Period of Literature: 1500-1625 (Q3131)

30 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

In this module you will examine literature from the reigns of Henry VIII to James I. The volume, variety and quality of writing produced in this period are astonishing. The 16th century saw the impact of an unprecedented expansion of England's capital city, which produced a thriving environment for professional writing, prompting the birth of commercial theatre in London and a flourishing book trade.

You will consider how literature came to be produced historically, looking at writing in its cultural setting with the help of visual texts such as paintings and architecture. You will address questions of literary history and theory, form and rhetoric within the network of institutions, practices and beliefs that constitute a culture as a whole. The module does not confine itself to major authors, but involves the consideration of appropriate themes and material drawn from various literary genres - drama, poetry and prose.

Topics explored include the rise of the commercial stage; sexualities and the transvestite stage; writing history; popular pamphlet culture; representations of the body; exploration and early colonialism; the sonnet; erotic writing; devotional writing; the city of London and money; religion; gender; death; representations of monarchy; the political stage; revenge tragedy; witchcraft and the birth of science.


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


40%: Coursework (Essay, Presentation)
60%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 36 hours of contact time and 264 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2018/19. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: