English Literature MA

The Contemporary Novel: Transatlantic Crosscurrents ENGLIT4109

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Focusing on novels of the last five years from both sides of the Atlantic (the United States and the United Kingdom & Ireland) this course will examine a representative selection of novels within an historical framework of other influential authors from these cultures. It will also relate the novels to relevant developments in the publishing industries such as book festivals, literary prizes, and new technologies.


6 x 2hr seminars and 4 x 2hr workshops over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in English Literature and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses



Essay (1000 words): 20%

Seminar contribution: 10%

Seminar presentation of 12 minutes: 20%


Time-limited essay (2500 words) to be completed over a 4-day period after the standard submission deadline: 50%


Essay (3000 words): 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ study key American novels and British/Irish novels of the last 5 years within a comparative intellectual framework

■ understand the place of this fiction within an historical framework of other influential fictional texts and authors' literary practices from these cultures

■ relate these novels to relevant shifts and developments in the publishing industries of these cultures such as book festivals, literary prizes, independent presses, and new technologies 

■ make connections between the texts and issues covered in the course and the students' own reading in the field of the contemporary novel.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ write knowledgeably about the contemporary novel in the U.S. and the U.K. & Ireland, constructing informed comparative arguments

■ make connections between the novels studied and earlier texts from these cultures, referring to issues of form, aesthetics and politics

■ discuss the shaping influence of the publishing industries of the recent past making informed reference to key literary institutions and industries on both sides of the Atlantic

■ use the material of the course to reflect critically on their own reading practices in the contemporary novel

■ communicate responses to the material studied on the course both orally and in written form through coherent and sustained argument.

■ develop resilience and time management skills through effectively planning, undertaking and submitting coursework.

■ deal with change and new challenges by applying their disciplinary skills and knowledge to previously unfamiliar research areas and questions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.