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Research Now: Love & Desire in the Middle Ages - ENG00153I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Research Now gives you the chance to explore a cutting-edge specialist research area, while developing advanced skills for your own independent, extended research in the final year of your degree.

In the first half of the module, you will tackle your ‘deep dive’ research area of Love and Desire in the Middle Ages. Modern discourses of love and desire, as well as the cultural practices that they inform (especially a consensual model of marriage), inevitably hearken back to the middle ages when, many have argued, a particularly Western idea of ‘love’ was invented: ‘Knight in Shining Armour Seeks Damsel in Distress’. But when we look beyond the secular, monogamous, heterosexual stereotype, a remarkably diverse range of medieval desires emerge, both licit and illicit, that not only challenge our assumptions about the middle ages but about the newness of our own practices and predilections. This deep dive will draw its texts from an eclectic array of romance and fabliau, love lyrics, devotional poetry and prose, penitential manuals, and medical handbooks, as well as documentary sources, like letter collections and cases from the church courts. Topics may include love-sickness, homosocial friendship, the pleasures of abstinence as well as indulgence, same-sex and trans-gender desire, virginity, prostitution, and the erotic gymnastics of medieval spiritual writers. Modern theoretical writing on desire will also be considered. You will hear from a range of lecturers, while collaborating in team-based workshops, in order to develop a team research project and presentation on the topic’s material.

The second half of the module focuses on skills to take your research further: formulating comprehensive research proposals and questions; developing a clear methodology or research practice; working interdisciplinarily, across languages, and periods; and improving ways of presenting research both orally and in writing. Each week will introduce a new tool for developing your research, and will contribute to a portfolio that will also look ahead to your final-year (bridge) dissertation project.

As a whole, the module gives you the chance to develop key employability strengths, including teamwork, creative and critical thinking, and problem-solving, while also developing the skills needed to embark on a longer research project by putting together an individual dissertation proposal.

Note: The ‘deep dive’ research area that you choose for the first half of this module does not have to correspond with the proposed subject area of your final-year (bridge) dissertation. You have the freedom to explore new, innovative terrain in this ‘deep dive’ or opt for a research area that you know and love - it is entirely up to you.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

  • This module aims to introduce students to cutting-edge research and innovative approaches to research design and presentation.

  • This module will encourage students to engage creatively with critical sources and texts, preparing students for the design of an extended dissertation project in the third year.

  • The module will develop essential research techniques together with oral, written and digital skills that can be applied to individual and collaborative research projects

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with the ‘deep dive’ research topic, the issues involved, and the critical debates surrounding the subject of Love & Desire in the Middle Ages

  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with research strategy through the development of a focused piece of research.

  3. Examine essential research approaches and techniques and apply those techniques in the development of a research proposal portfolio.

  4. Develop and successfully manage a collaborative project relating to Love & Desire in the Middle Ages, which demonstrates a proficiency in oral, written, performance and/or digital skills as appropriate.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio : Research Proposal Portfolio
N/A 50
Group work : Team presentation
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
1,500-word Essay
N/A 50
Research Proposal Portfolio
N/A 50

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

Refer to mini-syllabus for ‘deep dive’ research topics

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.