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module specification

SJ5000 - Genre Fiction (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Genre Fiction
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   1000-word coursework
Coursework 20%   Oral or poster presentation (5 minutes)
Coursework 60%   3000-word coursework
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

From detective and spy fiction to children’s fantasy and romantic comedies, a well-established range of narrative genres dominates the production of popular, commercial fiction for both page and screen. Often dismissed as escapist, conformist entertainment for the masses, genre fiction may also be considered a literature of subversion and resistance in its expression of transgressive desires and imagination of alternative realities. This module studies the historical development, interplay, techniques, conventions, audiences and themes of some major types of genre fiction from the eighteenth century to the present day. It contributes to the programme’s exploration of contemporary publishing as a cultural industry and hence develops students’ employability.

The module will be taught via a programme of weekly sessions supplemented by tutorial and online support. It allows students to specialise in genres of their choice. As well as developing skills of literary analysis, students will have the opportunity to practise the role of creative producer and critical reviewer by producing a variety of written coursework. Students will also give a short presentation on a popular text of their choice.

The module aims to examine a range of popular narrative genres across prose fiction and in relation to contemporary cultural production more broadly. It will develop students’ critical, analytical abilities and their reflexive awareness of their personal relationship to popular culture, as consumer, fan, critic and/or creative producer. It will engage students in using a range of practical skills for discussing or creating works of genre fiction.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of previous level


The syllabus will be organised into blocks on specific narrative genres, which may vary from year to year. Typically they will include Gothic horror and crime; science fiction and fantasy; romantic and historical fiction; children’s and young adult fiction (LO2). Students will be encouraged to nominate additional genres or sub-genres of their own choice via their presentation (LO1, LO4).

Each major genre will be studied through a representative selection of primary texts considered formally and thematically so as to show both the distinctiveness of different genres and the inter-relationships between them. The module will provide a broad chronological account of historical origins and review contemporary incarnations on page and screen, for example in film, television drama, graphic fiction and videogames. Topics considered might include: genre fiction as a response to political crisis, modernity, technological change and urbanisation; deviance and normalisation in representation of gender roles and sexuality; representation and postcolonial critique; fan culture and media franchising. (LO2, LO3)

Students will have the opportunity to specialise in the development of creative or critical practice (LO3, LO4).


Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed 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 and teaching



Learning outcomes

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

Cognitive intellectual abilities
LO1 reflect critically on their personal relationship to popular narrative genres;

Knowledge and understanding
LO2 explain the historical and/or contemporary operation of some popular genres of prose fiction;

Subject specific skills
LO3 appraise works of genre fiction in terms of their techniques, pleasures and ideology;

Transferable skills
LO4 present their ideas in a variety of modes.

Assessment strategy

Students will submit written coursework during the middle and at the end of the module and overall will require students to engage with at least two of the syllabus blocks. These assignments will allow students to specialise in creative or critical practice. Typically the written coursework will take the form of an essay, short story with commentary, memoir or set of reviews.

Presentations will require students to introduce a popular fiction text to the class and analyse it with reference to academic concepts and comparative texts studied in the main syllabus. Presentations may be individual or group (typically 5 minutes per student) or in poster form. A schedule for presentations will be arranged during the module, to be completed by week 27.


Primary texts will include a wide range of canonical and contemporary literary works.

Core textbooks:
Frow, J., (2015) Genre, 2nd ed., Routledge
Glover, D. and McCracken, S. (eds), (2012) The Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, Cambridge University Press
Hogle, J. E. (ed.), (2014) The Cambridge Companion to the Modern Gothic, Cambridge University Press
James, E. and Mendlesohn, F. (eds), (2012) The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Cambridge University Press
Rzepka, C. and Horsley, L. (eds), (2010) A Companion to Crime Fiction, Wiley-Blackwell

Other textbooks:
Anatol, G. L. (ed.), (2011) Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on a Pop Culture Phenomenon, Palgrave
Brayfield, C. and Sprott, D., (2014) Writing Historical Fiction: A Writers’ and Artists’ Companion, Bloomsbury
Hallet, C. J. and Huey, P. J. (eds), (2012) J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter, Palgrave Macmillan
Hochscherf, T. and Leggott, J., (2011) British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays, McFarland
Knight, S., (2010) Crime Fiction, 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity, 2nd ed., Palgrave Macmillan
Levy, M. and Mendlesohn, F., (2016) Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press
Romagnoni, A. S. and Pagnucci, G. S., (2013), Enter the Superheroes: American Values, Culture, and the Canon of Superhero Literature, Scarecrow Press
Silverblatt, A., (2010) Genre Studies in Mass Media: A Handbook, M E Sharpe
Stableford, B., (2012) Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, new ed., Borgo Press
Walker, K., (2016) A Straightforward Guide to Writing Romantic Fiction, rev. ed., Straightforward Publishing

Clues: A Journal of Detection
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Gothic Studies
Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Television Tropes and Idioms Wiki, 

Electronic Databases:
Academic Search Complete

Box of Broadcasts