BA English Language and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Reading Literature

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL10021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course aims to introduce students to key concepts and techniques in the critical reading of literature.  It examines works in four major categories: prose, poetry, drama, and popular culture.  Within each category, lecturers identify and demonstrate some of the methods involved in the practice of close reading or rhetorical analysis.   Lectures model the kinds of “reading” that students are expected to use in writing essays, including:  

 - reading with an awareness of genre  

 - reading in relation to a text’s authorship, reception, or cultural contexts  

 - reading with an attention to formal features like point of view, word choice, sentence-length, verse form, poetic devices, and poetic rhythm and meter  

 - reading for the relationship between a work’s content and its form.  



' To introduce students to reading skills in the main genres in contemporary English studies.

- To familiarize students with a range of important terms and tools (including the ability to scan lines of verse) in the critical reading of prose, poetry, drama, and culture.

- To develop students' ability to use critical reading in order to construct an argument.

- To introduce students to the theoretical issues around the notion of culture, and to the reading skills needed when critically evaluating popular culture.

- To develop skills of written and oral expression.

- To develop students' ability to work effectively as a group and in online discussion groups.

- To develop students' IT skills through Blackboard.

Teaching and learning methods

2 hours of lecture and 1 hour of seminar  

Lecture slides, handouts, and other teaching materials will be posted on blackboard after the relevant lecture.  

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify works in a variety of different forms 

  • Identify and explicate some of the methods used by literary or cultural critics to examine formal issues and to link a work’s form with its content 

Intellectual skills

  • Formulate arguments on the basis of textual evidence 

  • Use appropriate scholarly terms and methods of presentation 

Practical skills

  • Give critical readings of texts in different genres, including fiction, poetry, drama and popular culture 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communicate appropriately in online and seminar discussions 

  • Express their arguments in writing that reaches a Level 1 standard 

  • Read texts critically and with attention to rhetorical detail 

  • Speak and debate issues clearly 

  • Navigate and utilize the resources available on Blackboard 

Assessment methods

Coursework essay 60%

Essay 2 (close readings exercises) 40%

Feedback methods

Feedback method   

Formative or Summative  

Feedback on seminar work  


Written feedback on all essays 


Meeting for feedback prior to submission of essay 


A meeting, after the submission of the essay, to discuss summative feedback and provide formative feedback for future assignments 

Summative and formative 

Recommended reading

Recommending Reading

William Shakespeare, King Henry V, ed. by Andrew Gurr, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, rev. edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 

Samuel Beckett, Endgame (London: Faber and Faber, 2009). 

Melissa Harrison, All Among the Barley (Bloomsbury, 2018) 

You are also strongly encouraged to purchase the following reference books, both of which you will need throughout your studies here at Manchester.  

1. A reputable academic grammar and style guide, such as The Penguin Writer’s Manual (Penguin, 2002), ISBN 978-0140514896.  

2. A dictionary of literary terms, such as The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Penguin, 1999), ISBN 978-0140513639  OR  The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford University Press, 2008), ISBN 978-0199208272.  


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Clara Dawson Unit coordinator

Return to course details