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Unit information: Literature 1550-1740 in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Literature 1550-1740
Unit code ENGL10043
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Holberton
Open unit status Not open
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Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


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School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

1550 to 1740 saw an explosion of drama on the public stage, a vibrant poetic culture which included experiments in lyric, epic, and many other poetic forms, and innovative examples of prose fiction, travel-writing and life-writing. The period also witnessed religious upheavals, political, scientific and economic revolutions, and the establishment of England’s first colonies in the new world. It also saw the coming of age of the printing press, and an enormous surge in the production and consumption of literary manuscripts by ever more diverse readerships. This unit will introduce students to a selection of literature from this period, and reflect on its cultural and intellectual contexts. Writers may include: Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Thomas Middleton, Ben Jonson, Mary Wroth, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Aphra Behn, William Wycherley, William Congreve, John Dryden, Mary Wortley Montagu, Anne Finch, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift.

Your learning on this unit

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. read and analyse representative literature of the later 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries;
  2. understand some of the distinctive qualities of the literature of this period and the ways in which literary texts relate to their wider social and historical contexts;
  3. offer in-depth interpretations of some of the authors of the period;
  4. argue persuasively and with appropriate evidence in writing;
  5. read closely and analytically.

How you will learn

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including long- and short-form lectures, group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

How you will be assessed

  • 1 x 1000 word essay (formative) [ILOs 1-5]
  • 1 x 2000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL10043).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.