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SEL2203 : Revolutionary Britain, 1789-1832

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jon Quayle
  • Lecturer: Professor Michael Rossington, Dr Meiko O'Halloran
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To explore the many dynamic ways in which writings of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century engaged with such major historical events as the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Throughout the module, we will explore how writers of the Romantic period (c. 1789-c. 1832) used a range of genres - including the novel, poems, essays and prose ‘pamphlets’ - to address themes of national identity, gender, slavery, class, conflict, nature and place, the past, the figure of the poet, childhood and the family, and religion.

Outline Of Syllabus

Starting with the responses of British writers to the French Revolution in the 1790s, we will go on to examine the further re-shaping of literature in Britain after the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1814. Writings by the following authors are likely to be studied: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Percy Shelley, Robert Wedderburn and William Hazlitt.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1118:00118:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity91:009:00Students will be required to meet nine times in study groups for one hour.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lecture materials introduce students to the knowledge outcomes.

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.

Students need time to complete the formative essay and the summative essay as well as the reflective piece.

Seminar tutors will allocate students to self-directed study groups which will meet in advance of their seminar.

To get the most from this module and to prepare adequately for the drafting and finalising of their assessments, students will need to undertake research and reading as advised in the lecture materials and reading lists.

It is hoped that an optional in-person Field Trip to Dove Cottage, Grasmere, will be possible. This trip, funded by the School, ran every year from 2011 to 2019 and usually attracted around 30 students. The feedback was always excellent. If an in-person trip is not feasible, we hope that an optional online virtual tour of Dove Cottage by the Curator and Head of Learning at the Wordsworth Trust may be possible instead.

Students will be invited to surgeries with seminar tutors during their consultation and feedback hours for assessment advice and feedback.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1A15A 250-word reflective piece of writing about the student's participation in the module.
Written exercise1A85A 2,500-word essay on the work of two authors, one from the first part of the module, the other from the second.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MThis will be an essay of 1,000 words on the work of one author from the first part of the module.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students are required to submit a 250-word piece of writing in which they reflect on their participation in and engagement with the module. This will be taken into account when the seminar tutor awards a mark for participation and engagement. The assessment of participation in seminars encourages students to engage consistently with all aspects of the module.

The end of semester summative essay on the work of two authors, one studied in the first part of the module, the other in the second, ensures engagement with the entire module. In this summative essay students will be able to draw on the research and writing of their formative essays and the feedback they received on it.

The mid-term formative essay on the work of one author studied in the first part of the module will allow students to use the feedback to help them prepare the summative essay.

Reading Lists