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English and Classical Studies

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English and Classical Studies

BA
  • UCAS code QQ38
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

By combining English and Classical Studies as a Joint Honours degree you will have the opportunity to study the literature of the English-speaking world alongside ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature, taught using English translations.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

You will gain original insights into the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie and study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

If you are captivated by classical literature and philosophy and are keen to understand more about ancient history and classical archaeology, Classical Studies is ideal.

Classical Studies offers a great deal of choice in subjects related to the ancient world, immersing you in lots of aspects of ancient Greece and Rome – its literature, history, philosophy and archaeology – even its languages; Greek and Latin can be studied at whatever level you’re at and for one, two or three years.

As a student of Classical Studies you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience. A thriving Classics Society contributes to the friendly and sociable atmosphere of the Classics department.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • Gain an excellent understanding of the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • Develop your skills in analysis, research, argument and writing.
  • Optional language modules in Greek or Latin.
  • Analyse the cultural, social and political contexts of the ancient world.
  • Study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how to think, read and write as a critic. You will look at the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to the ‘disciplinary consciousness’ of English Literature, considering periodisation, form, genre, canon, intention, narrative, framing and identity.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form. You will look at a range of contemporary, eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels and learn to use concepts in narrative theory and criticism. You will consider literary history and make formal and thematic connections between texts and their varying socio-cultural contexts. You will examine novels such as 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe and 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, analysing their cultural and intellectual contexts.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of major poems in English. You will look at key poems from the Renaissance to the present day. You will engage with historical issues surrounding the poems and make critical judgements, considering stylistic elements such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, diction and imagery. You will examine poems from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath and analyse topics such as sound, the stanza and the use of poetic language.

Year 2
  • All modules are optional
Year 3
  • All modules are optional

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of Ancient Greek grammar and syntax and learn elementary vocabulary. You will acquire basic aptitude in reading Ancient Greek text (mostly adapted, with some possible original unadapted basic texts) and consider the relationship between Ancient Greek language and ancient Greek literature and culture.

  • In this module you will further your understanding of Greek grammar and syntax. You will look at Greek prose and/or verse texts, in unadapted original Greek, and learn how to accurately translate passages at sight.


  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a wide range of texts in ancient Greek. You will look at set texts in both prose and verse for translation, and complete grammar and syntax consolidation exercises. You will consider the literary and linguistic features of advanced Greek texts and examine features of grammar, syntax and style.

  • This module can be taken by anyone with less than a B in GCSE Latin.  If students have a B or better in Latin GCSE or equivalent, they should be looking at Intermediate Latin (unless it was a very long time ago). The module sets out to provide a basic training in the Latin language for those with little or no previous experience of Latin. The emphasis is on developing the skill of analysing the structure and meaning of Latin sentences, and on efficient use of the dictionary. Students will also gain familiarity with a range of literary and epigraphic texts in the original Latin.

  • A module intended to build on Beginner’s Latin or O-level/GCSE, extending the students' knowledge of Latin to the point where they are ready to read substantial texts.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of classical Latin and how to interpret Latin texts. You will study two set texts in Latin, one prose and one verse, focussing on translation, context and understanding of grammar. You will gain practice in unprepared translation of texts of similar genres to the prepared texts and will consider selected topics in Latin grammar and syntax.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the framework of Greek literary history from Homer to Heliodorus. You will look at the chronology of major authors and works, and how they fit into larger patterns in the development of Greek culture and political history. You will examine ancient literary texts in translation, considering issues in key genres including epic, lyric, drama, oratory, philosophical writing, historiography, Hellenistic poetry, and the Greek novel.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature from its beginnings until the end of the Republic. You will look at the work of the major Republican Roman authors Plautus and Terence, Lucretius, Catullus and Cicero. You will consider the issues in the earlier history of Roman literature, including the relationship with Greek models and the question of Roman originality, literature and politics, the use of literature for scientific or philosophical exposition, and the development of narrative style ant attitudes to the Roman Republican past.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature in the early imperial period. You will look at the work of five authors selected from the Julio-Claudian period, considering the ways in which Roman literature responded to the new political conditions established by the Principate. You will develop your skills in interpretation, analysis and argument as applied both to detailed study of texts (in translation) and to more general issues.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how classical Greek and Roman societies developed the concept and role of the individual as part of the wider community. You will look at Greek and Roman education, and how that encouraged the formation of ideal behaviour and identity. You will consider the role of rhetoric, and how competition was encouraged within these societies though literary and dramatic contests, sport, military life, and religion. You will examine how these ideas reflect the role of the individual in the community of the cosmos, and the place in society of 'others', including the lower classes, women, children, the elderly, and slaves.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the Greek World in the Classical Period. You will look at the key events in Greek History from 580 to 323 BC and place these in their historical context. You will consider historical problems and critically examine information and accounts set out in the Greek sources as well as in the works of modern historians. You will analyse a range of sources materials, including inscription, historiography and oratory, and develop an awareness of potential bias in these.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the development of Roman politics and society over the extended period of Roman history, from early Rome through to the emergence of the Medieval World. You will look at the chronology and development of Rome, examining key themes in the interpretation of particular periods of Roman history, including the rise and fall of the Republic and the Imperial Monarchy. You will consider the difficulties and methological issues in the interpretation of Roman Historiography and analyse a variety of theoretical approaches used by historians.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how different classical disciplines interrelate. You will focus on specific academic skills such as avoiding plagiarism, approaching and evaluating a range of ancient evidence, using library and other resources, critically evaluating modern scholarship and theoretical approaches, and relating academic study to employability.

  • This is a survey module covering a large and disparate field. No previous knowledge is assumed: it will offer a basic introduction to the principles of classical archaeology and to the archaeological material of ancient Greece. The module will help you to place archaeological objects and contexts alongside literature and philosophy and to gain a more rounded understanding of how the Greeks thought about their world and the physical environment they created for themselves. The main aim of the module is to familiarise you with the material culture of the Greek civilisation from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period. We will examine the principal forms of Greek art and architecture, together with their stylistic development and social context. We will also consider developments in political organisation and religious practice, as well as evidence for everyday life. The module will introduce basic methodological concepts and theoretical approaches to the study of ancient Greek material culture.

  • This module studies the broad spectrum of archaeological evidence for the Roman world. It will provide an introduction to the main sources of archaeological evidence and key sites across the Roman world. It will offer a taste of how we can use the evidence they provide in the study of history, society and technology during the period c. 200 BC – c. AD 300. It aims to familiarize you with the principal forms and contexts in which art and architecture developed in the Roman world; to introduce you to the uses of material culture in studying history, i.e. to study the art and architecture of Rome as part of its history, social systems, culture, and economy; and to develop critical skills in visual analysis.

Year 2
  • Develop your skills in the close reading and critical analysis of Middle English poetry, focusing on set passages from three important fourteenth century texts: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The module invites you to think about how poets understood the status of Middle English as a literary language, in comparison with Latin and French.

  • The Lord of the Rings regularly shows up in lists of 'The Best Books of All Time', and Tolkien continues to inspire interest and imitation for all kinds of reasons. You will examine Tolkien’s work from the perspective of his engagement with Old English poetry, a subject which constituted an important part of his scholarly activity. You will look at his three main Old English poems (in the original and in translation) and Tolkien’s two most popular works of fiction, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

  • In this module you will explore a major literary genre which attracted all the great poets of late medieval England: the dream vision. It considers the use of the genre in the works of Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain-poet, as well as examining the visions in mystical writing. These authors’ treatments of the genre repeatedly ask us to reflect on the relationship of literature to experience, poetic authority and identity, and the development of English as a literary language.

  • Romance was one of the most popular genres of secular literature in late medieval England. You will begin by looking at the Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes, before going on to consider works by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Sir Thomas Malory. You will examine romances set in the mythical British past, in the classical cities of Troy, Thebes and Athens, and in the more recognisable landscapes of medieval England and France. Attention will be paid throughout this module to the often inventive and unpredictable ways in which medieval romance works to articulate specific historical and cultural anxieties.

  • An introduction to the literature of the English Renaissance, beginning in the 1590s with erotic narrative poems by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and concluding with John Milton's drama, Samson Agonistes, first published in 1671. Marlowe and Thomas Middleton represent the extraordinarily rich drama of the period, while John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the most famous of the so-called metaphysical poets. A feature of the module is the attention given to situating these works in their historical and cultural contexts.

  • This module explores in-depth three supreme examples of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and historical drama: Richard III (1592-3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-6), and Macbeth (1606).

  • The texts covered in this module span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares. Non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study, including news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, and popular ballads.

  • Charting a progression from Galenic humoral theory to Cartesian dualism, you will consider the representation and significance of corporeality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Reading Renaissance plays and poetry alongside anatomical textbooks, manuals of health, erotica, and philosophical essays, the module seeks to contextualise the period's literary treatment of the body.

  • This module offers the opportunity to study one very important and characteristic aspect of Milton’s Paradise Lost: his depiction of Eden, the paradise that was lost at the fall. Throughout his account of Paradise, Milton works to make the loss of Paradise poignant by lavishing on it all his evocative powers as a poet. You will spend at least three sessions looking at Milton's epic, covering aspects such as Edenic sex and marriage, Eden’s fauna and flora, and work in Eden. Throughout the module images of Paradise will be given attention, starting with Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delight'. Alongside artworks, you will look at some of the Bible scholarship which tried to locate the site of Paradise, and deduce its fate.

  • An introduction to English literature from the Norman Conquest to the birth of Chaucer. This period has been described both as a period of political crisis and also as a period of cultural renaissance. It saw the conquest and colonization of England, the rise of new forms of scholarship and spirituality, and, according to some accounts, the development of new ways of thinking about national and individual identity

  • Between the English Revolution and the French Revolution, British literature was pulled by opposing cultural forces and experienced an extraordinary degree of experimentation. The eighteenth century is sometimes called The Age of Reason, but it is also called The Age of Sensibility. It was dominated by male writers, but also facilitated the rise of the woman novelist and the emergence of coteries of intellectual women. It continued to be an essentially rural nation, but London grew to be the biggest city in the world and industrialisation was beginning to herd workers into towns. This module explores some of the tensions and oppositions which were played out in the literature of this period.

  • Explore the Victorian concept of the 'sensational' across a range of novels dating from the height of the sensation period in the 1850s and 60s. Together, we will examine some of the magazines in which these novels were originally serialized. Issues such as the role of public spectacle, the first detectives, advertising, domestic crime and the demonic woman will be explored in relation to the cultural and social context of this novelistic genre.

  • This module is framed by the personal: it begins with Queen Victoria’s private diaries of her happiest days in Scotland, and ends just beyond the Victorian period, with one troubled man’s intensely-felt account of his Victorian childhood. You will look at examples of the novelistic form, including sensation, Romantic, domestic realist and sentimental novels. Some of the works you will study are well-known and truly canonical, while others will be excitingly unfamiliar; all, however, will contribute to a sense of the variety and contradictions inherent in being Victorian.

  • This module will introduce you to a broad range of literatures from the period 1780 to 1830. The module aims to problematise and scrutinise the idea of Romanticism as a homogenous literary movement and to raise awareness of the range of competing literary identities present in the period.

  • This module, which is designed to enable non-creative writing students to try a creative writing module, will give you the opportunity to work through some issues associated with short-story and/or novel writing. Classes will alternate seminar discussions of aspects of the craft of writing with workshops in which you will interact critically and creatively with others' work.

  • Examine a range of novels by gay and lesbian writers in Britain and Ireland which have emerged in the wake of the AIDS catastrophe and queer theory. You will focus on interesting though rather peculiar trends in the post-queer novel: queer historical and biographical fictions, and explore the reasons behind the dominance of these approaches in recent gay and lesbian literature.

  • With the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as the first woman Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom in 2009, poetry by women became publicly validated as never before. Setting fresh horizons for women’s poetry, Duffy joined Gillian Clarke who has served as National Poet of Wales since 2008; Liz Lochhead was appointed Scots Makar in 2011, and Paula Meehan was appointed in 2013 to the Ireland Chair of Poetry. By careful reading of two collections by each poet, you will assess how each poet has moved from a position of rebellion, liminality or minority into the very heart of the cultural institution.

  • Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.

  • Explore British drama staged during the first half of the twentieth century against a backdrop of two world wars. The plays studied place the values of their age under scrutiny, to raise questions about social justice, spiritual choices, class and gender inequalities. Theatrical genres were under just as much pressure as the cultural values they sought to convey; the ten plays studies during the course reflect a range of evolving genres, from the well-made play, the play of ideas, social comedy, to poetic drama.

  • An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.

  • This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.

  • Providing an introduction to the study of literary modernism, a period of intense experimentation in diverse sets of cultural forms.  This module deals with issues such as modernist aesthetics; genre; gender and sexuality; the fragment; time and narration; stream-of-consciousness; history, politics and colonialism; technology, and the status of language and the real.

  • Intensive Greek
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a wide range of texts in ancient Greek. You will look at set texts in both prose and verse for translation, and complete grammar and syntax consolidation exercises. You will consider the literary and linguistic features of advanced Greek texts and examine features of grammar, syntax and style.

  • Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture
  • Intensive Latin
  • Hellenistic Epic: Apollonius of Rhodes
  • Imperial Greek Poetry: Epic & Epigram
  • Homer (in Greek)
  • The Tragedy of Euripides
  • Greek Dramatic Texts II (Comedy)
  • Herodotus
  • Plato (in Greek)
  • Imperial Greek Literature
  • Greek Historiography (in Greek)
  • Greek Erotic Poetry in Greek
  • Horace
  • Lucretius and Virgil
  • Latin Love Elegy
  • Roman Satire
  • Latin Epic
  • Latin Historiography
  • Catullus and Horace
  • The principal aim of this course is to immerse second-year literature students in the world of digital tools for exploring literature. Through extensive hands-on use of online parsing tools, algorithmic methods for assessing aspects such as word co-association, various types of visualization packages and a great deal more besides, students will realise the remarkable affordances of digital tools in reading and interpreting texts.

Year 3
  • The fiction of the last twenty years or so is a gigantic and diverse field. Now global in dimension, the range of novels and writers is simply enormous, and the field is growing at frantic speed. It’s very hard to find out what’s going on, to identify trends and significance. The aim of this module is to offer a sense of some of the larger themes and patterns in contemporary fiction.

  • Investigate a variety of literature produced about Chicago by writers who lived and worked in the city. Although the module will focus on novels, it will also include some poetry and nonfiction prose. You will develop knowledge of the historical development of Chicago in the 20th century, as seen through its writers, from 'muckrakers' such as Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, through the boosterism of Carl Sandburg, the ‘urban naturalism’ of James T. Farrell, Richard Wright and Nelson Algren, to the later interpretations of Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Stuart Dybek and Gwendolyn Brooks.

  • Examine the representation of murder in literature and popular culture. You will explore how and why writers from different historical periods and national traditions have created aesthetic works around murder, and how those aesthetic works engage with their historical, social and cultural contexts. You will ask why murder has remained a compelling subject for writers and audiences, and what literatures of murder reveal about, for example: the body, the self and its relationship to others, society and its institutions, moral and social responsibility, and faith or its absence.

  • A comprehensive study of three of Shakespeare's most difficult and most disturbing plays, collectively known as the ‘problem plays’: Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. You will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the plays, both as individual works of dramatic art and as a group of texts sharing distinctive concerns and techniques.

  • An advanced introduction to debates about the philosophy of literature. This module is structured around three key questions: the ethics of literature, what literature is presumed to reveal and the relationship between literature and its interpretation.

  • Brexit is not simply a political or economic event. It is a cultural event too. This module uses the cultural event as a lens to analyse some aspects of contemporary literature and theory, and some aspects of contemporary literature and theory to analyse Brexit. These aspects include theories of nationalism; affect theory; cultural memory; postcolonialism and refugee studies; Literature and Human rights; rhetoric.

  • This module will introduces you to a number of theorists of tragedy, and a number of significant tragic texts (in dramatic and other idioms) from Classical Greece to the present day. All works not written in English are studied in translation. You will explore a variety of theories of tragedy with specific attention to a range of tragic works in various modes: plays, novels, poetry and film.

  • Focusing primarily on Joyce’s major work Ulysses while putting it into context with Joyce’s other work, you will have the opportunity of getting to know and getting to enjoy what has been described as ‘the greatest novel of the 20th century’. You will examine it in various contexts, including Joyce’s other writings and the various critical approaches that have found inspiration from Joyce, whether new critical, humanist, post-structuralist, politicizing, feminist, historicizing or textualist responses to his work.

  • This module explores aspects of nineteenth-century literature, science and culture in some depth and brings well-known works like Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Eliot's Middlemarch and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend into conversation with the evolutionary thought of Charles Darwin, the social investigations of Henry Mayhew and nineteenth-century writings on psychology. You will look at a number of genres, including novels, poetry, journalism, science writing, autobiography, history, art criticism and examine elements of contemporary visual culture.

  • This module uses The Victorian Serial Novel, a web resource, to re-create the reading experience of Victorians over the period Oct 1846 to March 1847. You will read, in real-time, six works published within this time period, as and when they were published and in the format in which they first appeared.

  • In this module you will examine a variety of literary responses to the First World War 1914-1918: poetry, prose and other modes, from immediate responses to the war written by combatants on the front line and civilians on the home front, through to postwar reconsiderations of what the war meant to civilisation. You will look at the most famous works of wartime poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, and also examine realist novels, Modernist experimentation, postwar memoirs and Fantasy by both British and Continental writers.

  • Examine fictional representations of the girl across a range of texts, from Charlotte Brontë's eponymous Jane Eyre through to Antonia White's Catholic schoolgirl, Nanda and Ian McEwan's remorseful Briony Tallis. As well as enabling an exploration of female development and subjectivity, you will also engage with a range of questions relating to sexuality and desire, place and belonging, knowledge and resistance, art and creativity.

  • In this module you will study a broad range of writing for children from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century.

  • The end of the various colonial empires in the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of literatures from the newly emergent postcolonial societies. Rather than provide a survey of the field of postcolonial studies, this module aims at engaging the recent debates in postcolonial writing, theory and criticism. You will critically examine a range of postcolonial novels from Britain’s erstwhile empire, paying attention to issues such as the boons and contradictions of writing in the language of the colonial powers, the postcolonial reclamation of the Western canon etc. and focussing on genres such as postcolonial realism, modernism, magic realism, and science fiction. You will pay close attention to novels and their historical legacies of colonialism and resistance.

  • In this module you will consider two immediate, present-day concerns. The first is currently very much in circulation in English political culture and the media: what is and should be the relationship between England and continental Europe? How involved is and should the first be with the second? How close are they, how distant should they be? The second sounds rather more academic or theoretical, but is also at issue in the wider culture and involves us all. Over the past two decades, many thinkers and writers have announced that we have arrived at 'the end of modernity', and many more have declared that we are'post-modern', that we inhabit a 'postmodern condition'. Yet round about us, all the time, we hear of one kind of enthusiastic 'modernization' or another. What sense can we make of this?

  • In this module you will consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing and consider writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and criticism. You will look at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers becoming familiar with a range of methodologies for making your own poetic practice.

  • The Middle Ages are often characterised in the popular imagination as barbarous, incredulous, prudish, and naïve. In this module you will look at the presentation and function of violence, sex, and magic in a range of medieval literature, from the Old English Riddles to Arthurian romance. In so doing, you will consider the sophisticated but sometimes alien worldviews that lie behind them as well as the literary achievements of the works that contain them. You will examine texts from a variety of different genres in both Old and Middle English.

  • This module focuses on a key moment in mid-20th century art and culture: the period when the New York Schools of poetry, painting and composition emerged in parallel. In the postwar period, the city took over from Paris as the centre of contemporary art. Abstract Expressionism quickly achieved global popularity, establishing the Museum of Modern Art as the world’s leading contemporary art museum. However, other cultural currents also made a great impact on their respective disciplines. The witty, fast-moving work of the New York School Poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler) challenged the authority of High Modernism in the field of poetry. The radical music of John Cage and Morton Feldman posed a similar challenge to established European composers. The leading proponents of these tendencies did not work in isolation from other disciplines. The poets, for example, wrote about art and Cage and Feldman were both inspired, in different ways, by painters such as Rauschenberg and Guston. This module examines all three fields and the relations between them.

  • The 1930s was a decade of extremes: extreme financial instability (after the Wall Street Crash of 1929) and extreme politics, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. British colonialism was showing fractures; there was a war in mainland Europe (in Spain), and the increasing threat of another World War, which eventually came to pass. Could it be that it closely - all too closely - resembles the decade that we’re living in now – with the rise of nationalisms, extreme ideologies, unstable international relations, following on from a colossal crash in the financial markets? What can we learn about our world by reading fiction from the 1930s?

  • A chronological study of the novels of Virginia Woolf covering the period 1915-1941. These will be supplemented by selections from Woolf’s criticism and other writings. In addition to demonstrating Woolf’s development as a writer and familiarizing students with a range of key critical ideas relating to her work, you will explore Woolf’s relation to Modernism and realism; questions about language, form and consciousness; sexuality and androgyny; Woolf’s feminism and politics; war and subjectivity; nation, Empire and history; mourning and loss; and the maternal.

  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the middle Ages. Chaucer describes a group of pilgrims, drawn from all parts of late medieval English society, who enter into a tale-telling competition on their way to Canterbury. Their stories include romances, fabliaux, saints’ lives and beast fables, and address themes of love and sorrow, trickery and deception, fate and free will, satire, tragedy and magic, as well as raising questions about the nature and purposes of storytelling itself. In this module you will read The Canterbury Tales in detail in the original Middle English. You will examine how the tales relate to their literary and cultural contexts, and read them in the light of different schools of modern criticism. You will also have the opportunity to read a range of earlier writers who influenced Chaucer, including Ovid, Boethius, Dante and Boccaccio, and later writers who responded to him, including Lydgate, Hoccleve and Dryden.

  • In this module you will study the complete career of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), looking at eight novels in their historical and cultural contexts. You will examine Dickens's life and times, and the cultural discourses that shaped his fiction; the serialisation and illustration of his work, and the themes, forms and structures of his writing. You will also consider the richness and specificity of Dickens' actual work.

  • In this module you will have the opportunity to read in detail and in chronological order the full range of works by Oscar Wilde, from his early poetry to his last letters. Wilde’s work has captured the widest possible public attention since his death in 1900, and his readers and audiences are spread across the globe. His work is intensely literary and profoundly political yet it is popular and fleet-of-foot. And just as his output is exceptionally varied, so too the questions which arise from its study will take students in many directions. Aesthetic poetry, the role of the critic, the construction and betrayal of national and sexual identities, symbolist drama, platonic dialogue, fairy tale, farce, satire, wit: these are some of the topics you will examine.

  • In this module you will explore the works of American author Herman Melville (1819-1891) in breadth and depth. While Melville’s whaling epic, Moby-Dick (1851) is the lynchpin of the module, you will also have the opportunity to study Melville’s early travel writing, his fictions of social criticism, his short stories, and his poetry. You will consider critical approaches to Melville’s work, situating him in mid-century America – a time of social transformation, economic crisis, tensions over slavery, and increasing calls for a national American culture – as well as looking as his works through the lens of post-colonial theory, gender studies, and queer theory.

  • Often described as the most difficult and influential poems of the twentieth-century, T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" is undoubtedly one of the key Modernist texts. You will you look at Eliot's 1922 poem, along with a selection of his critical writings, engaging in an intensive reading experience in which you will examine ideas about composition, structure, voice, time, myth and intertextuality.

  • The twenty-first century has seen an explosion of adaptations of Shakespeare around the globe. These performances often draw attention to new theatre traditions as well as new ways of seeing the world. In this module you will examine the adaptations of three plays, considering the power of Shakespeare’s work to unite communities around particular topics, experiences and ideas.

  • World-literature critics worry that queer theorists foist a Western, elitist approach to LGBTQ+ identities on to the rest of the world, that is, a Western homonormativity performs a similar role as the unequal distribution of power in a globalised world. Queer theorists, on the other hand, are anxious that queer perspectives get lost in world-literature theory and texts, which tend to, they argue, either privilege a masculine nationalist agenda or not pay enough attention to the effects of globalisation on local articulations of race, gender and sexuality. In this module you will explore this productive tension by paying close attention to variety of texts from around the world.

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

  • The dissertation is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and so to deepen your understanding of literature, culture and critical theory.

  • Further Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture
  • Roman Oratory
  • Ancient Literary Criticism
  • Roman Drama (In Translation)
  • The objective of this course is to prepare literature students for work in the creative industries by developing their use of digital technologies in responding to literature. In using digital technology to respond to literature both critically and aesthetically, literature students can become adept at various practices that are of immediate, valuable use in the creative industry workplace. This course will cultivate these practices, show how they grow organically out of a love for reading and writing, and demonstrate how they are skills that are in great demand in a wide range of creative workplaces.

  • Greek Lyric, Eros and Social Order
  • Nature and the Supernatural in Latin Literature
  • Greek Literature under the Roman Empire
  • Studying Ancient Myth
  • Culture and Identity from Nero to Hadrian
  • The Roman Novel
  • Gender in Classical Antiquity
  • Greek Law and Lawcourts
  • Augustus
  • The Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire: An Economic and Social history
  • Alexander the Great
  • The City from Augustus to Charlemagne: The Rise and Fall of Civilisation
  • Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
  • The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy II
  • Understanding Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Perspectives on Roman Britain
  • City of Rome
  • City of Athens
  • The Archaeology of the Roman Near East
  • Extended Essay (Dissertation)

Each year you will take two course units in each subject.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory, while others are elective, thereby offering flexibility and some choice. During your second and third years you accumulate the marks that make up your final degree award.

You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, and participate in study groups, essay consultations and guided independent study. In your first year in the English department, you will also work in small groups of just four or five students focusing on study skills such as close reading, essay writing and presentation and self-editing. As you progress through your degree, these tutorials focus on your own personal development, for instance working on your CV. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

All undergraduate degree courses at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system. This system provides an effective and flexible approach to study, while ensuring that our degrees have a coherent and developmental structure. In the case of combined degree courses, this approach also makes it possible to change the balance of your subjects during your time at Royal Holloway.

You will also take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

In your final year the Classics department offers ongoing support for your dissertation work, if appropriate, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you are experiencing problems and/or if you have specific queries.

The English department use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. For classical studies, assessment takes place by a combination of ongoing language tests, written assignments for non-linguistic course units and end of year exams.

4th in the UK for creative writing

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020 (English)

Top 20 in the UK for English

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020 (English)

100% say staff have made the subject interesting

Source: National Student Survey, 2019 (Classics)

Top in the UK for career prospects

Source: 'Career after 6 months', Guardian University Guide, 2020 (Classics)

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