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10 cp from 200-level unit in Literature or English

Unit rationale, description and aim

All literary studies are underpinned by implicit or explicit theories of literature that professionals working in the literary field need to understand. Engagement with current literary studies requires a knowledge of a range of influential literary theories, many of which have had a major impact in the public sphere as well as within the discipline. This capstone unit in the English major will provide students with a detailed survey of theoretical frameworks encountered in the study of literature. It examines influential theories, ideas and approaches, interpreting key works of literature through the lens of these theories. The aim of this unit is to provide students with opportunities to utilise theoretical approaches so that they may participate in current scholarly discourse through analysing literary texts.

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 - Demonstrate broad and deep knowledge of a range of literary theories and periods and apply these to a variety of literary texts in order to generate interpretations of texts (GA4, GA5, GA9) 

LO2 - Devise, develop and communicate complex ideas and concepts to a specified audience using both critical and creative approaches including audio, digital, oral, visual or written form as appropriate (GA4) 

LO3 - Locate, interpret and appropriately reference a range of texts and critical resources and use them to sustain a nuanced evidence-based argument in a self-devised project (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Critically analyse evidence and synthesise scholarship on a range of literary theories (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10) 

LO5 - Critically analyse key literary theories and concepts and over time, and recognise and reflect on the significance of complex literary texts in imagining and interpreting the world (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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.


Topics will include a consideration of some or all of the following literary and/or cultural theories: 

  • classical literary theory 
  • modernism and postmodernism 
  • structuralism and poststructuralism  
  • Marxist literary theory 
  • feminist and gender literary theory 
  • psychoanalytic literary theory 
  • postcolonial and ecocritical literary theories 
  • theories of reader reception 
  • Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, world Indigenous literary perspectives,  
  • Non-Western challenges to literary theory 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered in attendance mode in order to immerse students in active learning through activities which facilitate the development of interpretive skills fundamental to the discipline of literary studies and which generate a deep understanding of unit content. The unit engages students in inquiry-based learning, a research-based strategy that actively involves students in the exploration of the content, issues and questions surrounding a curricular area or concept. This approach has been selected because of the breadth, depth and complexity inherent in a capstone unit of a major. Students in this unit will be encouraged to develop specifics skills in applying a range of literary theories to literary texts in order to understand the way theories underpin all interpretations and that particular theories have implications for interpretation. This unit introduces students to the dynamics and power of interpretation, demonstrating that a variety of theories can produce radically different meanings from the same literary text. 

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

This third-year capstone unit in the discipline of English is designed to include assessment tasks that build deep content knowledge, independent learning, and higher-order research and analytic skills. 

The interpretive task requires students to demonstrate knowledge of a range of literary theories. 

The literary analysis task builds on this knowledge and skill and prepares students for their final capstone research essay by requiring them to rehearse the application of a literary theory in the interpretation of text. 

Finally, students will undertake a research project that further expands on the skills developed in the first two assessment items in the form of a self-devised project that locates critical resources to produce a sustained argument that reflects on literary texts and their interpretations. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Interpretive task 

This task requires students to demonstrate a knowledge of literary theories and use these to interpret literary texts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Literary Analysis Task 

This task builds skills in the application of theory in the interpretation of texts in preparation for the final research task.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9 

Research Task  

This task requires students to undertake a self-devised research project to produce a sustained literary theoretical essay. The task may be structured to include a proposal and the essay. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Awadalla, Maggie and March-Russell, Paul. The Postcolonial Short Story Contemporary Essays. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester University Press, 2017.  

Bennet, Andrew and Royle, Nicholas. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory. Taylor & Francis 2016. 

Bertens, Hans. Literary TheoryThe Basics. Routledge, 2013. 

Cohen, Ralph. (ed). The Future of Literary Theory (Routledge Library Editions: Literary Theory). Routledge, 2018.  

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishers, 2008. 

Klages, Mary. Literary Theory: The Complete Guide. Bloomsbury, 2017.  

Rocchi, Jean-Paul. The Desiring Modes of Being Black: Literature and Critical Theory. Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018. 

Sharmani, Patricia Gabriel and Pagan, Nicholas O. Literature, Memory, Hegemony East/West Crossings. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today. Routledge, 2014. 

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