Module Catalogue 2022/23

SEL3412 : Writing Liberty in the Romantic era

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Michael Rossington
  • 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



The aim of this module is to examine the ways in which a selection of writings of the Romantic era (from the mid-1790s to the mid-1820s) engage with the struggle for liberty in Britain, continental Europe and globally.

Outline Of Syllabus

The principal focus of the module will be on writings by William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and those who experienced slavery. The main genres will be prose fiction (novels) and prose non-fiction (travel writing, life-writing).

Attention will also be given to the manuscripts and early editions of some of the writings studied through digital resources such as ‘The Shelley-Godwin Archive’ and a workshop in Newcastle University Library's Special Collections.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

(1) an understanding of the historical contexts of Romantic-era writing;
(2) an understanding of how writings were composed and published in the Romantic era;
(3) an ability to discuss literary form;
(4) an ability to evaluate critical positions towards the writings studied;
(5) an ability to compare and contrast the writings studied.

Intended Skill Outcomes

(1) to exercise sensitivity to verbal creativity both orally and in writing;
(2) to offer historically-informed insights into specific aspects of texts both orally and in writing;
(3) to assimilate information from a number of different sources;
(4) to evaluate the critical views of others;
(5) to make a positive contribution to group work in seminars and study groups through the sharing of ideas and skills.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1119:00119:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:008:00Students will be required to participate in eight study group meetings of 50 minutes each.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The start of the first lecture will introduce the module and the last lecture will provide practical advice on the final essay and the short reflective piece. The remainder of the lecture time will focus on the chosen texts. Lectures are the most appropriate method of delivering such content.

Two-hour seminars will allow students to make connections between texts and writers and to ensure that the imagining of liberty is addressed through deep and extensive discussion as appropriate for a Stage 3 module. One seminar will take the form of a workshop in Newcastle University Library's Special Collections to examine its early editions of Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley and manuscripts by Byron, Coleridge and Mary Shelley.

Students will be invited to meet the module leader in his consultation and feedback hours to ask any questions about the module to discuss preparation for their formative essay, feedback on their formative essay and to have their final essay title approved (if they wish to choose their own title) and/or to address queries about their final essays.

Study groups are a useful way of ensuring that students are adequately prepared for seminars and also building their participation and engagement skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A85Final essay (2,750 words).
Reflective log2A15Reflection on participation and engagement with module (250 words).
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MFormative essay (1000 words).
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will research and write a 2,750-word final essay (85% of the assessment). The essay will be required to make detailed reference to two texts (at least one of which must be a text studied in the module) by a writer or writer or writers studied in the module. Students will be given the option to choose their own essay title (to be approved by the Module Leader), if they wish. Allowing students scope for their own initiative is appropriate for assessment at Stage 3.

The mid-semester formative assignment will be a formative essay of 1000 words. It is essential for students to consolidate their learning in the first six weeks through a piece of written work on which they get feedback before submitting their final essay.

A component of the overall mark will be for seminar participation and engagement (15% of the assessment). Part of this mark will be based on a short reflective piece of 250 words on the student's participation and engagement with the module.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.