Contemporary Literature

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • Semester 2
  • 24 places
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%

This module introduces a range of British, Scottish and Irish fiction and poetry since 1950 and aims to develop a working knowledge of aesthetic paradigms relevant to the period, including realism, postmodernism, late modernism, metafiction.

The module addresses topics and issues such as the politics of identity, the representation of history, the problematics of subjectivity, sexual and cultural difference, and ideas of centrality and marginality.


Prof Andrew Roberts

Teaching staff

This module will be team taught by staff in the English programme.


This module will be taught by one weekly one-hour lecture plus one weekly two-hour seminars over 11 weeks.


This module is assessed 100% by coursework:

  • 3,000 word essay (50%)
  • 4,000 word journals (50% in total)


  • Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
  • Harold Pinter, Betrayal
  • Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  • Caryl Churchill, Serious Money
  • John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  • Zadie Smith, NW
  • Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners
  • Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow
  • Alan Warner, Morvern Callar
  • James Kelman, How Late it Was, How Late
  • Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia
  • Ian McEwan, Atonement
  • John Burnside, A Summer of Drowning
  • James Robertson, And the Land Lay Still
  • Dream State: The New Scottish Poetry, ed. Danny O’Rourke (2nd edition)
  • Tom Raworth, Tottering State
  • Denise Riley, Mop, Mop, Georgette
  • Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems
  • Paul Muldoon, Poems 1968 - 1998
  • Eavan Boland, Collected Poems
  • Zaffar Kunial, Us
  • Kathleen Jamie, The Bonniest Company
  • Jim Carruth, Black Cart

Access the online reading list system

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be:

  • able to demonstrate an ability to discuss a range of literature from the period with reference to matters of genre, style, technique and theme,
  • able to show an understanding of conceptual frameworks applicable to the literature studied and be able to offer some critique of those frameworks,
  • able to engage in informed critical debate about the literature studied,
  • able to demonstrate some understanding of the way in which aesthetic practices intersect with developments in society and culture.