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Campus offering

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10 cp from 100-level units in Literature or English

Unit rationale, description and aim

Professionals performing any cultural work need to have a firm grasp of the way literary culture developed in the nineteenth century. This was a crucial period in the development of a reading public, an extensive system of publishers and a professional authorial class. This unit examines the ideas in the writing of this period, their historical roots in revolutionary politics and thought, and the growth of national literatures at a time of rapid social and technological change. It also explores how literature navigated the pivotal debates of a period that laid the foundations for the contemporary world: gender, class, colonialism and industrialisation. The aim of the unit is to allow students to understand the relationships between nineteenth-century society and literature by reflecting critically on the debates present in the writing of this period.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical approaches towards and textual knowledge of nineteenth-century literature (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of texts relevant to nineteenth-century literature in order to develop an evidence-based argument (GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO4 - Apply the methods that literary theorists have used to research and interpret nineteenth-century literature (GA4, GA5, GA8)  

LO5 - Reflect on key debates relating to literary studies over time (GA1, GA8).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


This unit will include a variety of topics relating to the context and content of nineteenth-century literature. Students will consider contemporary nineteenth-century social circumstances and concepts through the examination of a variety of textual examples. Students have the opportunity to discuss theoretical approaches and apply literary theories to nineteenth-century texts. Lectures, tutorial discussions and assessments in the unit are designed to incorporate scholarly research on nineteenth-century literature, encouraging students to reflect critically upon the relationships between nineteenth-century society and literature. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This face-to-face unit will use class exercises, discussions and formal assignments to encourage analyses of nineteenth-century literature. Student engagement will be developed through in-class exercises including group work encouraging the exploration of nineteenth-century literature through the analysis of relevant examples. Students will investigate critical concepts relevant to the nineteenth-century context and consider these in relation to particular texts. The unit will encourage students to analyse nineteenth-century literature in relation to both aesthetic and social changes of that period, as well as in the light of subsequent scholarly responses. The unit will emphasise clear writing and research as key skills in developing well-argued and evidence-based analyses. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. 

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. To pass the unit, students are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks.  

Assessment task one is designed to be primarily formative of advanced level close reading skills.  

The second task requires students to demonstrate their ability to synthesise scholarly arguments with their own ideas to make insightful conclusions about a selection of nineteenth-century texts  

The final task is summative and requires students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of nineteenth-century literature and key debates within the scholarship that addresses it.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Close reading Task  

This task requires students to demonstrate close reading of nineteenth-century texts by considering them in relation to their social context.   


LO1, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8  

Analytical/Research Task 

This task requires students to examine particular nineteenth-century texts and analyse them in relation to relevant research material.  


LO2, LO3, LO4  

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10  

Summative Task / Examination  

This task requires students to demonstrate understanding of nineteenth-century literature and key debates that surround it. 


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Bristow, J. (Ed), McDonagh, J. (Ed). Nineteenth Century Radical Traditions. Palgrave, 2016. 

Carver, Ben. Alternate Histories and Nineteenth-Century Literature Untimely Meditations in Britain, France, and America. Palgrave, 2017. 

Colligan, Colette and Linley, Margret. Media, Technology, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century. Ashgate, 2011. 

Denthith, Simon. Nineteenth-Century British Literature Then and Now: Reading with Hindsight. Ashgate, 2014. 

Hanway, Nancy. Embodying Argentina: Body, Space and Nation in 19th Century Narrative. McFarland, 2010. 

Moore, N. Victorian Poetry and Modern Life. Palgrave, 2015.  

Parkes, Christopher. Children’s Literature and Capitalism Fictions of Social Mobility in Britain, 1850–1914. Palgrave, 2012. 

Shattock, Joanne. (ed). The Cambridge companion to English literature, 1830-1914. Cambridge University Press, 2010. 

Smajic, Srdjan. Ghost-Seers, Detectives and Spiritualists: Theories of Vision in Victorian Literature and Science. Cambridge University Press, 2010. 

Tucker, Herbert. A New Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell, 2014. 

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