MA/PGDip Gender, Sexuality and Culture

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Postcolonial Literatures, Genres and Theories

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL60461
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course seeks to explore the expanding field of postcolonial studies, with particular emphasis on the worldwide and ongoing experiences of colonialism and anti-colonialism. We will look at the politics of representation, space and location; at debates about peripheral modernities and ‘world literature’; and at contemporary political preoccupations with the state, the market, development, ‘the war on terror’, class and asylum. We shall look at how works of literature and theory explore and shape anti-colonial projects and in turn influence post-colonial politics. Our aim is to clarify the meaning of ‘the postcolonial’ by looking at a range of historical and geographical contexts, examining both established and contemporary theoretical debates in the field, and reading a broad selection of literary texts with close attention to features of form, structure and language. 



  1. To introduce students to a range of established as well as contemporary debates in postcolonial criticism and theory.
  2. To introduce students to the diversity of genres and forms that make up postcolonial writing.
  3. To examine the diversity of postcolonial contexts and cultures by examining a wide variety of works.        
  4. To problematise the various ways in which issues of difference, gender, power, geographical and linguistic anxieties, community and identity are visualised and represented. 

Knowledge and understanding

We will:


  1. explore new debates in the discipline of postcolonial studies;
  2. utilise and interrogate a broad range of theoretical concepts;
  3. examine postcolonial literatures and cultures and how theory informs our understanding of them.

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. investigate theoretical routes into postcolonial cultures;
  2. demonstrate an appreciation of the various cultural media used to represent the condition of postcoloniality;
  3. engage with the various trends in postcolonial theory that seek to address philosophical questions of identity;
  4. display an appreciation of postcolonial historical and political contexts

Practical skills

  1. develop research skills into various forms of media such as specialist archives, journals, audio-visual material and databases;
  2. experience team work and collaboration;
  3. develop written and communication skills at postgraduate level. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities


  1. Planning, managing and writing a research project.
  2. Developing a collaborative project
  3. Interpreting new knowledge
  4. Improving analytical skills.

Assessment methods



Feedback methods

•    written feedback on essay

•    additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

•    Office hours to discuss developing essays.

•    Formative feedback offered on draft opening to the essay (750 words)

Recommended reading

Indicative Reading

Said, Edward, W. The World, The Text and the Critic; Said, Edward, W. Culture and Imperialism; Young, Robert, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction; Khan, Fawzia Afzal and Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks, eds, The Pre-occupation of Postcolonial Studies; Zaman, Niaz, Firdous Azim and Shawkat Hussain, Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters; Chatterjee, Partha, The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories; Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, The Postcolonial Critic; Loomba, Ania et al, eds. Postcolonial Studies and Beyond.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 267

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Robert Spencer Unit coordinator

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