Skip to main content


SEL3433 : Popular Romance and Contemporary Political Discourse

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rosalind Haslett
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 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


This module will explore how popular romance (novels, plays, performances, films, pop songs) reflect and respond to current events. Students will consider the role that narrative, performance and imagination play in our everyday lives, using a range of research methods to analyse performance events and reading communities and/or to respond creatively to the texts we encounter.

The module has three central characteristics:
1. It is based in the idea that narrative tropes and dramatic scenarios provide social scripts that inform the way that people interact in personal, social and/or political contexts
2. It considers a range of different kinds of texts comparatively, including: plays, performances, novels and audiobooks; oral histories and personal testimonies; political speeches and debate; government and academic reports; social media campaigns and podcasts.
3. It requires students to participate in weekly research activities and to maintain an independent critical/creative writing practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will be taught through weekly lectures and workshops. It will be structured as 2-3 case studies, which will require students to engage in:
1.       the critical analysis of popular romance as represented in literary and performance texts
2.       the development of an individual critical/creative writing practice

Module content will change from year to year, but will always include a range of texts that could be considered within the generic classification of popular romance. Indicative content might include: Bonkbusters (e.g. Jackie Collins, Shirley Conran, Jilly Cooper), Chick lit (e.g. Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Ayisha Malik), contemporary romantic comedies for the stage or screen (e.g. Nancy Harris, Sarah Ruhl, Nora Ephron), recent popular romance novel releases (e.g. Akwaeke Emezi, Talia Hibert).

Students will be required to attend a live performance at a local theatre as part of their studies.

Critical analysis: the case studies
Students will analyse literary and performance texts within the cultural and political contexts that that were produced. The actual content of the case studies will change from year to year, but students will think about the texts and other case study materials in terms of:
1. the processes that go into making the creative work, such as individual writing practices, working with auto/biographical material, devising/improvisation, rehearsal
2. the modes through which this work is transmitted, such as publication, live/recorded performance, audiobooks
3. how others interact with the work, such as reviewing practices, audience experience, podcasts/reading communities

Individual writing practice:
In addition to weekly lectures and workshops, students will engage in ongoing independent practice related to the module content. They will record and reflect on their individual practices and/or practices of specific communities they have access to. At the end of the module they will select several pieces from this ongoing work to submit as a portfolio.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion235:0070:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities122:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study164:0064:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to knowledge outcomes and facilitate a range of learning activities, which are appropriate to the aims of the module.

Small group teaching develops the ideas and critical theories introduced in the lectures and provides students with an opportunity to practise a range of skills in support of assessment preparation.

Student-led group activities will allow students to rehearse and develop their ideas prior to the small group teaching, as well as providing them with access to peer support groups.

The proportion of time set aside for assessment preparation reflects the fact that students are required to compile a portfolio of materials over the course of the module, and that these portfolios must demonstrate substantial independent research.

Students will be provided with structured research and reading activities each week to support their access to the lectures and to facilitate discussion in the small group teaching.

The development of an independent practice is central to the module outcomes and time allotted to independent study reflects this.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1A100A research portfolio, of 4,000 words or equivalent
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 draft of work intended for the end-of-module portfolio. 1,000 words or equivalent.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The end of module assessment (worth 100%) takes the form of a portfolio of critical/creative work that demonstrates an engagement with creative, performance and/or sensory ethnography.

In close consultation with the module leader, these portfolios can be presented in a form that supports the particular skills or interests of the students and accommodates a range of learning styles. They may include any of the following: essay, a collection of curated images, recorded presentation/podcast, research diary/journal, creative response. These different forms of presentation will be explored, discussed and modelled in lectures and workshops.

The formative assessment gives students an opportunity to submit draft work, intended for their portfolio, for comment and feedback at the mid-module point.

Reading Lists