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English and History BA(Hons)

This course is subject to validation.*

Why choose this course?

English and history students cover texts, themes and subjects across a wide chronological and geographic range. As well as benefiting from subject and teaching expertise, you'll also collaborate on course activities and engage with the wider community.

There are close links with other disciplines in the School of Arts, Culture and Communication, including English language and linguistics, creative writing, journalism and publishing, and with social sciences subjects like politics, international relations and human rights

You'll enjoy many extra-curricular activities and opportunities through research group events and lectures, Kingston Language Scheme and the Writers' Centre Kingston.  Also important to your overall experience is our proximity to Kingston itself, a town and borough rich in historic and literary attributes, with London only a short distance away.

What you will study

The course will develop your skills in critical reading, writing, analysis, interpretation and research, making innovative use of e-technology.

Thematically, it is diverse, encompassing history and literature, culture and theory and, more specifically, gender, race, belief and sexuality.

Geographically, its range is global. You'll have exciting opportunities to explore and contribute to important discourses and debates in both history and English.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • In 'World History' students examine the sometimes surprisingly deep historical roots of our current 'globalized' world. Taking the year 1500 as its approximate starting point, the module focuses on various examples of world-wide encounter and exchange in terms of exploration, trade, commerce, manufacturing, finance, technology, culture, belief and conflict. All these have been of immense importance in influencing and determining the nature and pace of historical change in 'the West' and in other parts of the world. Through a variety of case studies, students encounter a range of historical occurrences that stimulate many questions of relevance to our knowledge and understanding of the world today. How did people of previous centuries perceive the world? How much (and how little) did they know of regions other than their own? How did they learn about other regions, and other peoples? What sort of encounters occurred between peoples from different parts of the world? What world-historical forces shaped events and ideas from 1500 to the 21st century? Finally, how might knowledge of all these things influence understanding of our current 'globalized' world?

    The module ranges widely in terms of place as well as of time, across the British Isles and Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Caribbean. Through contemporary accounts and historical interpretation, it shows how histories of all these regions contributed to the history of the world, 1500-2000.

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  • What does it mean to think critically about literature? What is literary theory, and why do we use it? Taking classic texts such as The Tempest, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this module looks at how we can produce dynamic readings of literature through the use of perspectives from the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis. In interactive lectures and small-group discussions, we will explore themes such as gender, sexuality, race, class, history and the uncanny. We will look at how language shapes literature, and how approaches to reading are both socially and historically formed.

    As part of this module, you will meet each week with your personal tutor, in a small group that as well as the core module content will also introduce advanced skills in writing and rhetoric suitable for study at undergraduate level. By the end of this module you will be able to write a theoretically informed and argumentative essay, and present your ideas in presentation form to an audience.

     
  • This core module for first year history students explores the domestic history of Britain in its first half century of democracy. The module will range widely over leisure, society, politics and national identity, from the lives of ordinary people to influential film stars, like Charlie Chaplin, and wartime leaders, such as Winston Churchill. It will consider debates about whether the 1920s and 1930s were mainly a time of economic depression and hunger marches, or actually an exciting, socially mobile 'Jazz Age' of dance, motoring, radio and suburbanisation. There will be particular emphasis on visual culture, from people's enjoyment of film in the 'dream palaces' of cinema, to the role of television in the affluent 1950s.

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  • This module introduces you to the literature of London, from the rise of Renaissance theatre culture to its fictional futures, and from explorations of its urban heart to its sprawling suburbs. You will investigate how numerous writers have depicted everyday life in the metropolis, as well as social upheaval, crime and injustice. You will consider the emergence of distinct literary cultures in the capital, the ways London's position at the centre of a global empire has shaped its literature, and how writers have in turn represented the experiences of particular groups, for example, social elites, immigrants, women, and children.

    The module will also introduce you to some of the most fundamental categories of literature. The module will be organised into three strands: one on drama, one on poetry, and one on prose (fiction and non-fiction). In each strand you will identify the distinctive characteristics of particular forms and genres of literature, and of modes of writing that developed at particular historical moments. Through close study of a range of literary texts we will consider, for instance, what distinguishes tragedy, comedy and realism in drama, how poets have engaged with the sonnet form or the epic, what defines the memoir, and how to explain the differences in narrative style between realist and modernist fiction.

    Our weekly interactive lectures will be complemented by study trips to locations across London, which may include a visit to the Globe Theatre, the London Museum or a walking lecture following the route taken by Mrs Dalloway in Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name. 

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This is a core module for full field history students at level 5 but is also offered to half- and minor-field students. It introduces students to life in Britain during a period of great reform, both in terms of the relationship between government and the people and in the way people see themselves. We explore the transformation of a rural society into one concentrated in large towns and cities and the challenges this creates. We draw in issues of class, religion, race and poverty; changing attitudes to private and public lives; emergence of leisure as a commodity and consumerism as past-time; responses to new understandings of disease; debates about the role of women and changing ideas about family and children. Alongside these debates in social history, the module will investigate the politics of an era which saw a slow transition into a modern democracy, focusing on iconic figures such as Disraeli and Gladstone. It forms a logical companion to Nationalism and Empire (HS5003).

    The module also serves as an introduction to independent study, working (under close supervision) on a primary-sources based research project of the students' own choice, related to themes covered in the module. This helps to prepare them for their final year dissertation project.

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  • This module, a core module for full-field and half-field English Literature students, is all about developing your own interests and research expertise. Every year, members of staff will offer a range of texts and you will select you own special subject from amongst these, working independently but with close supervision to produce your own set of resources and an extended original essay. In recent years, available texts have included The Lord of the Rings, Never Let Me Go, Great Expectations, and Hamlet. Encouraging independent learning and research, the module develops a range of transferable critical and communication skills that are central to the degree and useful in occupations and professional tasks beyond the university, while also allowing you to develop you own critical voice.

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  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • A L5 option module informed by research-led teaching and of particular value to students of many disciplines including History, Politics and International Relations, ‘Nationalism and Empire: Britain and Germany, 1815-1914' explores some of the most interesting and complicated aspects of modern European history. Rivalry between Britain and Germany found intense, violent expression in two world wars. The century preceding the outbreak of war in 1914, however, was marked not by rivalry and suspicion alone (of which there was a good deal), but also by shared interests political and diplomatic, social and cultural. What mattered to one of those countries was often also of interest to the other. Britons and Germans had more in common than might be assumed from their relationship in the years since 1914, not least a preoccupation with nationhood and with overseas empire. Reflecting this variety and complexity, the module ranges widely within and beyond Britain and Germany, also taking in the European and imperial contexts. Through contemporary and historical accounts and primary source materials, it examines over the course of a hundred years the varied ways in which Anglo-German and international affairs influenced politics, the economy and society in two major European states.

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    • In the past, as today, within the legal frameworks laid down by governments and authorities, perceptions of what constitutes criminal or deviant behaviour are both shifting and contested. The function of a protest over food supplies, for example, may be viewed differently by those engaged in the action than by those enforcing the law. Similarly, in many early modern societies, it was deemed acceptable for the man, as head of the household, to exert ‘moderate correction' on his wife and children to ensure they continued to uphold acceptable standards of behaviour. However, exactly what constituted ‘moderate correction' meant different things to different groups.

      This module will give students an understanding of the cultural and social history of crime and deviance in Britain and Europe c. 1450 - 1850. Although broadly following the chronology across the 400 years, the approach is primarily thematic. Aspects of criminality covered include historical approaches to the study of homicide and violence; the relationship between gender and crime, for example, in attitudes towards prostitution and infanticide, and in the prevalence of domestic crime; attitudes towards sexual crimes such as rape and sodomy; and notions of ‘social crime' within acts of riot or protest. Aspects of deviancy considered include women's adultery and effeminacy in men, as well as the behaviours and lifestyles that left many vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft. Within the overall structure there will be two elements of greater focus. Firstly an examination of witchcraft, a crime which combines the aspects of violence, sexuality and gender, and one which was classed as ‘exceptional' by the authorities in their attempt to demonstrate the reality of the ‘Satanic Pact'. The second focus will look at crime in eighteenth century Britain, a period of unprecedented social change and wealth creation that witnessed an explosion in the number of crimes for which a person could be hanged, and the widespread adoption of transportation overseas as penal policy. The course ends with a look at the works of Enlightenment thinkers such Beccaria and Bentham and the impact of such ideas on a changing penal policy that moved swiftly from maiming and attacking the body, to the rise of new penitentiary systems in the nineteenth century where, arguably, the mind became the focus for punishment.

      Through the use of primary source materials in a variety of formats (imagery, written documentation, statistical data, web-based resources), and through comparison of alternative historiographies this module will enhance student's analytical skills in history.

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    • This is a core module for History single-honour students at L5 but it may also be of interest to students in a variety of other subjects. This module introduces students to world history in the twentieth century. It is taught through lectures and seminars, and there is a strong element of student participation through seminar presentations. We examine wars and their  consequences from a variety of geographical perspectives: Africa, China, Japan, India, Russia, the US and the Middle East, with special focus on the First World War. No other event so significantly altered political boundaries around the world, or stimulated such nationalist sentiment. We will also look at several themes that underscore the war's worldwide impact: the radicalisation of warfare; the use of propaganda; advances in medical care and psychiatry; the mobilisation of women; economic change; the emergence of new artistic movements; the stimulus given to revolution and movements for independence; and efforts to establish global governance. The module therefore provides a world history emphasising political developments but shedding light on social and economic issues as well.

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    • This research-led module will explore the history of leisure and consumerism during the long eighteenth century. During this period, England was experiencing significant social change alongside rapid economic and urban growth. This led to demand for new forms of leisure activity and the emergence of a new commercialised leisure society. Drawing primary on social, cultural and gender history, this module will cover a wide variety of topics. Part 1 will look at ‘Leisure and Pleasure', considering urban and rural leisure activities, with a particular focus on polite, commercialised forms of entertainment. Part 2, ‘New World of Goods', will use case studies of new goods to explore habits of consumption and gain an understanding of social and economic trends. The module will build on some of the key historical themes introduced at Level 4. Most notably, it will expand on the leisure history studied as part of Chaplin to Churchill: Britain 1901-1959, as well as developing the ideas of gender that students examined as part of Private Lives, Public Roles. Complementing Level 5 core module, Life Among the Victorians' focus on social history and independent research, this module will allow students to focus on the eighteenth century as a pivotal period in the history of English leisure and consumption.

               Lectures, combined with weekly set readings, will consider a wide range of eighteenth-century leisure practices, situating attitudes and experiences in the context of social class, gendered spaces, consumerism, industrialisation, and urbanisation. In seminars, a wide range of primary source material will be used to develop critical analysis skills and to provide a basis for group discussion. These will include guide books, trade directories, diaries, visual representations, material culture, newspapers, government records, novels, and architectural evidence. Students will be encouraged to make independent use of the digitised primary source material, both within seminars and as part of formative and summative assessments. The study of Britain in the eighteenth century has been transformed by the introduction of searchable online document databases. Forming an increasingly important part of researchers' exploration and analysis of the past, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) provides a comprehensive online library of book titles published between 1700 and 1800. Guided throughout the module in the use of ECCO, students will learn to locate, manage and critically assess primary source material, whilst seminar discussions and formative assignments will encourage students to reflect on the benefits of online document databases for their own research.

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    • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. The year-long module provides an introduction to the literary culture of England during the years 1380-1650. This module considers medieval and early modern English texts in relation to influential works from the continent (mostly from Italy, the ‘birthplace of the Renaissance'), and by situating canonical literature in relation to non-canonical writings of the medieval and early modern periods. You will begin by examining poetry and drama written in the late-Medieval period, including some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The rest of Teaching Block One will focus on medieval drama - from mystery plays to morality plays - highlighting continuity and change with later, Renaissance drama. It will also study English literature and culture in the fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries in relation to continental influences. Because Shakespeare's Richard II is a Renaissance play whose action takes place in the medieval period, this play provides a pivotal middle point between Teaching Blocks One and Two, which resumes in the mid-sixteenth century and continues with plays, poetry, prose and cultural documents framed on one side by the Edwardian Reformation and on the other by the English Civil War.

       
    • This module is an optional period module at Level 5 and explores the major authors and literary themes of the ‘long' eighteenth century. Students will be required to think about literary production in relation to historical and cultural change and to explore the inter-connections of satire and sensibility, town and country, and polite and popular literature through its focus on major developments in the period such as the following: satire and society, the ‘rise of the novel' debate, sensibility and the literature of feeling, and the growing participation of women in the literary marketplace. Key to this year-long study of eighteenth-century literature is the crucial context it provides for understanding the evolution of Romanticism towards the end of the century. The module aims to situate the poetry of the major Romantic poets between 1780-1830 in an historical context and explore the philosophical and theoretical concepts that underpin their work. It also seeks to scrutinise the formation of literary categories such as ‘Romanticism' and encourage a critical scepticism about the usefulness or otherwise of such terms.

       
    • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. We will study key texts from the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries that register the ways in which Britain is transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and which give expression to fears about technology, social mobility and urban culture. We will consider literature of the period that questions and resists established theories of gendered identity, and which challenges the literary representation of sexuality, defying censorship in the process. We will be introduced to writers who engage with contemporary debates about science, religion, the empire, and racial and national identity. And we will encounter a range of consciously modern texts which dislocate and make new the reader's experience by technical innovation and experiment. In recent years, writers studied have included Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf.

       
    • This module is an optional period module at Level 5. It will begin by exploring literature published from the 1930s through to the present day, and will examine the strategies writers have used in response to a changing Britain and wider world. We will consider how twentieth and twenty-first-century texts adapt realist, modernist and postmodern techniques to engage with issues such as the rise of mass culture, the threat of totalitarianism, the establishment of the Welfare State, post-war immigration, and sexual liberation. To enhance your perspective on these issues, you will be introduced to non-fiction material by other contemporary writers, such as J.B. Priestley, Erich Fromm, Iris Murdoch, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Hoggart, and George Lamming, as well as more recent critical and theoretical material.  The module also examines the development and continuing popularity of realist drama in the twentieth century. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which realist drama is used as a tool of social and political examination in the various contexts of pre-Revolutionary Russia, Dublin in the aftermath of the First World War, and the establishment of the welfare state in Britain after 1945. Secondly, we will examine the developments in non-realist forms of drama and the experiments which gave rise to what is, somewhat controversially, called the 'Theatre of the Absurd'. The module culminates with the study of a selection of texts chosen to illustrate the great variety of genres and styles in contemporary British literature and to exemplify literature written by different nationalities and social groups. Underpinned by relevant theoretical perspectives, questions will be raised about the relation between literature and contemporary events, with relation to issues pertinent to literature, such as social mobility, hybridity, democracy and technology. In recent years, authors studied have included Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, Harold Pinter, Alan Hollinghurst, and Zadie Smith.

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    • What does literature do? How does it shape individual and cultural identities? In what ways does it produce affects, construct otherness and celebrate difference? Studying a range of influential approaches to literature, this module will examine key ideas concerning the creation and interpretation of texts, from the role of language, history and cultural difference to the effects of sexuality, the unconscious, empire and technology. By applying these insights to one important genre of fiction - to works like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Beetle, Rebecca and World War Z - the module will extend practical analytical skills while introducing exciting new ways of thinking about texts.

       
    • This module is a core module for Full-Field Politics & International Relations students and Half-Field Politics students. It can be taken as an option by Half-Field International Relations and Human Rights students.

      The module offers a critical introduction to the foundations of modern political thought. It is organised around an examination of the work of several major political philosophers and the concepts associated with their writings. Beginning with an exploration the origins of modern political theory in Machiavelli, it goes on to look at debates about of human nature, the state, and property within social contract theory, and the development of political thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by thinkers such as Mill, Marx, and Rawls. The module will examine a number of core political concepts, including freedom, justice, gender, equality, democracy, and tolerance, and address the central questions of moral and political philosophy: How should we act? How can we live together? Why should we obey the state? Throughout the module students will be encouraged both to challenge the arguments and assumptions of the thinkers that they study and to consider their contemporary relevance.

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    • This module begins with a survey of the main sweep of historical, political and economic developments, social actors and movements that gave shape to Latin American politics from its colonial beginnings to the early modern era.  The over-arching theme in the first teaching block is the contentious development of the nation-state and national economy in the global system, the legacy of which continues to shape the political landscape of the region.  In the second teaching block, students will engage with substantive themes in contemporary Latin American politics, and examine current flashpoints in regional politics through the eyes of a range of actors.  We explore and evaluate the range of new forms of participation that have emerged since the 1990s to contest the limitations of formal democracy under neoliberal globalization: from the barrio to factories, communities taking root on occupied land and urban spaces, constituent assemblies, popular assemblies and UN summits – or if all else fails, the streets.  We end by examining national and regional development strategies that emerged at the beginning of the 21st century as a response to the perceived failure of neoliberalism, and ask, is there a new politics emerging in the region?

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    • This module will introduce students to the controversies and debates over slavery and other forms of violence committed against groups of people in the modern world and their responses seeking emancipation. Beginning in 1492 with the development of a modern racism, it looks at the destruction of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the subsequent development of US Slavery, and the struggles of African Americans into the twentieth century. These cases will be revisited from the perspective of gender, and compared to other forms of structural oppression of colonised peoples and workers.

      The module will consider the challenges in identifying the standpoint of the oppressed and study examples of how ‘subaltern' oppressed groups enter politics.   There are case studies of different historical and contemporary movements for emancipation, exploring some of their key debates and the challenges of constructing unity whilst respecting diversity. The module as a whole will encourage the critical analysis and assessment of the various interpretations that have been put forward and facilitate the development of students' research skills, ability to work together and communicate their ideas.

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Year 3 (Level 6)

  • In this L6 core module students engage in historical activities both individual and collaborative. They provide material for and assist in the running of ‘Capstone', an ‘in house' History e-journal, developed by History staff and colleagues in the LRC and the ADC. The material will be both text-based and visual. Students may submit short research-based essays, book, film and exhibition reviews and reports on events and current affairs from a historical perspective. They may also submit their own photographs. Supervised by History staff with experience and expertise in publishing and editing, students work in teams to apportion reporting and editorial responsibilities among themselves. Their objective is to create over the course of two semesters at least one edition (and no more than two editions) of ‘Capstone', with a focus on one or more historical themes. This e-journal provides students with the opportunity to display and share the results of their work with other students and with staff. It provides them with invaluable experience in working together towards a common objective with a historical focus. The module has considerable employability benefits. Not only that, it encourages student awareness of and participation in an electronically linked ‘community of scholarship' within and also perhaps beyond the university.

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  • Available options will vary each year depending on staff specialism.

    • This research-led module is devoted to a study of two of the most important phenomena to bring about the shift between the early modern and the modern world. The first of these is the body of transformative ideas about science and the nature of human society known as the Enlightenment. The second is the  French Revolution, which brought down the old regime in Europe and laid out the foundations of the modern political world. A key part of the module will address the relationship between ideas and revolution. The module will also increase the students' depth of knowledge of key issues in ideas, including the scientific revolution, the rise of the novel, the role of gender in eighteenth-century politics and society; and shifting attitudes towards race and slavery.

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    • This module explores the social, cultural and political history of Britain from 1960 to the present day.  Particular weight will be attached to considering the changes and continuities in ordinary people's lives and leisure in this period, through an examination of the impact of such phenomena as the Beatles, Eastenders and Facebook.  These cultural aspects will be complemented by an evaluation of the role of such social factors as class, gender, ethnicity, and education as well as the place of individual character in influencing people's experiences and opportunities.  The inter-action between socio-cultural changes and politics will also be a major theme, with analysis of changes in government policy, ideology and leadership style from Harold Wilson through Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.  The issue of a changing British national identity and character will also be addressed.  This is contemporary history, with a firm emphasis on the relationship between the near past and the present, encouraging students also to reflect on their own experiences of a very recent period of history.  A range of contemporary sources, including film, television, music and memoir will be used to foster engagement with the period.  This is also an era increasingly attracting the attention of historians both of society and political culture, and this growing historiography will be analysed, with a particular focus on debates over the leisure, habits and attitudes of 'the people'. 

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    • Of interest and value to students of history, politics, international relations and economics, this L6 option module examines offers a comparative historical perspective on twentieth British, American and world affairs. That century was of immense significance for both countries. At its outset Britain, with a worldwide empire, appeared to be the primary global power. At century's end (and with the demise of the Soviet Union), it had been supplanted by the United States. Now, in the twenty-first century, there is speculation as to whether and for how long American primacy may endure. The prospect of American 'decline' is currently a source of anxiety among American policymakers. Historians have identified many reasons for American ascendancy and British ‘decline' during the period 1900-2000. Were these two phenomena related, closely or otherwise? The answer to that question is by no means straightforward. Vitally important as were internal social and political changes, study of relations between the two countries – and of their relations to other states and nations – also provides us with insight into the scale and nature of historical change on a global scale. Focusing on key case studies in twentieth century British, American and international history the module provides stimulating study into issues of power and 'decline'.     

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    • This L6 module is a special option, taken by students after consultation with the module leader, to whom they must apply in person prior to making their module choices for Level 6. Emphasising employability, it enables students to build on skills and knowledge already acquired in the course of their studies, especially through Historians Craft at Level 4 and Extended Essay/Research Project at Level 5. It enables them to further develop those skills and knowledge and in the process also acquire practical work experience. The module takes the form of an innovative combination of lectures/seminars, workshops and work placements within and outside Kingston University. The placement element of the module acquaints students with the varied ways in which historical knowledge is applied beyond the environment of the university. In this module students learn about the ‘business' of History, in the form of  institutional research projects and in the activities of archives and record offices. Students gain from experience and expertise built up over many years by the Centre for the Historical Record (CHR), which has undertaken pioneering work in the creation and dissemination of digitised historical records. The CHR offers practical work experience within the university. It also arranges placements at external history-related institutions with which it has developed excellent links over many years.

      The module differs from many others in History at Kingston in that its theme relates not to particular historical events or people but to ‘Public History' – in effect the ways in which history is understood and used in a public context, in the United Kingdom and other countries. Students learn about Public History in seminars. They choose a historical topic, related to the work of the institution where they undertake their placements. In workshops they discuss and reflect on Public History as practised at large and in their placement locations.

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    • This research-led module explores the rise and impact of the Extreme Right in the 20th and early 21st centuries in Britain and in three other countries in Western Europe (namely France, Germany and Italy). It adopts a historical and comparative approach, and focuses on fascist, populist and authoritarian ideas, parties and movements in Britain and across Europe, and the challenges these posed for the liberal democratic state and its main institutions. The relationship between democracy and dictatorship proved to be a major source of controversy and change in the 20th century, and the question of how the liberal state 'managed' (or mis-managed and succumbed to) the threat from the Extreme Right has been a major theme in the historiography in recent years. In fact, such issues remain very prominent today. The first half of the course thus describes and analyses the historical developments, main patterns and key controversies engendered by these events and challenges in the interwar period. The second half of the course explores the extent to which these historical developments and the associated challenges were possibly replicated in the post-1945 period, especially with the more recent resurgence of the extreme Right across Britain and Europe in the early 21st century. 

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    • The explosion of suburban development is undoubtedly one of the greatest social changes to have taken place in twentieth-century America, to the extent that the USA today can with some justification be considered a suburban nation. Drawing on some of the recent pioneering work of Kingston University's Centre for Suburban Studies, this Special Study module examines how the suburbs have been the object of endless fascination for American writers, from the Jazz Age to the recent financial crisis.

      The module explores how representations of suburban environments and lifestyles have captured central tensions within American society: about race relations and ethnic identity, gender roles and sexual deviance, the threat of nuclear war, and consumerism. At the same time, the module looks at how writers have sought to reimagine these seemingly banal environments as sites of wonder or as places with complex histories; close attention is paid to the formal innovations involved in telling new suburban stories. The module considers suburban fiction in relation to recent theoretical approaches to space, place and the everyday, and students will examine material drawn from a range of disciplines, including philosophy, geography and architectural studies.

      Students will read and discuss novels, plays and short stories from a variety of genres, for example, crime, science fiction, Gothic stories, and gay & lesbian narrative. Writers studied may include F. Scott Fitzgerald, James M. Cain, Lorraine Hansberry, Christopher Isherwood, Philip K. Dick, John Barth and Jhumpa Lahiri. Students will also consider examples of visual material depicting America's suburbs, including clips from Hollywood films and sit-coms, public service announcements, cartoons strips, and documentary photography.

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    • Salman Rushdie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Geoffrey Chaucer, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Mary Shelley, John Milton, Lawrence Sterne, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison...the list is endless. At every point in literary history there are writers who break the mould and challenge the status quo. Whether it is through writing epics that endure through centuries, addressing the injustices of the time or challenging the very notion of what a novel, poem or a play can do, writers can be radical in a number of exciting ways. This module looks at works by radical writers in depth, studying one famous text in detail by a range of writers from different time periods and taught by lecturers who are experts in these writers. We will look at the context of each text as well as the way the text is written, determining why these radical writers have been so successful and looking at the effects their texts have had on the world around them. We will look at the idea of the literary ‘canon', made up of writers who have been radical in some way, and consider the way that this idea can be challenged, reinvigorated or refreshed.

       
    • Despite its categorisation, children's literature is frequently read by adult readers, often celebrated for its attention to storytelling, rich creativity, and the development of imagined worlds. This module introduces you to children's literature as a subject for adult study. It investigates the origins of the genre in the eighteenth century, its flourishing in the nineteenth century and its varied fortunes thereafter. You will read and critically explore a number of major texts in their contexts. You will consider authors and subject-matter, changing ideas about childhood, the pressures of commercialisation, educational theories, cities and gardens, sex and gender, race, class and empire, as well as wonder, magic and adventure, considering what it is about children's literature that means it retains its appeal long after childhood has ended.

      The module will be organised chronologically and thematically in four strands. Texts will be selected to illuminate a range of topics, styles and approaches, from the didactic to the fantastical, the starkly realistic to the satirical.  Assessment is by an extended essay allowing you to show knowledge of a range of texts, and by two close reading exercises.

       
    • This module allows students to study two authors in depth across a sustained period of time. In each year, the module will be taught in two blocks, each focused on the works of a single author who falls under the research specialism of one or more members of staff. Each block may involve the study of several texts or the extended, in-depth study of a longer work of literature. Information as to the current year's content will be released prior to the selection of student options, but will change each year to reflect staff research interests. Possible authors for study might include (but are not limited to) novelists such as Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Don DeLillo, poets such as John Milton, Samuel Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, or Ted Hughes, or dramatists such as Christopher Marlowe, Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter, or Caryl Churchill. Alternatively, the module may in some years also focus on a memoir or short story writer, travel writer, or notable literary theorist or philosopher. The module is assessed by a critical or creative project and two essays. 

       
    • Throughout its history, the American nation has centred its identity upon notions of protest, resistance and dissent: a questioning of authority that has come to define American ideas of democratic freedom and individuality. This module explores how writers of poetry and prose from the 19th century to the present have asserted the American consciousness through literatures of counter-cultural resistance, challenging political ideologies, and questioning established modes of thinking. We will explore movements such as Transcendentalism, the Beats, Black Arts, and the New York School and their production of a counter-cultural aesthetic. Alongside this, we will consider individual writers who have responded to dominant discourses surrounding race, gender, nationalism, capitalism, and war - writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, George Saunders and Thomas Pynchon. How, we ask, have these writers and movements both responded to and shaped the idea of American identity through a politics that is both radical and anti-authoritarian? The module is assessed by a combination of two short essays, discussion posts and a long critical essay.

       
    • What does it mean to be human? What does it means to post-human? Who are our postmodern monsters? And what is the relationship between these differently defined subjects and the environments - built, natural, virtual - in which they exist? In this module we examine literature that has asked these questions, investigating how narratives of modernity have interrogated assumptions about the relationship between living subjects and the physical world, and indeed the way in which both those subjects and that world are conceived. Framed by ecocritical and spatial theory, we will consider how narrative explores the way in which the physical world has been treated in the current age - the age described as the Anthropocene  - and how it has played a role in re-shaping our understanding of that world, and the changing idea of what constitutes the human. Alongside this, we will consider how literature illuminates the ways in which spaces and places are themselves implicated in these definitions, with particular consequences for questions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. The module will include field trips to relevant sites such as urban developments and local wildlife centres, and will be assessed by a combination of essay and critical reflection.

       
    • This module examines the rich and dynamic presence of British black and Asian writing from the mid-17th century to the present. Exploring the ways in which black and Asian writing has contributed to definitions of Britishness for more than 300 years, it examines how black writers have produced formally innovative and conceptually challenging responses to questions of race, class, gender and identity, while simultaneously making significant creative contributions to the fields of drama, prose, poetry, and life-writing. In the first half of the module, students will study a range of early British texts from the mid-17th century to the 19th century from writers such as Equiano and Mary Seacole, alongside contemporary works which have reflected on the black cultural presence in Britain during this period, while the second half of the module turns to 20th century and contemporary texts by writers such as Zadie Smith. Andrea Levy, Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani, Leila Aboulela, Jackie Kay and John Agard, contextualised by appropriate critical and cultural theories from thinkers such as Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall. The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy which allows students to respond to the module through a combination of critical essay, performance and/or creative writing, and discussion posts documenting engagement and critical response.

       
    • This optional Level 6 module allows students to pursue Shakespeare studies at an advanced level and is founded upon a detailed and extensive study of the writer and his works.  Consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches to Shakespeare as well as the long history and dynamic status of Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, for example in relation to questions of gender, identity and globalisation.  Students will be encouraged to reflect upon the role of Shakespeare in culture now as well as relevant contemporary contexts such as the nature of early modern theatre going alongside crucial political and religious conditions. Teaching on the module will be closely aligned with the rich resources available at the Rose Theatre and in particular will afford students the opportunity to participate in the stimulating series of talks and events organised as part of the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS).

       
    • This module traces how literature from the 19th century to the present has concerned itself with questions of gender identity and sexuality, often offering a radical voice for those - including both women and LGBTQ+ voices - excluded from dominant and mainstream discourses. Rooted in feminist and queer theory, we will explore how feminist writing has critiqued patriarchy, how literature has challenged normative gender roles, how it has engaged with powerful questions regarding the body and the politics of desire, and how it has represented the debates within different facets of the feminist and queer community. We will also consider how writers have employed literary form and genre - for example the use of experimental writing, dramatic or poetic form, or the romance genre - and to what extent debates surrounding these forms and genre contribute to a gendered politics of cultural production. Explicitly intersectional in its approach, we will frame our discussions with an interrogation of how the politics of gender and sexuality is shaped by its relationship with questions of class, race, disability, and religion. Examples of authors studied might include Jeanette Winterson, Fleur Adock Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Kushner, Clare Macintyre, Leila Aboulela, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Virginia Woolf.

      The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy consisting of discussion board posts and a student designed portfolio of responses which may include essay, creative writing (fiction or non-fiction), artwork, media production and performance.

       
    • This module will be examining some deeply troubling events in recent history and politics and the various ethical, legal and political responses that they have generated. It has been argued that the Holocaust was a critical turning point, a catastrophe which required a fundamental ethical, legal and political rethinking of how the rights of human beings could be protected when states in the modern world engage in the systematic attempt to murder large numbers of people, including many of their own citizens. The module begins with reflections on the Nazi attempt to eliminate a whole group of people (the Jews) and to murder and enslave millions of others. It then considers a range of responses, including the Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It examines a number of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have nevertheless occurred subsequently. It evaluates the repeated failure for decades to halt or prevent these crimes and then considers the rethinking caused by the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the setting up of ad hoc tribunals and an International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators and provide justice to victims. It concludes with reflections on how much progress has been made in protecting citizens in a world of sovereign nation states and what forms of justice can work after such crimes have been committed. These are highly contested questions and the module is designed to encourage the critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of arguments that have been put forward from a variety of perspectives.

      Read full module description

       
    • Cold War, Hot War examines various events in the Middle East from past to present and will provide a comprehensive outlook on a troubled area.

      It begins by studying the historical foundations in the region and then explores the impact of the Cold War on the region through case studies such as the Eisenhower Doctrine; the Baghdad Pact, the Suez Crisis and the 1973 war. All this would be assessed against the wider framework of nationalism and regional politics from the early 1950s to the collapse of the USSR in 1990s. Using primary documents we will then assess the consequences of the end of the Cold War on the current crisis and the rise of religiopolitics. The theme of nationalism and leadership will be further explored during the second half of the module, focusing on a number of case studies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel) their ‘hot wars', foreign policy and current upheavals and challenges.

      Read full module description

       
     
  • A core module for full field students and available also to half field students, the dissertation provides an opportunity for students to work independently under the personal supervision of research-active staff. Supervision is complemented by personal tuition (separate personal tuition arrangements are put in place for minor field students). In undertaking a lengthy research project students exercise and deploy historical knowledge and skills acquired earlier in the History programme, notably at Level 5. Using their experience and research skills they now focus in depth on a specific and discrete topic that they have chosen in consultation with their supervisor. Nothing else in the History undergraduate programme is quite like a dissertation. The experience is unique, as each dissertation is unique. For the History student it is a culmination of undergraduate study. It is an exercise in preparedness for postgraduate and professional life, and it is also evidence of that preparedness.  

    Read full module description

     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

*Subject to validation

We have robust internal approval procedures to ensure that our programmes of study are of the highest quality and will offer our students the best academic experience.  Our approval process is called validation.  Where a course is described as 'subject to validation' this means that the course is in development and the details are in the process of being finalised by the University. Whilst courses on our website with the status of 'subject  to validation' are approved by Kingston University, validation is not guaranteed. Should the course not go ahead you will be informed by the University and assistance will be provided to those who have been offered a place to find a suitable alternative course either at Kingston University or another provider.

Please note that students who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK will not be issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for courses that have a Subject to Validation status.

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Kingston Writing School

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