BA English Language and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Culture and Conflict: Neoliberalism and Cultural Production

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL30261
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Britain's experience of the transition to the kinds of neoliberal (ie. market-driven) policies which now dominate government agendas globally was one characterized by intense conflict, over economic organization (resulting in open class struggle), over Britain's national and postcolonial identity, and in relation to the value of subcultures. This period therefore witnessed both revolutionary change advanced by the political right and forms of resistance which posited alternative social possibilities. Culture and Conflict will look at the roles played by culture in relation to these conflicts, and will critically examine Marxist and post-Marxist theories which have attempted to make sense of such conflicts. In considering the ideological specificities of forms of cultural dissidence, attention will also be paid to the nature of the cultural institutions (eg. theatre, television, film production) in which that dissidence was developed.


  • To introduce students to a range of Marxist/materialist cultural theory;
  • To deploy this theoretical work in the analysis of aspects of British culture in the period in which neo-liberalism achieved hegemony (the period of Thatcher onwards);
  • To encourage close reading of various forms of cultural production in relation to the larger ideological context of this period;
  • To develop analyses of individual works in relation to the institutional contexts for cultural production in this period.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, the successful student should have:

  • An understanding of a range of Marxist/post-Marxist Cultural Theory;
  • The ability to deploy this theoretical material in the analysis of aspects of British culture of the period under consideration;
  • An enhanced ability closely to analyze various forms of cultural production in relation to larger ideological contexts;
  • An ability to discuss individual works in relation to their institutional contexts, and to relate both to dominant forces.

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

Portfolio of exercises 30%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Written and face-to-face (upon arrangement)

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 200

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Vardy Unit coordinator

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