Accessibility statement

Victorians: British Literature 1832-1901 - ENG00109I

« Back to module search

  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. John Bowen
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module introduces students to Victorian writing in a wide range of genres, exploring the narratives, poetics, and debates of the period 1832-1901 as encounters with modernity and key points in the development of contemporary ideas of authorship and literature.

You will explore the literature of the Victorian era, a period at the same time culturally familiar and alien to 21st century readers. Victoria was on the throne from 1837 to 1901, though we go back a little earlier to the Reform Act of 1832 which set the stage for her reign. The module familiarizes students with major texts and ideas in Victorian literature, establishing a dialogue between more and less well-known and canonical texts.

Major concerns in the module include: the relationship between the most culturally powerful literary form, the novel, and other genres of writing; the changing concept of authorship and the growth of the figure of the professional author; and the relationship of the Victorian period to modernity, both its own modernity and that which came after it. The module addresses the responsiveness of Victorian writing to major currents in the history of ideas as well as to differing and changing social, economic, and geographical circumstances, via a series of questions and themes which cut across traditional categories and encourage students to challenge and move beyond familiar approaches and clichés.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The aim of this module is to explore British literature and culture of a key period in modern history, and to consider how the many social and political changes of the Victorian age—e.g. the rise of Empire, urbanization, changing sexual and gender identities—not only found expression in literature but altered fundamental ideas about writing and authorship.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of Victorian texts, literary movements and genres.

  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with some of the main social, cultural, political and economic contexts of Victorian writing.

  3. Examine key debates and relevant critical contexts.

  4. Develop oral and written arguments which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking and research skills.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word essay
N/A 70
N/A 30

Special assessment rules




Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours.
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment.

Indicative reading

Key Texts for this module may include:

  • Poetry, drama, and nonfiction from The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. E.
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • Tennyson, Selections from In Memoriam
  • Rudyard Kipling, Kim
  • George Eliot, The Lifted Veil
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, The Old Nurse's Story
  • Thomas Hardy, An Imaginative Woman
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.