module specification

SJ4006 - Introduction to Prose Literature (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Introduction to Prose Literature
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 25%   1000-word essay
Coursework 30%   1500-word essay
Coursework 45%   2500-word essay or 2000-word creative piece with 500-word commentary
Running in 2018/19

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module introduces students to the historical development and major forms of prose literature from the early modern period to the present day. As well as the novel and short story, the module considers examples of creative non-fiction and experimental prose so as to reflect on the question ‘what is literature?’ The module explores the links between literacy and the modern self and examines the use of prose for both narrative and persuasive purposes.  Students will read and analyse a wide range of primary texts and develop their own skills in writing prose. The module is taught in weekly sessions over a period of 30 weeks and assessed via three pieces of written coursework across the year.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major forms of prose literature including the novel, short story, memoir, literary essay, travel and nature writing;
  • familiarise students with the historical emergence of the novel;
  • explore some experimental forms of prose literature;
  • enable students to practise analysing and critically discussing the techniques and effects of literary prose, especially of fiction;
  • develop students’ understanding of rhetorical principles and ability to write persuasively in an academic register.


In this module students will learn about the development of English prose from the early modern period to the present day. The novel is probably the most well-known form of literary prose in modern English, and we will spend time exploring its emergence in the eighteenth century out of prior prose forms. Key concepts introduced will include: literacy, grammar, rhetoric (written and oral), register, fictionality, narrative, and realism. Alongside the novel, students will be introduced to the short story and to creative non-fiction forms such as memoir, the literary essay, satire, nature writing, and travel writing. We will also consider examples of experimental prose, such as stream of consciousness and Surrealist writing. Many classes will focus on developing students’ close reading skills. Students’ appreciation and understanding of literary prose will also be developed through creative practice; alongside critical analysis of texts, they will also write short pieces in some of the prose forms explored on the module, for example via flash fiction and literary blogging.

Learning and teaching

The module is taught in weekly sessions over a period of 30 weeks in total. Usually the class sessions will comprise a lecture and a discussion seminar, and will be supported by weekly tutorial time. Lectures will introduce key themes, ideas, contextual information and useful methodologies, and will be supported by notes and other resources available through Weblearn. Seminars will involve whole-class and small-group discussions and short written exercises. While most classes will be organised in this way, some weeks will be used to enhance learning by giving students the opportunity to explore the library and learn about its various resources; attend one-to-one or small-group tutorials; or visit relevant sites in London, such as The British Library. Outside class time, students will be expected to undertake an extensive course of weekly reading in preparation for classes, as well as working on written assignments.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • identify key forms of prose literature;
  • analyse and critically discuss examples of literary prose using a variety of relevant concepts and approaches;
  • express themselves within a range of prose forms;
  • use and refer to secondary material effectively for academic purposes.

Assessment strategy

Formative and diagnostic assessment will take the form of in-class writing exercises and on-going discussion of coursework assignments during tutorials.

Summative assessment will take the form of three pieces of written coursework, totalling 6000 words, addressing the various topics of the syllabus and allowing students opportunities to write in both academic and other registers (such as fiction).


Indicative Primary Texts
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1709)
Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans (1958)
Alice Munro, ‘Passion’ (2004)
Sukhdev Sandhu, Night Haunts (2006)

Secondary Reading: criticism
Elisabeth Howe, Close Reading: An Introduction to Literature, Boston, MA: Longman 2010
Adrian Hunter, The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007
Thomas Larsen, The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative, Athens: Ohio UP, 2007
Patrick Parrinder, Nation and Novel: The English Novel from Its Origins to the Present Day, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006

Casterton, Julia, Creative Writing: A Practical Guide, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
Seely, John,  Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009

Literature Online
Project Gutenberg