BA Drama and English Literature

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Writing, Identity and Nation

Unit code ENGL20491
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course addresses issues of nationhood and identity in British and Irish writing since the 1920s, including recent works by postcolonial writers. The content ranges across a wide geographical area and covers a broad spectrum of literary styles, themes and narrative voices. While the primary focus is on selected works of fiction and poetry, the course also examines key concepts in literary and cultural theory. Authors discussed include Sebastian Barry, Mohsin Hamid, Nikita Lalwani, Andrea Levy, Sam Selvon, Kamila Shamsie and Irvine Welsh.


  • To develop an understanding of theories of nationhood, the colonial and the post-colonial in a literary context;

  • To develop the skills to analyse literature in its historical and cultural contexts;

  • To develop the ability to work between literary texts and theories, and across different literary genres, with particular reference to 20th century and 21st century literature;

  • To foster skills of written and oral forms of expression, and of critical and analytical thinking, at a level appropriate to Level 2 of an English Studies degree.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • A knowledge of theories of nationhood, the colonial and post-colonial in a literary contexts;

  • An ability to analyse texts in their historical and cultural contexts;

  • An ability to relate literary theories to different literary genres, with particular reference to 20th century and 21st century literature;

  • An ability to present work which is characterised by analytical thought and sustained, coherent argument, in written and oral forms, at a level appropriate to Level 2 of an English Studies degree.




Please see recommended reading

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
Group/team working
Students taking this unit will be able to work courteously and constructively as part of a larger group.
On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.
Students on this unit must take responsibility for their learning and are encouraged not only to participate in group discussions but to do so actively and even to lead those discussions.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
Oral communication
Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

Essay 70%
On line Exam




The use of dictionaries in the examination is prohibited. This rule applies to all categories of students, including all Visiting Students.

Recommended reading

In 2021-22 we will be studying the following novels, so if you wish to begin your reading over the summer, it is recommended that you concentrate on these set texts.

Barry, Sebastian. A Long Long Way (Faber, 2005)

Hamid, Mohsin. Exit West (Penguin, 2017)

Lalwani, Nikita. Gifted (Penguin, 2007)

Levy, Andrea. Small Island (Headline, 2004)

Selvon, Sam. The Lonely Londoners (Penguin, 2006).

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire (Bloomsbury, 2018)

Welsh, Irvine. Trainspotting (Vintage, 1994).




Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Liam Harte Unit coordinator

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