Language and Context
This module considers the main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and explores how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You’ll look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you will have a one hour lecture and a one-hour seminar per week.
Beginnings of English
You will be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study texts from the Old and Middle English texts. In this module you’ll familiarise yourself with the knowledge needed for reading and understanding medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of medieval grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you’ll have two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour seminar per week.
This module will introduce some of the core skills necessary for studying literary studies through focusing on specific poetry and prose texts. You’ll address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument and handling critical material. For this module you’ll have a combination of lectures and seminars.
Drama, Theatre, Performance
This module, taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, and lectures, considers key concepts in the study of dramatic texts, theatre history and performance. The module frames these concepts, taking into consideration questions about who performs, where, to whom, why and how, through explorations of key moments in the Western theatrical tradition.
This module will provide you with an introduction to key issues and skills for those transitioning to studying English at Nottingham. This module emphasises points of intersection between the diverse disciplines of English and will help to develop a toolkit of study, research and communication skills which can be transferred to other modules. You’ll be taught in small groups with a combination of lectures and seminars.
You are able to take 20 credits of optional modules in Year one. Those offered by the School include:
Creative Writing Practice
The first-year module, Creative Writing Practice, acts as a foundation, focusing on the process of writing fiction, drama and poetry, through various forms of reading, writing and performance practice. You will be encouraged to experiment with techniques and strategies, such as character, dialogue and imagery, to create new work. You will also develop the capacity to reflect on this work in a disciplined and rigorous fashion – an essential skill in creative writing. Creative Writing Practice puts special emphasis on the real-life processes of published writers, including research, collaboration, publication and performance, and how it feels to be interviewed about your writing.
In this module you’ll look at the work of selected regional writers, including Nottingham writers such as D.H Lawrence, considering how their work engages in regional landscapes, the literary heritage of the area, and other distinctive cultural elements such as dialect. You will have a 90 minute lecture each week.
Shakespeare's Histories: Critical Approach
In this module you’ll explore in detail a sequence of four plays: Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II1 and 2, and Henry V. You’ll consider key themes, including kingship, power and authority, national and regional identities, sexual politics, war, and ideas of community. In addition, you’ll use these plays as a lens in which to examine Shakespeare's engagement with the linguistic, performative, and socio-political contexts of his time. For this module, you’ll have one 90-minute lecture per week plus five 3-hour workshops throughout the semester.
This interdisciplinary module introduces you to the impact of the Viking Age and of the Viking expansion. You will be made familiar with concepts such as diasporic settlements and identity, as well as being introduced to the various ways of evaluating sources from the Viking Age (such as historical sources, material culture etc.). You will also learn about the myths and the language, as well as the culture of the Viking Age and beyond. You’ll have an hour-long weekly lecture plus five seminars throughout the semester.
Alternatively, you may prefer to start or continue learning a language, or choose other modules from across the Arts faculty and the University, such as in American Studies, Philosophy, History, Art History or Classics.
You will choose six modules to cover at least three areas of English, from the wide range of possible options below.
Literature 1500 to the present
Each of these modules will offer a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.
From Talking Horses to Romantic Revolutionaries: literature 1700-1830
This module introduces you to a range of literature written between 1700-1830. This was a dramatic and turbulent period in literary history where anything was possible and many roles were reversed. Writers produced texts about contemporary issues such as class, poverty, sexuality, slavery, and the city, but also had their eyes firmly on the past. They took every available opportunity to promote their own agendas and to savage and ridicule those of their political and literary opponents. You’ll examine a wide-range of literature considering the political, social and cultural contexts of the period. You’ll have three hours of contact time through lectures and seminars each week.
Literature and Popular Culture
This module will give you an understanding of the relationship between literature and popular culture, as you explore works from across a range of genres and mediums such as prose fiction, poetry, comics, graphic novels, music, television and film. In addition to exploring topics such as aesthetics and adaptation, material will be situated within cultural, political and historical contexts allowing for the distinction between the literary and the popular. You’ll have two hours of lectures and an hour-long seminar each week
Modern and Contemporary Literature
This module will familiarise you with relevant aesthetic, generic, and literary-historical strategies for tracing formal and thematic transformations in twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Moving between genres, the module will unfold chronologically from modernism, through the inter-war years, and into the ‘contemporary scene’ up to the present day. You will have two hours of lectures and an hour-long seminar each week.
Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Page
This module focuses on material written between 1580 and 1630 to provide you with an introduction to methods of reading early modern texts. Shakespeare’s poetry will be among the core texts; other canonical writers will include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney and John Donne. You’ll explore the practice of historicised readings of early modern texts and you’ll consider the related challenges and limitations. You’ll have one hour of lectures and two hours of seminars each week.
Victorian and Fin de Siècle Literature: 1830-1910
You will explore a wide variety of Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, with examples from fiction, critical writing, poetry and drama. It will examine changes in literary forms and genres over this period, as well as looking at the contested transition between Victorianism and Modernism. The module is organised around a number of interrelated themes, to include empire and race, class and crime, identity and social mobility, gender and sexuality, and literature and consumerism. You’ll have a two-hour lecture along with an hour-long seminar each week.
English Language and Applied Linguistics
Building on the study of language undertaken in Year one, these modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.
Language in Society
This module provides a broad introduction to sociolinguistic theory. You will investigate:
- the role that language has to play in constructing and reflecting cultural identities
- theories of language variation across and within communities
- the role of the English language in the world
- the specific role of Standard English within British contexts
You will be introduced to both qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of sociolinguistics, combining theoretical linguistics and practical methodological investigation. You’ll have a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week.
You’ll explore how English is learnt from making sounds as an infant through to adulthood. Topics relating to early speech development include: the biological foundations of language development, the stages of language acquisition and the influence of environment on development. Further topics which take into account later stages of development include humour and joke telling abilities, story-telling and conversational skills and bilingualism. You’ll have three hours of contact time per week through a mix of workshops, practicals and lecture
Bridging the study of literature and language, this module offers training in the discipline of literary linguistics, also known as ‘stylistics’. There is a focus on the analysis of linguistic and narratological aspects of literary texts in order to show their linguistic patterns. You’ll also consider the effects of texts on the reader, including their significance, meaning and value. The module offers an opportunity for specialisation in preparation for Year three modules in modern English language, particularly in the areas of stylistics, cognitive poetics and narratology.
Second Language Learning
This module will introduce you to theories and practice of second language learning, enabling you to develop an in-depth understanding of the process in various settings. Topics that are covered include: zone of proximal development, classroom interaction, collaborative learning, learning styles, and classroom methodology. You will spend around three hours in a workshop each week.
Medieval Languages and Literatures
You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in Year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases, you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.
Chaucer and his Contemporaries: c.1380-c.1420
In this module you’ll be introduced to the exceptionally rich period of writing in English at the end of the fourteenth and turn of the fifteenth century. It will focus on the so-called ‘Ricardian’ poets, Chaucer (selected Canterbury Tales, Parliament of Fowls, Legend of Good Women), Langland (excerpts from Piers Plowman), Gower (excerpts from Confessio Amantis) and the Gawain-poet (Patience). You’ll also discuss Thomas Hoccleve’s early poems, and the prose works of the female mystics Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. You’ll have an hour-long lecture and two one-hour seminars weekly for this module.
Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North
In this module you will study and analyse the key texts of old Norse myth and legend from which popular stories come, along with pictorial versions in wood and stone from throughout the Viking world. You’ll explore the development of Norse myth and legend from the Viking Age, through medieval Christian Iceland, and into more recent times. You’ll have a one-hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week.
Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action. You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.
Drama and Performance
These modules gives you the opportunity to develop approaches from year one by studying twentieth and twenty-first century theatre: by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation's theatre.
Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage
This module offers an in-depth exploration of the historical and theatrical contexts of early modern drama. This module invites students to explore the stagecraft of innovative and provocative works by Shakespeare and key contemporaries, such as Middleton, Johnson, and Ford (amongst others). Students will explore how practical performance elements such as staging, props, costume and music shape meaning. You’ll have one hour-long lecture and one two-hour long seminar each week, with occasional screenings.
Stanislavski to Stelarc: Performance Practice and Theory
This module helps you develop your understanding of the theory and practice of theatre and performance from the beginnings of the twentieth century through to the present day. Building on the work encountered in Introduction to Drama, you will move forward from naturalism to consider the work of influential theorists and practitioners such as Stanislavski, Brecht, Meyerhold, Barba, Schechner, Boal, Artaud, Berkoff, Grotowski, Jarry and the futurists, whose work has had a major impact on theatre and performance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries . You’ll have a mix of lectures and workshops totalling three hours per week for this module.
Twentieth Century Plays
This module aims to provide you with an overview of key plays and performances from the 1890s to the present, placing those texts in their original political, social, and cultural contexts and considering their subsequent reception and afterlife. You’ll focus on the textual and performance effects created in those key texts, by writers such as Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee, and will be encouraged to situate those texts alongside the work of relevant theorists and practitioners. You’ll have an hour-long lecture and one two-hour seminar every week.
Students who choose Creative Writing Practice in year one as an option may take the following module:
Creative Writing: Craft
As this module develops the focus shifts from the examination of writing technique to a wider understanding of literary form. You are encouraged to take more initiative in following up on the content of the workshops by experimenting with the conventions covered. Similarly we expect you to develop your reading and to learn directly from the poets, playwrights and novelists who inspire you most.
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. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.