ENG-20064 - Literature and Social Change
Coordinator: Rachel Adcock Tel: +44 1782 7 33144
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

Why do we study humanities? What benefits are there in reading English at university, and how does the study of literary texts help us to engage with the wider world? How might literary texts themselves not only reflect but also potentially work to shape and change that world? Over the course of this module, we will explore these questions. We will consider the ways in which literature can be political, reflecting or challenging established ideologies. We will examine current debates surrounding the public role of the humanities, and look at how traditional approaches to literary studies have recently been called into question, through such movements as the decolonising the curriculum campaign. We will discuss the power of language and argument, and explore the ways in which these can be used to distort and manipulate as well as to lead towards truth. And, finally, we will also think practically about the value you have gained from your literary studies, the skills you have achieved, and how those skills might be put to use in your future career.

This module is designed to lead students to reflect on the value to be gained from reading and studying literature. It will explore the role of the humanities within society, and the ways in which literary texts engage with the wider world. It will teach students to think about the importance of language use and logical argument, and help them to recognise how language and argument can be misused. It will also help students to reflect on how the skills they have gained in their degree will be of benefit in a variety of professional contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

conceive and formulate arguments about how a degree in literary studies will aid in students' employability: 2
communicate the value of an education in literary studies to a wider public: 1,2
demonstrate a critical understanding of how both literature and literary study engage with political and social change and the construction of cultural identities: 1,2
recognise the importance of careful language use, and understand the ways in which language may be used for different purposes: 1,2
reflect on the qualities that make an effective argument, and be able to recognise also what makes an argument flawed: 2

Study hours

Active Learning 36 hours:
lectures (11 hours)
supervised workshops (11 hours)
small group classes (11 hours)
asynchronous online tasks (3 hours)
Independent Study 114 hours:
seminar preparation and private study (48 hours)
final essay/task research and writing (45 hours)
podcast preparation and recording (20 hours)
individual feedback/consultation (1 hour)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Short Paper weighted 40%
Students will record and submit a short (6-7-minute) individual podcast on the role of literature/literary studies in the world. The podcast should be directed to a public audience: listeners who are interested and intelligent, but who may not know very much about the subject. Students will submit a transcript with references to external sources to enable effective tutor feedback but they will be assessed on the audio version alone.

2: Essay weighted 60%
Essay of 1,200 words focusing on a real-world task or issue
Students will submit an essay on a real-world issue or response to a real-world task of 1,200 words. Options will include: reflecting on how the skills developed during an English degree will benefit students in their chosen career path; designing an outreach session for sixth-form students on the topic of 'literature and social change'; writing a funding bid for an exhibition on the topic of 'literature and social change'; an essay critiquing the (mis)use of language and/or argument in contemporary newspapers, online media, or advertisements. Students will receive training in order to complete each of these tasks.