module specification

SJ6003S - Moderns to Contemporaries Part 2 (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Moderns to Contemporaries Part 2
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   3000 word composition + commentary
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

Moderns to Contemporaries builds on the earlier core historical modules Romantics to Victorians, Victorians to Moderns and Moderns to Contemporaries part 1. Moderns and Contemporaries Part 2 examines the contemporary period from the 1980s to the 2010s. Through the study of poetry and prose, their critical discussion and creative production, and through reference to other media forms, the module addresses major themes in the cultural, social and political history of the contemporary period. The syllabus includes controversial and canonical works but also enlarges and transforms students’ understanding of literary production by considering works written in English within other national traditions and works in translation in order properly to represent the complex experience of literary and cultural engagement for readers today. The module takes a chronological approach and discusses post-war cultural politics and social change; the neo-liberal settlement of the 1980s and the culture of post-modernity; and emerging themes in recently published literary work. The module is taught in weekly sessions comprising a common lecture followed by an English Literature seminar or Creative Writing workshop. The module is supported by online material and tutorial hours, and assessed by critical essays and/or creative work.

The aims of this module are to introduce students to modern and contemporary (c.1980s-2010s) literary and poetical works written in the UK and in other countries; to provide students with a wide literary, historical and socio-cultural context; to produce well-informed readers capable of thoughtful interpretation; to develop students’ critical and/or creative writing skills to an advanced level.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of previous level.

Available for Study Abroad? YES


Topics in social, political and cultural history (LO2) will inform the module syllabus in a way that continues and develops the discussion in the earlier core historical modules Romantics to Victorians and Victorians to Moderns. Students study innovative and controversial works of poetry and prose (LO1) which allow a chronological history of the contemporary period (LO2) to unfold through discussion of topics such as: the legacy of war and historical violence; countercultural and social revolution; urbanisation, mediatisation and consumerism; progressive politics and conservative reaction; postcolonial and transnational identities; fictional narrative and the recovery of history (LO1/LO2). Seminar and workshop discussions focus on students' critical and creative responses to the literature studied and topics raised (LO4) and require them to produce writing and engage in spoken argument and debate each week (LO3).

Typical texts studied include: Toni Morrison, Beloved; Peter Brook, Mahabharata; Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow, A. S. Byatt, Angels and Insects; Chris Kraus, I Love Dick; George Saunders, In Persuasion Nation. Primary works studied may change from year to year.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The syllabus requires a concerted and organised approach to reading, and there are weekly set texts. These vary from shorter poetic works to collections of poetry and short stories, novellas and shorter and longer novels. Independent reading and study outside of class ensures that study in class is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed from lecture, seminar, workshop and tutorial, and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

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

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities
LO1 articulate coherent, detailed and sustained understanding of thematic and formal developments in poetry and prose fiction from 1980 to the most recent publications;

Knowledge and Understanding
LO2 evaluate literary production in English in the period in terms of wider historical, cultural and political contexts and in terms of the qualities of the fictional world itself;

Subject Specific Skills
LO3 write sustained critical and/or creative responses to the thematic, formal and/or historical development of prose and poetry in the period 1980 to recent years;

Transferable Skills
LO4 develop and produce critically and creatively sophisticated work in response to research task.