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Contemporary British Literature and Film

Find out about the course and how to apply.

British Studies students sitting in a lecture hall
Develop your understanding of British culture

This 11-week course will give visiting and exchange students an overview of the kind of literature and films emerging in recent years from various regions of the British Isles.

Course description

This course looks systematically at the four nations of the British Isles: Scotland, England, (Northern) Ireland and Wales. The course will begin by focusing on works of literature associated with each of the four nations. The second part will then explore films associated with these nations.

Writers studied will include Tony Harrison, Jackie Kay, Kae Tempest, Owen Shear, Colm Toibin, Irvine Welsh and Seamus Heaney.

Several films will be core to the course including:

  • Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010)
  • Bait (Mark Jenkin, 2019)
  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
  • Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)
  • Small Axe (Steve McQueen, 2020), a series of films produced for the BBC.

Further works will be explored individually or as examples of the work of specific directors, such as:

  • Sarah Gavron (Suffragette, 2015; Brick Lane, 2007)
  • Mike Leigh (Peterloo, 2018; Mr Turner, 2014)
  • Steve McQueen (Hunger, 2008; Shame, 2011)
  • Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake, 2016; Kes, 1969).

Themes studied may include:

  • place and identity (including specific regional identities)
  • race, class and gender
  • emigration and immigration
  • the contrast between modernity and tradition and
  • humour, fairytale, dream and transformation.

Having completed this unit you will be able to:

  • identify themes common in post-Second World War literature of the British Isles
  • identify and locate literature from different regions of the British Isles
  • make connections between literary texts and their social, political, regional and artistic contexts
  • apply a variety of methods of critical analysis to literary texts and films
  • analyse verbal and non-verbal communication in film
  • analyse translation from text to film
  • analyse contemporary literary language
  • identify characteristics of British film
  • identify themes common in British film
  • identify and locate film from different regions of the British Isles
  • make connections between films and their social, political, regional, artistic and commercial contexts
  • make connections between British, European and North American films.

You will also be able to:

  • introduce and discuss individually researched material to others
  • apply a variety of methods of critical analysis to literary texts and films
  • give seminar presentations, learning to suit your material to your audience and to lead discussion and encourage participation.

This course description may be subject to change. We continue to improve our courses and your teaching and learning experience, so you gain skills and understanding which are valuable to you and sought after by employers.

Before you register for the course, please check this webpage for the most recently published course information. Once you have registered, you will be advised of any significant changes.

Course information

The course will run from week 19 to week 31: Thursday 9 February 2023 to Thursday 4 May 2023 (excluding 6 and 13 April) from 11.15am to 1.05pm in 8W 2.28.

This course carries six credits. In order to be awarded credits, a minimum of 80% attendance is required.

Before signing up please make sure that the day and time do not clash with your academic timetable using your MyTimetable.

Enrolment for this course is now closed.


If you have any questions, please contact us.