Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Religious Studies and English and American Literature - BA (Hons)

UCAS code QV36

Overview

Studying Religious Studies in combination with English and American Literature offers you the opportunity to combine two complementary humanities subjects, as both literature and religion are mainstays of human cultural practice.

Religious Studies at Kent allows you to study religion and modern culture in dynamic and original ways. You study in a vibrant department, which offers a range of modules, from biblical to Asian traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, as well as cutting-edge methodology modules taught by scholars who are at the top of their field. These modules cover psychological, sociological, anthropological and philosophical methods.

English and American Literature at Kent is challenging, flexible, and wide-ranging. It covers both traditional areas (such as Shakespeare or Dickens) and newer fields such as American literature, creative writing, postcolonial literature and recent developments in literary theory.

This joint honours combination allows you to compare and contrast themes and ideas of religiosity that are found in the literature you study, as well as appreciate the literary skills and techniques used in religious texts.

Independent rankings

Religious Studies and Theology at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2017 and 6th for research quality in The Times Good University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 89% of our students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Religious Studies students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK in finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

English and Creative Writing at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2017 and Creative Writing was ranked 14th in The Complete University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 95% of our English students were satisfied with the quality of teaching.

For graduate prospects, English and Creative Writing at Kent was ranked 12th in The Guardian University Guide 2017 and English was ranked 14th in The Times Good University Guide 2017.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

This year-long course examines some of the most significant writing of the Romantic period (1780-1830) - a period in which the role and forms of literature were being redefined - alongside recent debates in critical theory. You will study a wide range of literary texts from the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth and Keats to the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, with reference to contemporary literary and political debates and against the backdrop of the period’s turbulent history. In parallel, this module explores fundamental critical questions about literature: Why read it? What is an author? What is the role of poetry in society? How is literature shaped by culture? What is ‘Art’? Continuities and disjunctions between Romantic writers’ answers to these questions and those provided by more recent literary theorists will be a central concern of the course.

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This module will introduce students to a range of medieval and early modern dramatic genres, from ninth-century Latin church drama to the commercial theatres of Elizabethan London. Students will learn about methods for analysing past performances and existing texts, as well as how drama interacted with and responded to pivotal moments in British history, and the culture, politics and religion of the period. As such, the module will function as an introduction to medieval and early modern studies more broadly and a platform from which to undertake early English literature and drama modules at Years 2 and 3. Students will read and discuss playtexts in modern translations, both as literary objects and live performance events. Regular optional site visits and screenings will contribute to students' understanding of the drama's contexts, how plays might work in performance and to what extent they still speak to twenty-first century audiences.

Lectures and seminars are designed to be varied and interactive, with the opportunity for everyone to participate and to develop academic skills. The module is assessed by seminar contributions, creative and research-based coursework and a final end-of-year project, which will allow students the freedom to explore a topic of their choice creatively.

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This module emphasizes the links between literature, history, and culture. It introduces students to the formative events, debates and struggles of the twentieth century, and how these have been addressed by different modes of creative and critical writing. Topics such as Modernism, the Holocaust, the US culture industry, postcolonial studies and neoliberalism will be considered and discussed in relation to fictional and critical literature, films, photography, graphic novels, music, and other media. Weekly screenings will run alongside lectures and seminar discussions. Literary works across all genres will be read in relation to visual material – such as paintings, photography, feature and documentary films – and a range of selected critical reading. The majority of writing samples are drawn from English, American and more broadly Anglophone writing, though several instances of writing in other languages will also be included (all taught in translation).

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This module aims to emphasize connections between literature and culture in the USA, from early considerations of a distinct American literature to the present day. By way of six key themes or preoccupations, the module will introduce students to some of the major debates and antagonisms, and rhetorical and stylistic modes, that have formed and modified American literary and intellectual culture Questions of Belief, Gender, Race, Economy, Space, and Time will be approached through a range of textual forms set against their historical contexts and within the broader nexus of cultural production including the visual performing arts where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to examine the specific local, regional, and national frameworks within which these texts are produced, but also to look at the ways in which they resist and transcend national boundaries, in the development of an American register in world literatures for instance.

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The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, through a consideration of their key concepts, ideas, texts and practices (such as bhakti, moksha, yoga, dharma). The first half of the module will examine some of the most interesting features of the Vedic and post-Vedic tradition: the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the polytheism of the Mahabharata. The second half will examine the contrasting philosophical positions of the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions using materials from the Pali canon and several Sanskrit Sutras. Particular attention will be given to the variety of interpretations of the Buddhist 'No-self' doctrine and concept of enlightenment as well as the meaning and function of the Buddha’s career.

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This course investigates the beliefs and practices of Jews and Muslims in the world today. Topics in Judaism include the life and work of the Patriarchs, the concept of the 'chosen people', the Promised Land, the Torah, synagogue, Jewish festivals and the Jewish home. In the case of Islam, topics include the life and work of Muhammad, the Five Pillars, the Qur'an and Hadith, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, Sufism, the Shariah and the Islamic contribution to the arts and sciences.

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This module will introduce students to discussions about the definition of religion and to some of the disciplines in which religion is studied, with special reference to the differences between Theology and Religious Studies. Particular consideration will be given in the initial weeks to the phenomenological approach and to the efficacy of Ninian Smart’s dimensions of religion. In the following weeks, the module will be focused on the comparative study of religion (with reference to Eliade), the sociology of religion (with reference to Durkheim, Weber and Marx) and the psychology of religion (with reference to Otto, James, Freud and Jung). The module will also host a study skills session to be run in conjunction with the Student Learning Advisory Service, the aim of which is to equip students with key study skills in the areas of writing essays, referencing and plagiarism-prevention.

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The Bible is not a single book, but ta biblia, the library. At the most modest estimate, the literatures of the Bible span a period of over eight hundred years. If we think of the metaphor of a library, the books in the Bible would not just be shelved in the Religion/Theology section, but also, say, Philosophy, Politics and Cultural History/Myth. The influence of these books on ‘Western’ culture has been immense. This is a course for those seeking basic biblical ‘literacy’, which is profoundly useful for studies in other disciplines (e.g. History, or Literature), as well as for students in Religious Studies. It is a course for those who think they already know the Bible (this course will help you read the Bible in different ways, with new questions) and those who have never read a Bible at all. The course gives a basic overview of the story and contexts of the books of the Bible (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and New Testament) from Genesis to the Apocalypse of John, or from Eden to the End of the World.

This course provides a basic introduction to different sections of the biblical ‘library’, combining a general overview with in-depth study of selected passages and books.

NB: As with all Biblical Studies courses at the University of Kent, ‘Bible’ is defined in the broadest sense: the Christian and Jewish canons (73 or 66 books, though we won’t be studying all of them!) apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and also all the ancient and modern intertexts, poems, films and novels, that inform and draw on biblical traditions.

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The aim of this module is to introduce students to the study of Christianity, through a consideration of key ideas, texts, symbols, stories, rituals, conflicts and continuities, across contemporary and historical contexts. The course will offer a broad overview of two thousand years of Christian history, and seek to address the question of how the cult surrounding an obscure spiritual teacher from first century Nazareth became the world's largest religion, currently estimated at over two billion adherents. It will address the early church, eastern and western traditions, the medieval church, the Reformation and the relations between Christianity and modernity, as well as focusing on contemporary forms of Christianity, and the rapid growth since the 1970s of churches in the global South. By examining key concepts and practices across a range of historical and contemporary settings, the course will explore how the meaning and significance of these have often been subject to violent contestation, both amongst Christians and in their encounters with other religions. It will therefore encourage students to appreciate how the ideas and convictions that are often used to defend or attack Christianity have themselves been shaped by this history.

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This module provides an historical introduction to the philosophical, religious and cultural traditions of East Asia. It will provide a foundation for understanding the historical development, key concepts and important practices of the major worldviews of East Asia with specific reference to traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto and other animist traditions.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This module will enable students to analyze and understand the development of Christian theology over the last two hundred years. We will be critically evaluating the significance and contribution of a number of leading twentieth century theologians from a variety of denominational backgrounds and endeavouring to understand to a sophisticated degree the changes in Christian thought and practice in a variety of situations in the twentieth century. The module will begin by surveying the main strands of post-Enlightenment Christian theology, including the contributions of Kant, Schleiermacher and Feuerbach. There will be a detailed focus of two of the 'Death of God' theologians from the twentieth century, Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton. We will then critically evaluate the significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his influence (with particular reference to Harvey Cox and John A.T. Robinson); Liberal Protestantism and the rise of Neo-Orthodoxy, with particular reference to Paul Tillich and Karl Barth; Rudolf Bultmann and his programme of demythologization; and an interrogation of the Christian understanding of 'hope' with specific reference to Jürgen Moltmann. The module also involves a study of key theological movements, in particular Liberation Theology, Black Theology and Feminist Theology.

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The purpose of this module is to survey some of the most significant 20th century trends in the dialogue between psychology and religion through the writings of depth-psychologists, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists and phenomenologists of religion. The module begins by exploring the varieties of religious experience, especially through the work of William James and Rudolf Otto, after which it examines the contributions of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology to the study of religion, particularly in the work of Freud, Jung and Hillman. This material provides the basis for subsequent discussion of the interdisciplinary literature comparing religious altered states of consciousness (mystical, visionary and paranormal experiences) with other altered states of consciousness (madness, drug induced experiences etc.). The module concludes by discussing the principle issues addressed by transpersonal psychology (particularly in the work of Wilber and Grof): the relationship between western psychotherapies and eastern religious disciplines of spiritual emancipation; competing models of spiritual transformation.

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The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularization, subjectivization), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualization, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual's life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.

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The primary aims of this module are to give you a critical grounding in Islamic sources, thinkers and theories relevant to the development of Islamic liberal and fundamentalist perspectives, and it also explores the ways in which these perspectives bear upon contemporary debates and events. It will equip you with the ability to situate current views within their historical and theological context, critically assess them, and constructively apply them to current phenomena. The module will introduce you to key Islamic debates such as those which address textual interpretation, the relation between revelation and human reason, and the nature of political authority. It will familiarise you with key sources such as the Qur'an, Hadith and treatises of key Islamic theologians and jurists, and it will introduce you to classical and modern theorists from Ibn Taymiyyah to Tariq Ramadan. A range of case studies will allow you to apply these sources and theories to contemporary situations. The module draws lessons for critical thinking about the way in which social context and religious premises affect both religious and political theories. These sources and skills will provide a basis for the analytical work that you undertake in your assessed work.

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This module will be divided into two parts. First, it will familiarise students with how Continental philosophy has developed in response to methodological and historical questions. Second, it will then show how Continental philosophy applies to the philosophy of religion by discussing traditional religious problems—e.g., the existence of God, the problem of theodicy, the conception of the good life—and seeing how seminal Continental thinkers engage with these issues in diverse ways. The first part of the module will discuss critical, historical-based methodologies in: philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer and Ricoeur), phenomenology (Dupré and Marion) and geneaology (Foucault). The second part of the module will utilise contemporary scholarship consisting in contemporary philosophers applying the aforementioned methodological approaches to religious problems.

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The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the history and practice of the anthropology of religion through the past 150 years. Students will explore the ‘anthropology of religion’ to provide an historical and contemporary understanding of how anthropological studies of religion enrich knowledge of what it means to be religious. The course will examine and students will practise the anthropological method of rich participant observation and comparative analysis. Course content focuses on foundational and contemporary issues of religious definition, ritual, belief, embodiment, rationality and relationships in both Western and non-western contexts.

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This module will explore the theme of ‘Biblical Codes’ from two angles:

1) How has the Bible been read as code?

2) How can we read/ ‘decode’ biblical mysteries (prophecy, apocalyptic, or ‘wisdom’)

Under heading 1) we will be exploring how different writers and groups (some of them inside the Bible, some of them outside it) have read the Bible as temporal or political code. For example, the biblical book of Daniel attempts to decode the book of Jeremiah, which had already become deeply mysterious to ancient readers. Similarly, the New Testament ‘deciphers’ biblical prophecy and motifs by applying them to Jesus or the Roman Empire. At the other end of the time spectrum, we find bestsellers like Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code (1997), Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye’s attempts to decrypt biblical visions of the end of time by way of contemporary global politics, or recent readings of the book of Ezekiel as prophecies about UFO’s. Techniques of decryption are also built into central developments within Jewish and Christian traditions. In fact, what is often called the history of ‘hermeneutics’ could also be described as the history of ‘How not to read literally’. We will be looking at a range of examples of such developments by focusing on readers like Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, or Jewish Kabbalah.

Under heading 2, we will undertake some in-depth readings of prophecy, apocalyptic, or wisdom texts—the ones that readers of the Bible find most difficult to ‘decode’. Texts to be studied will be taken from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Pseudepigrapha. We will be exploring the contexts that produced these literatures and thinking about how to read (decipher?) them across the abyss of time.

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Recent cultural and political theories have been haunted by the question of religion, its definitions and functions, its emancipatory capacities, its relation to violence, and its relationship to the history and future of the concept of the secular. The centrality of religion as a topic for these recent interdisciplinary discussions has emerged in relationship to a growing unease about earlier, modern modes of distinguishing public and private life; a ‘return’ of religion as an internationally significant political force in recent decades; and surprising appropriations of religion as a figure for secular Western democracy. Theorists (particularly in the area of postcolonial theory) are questioning naturalized or ahistorical distinctions between religion and the secular (e.g., Talal Asad, Tomoko Masuzawa, Saba Mahmood). Many contemporary thinkers attempt to short-circuit the distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’, making possible surprising paradoxes of a “materialist theology” (Slavoj Žižek), an “emptied” religiosity (Gianni Vattimo), or what Hent de Vries calls simply a “political theology”. Once we get down beneath the easily-rehearsed stereotypes, we find that the old religious archives (like the Bible) model competing forms of politics: from messianic anarchism to theocracy. In our political histories—and presents—these have been used (and now are being re-used) in surprising ways.

This course considers important moments in the Western history of political theology in order to understand modern and contemporary discussions of secular politics. These moments will be considered in relation to comparable instances of politically imagined theology (or theologically imagined politics) from other religious traditions as well. Students will:

- examine key topics in the modern formation of these discussions (e.g., distinctions between public and private; secular spheres; religion as extra-political ideal; fanaticism; politicized evaluations of Western religion as exceptional in relation to the ‘others’; religion and political revolution)

- map important similarities and differences between Western and non-Western modelling of the relationship between religion and politics

- critically evaluate recent presentations of the inherent violence of religions, the inevitability of the clash of civilizations, and the usefulness of religion in ‘making globalization work’

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This course explores the central teachings, practices and sacred texts of Mahåyåna Buddhism and will focus upon the first 500 years of its history in India. It will examine the rise and development of Mahåyåna Buddhism in India through analysis of its key sacred literature and philosophical schools as well as its subsequent spread to East and North Asia.

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This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of ‘modernity’.

The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified ‘religion’ as an object of study in ways that has historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.

The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed will include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.

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This module explores the cultural specificity and diversity of Asian cultures, traditions, social and political systems and literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The topic of Asia will be approached on a thematic basis but with particular emphasis on an understanding of the historical and interpretive challenges to inter-cultural understanding between Asia and Europe/ the West.

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This module will evaluate and critique a range of historical, philosophical, theological and secular perspectives on death and the afterlife, beginning with the way the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Qu’ran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Upanishads conceptualize the nature and destiny of humankind, including such concepts as sheol, moksha, purgatory, eternal life, heaven and hell. This will be followed by a discussion of the interplay in western theological and philosophical traditions between competing notions of the resurrection of the flesh and the immortality of the body as well as an evaluation of what various Christian thinkers, including Augustine and Origen, believed that an eternity in heaven or hell might be like. The module will then investigate the range of eschatological teachings that different traditions have offered, including in Christian thought the diversity of realized and future forms of eschatology, as well as the tenability of purported testimony surrounding the possibility of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and mind-dependent worlds, and the way in which such endeavours have been sustained or critiqued in the light of scientific and historical advances. The module will conclude with a detailed study of the way in which filmmakers and novelists have approached eschatological and apocalyptic teachings and reconceptualised them, with specific reference to Conrad Ostwalt’s work on the desacralization of the apocalypse in Jewish and Christian thought in a range of 1990s Hollywood science fiction movies, and the impact that such attempts have had on the way questions of life after death have conventionally been approached.

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This module will examine the main doctrines and practices of early Indian Buddhism as seen through the Theravada Buddhist literature of the Pali canon (in translation). The module will examine what we might know about the figure of the historical Buddha and the central concepts and doctrinal themes in his teachings as represented in these materials, with particular attention paid to their historical and social context and the philosophical, soteriological, ethical and socio-political ideas expressed within early Buddhist literature in the period 500 BCE to 500 CE. The module will also consider the rise of "Theravada" and modern developments within this tradition of Buddhism.

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This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.

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This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature. It will equip students with critical ideas that will help them become more skilful and confident readers of texts in and beyond this period. Students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts: environmental (for example, considering the effects of urbanisation and the Industrial Revolution); imaginative (examining a variety of genres: for example fable, dream-vision, novel); political (class conflicts, changing gender roles, ideas of nation and empire); and psychological (representations of growing up, courtship, sibling and parent-child relationships, dreams and madness). Students will be made aware of such critical concepts as realism and allegory and will be encouraged to think about various developments of literary form in the period.

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When the Long Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the “United States” were history’s “greatest poem” he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.

In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such “Old World” traditions as racialized slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.

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This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers’ responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, and financial crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: new conceptualism and the claim to unoriginality; archival poetics; the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. The weekly topics will often alternate between thematic and formal concerns.

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Before 1660 there was no English novel, and by the end of the eighteenth century there was Jane Austen. This module asks how such a literary revolution was possible. It investigates the rise of professional authorship in an increasingly open marketplace for books. With commercial expansion came experiment and novelty. Genres unheard of in the Renaissance emerged for the first time: they include the periodical essay, autobiography, the oriental tale, amatory fiction, slave narratives and, most remarkably, the modern novel. Ancient modes such as satire, pastoral and romance underwent surprising transformations. Many eighteenth-century men and women felt that they lived in an age of reason and emancipation – although others warned of enlightenment’s darker aspect. Seminar reading reflects the fact that an increasing number of women, members of the labouring classes, and African slaves wrote for publication; that readers themselves became more socially varied; and that Britain was growing to understand itself as an imperial nation within a shifting global context. It asks students to reflect, as eighteenth-century writers did, upon the literary, cultural and political implications of these developments

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This module features key modernist texts, for example the work of Ezra Pound, H.D., T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Jean Rhys. It also makes substantial reference to key philosophical theories of modernity and textuality. The literary works are taken mostly from a restricted period 1910-1930. One focus in the module will be the notion of the artist as applied to the writer as an art-practitioner. Other texts which might form part of the curriculum may include a limited selection of works by Mina Loy, Wyndham Lewis,, Elizabeth Bowen, F.T. Marinetti, Samuel Beckett, Georg Lukács, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Jacques Derrida and Paul De Man. Other topics include modes of representation, language and experience, colonialism and modernism, textuality and identity, war and democracy, class and politics, cosmopolitanism and bohemianism, sex, morality and city life. This material requires both theoretical and historical orientation, as well as skill in distilling significance from complex literary artefacts with regard to the network of mediations which both bind such works to their apparent context and appear to dislocate them.

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This module offers a survey of early modern literature from 1500 to 1700. Looking at a wide range of literature including poetry, prose and drama, students will consider the relationship between literary debate and form on the one hand, and political change, social identity and religious transformation on the other. We will consider how important debates surrounding political, social, gender and religious identity inflect and are reflected in the literature of the period, including works by Baldwin, Shakespeare, Donne, Lanyer, Marvell, Milton, Katherine Phillips, Behn and Pepys. Students will explore the boundaries of the literary canon, encountering pamphlets, petitions, sermons and conduct books, for example and consider the ways in which literary and non-literary texts both mirror and influence culture and society.

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The drama of early modern England broke new literary and dramatic ground. This module will focus on key plays across the period. It will explore the development of dramatic writing, the status of playing companies within the London theatres, drama's links to court entertainment and its relationship to the provinces. Dramatic and literary form will be a central preoccupation alongside issues of characterisation, culture, politics, and gender. Shakespeare's work will be put into context in relation to the plays of his contemporary dramatists as well as the various cultural, historical and material circumstances that influenced the composition, performance and publication of drama in early modern England.

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This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.

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This course introduces students to a range of writings from the late medieval and Tudor period. It focuses on a number of central genres in English writing that emerge between the late fourteenth and early sixteenth centuries, including romance, fabliaux, satirical, and religious writing. The course is designed to introduce a genre or theme with reference to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and his other writings, especially his lyrics and shorter poetry, thus allowing this accessible author to initiate the students in issues that will be pertinent in respect of less familiar writers and writings.

The themes and theories covered by the course will vary from year to year in response to the lecture programme and to the emphases made by individual teachers, but they will include such topics as authorship, reading, patronage, translation, gender, sexuality, iconography, piety, personal identity, imagination, historicism, legend, medievalism, representation, audience, and the move from manuscript to print.

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Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

All students within the Faculty of Humanities can apply to spend a term or year abroad as part of their degree at one of our partner universities in North America, Asia or Europe. You are expected to adhere to any progression requirements in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to proceed to the term or year abroad.

The term or year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see Go Abroad.

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

This module will examine the main doctrines and practices of early Indian Buddhism as seen through the Theravada Buddhist literature of the Pali canon (in translation). The module will examine what we might know about the figure of the historical Buddha and the central concepts and doctrinal themes in his teachings as represented in these materials, with particular attention paid to their historical and social context and the philosophical, soteriological, ethical and socio-political ideas expressed within early Buddhist literature in the period 500 BCE to 500 CE. The module will also consider the rise of "Theravada" and modern developments within this tradition of Buddhism.

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This module will evaluate and critique a range of historical, philosophical, theological and secular perspectives on death and the afterlife, beginning with the way the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Qu’ran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Upanishads conceptualize the nature and destiny of humankind, including such concepts as sheol, moksha, purgatory, eternal life, heaven and hell. This will be followed by a discussion of the interplay in western theological and philosophical traditions between competing notions of the resurrection of the flesh and the immortality of the body as well as an evaluation of what various Christian thinkers, including Augustine and Origen, believed that an eternity in heaven or hell might be like. The module will then investigate the range of eschatological teachings that different traditions have offered, including in Christian thought the diversity of realized and future forms of eschatology, as well as the tenability of purported testimony surrounding the possibility of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and mind-dependent worlds, and the way in which such endeavours have been sustained or critiqued in the light of scientific and historical advances. The module will conclude with a detailed study of the way in which filmmakers and novelists have approached eschatological and apocalyptic teachings and reconceptualised them, with specific reference to Conrad Ostwalt’s work on the desacralization of the apocalypse in Jewish and Christian thought in a range of 1990s Hollywood science fiction movies, and the impact that such attempts have had on the way questions of life after death have conventionally been approached.

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This module is aimed at those students who would like to follow a career as Primary or Secondary School teachers, but is also suitable to those who would like to combine an academic course with work experience. Placements in a school environment will enhance the students' employment opportunities as they will acquire a range of skills. It will also provide the students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of Religious Education and Philosophy in the primary or secondary school context. The university sessions and weekly school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance. The student will spend one half-day per week for ten weeks in a school where each student will have a designated teacher-mentor who will guide their work in school. They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers’ tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

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This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of ‘modernity’.

The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified ‘religion’ as an object of study in ways that has historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.

The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed will include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.

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This course explores the central teachings, practices and sacred texts of Mahåyåna Buddhism and will focus upon the first 500 years of its history in India. It will examine the rise and development of Mahåyåna Buddhism in India through analysis of its key sacred literature and philosophical schools as well as its subsequent spread to East and North Asia.

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Recent cultural and political theories have been haunted by the question of religion, its definitions and functions, its emancipatory capacities, its relation to violence, and its relationship to the history and future of the concept of the secular. The centrality of religion as a topic for these recent interdisciplinary discussions has emerged in relationship to a growing unease about earlier, modern modes of distinguishing public and private life; a ‘return’ of religion as an internationally significant political force in recent decades; and surprising appropriations of religion as a figure for secular Western democracy. Theorists (particularly in the area of postcolonial theory) are questioning naturalized or ahistorical distinctions between religion and the secular (e.g., Talal Asad, Tomoko Masuzawa, Saba Mahmood). Many contemporary thinkers attempt to short-circuit the distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’, making possible surprising paradoxes of a “materialist theology” (Slavoj Žižek), an “emptied” religiosity (Gianni Vattimo), or what Hent de Vries calls simply a “political theology”. Once we get down beneath the easily-rehearsed stereotypes, we find that the old religious archives (like the Bible) model competing forms of politics: from messianic anarchism to theocracy. In our political histories—and presents—these have been used (and now are being re-used) in surprising ways.

This course considers important moments in the Western history of political theology in order to understand modern and contemporary discussions of secular politics. These moments will be considered in relation to comparable instances of politically imagined theology (or theologically imagined politics) from other religious traditions as well. Students will:

- examine key topics in the modern formation of these discussions (e.g., distinctions between public and private; secular spheres; religion as extra-political ideal; fanaticism; politicized evaluations of Western religion as exceptional in relation to the ‘others’; religion and political revolution)

- map important similarities and differences between Western and non-Western modelling of the relationship between religion and politics

- critically evaluate recent presentations of the inherent violence of religions, the inevitability of the clash of civilizations, and the usefulness of religion in ‘making globalization work’

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This module will explore the theme of ‘Biblical Codes’ from two angles:

1) How has the Bible been read as code?

2) How can we read/ ‘decode’ biblical mysteries (prophecy, apocalyptic, or ‘wisdom’)

Under heading 1) we will be exploring how different writers and groups (some of them inside the Bible, some of them outside it) have read the Bible as temporal or political code. For example, the biblical book of Daniel attempts to decode the book of Jeremiah, which had already become deeply mysterious to ancient readers. Similarly, the New Testament ‘deciphers’ biblical prophecy and motifs by applying them to Jesus or the Roman Empire. At the other end of the time spectrum, we find bestsellers like Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code (1997), Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye’s attempts to decrypt biblical visions of the end of time by way of contemporary global politics, or recent readings of the book of Ezekiel as prophecies about UFO’s. Techniques of decryption are also built into central developments within Jewish and Christian traditions. In fact, what is often called the history of ‘hermeneutics’ could also be described as the history of ‘How not to read literally’. We will be looking at a range of examples of such developments by focusing on readers like Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, or Jewish Kabbalah.

Under heading 2, we will undertake some in-depth readings of prophecy, apocalyptic, or wisdom texts—the ones that readers of the Bible find most difficult to ‘decode’. Texts to be studied will be taken from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Pseudepigrapha. We will be exploring the contexts that produced these literatures and thinking about how to read (decipher?) them across the abyss of time.

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The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the history and practice of the anthropology of religion through the past 150 years. Students will explore the ‘anthropology of religion’ to provide an historical and contemporary understanding of how anthropological studies of religion enrich knowledge of what it means to be religious. The course will examine and students will practise the anthropological method of rich participant observation and comparative analysis. Course content focuses on foundational and contemporary issues of religious definition, ritual, belief, embodiment, rationality and relationships in both Western and non-western contexts.

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The primary aims of this module are to give you a critical grounding in Islamic sources, thinkers and theories relevant to the development of Islamic liberal and fundamentalist perspectives, and it also explores the ways in which these perspectives bear upon contemporary debates and events. It will equip you with the ability to situate current views within their historical and theological context, critically assess them, and constructively apply them to current phenomena. The module will introduce you to key Islamic debates such as those which address textual interpretation, the relation between revelation and human reason, and the nature of political authority. It will familiarise you with key sources such as the Qur'an, Hadith and treatises of key Islamic theologians and jurists, and it will introduce you to classical and modern theorists from Ibn Taymiyyah to Tariq Ramadan. A range of case studies will allow you to apply these sources and theories to contemporary situations. The module draws lessons for critical thinking about the way in which social context and religious premises affect both religious and political theories. These sources and skills will provide a basis for the analytical work that you undertake in your assessed work.

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This module will be divided into two parts. First, it will familiarise students with how Continental philosophy has developed in response to methodological and historical questions. Second, it will then show how Continental philosophy applies to the philosophy of religion by discussing traditional religious problems—e.g., the existence of God, the problem of theodicy, the conception of the good life—and seeing how seminal Continental thinkers engage with these issues in diverse ways. The first part of the module will discuss critical, historical-based methodologies in: philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer and Ricoeur), phenomenology (Dupré and Marion) and geneaology (Foucault). The second part of the module will utilise contemporary scholarship consisting in contemporary philosophers applying the aforementioned methodological approaches to religious problems.

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This module will enable students to analyze and understand the development of Christian theology over the last two hundred years. We will be critically evaluating the significance and contribution of a number of leading twentieth century theologians from a variety of denominational backgrounds and endeavouring to understand to a sophisticated degree the changes in Christian thought and practice in a variety of situations in the twentieth century. The module will begin by surveying the main strands of post-Enlightenment Christian theology, including the contributions of Kant, Schleiermacher and Feuerbach. There will be a detailed focus of two of the 'Death of God' theologians from the twentieth century, Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton. We will then critically evaluate the significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his influence (with particular reference to Harvey Cox and John A.T. Robinson); Liberal Protestantism and the rise of Neo-Orthodoxy, with particular reference to Paul Tillich and Karl Barth; Rudolf Bultmann and his programme of demythologization; and an interrogation of the Christian understanding of ‘hope’ with specific reference to Jürgen Moltmann. The module also involves a study of key theological movements, in particular Liberation Theology, Black Theology and Feminist Theology.

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The purpose of this module is to survey some of the most significant 20th century trends in the dialogue between psychology and religion through the writings of depth-psychologists, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists and phenomenologists of religion. The module begins by exploring the varieties of religious experience, especially through the work of William James and Rudolf Otto, after which it examines the contributions of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology to the study of religion, particularly in the work of Freud, Jung and Hillman. This material provides the basis for subsequent discussion of the interdisciplinary literature comparing religious altered states of consciousness (mystical, visionary and paranormal experiences) with other altered states of consciousness (madness, drug induced experiences etc.). The module concludes by discussing the principle issues addressed by transpersonal psychology (particularly in the work of Wilber and Grof): the relationship between western psychotherapies and eastern religious disciplines of spiritual emancipation; competing models of spiritual transformation.

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Students are required to identify a viable research focus or question for their project which they will then pursue, with supervisory support, in order to submit their final dissertation. In the summer before joining the module, students will be given advice on how to identify their research focus, and by the start of the autumn term in which the module begins they will be expected to have produced a single side of A4 summarising key literature or other sources relevant to their specific project. Individual supervision will begin from the autumn term onwards. Initially this is likely to focus on clarifying the research focus or question, and situating it more deeply in existing literature and debates. Following this a clearer outline plan for conducting the research will be developed, with students then undertaking work necessary to meet each phase of this plan. If the project involves original fieldwork, the student will be expected to submit a research ethics application form for Faculty approval. As the project develops, chapter drafts will be submitted for review and discussion with the supervisor. Supervision contact time is likely to vary according to the project and student need, but will not exceed a total of 6 hours per student (including face to face supervision or time spent writing written feedback to electronically-submitted drafts). Supervisors will provide feedback on chapter drafts, which will need to be submitted to supervisors in good time before supervision meetings, but will not provide feedback on whole draft manuscripts once chapters are completed.

Supervisors will only provide supervisory support during term-time. Once the project has been agreed and a supervisor allocated in the autumn term, students will not normally be allowed to change their fundamental focus of their project (although their specific questions are likely to change as the project develops) or change their supervisor unless in highly exceptional circumstances.

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The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularization, subjectivization), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualization, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual’s life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.

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This module encourages exploration of British interactions with the world beyond Europe during the eighteenth century. The so-called Orient and the New World became sites of exchange but also domination. New hybrid cultural forms emerged from these exchanges and appropriations. We will investigate a variety of texts that depict non-European people and places, as well as texts written by foreign and colonial peoples, to arrive at a critical understanding of cross-cultural and transnational influences at home and abroad. We will address and debate such topics as 'Cosmopolitanism in the Eighteenth Century', ‘Foreign Influence on British Identity’, ‘Sympathy and Sensibility’, ‘The Material Culture of Empire’, ‘Exoticism’, ‘Poetics of Slavery’, ‘The Black Atlantic’, and ‘Transatlantic Culture’. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the postcolonial study of eighteenth-century literature and the ethical and political implications of these texts and the ways in which we choose to approach them.

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This module examines the development of Virginia Woolf's writing across the span of her life. It explores Woolf’s most important modernist texts alongside some of her lesser-known writings, and considers a range of literary genres she wrote in (novels, essays, short stories, auto/biography). As well as paying close attention to the distinct style of modernist literature, there will be consideration of various historical, cultural, philosophical, political and artistic contexts that influenced, and were influenced by, Woolf’s writing. Students will be introduced to the key critical debates on Woolf, featuring discussion of topics as diverse as feminism, visual art, the everyday, war, sexuality, gender, class, empire, science, nature and animality. With Woolf as its central focus, this module therefore seeks to understand the lasting significance of modernist literature.

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What is the relationship between 'animal' and 'human', and how is this explored through writing? This module seeks to examine creaturely relations by focusing on literature from the early 19th century up to the present, alongside key theoretical and contextual material that engages with questions concerning animality and humanity. We will focus on how writers imagine distinct animal worlds as well as how they understand the role of animals in human cultures. A range of novels, short stories and poems will raise questions about how we look at, think with, and try to give voice to animals, and topics covered will include 'Becoming Animal', 'Listening to Animals', 'Animal Experiments' and 'Tasting Animals'. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the diverse critical field known as 'animal studies', whilst also considering the broader cultural, philosophical and ethical implications of how we think about the relationship between humans and animals.

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The New Woman, a controversial figure who became prominent in British literature in the late nineteenth century, challenged traditional views of femininity and represented a more radical understanding of women's nature and role in society. She was associated with a range of unconventional behaviour – from smoking and bicycle-riding to sexuality outside marriage and political activism. This module will examine some of the key literary texts identified with the New Woman phenomenon including women's journalism in the period. The module's reading will be organised around central thematic concerns such as: sexuality and motherhood; suffrage and politics; career and creativity. We will consider to what extent the New Woman was a media construction or whether the term reflected the lives of progressive women in the period. This module will also examine how the New Woman became a global phenomenon, beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, before spreading to literature produced around the world by writers from Britain (eg Amy Levy, Evelyn Sharp) America (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), Australia (George Egerton), and New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield). The module will also consider the legacy of the New Woman into the early modernist period, through studying Virginia Woolf’s novel that depicts the suffrage movement, Night and Day.

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The module examines some key texts in the theory and literary presentation of utopia. In the first part of the module we will examine classic early utopian texts (Plato, More) and will set these in the context of the modern theory of historical progress (Hegel) the failure of that progress to materialise (Agamben) and the nature of hope for the future (Bloch). In the second part of the module, we will examine modern classics which look at the failure of the communist utopia (Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell) and at later texts which revived the genre of utopia (LeGuin, Atwood).

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This module focuses on the exploration of the graphic novel as a visual and literary medium. The module will interpret the term ‘graphic novel’ broadly, and incorporate discussions of comic books, political cartoons, as well as film and television adaptations as a part of its curriculum. The module will begin with an examination of the more mature aesthetic that became increasingly popular for graphic novels during the late 1980s, and examine how these developments have continued to evolve to the present day. Strong emphasis will be placed on readings informed by sociological and political discourses. Students will be encouraged to relate their close analysis of texts to topics such as the distinctions between art and popular culture, and the connections between literary and social history, as well as contemporary concerns such as identity politics, neo-liberal capitalism, protest, and anarchy. As such, the module will demonstrate how the study of graphic novels directly relates to several key concerns in the study of undergraduate English.

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If the Bildungsroman has been criticised for being outmoded and conservative, how do contemporary writers interrogate and expand its scope and importance? Are coming-of-age narratives merely private stories or can they be read in ways which highlight their social functions, and what kind of theoretical, aesthetic and cultural perspectives can we apply to scrutinise these functions? This module will bring together a range of texts and films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that can be read within and against the literary tradition of the Bildungsroman or the coming-of-age narrative. Drawing on material from the US, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe, we will spend time analysing the representation of the coming-of-age experience in terms of content and form and assess the ideological functions of the Bildungsroman in a cross-cultural context. Particular attention will be given to questions of racial and ethnic identity, migration, colonialism, memory, trauma, belonging and sexuality. We will also explore the connection of the Bildungsroman with genres such as autobiography, family memoir, young adult fiction, graphic novel, and film. Writers studied in this module include Richard Wright, Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marjane Satrapi, and we will watch films including My Beautiful Laundrette and Bend it Like Beckham.

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This module gives an opportunity for intensive study of one of the major novelists of Victorian England. There are many different views and interpretations of Dickens circulating in our culture. He has been dismissed as a writer of cosy sentimentality, celebrated as a radical critic of his age, and admired for his prodigious output and creative innovation.

Studying a selection of his fiction, we will consider a wide variety of interpretations, in the light of the most current literary criticism of Dickens's works. We will analyse Dickens’s texts in terms of narrative method, genre, characterisation, imagery and book history and – in the process – we will examine how the novels respond to, or challenge, significant aspects of Victorian culture and society such as class, gender, family, nation, childhood, the city, empire, industrialisation, and modernity.

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The module raises students' awareness of contemporary issues in postcolonial writing, and the debates around them. This includes a selection of important postcolonial texts (which often happen to be major contemporary writing in English) and studies their narrative practice and their reading of contemporary culture. It focuses on issues such as the construction of historical narratives of nation, on identity and gender in the aftermath of globalisation and 'diaspora’, and on the problems associated with creating a discourse about these texts.

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The module is structured around poetry and fiction produced in New York since the Second World War. The emphasis is on New York's experimental and avant-garde traditions, and one organising principle is the inter-connectedness of the arts in New York. The module introduces students to some of the main areas of culture in the city, from the New York school of poetry through Abstract Expressionism, early Punk and on to post-modern fiction. Writers to be studied will include John Cage, Barbara Guest, William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Patti Smith and Paul Auster.

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The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically and to learn by a combination of careful reading and experimental writing. You will be able to read a variety of important literary and critical texts published over the last 200 years – mostly in the last 50 years. You will be asked to use the skills of critical analysis and close reading developed elsewhere in your degree in new ways and to take a fresh look at the study of literature. The course draws on the ideas writers have about writing, as well as on psychoanalysis, literary theory, fiction, poetry, drama and film. It asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write.

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This module explores the eighteenth century fascination with bodies and the truths (or lies) bodies were supposed to reveal. Our focus will be on the ways in which the body is read and constructed in eighteenth-century literature and how these readings and constructions reflect various concerns about class, race, gender and sexuality. Efforts to regulate the body (particularly the female, plebeian and racialised body) became the focus of many reformers and philanthropists in the period who sought to recuperate the productive (and reproductive) labour of idle or transgressive bodies to serve the nation's moral and financial economies. Other writers, however, emphasised the body's potential to work against social and cultural norms, focusing on events such as the masquerade, in which women dressed as men and aristocrat’s as chimney sweeps.

Through the course of this module we will examine a range of literary representations of the body which seek both the control the body and to celebrate its disruptive potential. We will read texts from a variety of genres including medical literature, misogynist satire, sentimental novels, popular fiction, travel writing and pornography. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work by Thomas Lacquer, Michel Foucault, Roy Porter, and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, which illuminate the ideological stakes writers played for when writing about the body. Topics for discussion will include disability and deformity, race, the sentimental body, dress and the body, the body as text and the relationship between the body and the body politic. The primary focus of this option will be literature, but we will also examine visual representations of the body in caricature and satire as well as in the portraiture.

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This module explores places and journeys shaped by key modern historical processes: migration, travel, immigration, dispossession, colonial conquest, and post-colonial independence. From immigrant arrival and dislocation to national journeys and political fantasy, the course explores connections between journeys, locations, and literary production. The main objective is to think about places and journeys as sites and processes of negotiation and contradiction, convergence and discord, clash and reconciliation. Specific locations include: London, East Africa, and the Caribbean. Writers and texts include: Merle Collins (Angel), Naguib Mahfouz (Cairo Modern), Jean Rhys (Voyage in the Dark), and Sam Selvon (The Lonely Londoners).

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While the so-called ‘Brontë myth’ remains potent in popular culture today, the lives-and-works model associated with it continues to encourage readers to seek partially concealed Brontë sisters in their fictions. Beginning and ending with the problematic of mythmaking – its origins in Gaskell’s 'Life of Charlotte Brontë' and its subsequent perpetuation in film and other rewritings - this module will restore attention to the rich literary contribution made by the sisters through an intensive focus on their novels and selected poetry in the context of Victorian debates about gender and the woman question. Situating the Brontë myth in relation to other forms of mythmaking in the period (for example, ideologies of class, gender and empire), it will consider a small selection of film adaptations and go on to examine the Brontës’s experiments with narrative voice and form, their variations upon the novel of education, the tensions between romance and realism in their writing and their engagement with religious and philosophical questions as well with the political, economic and social conditions of women in mid-Victorian culture. We will also consider a range of modern creative and critical engagements with the Brontës' literary works..

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This module explores the history and practice of crime fiction in the United States from Edgar Allan Poe in the 1840s through to the present day. Crime fiction will be understood broadly to encompass a range of generic categories such as detective, hardboiled and police procedural novels and stories. Attention will also be paid to developments in cinema and television which parallel those in fiction, such as film noir and the contemporary cop

series. Strong emphasis will be placed on historically informed reading and students will be encouraged to relate the close analysis of texts to shifts in narrative form as well as the establishment and transgression of generic conventions.

The study of American crime fiction reaches directly into the heart of many of the key concerns of undergraduate English. Questions about the distinctions between high and low culture, the seductiveness of particular narrative forms, and dialectic relations between literary and social history will all be addressed. Students will have the opportunity to read crime fiction alongside elements of Marxist, narrative and genre theory. Eventually they will

be able to consider how crime fiction has evolved in its engagement with questions of race, gender and sexuality in the United States, from the construction of white masculinity in the hardboiled genre to the policing of black communities in the neoliberal city.

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Much Irish writing in the 20th and 21st centuries has been torn between tradition and innovation, between the need to define a national identity in opposition to Britain and the desire to transcend national boundaries and embrace a cosmopolitan modernity. With four nobel laureates in the 20th century (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, Heaney), modern Irish literature has gained international recognition. In recent years, Irish Literature has undergone surprising changes in theme and content, moving from the insularity of parochialism to the emergence of the 'Global Irish novel". The charting of this development will provide an important framework for the discussion in this module of recurrent issues in Irish writing, such as history, cultural memory, violence and society, queer sexualities and gender relations, national and cultural identities, and the negotiation of what the historian Roy Foster has called the 'varieties of Irishness'. The module will consider a broad variety of Irish writing from 1975 to 2014: sampling significant developments in poetry, drama and prose.

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This course explores the intersections between nation, narration and globalisation in the twentieth and twenty-first century novel. It will focus this exploration through textual representations of 'the stranger', a figure theorised since the beginning of the twentieth century as symptomatic of modernity in European cultures, and more recently by postcolonial critics as the paradigm through which the effects of globalisation are ‘encountered’ in contemporary ‘multicultural’ national and transnational spaces. Students will be encouraged to analyse the historical and conceptual relations between novel and nation and the particular ways in which the body of ‘the stranger’ has been reified through them. At the same time, they will be invited to consider ‘the stranger’ as a disorientating embodiment of distance and proximity, and to evaluate how this dynamic constructs and deconstructs the form and boundaries of the novel as a genre, and the surrounding familial, national and racial paradigms of belonging. Through discussions of the theoretical work of writers such as Georg Simmel, Freud, Fanon, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Zygmunt Bauman, and Homi Bhabha, students will be asked especially to consider the mutual effects of estrangement across gendered, racial, and colonial divides. The broad aims of the course are to problematise ‘the stranger’ as a literary means of orientating the individual and the nation; to situate the twentieth and twenty-first century novel as a symptomatic site for ‘strange encounters’; and to understand the extent to which it poses ‘strangeness’ and ‘homeliness’ as inseparable, necessary and possible acts of narration.

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This module will bring together works of poetry and fiction by a number of black writers in the USA and Canada in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With a particular emphasis on migration, music, and urban space, we will explore the intellectual, political, and aesthetic imperatives that drive these writers to address questions of race, ethnicity, gender, belonging, representation, poverty, privilege, and trauma.

Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s, the moment when “the Negro was in vogue”, students will examine the ways in which black Americans and Canadians have sought to make their impact on the literary landscape, by turns exposing and employing the power structures of the dominant culture. This comparative look at US and Canadian literatures, however, also challenges students to scrutinize the construction of literary and other categories, and to consider the commonality and distinctive difference between black experience north and south of the 49th parallel.

Lectures/workshops will emphasise discussion of key moments and movements in African American / African Canadian arts; the significance of linguistic distinctiveness; the cultural self-categorisation of black, African American, Africadian and Halfrican identities; and the rise of African American literary theory.

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This module introduces students to the drama of Shakespeare's time, thinking in particular about the new theatrical buildings and the discoveries they made possible. The module encourages independent study and is consequently built around student interests as they develop their own research questions and essay topic.

This period saw the emergence of the first permanent purpose built playhouses, and the development of the theatre industry. We will consider how the conditions of performance and production – such as playhouse architecture, the reportorial system, printing, censorship and London's changing urban environment – affected playwrights, actors and audiences. Reading a range of playwrights, students will get a sense of the main trends which shaped the drama of the time, contextualising their understanding of canonical writers such as Shakespeare. Students will also engage with the current developments in early modern theatre history and the ways in which thinking about authorship, staging, printing and other key concepts from the period has altered over the last fifty years. As part of this work, we will examine the phenomena of modern 'reconstructed’ playhouses such as Shakespeare’s Globe, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and the American Shakespeare Centre’s Blackfriars, asking what - if anything - modern performance in these spaces can tell us about early modern practices.

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This module focuses on the theory and practice of marriage and divorce in early modern England and its treatment in the literature of the period. Examining a wide range of texts (drama, poetry, prose works and domestic handbooks alongside documentary sources such as wills, legal records and letters), it will explore the ways in which representations of marriage and its breakdown both reflected and informed the roles of men and women in early modern society. The relationships between discourses about gender, politics and the historical evidence about men and women's married lives in the period will be explored both through reading in the extensive secondary literature of gender, women's history and masculinity as well as through the study of primary sources such as wills, court records, advice books, popular literature (ballads and pamphlets, for example), literary texts (poems, plays and tracts), diaries and personal memoirs and material objects such as wedding rings and scold’s bridles, for example. From Shakespeare and Fletcher's dramas of happy and unhappy marriage and Spenser's poetry of marital bliss, to argument surrounding men and women's roles in marriage in the poetry and pamphlets of Milton and his contemporaries, we will also go in search of the personal accounts of women and men's experiences of marriage and its breakdown and the material artefacts which are testament to them.

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This module examines the relationship between global capitalism and the novel since the 1980s. By arguing for the centrality of capital and class in the understanding of contemporary post-colonial literature, it reveals how a vibrant global realism has emerged that speaks to the new urban realities of massive rural migration to the city, exploding slum life, and more polarized class inequalities in the global South. It will explore how neoliberal globalization both makes possible and is critiqued by new realist narratives of abjection and resistance from across the global South, especially from India, Nigeria, South Africa, Martinique, Chile, and Egypt.

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30

This module explores the Gothic from its eighteenth-century origins to its present-day incarnations, examining in particular the conventions that have allowed this diverse and evolving genre to remain at once relevant and recognisable. The course focuses on the elements of terror, hauntings and transgressions and how these conventions are deployed and reworked by writers in key literary and historical moments in the genre's development, such as at the end of the end of the eighteenth century, the fin de siècle, post-war America and the millennium. It asks students to consider the Gothic within the social, political and cultural contexts that inform the novel’s various concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class and the law. There will be a strong emphasis on examining and exploring the theoretical discourses underpinning the shifts and developments in the major critical debates and trends. Students will be encouraged to relate textual and critical analysis to topics such as aesthetics, popular culture and literature, religion, social and political history as well as contemporary concerns such as marginalization, queer identity, the body and immigration. The module will demonstrate the ongoing significance of the Gothic as an experimental and evolving form that functions as a vehicle for political and social critiques and, as such, relates to concerns central to the study of undergraduate English and American literature.

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The module provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of the important medieval genre of hagiography, and to place it within changing contexts of scholarly reception. While the main focus will be upon written saints' lives, students will also be encouraged to consider visual and material evidence (wall paintings, stained glass, manuscript illustrations, the cult of relics). Materials from across Europe (where written, in translation) may be studied for comparative purposes. The module will be structured around a series of themes, which might include: local (Kentish) saints; gender; miracle-working; and patronage. These may vary from year to year.

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Teaching and assessment

Religious Studies

You are usually taught in small groups, with most modules involving either two or three hours per week in class, plus individual consultations with teachers as well as sessions on computing and library skills.

Stage 1 modules are normally assessed by 100% coursework. At Stages 2 and 3, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework (such as essays), others by a combination of formal examination and coursework.

English and American Literature

Modules are taught by weekly seminars. Compulsory modules include a weekly lecture, plus individual supervision is offered for the Long Essay. Assessment at Stage 1 is by a mixture of coursework and examination. Some modules may include an optional practical element. At Stage 2, compulsory modules are assessed by coursework and examination. At Stage 3, modules are assessed by coursework only.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programmes specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes will depend on your specific module selection:

Careers

Studying Religious Studies and English and American Literature you develop the key skills that graduate-level employers expect. These include the ability to manage your time effectively and work to clear deadlines, to communicate clearly in writing and orally (including experience of doing public presentations), and to absorb ideas from a wide range of different sources, organise these into a meaningful pattern and develop your own critical discussion of them.

Recent graduates have gone into areas such as teaching, publishing, travel, advertising, personnel, diplomacy, social work, journalism, media, marketing and the legal profession, or on to further study for postgraduate qualifications.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

BBB including English Literature or English Language and Literature grade B

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at HL, including HL English A1/A2/B at 5/6/6 OR English Literature A/English Language and Literature A (or Literature A/Language and Literature A of another country) at HL 5 or SL 6 and World Religions 5 at SL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15200
Part-time £4625 £7600

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2018/19 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2018/19 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.