English Literature MA

Representing the Real in Contemporary Literature ENGLIT4103

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • 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
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The course invites students to reflect on the question of realism in a specifically twenty-first century ('post-postmodern') context, in light of pressing social, environmental and geo-political events and in light of broad-scale literary and aesthetic trends.


1 x 1hr workshop and 1 x 1hr seminar per week over ten 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

ENGLIT4072 Representing the Real in Contemporary Literature


Essay (1500 words): 20%

Essay (4500 words): 60%

Seminar presentation of 7 minutes: 10%

Seminar and workshop contribution: 10%

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 the ideological and philosophical issues surrounding the question of realism

■ analyse the inter-relationship of formal, linguistic and thematic properties in a range of contemporary fictions

■ encounter a range of contemporary critical-theoretical arguments

■ question the ongoing validity of traditional genre distinctions between realism and fantasy

■ think theoretically about contemporary society and the politics of form.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ apply realist / anti-realist distinctions to contemporary works of Anglophone literature

■ evaluate the ongoing suitability of these distinctions to 20th and 21st century literature

■ conceptualise the broad epistemological and sociological changes surrounding the shift from postmodern irony, scepticism and anti-realism, to post-postmodern realism and "sincerity"

■ discuss the inter-relation between formal and thematic traits within contemporary Anglophone fictions, with recourse to recent history and literary / critical theories of the late 20th and early 21st centuries

■ synthesise continuities and overlaps between literary-creative and literary-theoretical developments from the mid-twentieth century to the present day

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

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.