibliographies, writing academic essays, conducting debates, taking a position, making use of scholarly journals, using web pages and other electronic resources critically

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically understand the main currents of literary theory (e.g., historicism, feminism, structuralism)
  • 2. Apply critical/theoretical terms and concepts to the study of literature

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate a basic understanding of theoretical ideas relevant to the study of literary and film texts
  • 4. 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

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a basic capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 6. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

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

  • Interpretation
  • Language and the Sign
  • Literary Value/Mass Culture
  • Ideology
  • Power
  • Gender
  • Sex and Sexuality
  • (Post)colonialism
  • Self and Other
  • Bodies and Space
  • Nature and Ecology

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 Teaching22Lectures (22 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Workshops (11 x 1 hour)
Guided independent study245Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class short answers 1-4, 6Oral feedback
Essay draft1000 words1-6Oral feedback

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
Seminar participation15Continuous1-4, 6Oral feedback and opportunity for office hours follow-up
Essay352000 words1-6Written and oral feedback
Examination503 hours1-6Written and oral feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar participationRepeat study or mitigation1-4, 6Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-6Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-6Referral/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

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Prometheus Unbound’ in Major Works
  • Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  • Adrienne Rich, Poetry and Prose [selections]
  • Brian Friel, Translations
  • Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh
  • Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Literature, Criticism, Theory