The following is a sample of typical modules that we offer, not a definitive list. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change, for example due to curriculum developments.
Non-subject specific modules
All students will take one of the following two modules:
Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts
This module enhances students’ research skills, to support engagement in high-level research on a disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary basis. An array of research techniques and methodologies will be critically reviewed and students will develop skills in gathering research insights from a range of sources drawn from across the Faculty.
Arts in Society
This module is designed to encourage students to think about the broader context of the Arts: to appreciate, evaluate and communicate the value of the Arts beyond the academy. Students will engage with the practices and techniques required to produce advanced research and develop the skills to communicate this research to a variety of audiences.
Professional development modules
Depending on your course you will also have the option to select from a range of professional development modules.
Subject specific modules
The English Studies MA follows a simple structure, which permits maximum student choice and access to the full breadth of research-led teaching in the school, while retaining the specialism of each of the subject areas which comprise the degree.
English Language and Applied Linguistics modules:
Business & Organisational Communication
The module investigates the multidisciplinary subject of business and organisational communication. It covers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, examining how individuals and groups use spoken and written communication to achieve success in the workplace. The range of methodologies and analytical frameworks for interrogating business and organisational communication include: conversation analysis, corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, pragmatics and speech act theory, ethnography and genre analysis. The module also highlights contemporary issues emerging from the field, exploring, for instance, the influence of context, new multi-media technologies and globalisation on communication in commercial domains and organisational environments. The module emphasises how the findings of communicative research can be practically applied in teaching and training materials and in consultancy work.
Cognition & Literature
This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics, and critical theory.
Consciousness in Fiction
The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. You will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters’ thoughts and perceptions. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.
This module explores the relationship between language and drama. Taking a multi-faceted approach, drawing on facets of linguistic analysis from stylistics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics, the module considers the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage, exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation), the role of language in story-telling on stage and the 'management' of performance through stage directions. Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, the module investigates the role of language in shaping character, dialogue, interaction, and staging.
English Vocabulary: Teaching & Learning
This module covers the various aspects of knowledge that are required to fluently use a word: meaning, written form, spoken form, grammatical properties, frequency, register, collocation, and association. Practical aspects of teaching vocabulary will also be covered, including vocabulary teaching activities, vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary testing and the use of corpora.
This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: description, development, and assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown. This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. You will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the language classroom, etc.
Language Teaching: Speaking & Listening
The main focus of this module is an exploration of teaching methods for listening and speaking in EFL and ESL environments. The components of the module will provide a theoretical and practical focus for the content and organisation of language classes focused on listening and speaking. Students will become familiar with the four strands approach to designing language learning programs. Within this context, participants will be guided towards good practice in English language teaching and learning constructed from current theory, methods, approaches and practices. You will have the opportunity to observe, plan, prepare, and teach listening and speaking activities.
Language, Gender and Sexuality
The course will explore the relationship between language and gender in spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. The extent to which gender affects the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts will be focused on, along with the issue of sexism in language use. Various theoretical paradigms that have been presented to explain language and gender differences will be critically examined, along with gender ideologies which operate in society. You will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of data from authentic examples of spoken interaction and from a variety of publications including the popular media. The practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society are also discussed.
Psychology of Language
This module considers three fundamental and interrelated questions about psycholinguistics:
- acquisition: how language is acquired
- comprehension: how words, sentences, and discourse are understood
- production: how words, sentences, and conversations are produced.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to: lexical influences on sentence comprehension and production; first and second language acquisition; reading; language disorders (e.g., dyslexia, aphasia).
Research in Literary Linguistics
This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, students will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods. The course will invite students to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.
Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative & Qualitative
The module looks at various approaches of collecting and processing data using both qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation. With a focus on the area of applied linguistics, you will be introduced to the process of hypothesis formulation and testing, issues of interpretation, evaluation and replicability of data and of research results, questionnaire and interview design, data gathering and recording, statistical description and analysis.
Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics
Corpus linguistics provides methods for the study of collections of electronic texts (written texts, including literary texts, material from the internet, transcripts of spoken language, etc.). The module will explain basic concepts and illustrate methods through case studies. Through hands-on sessions students will actively practice the use of corpus software. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to reflect on the applicability of a range of methods to their own areas of interest (e.g. literary linguistics, discourse analysis, ELT, etc.). For the assessment, you will complete a small-scale corpus project on a topic of their own choosing (in consultation with the tutor). This project can function to test ideas that might be further developed in the dissertation.
Second Language Acquisition
Arguably the most important subdiscipline for the understanding of language teaching is Second Language Acquisition. This module focuses on this area to ensure that students have a sound understanding of how language is learned.
Sociolinguistics of Work
This module is intended to familiarise you with theories and applications of sociolinguistics in relation to a work context. It will cover a range of sociolinguistic, workplace topics, including a focus on the following: workplace cultures; language and identity, including gender, ethnicity, age, religion/nation and social class; miscommunication; intercultural communication; linguistic politeness and interactional sociolinguistics. The module will emphasise the crucial relationship between social variables, power and communication in the workplace, and demonstrate how recourse to sociolinguistic analysis can illuminate and enhance communication in a range of workplaces.
Drama and creative writing modules:
Creative Writing Conventions & Techniques
You are encouraged to develop your own creative practice through an examination of a range of ideas and techniques. You will develop your creative writing skills through activities, including group discussions, exercises and workshops. Matters such as reviews, publication, public readings, and the teaching of creative writing may be included as ways of examining the context of creative practice. You will learn how to incorporate the responses of others into their revisions, develop a more productive writing process, and become better editors of your own work.
Creative Writing Workshop
This module is designed to develop students' skills in writing while developing their awareness of contemporary publishing. Each session includes some lecture-style input, group discussion, and a workshop. You are encouraged to contextualise your writing with reference to modern and contemporary writers. You will discuss techniques relevant to both fiction and poetry, such as: beginnings, endings, voice, and description.
Early Performance Cultures
This module will introduce students to the range, practice and history of performance cultures in the medieval and early modern period. You will be encouraged to understand extant texts within their historical conditions of production and circulation.
The module will introduce theatrical performance from mystery cycles to professional playhouses; civic performance from provincial rituals to courtly masques; and oral cultures ranging from mumming to sermons. With close attention to the relationship between the manuscript and print traces of performance and the events to which they allude, you will develop an understanding of the physical conditions of textual and theatrical performance in their historical, cultural, and political contexts.
You will be encouraged to relate texts to wider significant issues in the period such as national and religious identity, ideas of social, cultural, and geographical space and place, gender politics, and generic experimentation.
Fiction: Form & Context
This module explores the structures, techniques, and methodologies of fiction through both creative and analytical practice. You will examine a range of international fiction from a writer's perspective, with an emphasis on craft. You will produce creative exercises of imitation or modelling, as well as direct responses to works of fiction in ways that demonstrate a practical understanding of their qualities.
Poetry: Forms & Context
This module is designed to make students familiar both with the craft and practice of using some common poetic conventions, and with the contexts in which poetry is published and read. You will benefit from lecture-style input, group discussion, and a workshop during which they will share and discuss their draft poems. You will be supported in their craft and are encouraged to work towards submitting their work for publication.
Performance: Contexts & Frameworks
This module introduces key contexts and frameworks for performance in order to enable critical exploration of central questions about the relationships between the making and reception of drama, theatre and performance. What is performance? Why do we perform? How does performance make meaning, and who for?
The module covers a range of performances from the 20th and 21st centuries and from both conventional and radical stages. It engages with key critical thinkers such as Brecht, Bakhtin, Carlson and Schechner, and introduces a range of theoretical frameworks for analysing performance. The focus throughout is on the multiple potential relationships between performance and audience in a variety of contexts of performance on and beyond the stage: students will encounter performance that engages directly with politics, history and place and will have the opportunity to develop appropriate critical vocabulary and frameworks to analyse these interactions.
As well as working with a wide variety of material contained within the module, you will be encouraged to draw upon your own encounters with performance.
Shakespeare, Space, & Place
Focussing on the works of Shakespeare, this module pursues a burgeoning interest across the field of early modern studies in ideas of place and location. It will explore the performative and linguistic contexts of productions, past and present, of the plays. In tandem with the general turn in literary studies towards critical cultural geography, 'Shakespeare, Space, and Place' will integrate a range of theories relating to space and place to explore the presence of Shakespeare and his work in place making and place meaning through questions of performance, language and cultural resonance. The module will allow students to work on individual but related units covering encounters with the 'foreign' or 'other', the urban and the pastoral, and notions of linguistic and thematic wildness, allowing for formative textual analyses and small project work en route. Case-studies focused on individual plays and/or clusters of plays across a range of genres, as well as on specific sites of production such as the early modern playhouses, will encourage a range of geographically and historically informed explorations of different kinds of place-based relationships. Independent projects on Shakespeare and/in place will be encouraged for the assessment.
Literature post-1500 modules:
Literature in Britain Since 1950
This module embraces literature in Britain since the Second World War, taking 1950 as the starting point, after which distinctive post-war cultural and social trends began to emerge. The critical trend to divide the period into two, with 1979 as a watershed, will be subjected to critical scrutiny: continuities as well as discontinuities in the literature written before and after 1979 will be considered. The module embraces the poetry, the prose, and the criticism of the period, in three distinct blocks, each involving three or four weeks of study. Key practitioners will be discussed, but the aim is not to provide an exhaustive overview of the period, but rather to present a developed account of important topics and debates, using an appropriate combination of teaching blocks.
It has often been suggested that the very idea of literary history – of a narrative that understands, classifies, and explains, the English literary past – is an inherent impossibility. The relationship between literature and the history of the time of its creation is an equally vexed and productive question. This module will look at the various ways in which literature in the last few centuries has combined with the study of history, with significant changes in the ways in which works of the past are viewed, and also how histories of literature began to be constructed (a history of literary histories, so to speak) paying attention to such questions as the development of the literary canon, periodicity, inclusions and exclusions, rediscoveries, and lack of representation. It will also look at the ways in which literary biography, autobiography and life-writing relate to the creation of literary histories. This will be a team-taught module, introducing key topics in the area and apply them to a variety of types of literature from different historical periods, and the myriad critical ways in which such literature has been viewed, retrospectively.
Modernism & the Avant-Garde in Literature & Drama
This module will investigate radical strategies of aesthetic presentation and the challenge they offered to prevailing limits of personal, gender and national identity between 1870 and 1960. Through a selection of key literary, dramatic, cultural, and critical texts, the module will examine ways that modernist and avant-garde writings draw their formal, generic and political borders, how they reconfigure ideas of the self, and what the political consequences of that reconfiguration are. The module will also consider the multiple meanings of 'radicalism' in an aesthetic and literary context, relating those meanings to questions of taste, community, and the market. This will be a team-taught module which examines a wide spectrum of literature and drama, including the era's cultural criticism and more recent critical and theoretical studies.
Place, Region, Empire
This module will explore the relationship between literary texts and cultural concepts of place. You will be introduced to a selection of texts from the 16th century to the present day, and a range of approaches deriving from recent interdisciplinary convergences between disciplines including literary criticism; cultural geography; literary history; and theories of nationalism and postcolonialism. Topics for discussion might include: maps and cultural cartographies; urbanism and the literature of cities; travel and literary tourism; regional and provincial literature; nationalism and cosmopolitanism; colonialism and the postcolonial; the literature of empire; ideas of community and dwelling; the relation between literary and spatial forms. Writers to be considered will vary from year to year.
This module addresses interests in speculative fiction, including a selection of the following genres: Detective Fiction, Gothic, and Horror as well as Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The module will introduce students to the study of speculative fiction from across a broad historical spectrum ranging from the Medieval period to the present, including an awareness of the historical contexts out of which speculative genres emerge and of their ongoing cultural relevance. Not only is speculative fiction an area of ongoing scholarly and popular interest, but also it allows for the theoretical discussion of, and critical reflection on, key contemporary issues, such as the problem of evil, identity, alterity, freedom and terror. You will read works by a selection of authors and will choose two particular authors – either from the same historical period or from different periods – to study in depth. The module will engage with a variety of genres and media, such as prose, poetry, film, the graphic novel, and the illuminated manuscript (the exact selection of texts and type of text will vary).
Textualities: Defining, Making & Using Text
This module investigates the ways issues in modern editorial theory—the nature of authorship, what constitutes an ‘authoritative’ text, and the inevitably embodied nature of textuality—illuminates our understanding of literary creativity. You will explore how modern editors describe and theorise the textual transmission of a range of works, drawn from a variety of periods, places and forms. You will examine different concepts of textuality—including copy-texts, plural or ‘mobile’ texts, and digital texts—and different theories of text-editing, such as ‘first’ and ‘final’ intention editing, ‘social’ and ‘eclectic’ texts, and genetic editing.
You will explore how theories of literary creativity are embedded in editorial practices, and so, therefore, how editorial treatment determines the ways we ascribe identity and value to texts. Students of all literary periods will gain a detailed understanding of how literary texts are produced, and why some versions of well-known literary works take precedence over others.
Creative writers will appreciate how the editorial process—which may include the choice of illustrations, type-faces, cover designs, and the imposition of a house-style, be that paper-based or digital, as well as changes to the text itself—affects how readers engage with a work, and ultimately how they value it.
You will be expected to reflect on editorial practice as they have encountered it, and also to undertake practice themselves.
Medieval language and literature modules:
Early Performance Cultures
This module will introduce students to the range, practice and history of performance cultures in the medieval and early modern period. You will be encouraged to understand extant texts within their historical conditions of production and circulation.
The module will introduce theatrical performance from mystery cycles to professional playhouses; civic performance from provincial rituals to courtly masques; and oral cultures ranging from mumming to sermons. With close attention to the relationship between the manuscript and print traces of performance and the events to which they allude, students will develop an understanding of the physical conditions of textual and theatrical performance in their historical, cultural and political contexts.
You will be encouraged to relate texts to wider significant issues in the period such as national and religious identity; ideas of social; cultural, and geographical space and place; gender politics; and generic experimentation.
History of the Book 1200 - 1600
This module introduces the study of the book as artefact. You will learn about methods of construction and compilation, handwriting and early printing techniques, reading marginalia as well as text; you will also be introduced to the benefits and applications, as well as the problems, of applying an understanding of the artefact to the texts contained within.
Middle English Romance
This module considers 21st century historicised readings of a major English literary genre, and demonstrates that medieval English romance texts can be set in complex and profound critical relationship to each other and to other artistic media. Such an approach is possible largely because of the vibrant and privileged international socio-literary milieu in which many romance tracts were first written and received. You will be encouraged to explore how reading Middle English romance texts can equip us with vocabulary and concepts to discuss the cultural specificities of the literary representations of romance; love and chivalry in this period; the representations of public and private identities; and the questions regarding individuality and selfhood that arise in literature produced in a volatile period of religious and social uncertainty and dissent. These are all issues that now define 'the Middle Ages' for modern scholars.
Old English Texts I
This module offers students the opportunity to explore the culture of the Anglo-Saxons through the surviving literature in Old English. Topics covered include Germanic legends and myths, heroic literature, the theme of exile, Christian homiletic writing and devotional works. Texts to be read may include heroic and elegiac poems, The Dream of the Rood, and saints' lives in verse and prose. Most of these will be read in Old English (with plenty of help given), enabling students to expand and consolidate their knowledge of the Old English language.
Old English Texts II
This module complements Old English Texts I offering students the opportunity to explore the culture of the Anglo-Saxons through the surviving literature in Old English. Topics covered may include Germanic legends and myths, heroic literature, the theme of exile, Christian homiletic writing and devotional works. Texts to be read will include Beowulf and related narratives. Most of the texts will be read in Old English.
Old Norse Texts I
This module provides an intensive introduction to the Old Norse language, based on carefully-selected extracts from real texts, including sagas, and historical and mythological narratives. By the end of the module, you will have been taken through all the main aspects of Old Norse grammar and have translated the set extracts. In class we will return regularly to questions of translation and style, while observing grammar in action.
Reading Old Icelandic Literature
This module will introduce you to current critical thinking about Old Icelandic literature in both poetry and prose, and equip you with a range of practical and theoretical frameworks for your own study of this literature. Seminars will be student-led: you will present and discuss recent critical approaches and test them against your own readings of the texts themselves. You will write an essay similarly combining theoretical reflection with analysis of a text or texts of your choice. Knowledge of Old Icelandic is NOT required for this module.
The Hammer and the Cross: Religion in Viking-Age Scandinavia
This interdisciplinary module offers students the opportunity to explore the role of religion in pagan Scandinavia and subsequent changes after the conversion to Christianity. You are expected to read and discuss a variety of texts (sagas, poems and histories) and study other media, such as artwork and runic texts. You will also be introduced to the critical studies in the field and be expected to conduct independent research into aspects of Scandinavian religion.
The Language of Stones: Runes & Runic Inscriptions of the Viking Age
Through a series of short workshops, this module will train you in relevant aspects of runology, including how to examine, transcribe, transliterate, translate and present runic inscriptions. The workshops will be based on photographs and other visual materials, but you will then be able to test your skills on actual runic inscriptions on a field trip. You will then develop an independent project in which you present and analyse a set of Viking Age or medieval Scandinavian inscriptions that are of particular interest to you.
The Study of Place-Names
The module employs the study of place-names to illustrate the various languages - British, Latin, French, Norse and English - that have been spoken in England over the last 2000 years. You will learn how place-name evidence can be used as a source for the history of English: its interaction with other languages, its regional and dialectal patterns, and its changing vocabulary. You will also undertake a directed self-study project which will assess the value of place-name evidence for some aspect of Anglo-Saxon and/or Viking settlement-history.
The final element of the course is a dissertation, which you complete over the summer period.
More information on the above modules is available in the Module Catalogue.
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The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.