Approaches to Criticism (EAS1032)

StaffDr Mark Steven -
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to cover a significant range of critical and theoretical approaches to literary and film studies in the context of English Studies, including work on authorship, texts and reading, ideology and power, gender, sexuality, race, place and postcolonialism. The module encourages students to recognise dialogue and dissent within the field, and introduces the ground rules for scholarship in the discipline of English Studies.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 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

  • 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

  • 8. Through seminar work, demonstrate basic communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 9. 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
  • 10. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 11. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate basic proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organization, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

Syllabus plan

Term 1


Week 1 – Theory: Why it matters; what it's for; and what's required of you.

Week 2&3&4 - Marxism, Ideology, Power & Discourse

Week 5 - Structuralism*

Week 7 – Poststructuralism

Week 8 - Authorship

Week 9&10&11 - Feminism/Feminism II/Gender

Week 12 - Film Screening


*No teaching in Week 6


Term 2


Week 1 - Psychoanalysis

Week 2 - Queer

Week 3 - Bodies

Week 4 - Race

Week 5 - Postcolonialism

Week 6 - Transnational/Transcultural

Week 7 - Historicism/New Historicism

Week 8 - Cultural Studies

Week 9 - Modernism/Post-Modernism

Week 10 – The Digital Human

Week 11 – Commons Discussion: The Student


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
Guided independent study2Film 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)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities1.5Film screening and Q&A session (2 hours). Attendance compulsory and assessed (Term 1)
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, 4-7, 9-10Feedback 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 words1-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up.
Exam451.5 hours1-7, 10-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up.
Seminar participation10Continuous8,10Oral 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
Seminar participationRepeat study or mitigation8,10Referral/deferral period
ExamExam 1.5 hours1-7, 9-11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay 1500 words1-7, 9-11Referral/deferral period

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, 3rd edn. Manchester, 2000.

Catherine Belsey. Critical Practice. Routledge, 1980.

Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle. Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory. 3rd edn. Pearson, 2000.

Eagleton, Terry. The Function of Criticism. London; New York: Verso, 2005.

Literary Theory: An Introduction. Anniversary edn. Blackwell, 2008.

Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie Finke, and Barbara Johnson, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W.Norton, 2010

Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh, eds, Modern Literary Theory: A Reader. 4 th edn. Arnold, 2001.

Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, eds. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

Peter Widdowson. Literature. Routledge, 1999













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

Critical Theory, Theory, Criticism, Marxism, Ideology, Hegemony, Poststructuralism, Discourse, Postmodernism, New Historicism, Cultural Studies, Authorship, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Gender, Queer Theory, Body Studies, Disability Studies, Race, Masculinity, Transnationalism, Postcolonialism, The Student