Skip to main content


SEL1033 : Doing Criticism

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Harriman-Smith
  • Co-Module Leader: Professor Kate Chedgzoy, Dr Kirsten MacLeod
  • Lecturer: Dr Mark Byers
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 360 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


You are already a critic. The aim of this module is to improve your existing powers of analysis and communication when it comes to doing criticism. At module’s end, you should feel able to join and contribute to literary critical conversation, be that verbally or in an essay.

To that end, the module has several subsidiary aims: to develop your ability to analyse a wide variety of literature; to introduce you to contemporary critical theory and practice; and to teach you how to communicate your ideas precisely, thoughtfully, and in dialogue with others.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module has an iterative, tripartite structure. It begins with a focus on the analysis of literary texts. It then explores how to put one’s own readings in dialogue with the work of other critics. It finishes with a section on forming an argument and finding one’s place in contemporary, broad critical debates.

The choice of texts, critics, and critical debates will vary from year to year but will always be both broad and reflective of contemporary concerns.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading189:0089:00Preparation for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00Study group work
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study166:0066:00Assessment preparation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Where possible, this module will integrate sessions from the Academic Skills Team to support its delivery of learning outcomes.

Each the three blocks of this module contains lectures and seminars.

In the first block, lectures introduce the module texts, model methods of analysis appropriate to each text, and provide some broader methodological reflection. In seminars, students will be supported to undertake their own engagement with module texts, and to explore methodological concerns.

Lectures in the second block focus on engaging with scholarship about the module texts. They teach ways of using academic articles, both explicitly and through demonstration. Seminars give students the opportunity and assistance to do this themselves.

The third and final block uses lectures to introduce contemporary trends in literary criticism, and invites students to reflect on their own positions in relation to these trends. Articulating such reflections and developing an independent argument are an additional topic for lectures and the focus of seminars.

Beyond lectures and seminars, students will be instructed, through the VLE, to undertake guided independent work, and encouraged to do their own independent study in response to their own particular needs as critics.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A80A 3,000-word essay.
Prof skill assessmnt1M20An evaluation of student participation in the module.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Portfolio1MA set of discrete activities to support the end-of-module essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-module formative assessment consists of a portfolio of work, each element of which will allow students to practise key elements of the end-of-module essay (analysis, argument, and presentation).

The summative end-of-module essay will ask students to make use of everything they have learnt on the module in order to produce a persuasive, critical discussion of one of the module texts.

The summative participation assessment will ensure engagement with the module’s teaching, while promoting student reflection on that teaching and their learning.

Reading Lists