Module Catalogue 2018/19

SEL2206 : Contemporary Cultures

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Robbie McLaughlan
  • Lecturer: Dr Anne Whitehead, Dr Hannah Durkin, Dr Stacy Gillis
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To introduce students to a broad range of contemporary texts drawn from a wide range of genres which may include fiction, film, poetry, drama, graphic novels and television.

To explore relevant theoretical models (most notably in terms of class, gender, race, geography and medical humanities) in relation to contemporary culture.

To analyse the representation and articulation of these themes in selected texts and within specific social, cultural, historical, intellectual and economic contexts.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will explore identity at the margins of contemporary culture. Twentieth and Twenty-first century modernity is heralded as a global interconnected landscape, within which members of society are encouraged to consider themselves as participants in wide-ranging and above all inclusive cyber and social networks. This interconnectivity is not only – or even primarily – geographical, but concerned with ideological and economic formations of the human body and identity. This module locates and discusses those figures who have fallen between the cracks of modernity, in order to demonstrate how, for a great many, contemporary culture is a space of isolation and alienation. The module will mobilise ideas of waste, in all of its critical potential, in order to place texts within a broader social context. We will look at waste in terms of ecological change and the detritus produced by contemporary culture, but also with regard to a more conceptual understanding of the word in the wasted lives, ambition and opportunities of certain social demographics.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

For a student to successfully complete this module they will need to demonstrate that they have developed:

•       An understanding of the relationship between canonicity and and cultural validity as it has developed since World War Two.
•       An understanding of the social, cultural, historical, intellectual and economic contexts in which texts are produced and consumed.
•       An awareness of the processes by which contemporary culture is shaped by relevant theoretical models and the historical and social specificity of these.

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       To develop close reading skills of specific texts across a range of genres and forms
•       To increase awareness of the relation between texts and their contexts (historical, cultural, social, economic)
•       To evaluate different critical positions towards the texts, and for students then to present their conclusions cogently, both verbally in seminars and in written form.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Present
    • Data Synthesis : Present
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion138:0038:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study135:0035:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the knowledge outcomes, as listed. Seminars develop this knowledge further and provide a structured learning space where students practise the skills of close textual analysis, critical debate and the evaluation of critical positions.

Between the lecture and the seminar students will participate in a self-directed study group where they will discuss topics relevant to the module and respond to set readings.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A75Comparative essay (3000 words).
Written exercise2M25Close Reading exercise (1000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The close reading exercise (1000 words) will be on selected extracts. It will allow students to demonstrate their skills in close reading/textual analysis. The final essay (comparative reading of 2-3 texts) will test both their knowledge of contemporary cultures and their understanding of critical issues and positions.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.