Literary Theory ENGLIT4085

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course covers aspects of the history of literary theory from antiquity to the present, focusing mainly on trends and debates in contemporary theory and covering topics such as ideas of authorship and literary value, formalism, poetics, structuralism and post-structuralism, psychoanalysis and the subject, ideology and discourse, gender, sexuality and performance, post-modernism, (new) historicism, culture, race, nation, postcolonialism and post-humanism.


1 x 1hr lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus


1 x 1hr lecture per week over ten weeks and 7 x 90min seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Literature and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into English Literature, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

ENGLIT4011  Literary Theory


Encyclopaedia entry (1500 words): 25%

Essay (3000 words): 50%

Seminar contribution: 10%

Seminar presentation of 7 minutes: 15%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ increase literary-theoretical knowledge and awareness of literary, critical and social theory

■ achieve an awareness of the history and context of modern literary theory and its philosophical-aesthetic origins

■ understand aspects of the general context within which works of literary theory have been produced, popularised and expanded upon

■ comprehend key theoretical positions and arguments

■ use this knowledge to construct and develop individually selected areas of specialised enquiry.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ articulate conceptual arguments from, and distinctions between, a range of literary-theoretical positions

■ connect literary-theoretical positions with some broader socio-historical events and epistemological positions

■ situate forms of literary criticism  within the history of ideas

■ articulate some of the practical, literary-critical implications of various theoretical positions

■ apply their literary-theoretical knowledge to works of literature and inflect their criticism with theoretically-informed insight

■ communicate responses to the material studied on the course both orally and in written form through coherent and sustained argument.

■ demonstrate resilience and time management through effectively planning, undertaking and submitting coursework.

■ deal with change and new challenges by applying their disciplinary skills and knowledge to previously unfamiliar research areas and questions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.