English Literature MA

Detection and Crime Literature: From Poe to the Present ENGLIT4122

  • 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 considers the origins and evolution of detective literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics and authors may include: Detection and Cognitive Difference, Hardboiled Fiction and Noir, Postmodern (Anti) Detectives, Detection and the Gothic, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe, Raymond Chandler, Umberto Eco, and Mark Haddon.


7 x 1.5hr seminars, 1 x 2 hr workshop, 1 x 1.5hr workshop, 2 x 3hr workshops, 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



Close reading exercise (1500 words): 25%

Essay (3000 words): 50%

Seminar presentation of 7 minutes: 15%

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 evolution of the genres of crime fiction and detective fiction from the early nineteenth century to the present

■ understand the place of crime and detective fictions within a cultural, theoretical, and historical context

■ critically engage with a range of selected works, from the nineteenth century to the present

■ acquire a knowledge of the wider debates surrounding issues such as crime, policing, surveillance, forensics, and the administration of justice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ write knowledgeably about the genres of crime and detective fiction, as well as specific major works

■ analyse intersections between literary representations of crime, and broader cultural discourses, such as medicine, feminism, cognitive difference, the gothic, and post-modernism

■ apply appropriate critical approaches and methodologies to the genre.

■ conduct independent research and compare set texts with their own reading to produce coherent and sustained interpretative arguments in both written and oral form.

■ demonstrate resilience and time management 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.