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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL5950M George Orwell: The Politics of Literature

30 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Professor Michael G. Brennan

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module focuses on the range of Orwell’s writings from the 1920s until 1950, examining his major novels in conjunction with sampling his short stories, essays and journalism. It traces the development of his writing styles, analysing the diversity of his fictional imagination, narrative techniques and polemical writings. It examines his reflections on poverty and privilege, aspiration and dystopia, and national and international politics during the first half of the twentieth century.


This module will provide students with an extensive knowledge of the range of George Orwell’s writings, focusing specifically on samples from his novels, short stories, essays and journalism. Students will develop their close reading and critical skills in both verbal and written contexts and will extend their critical and theoretical approaches to the literature of this period within various historical and intellectual contexts.

Students will achieve these objectives through the diversity of activities offered by the seminars, including close readings and textual analysis, study of the historical contexts within which Orwell was writing, short individual, paired and group presentations, plenary discussions, and written assessments.

Learning outcomes
1. close reading skills in a variety of literary genres and ability to communicate critical and analytical responses in verbal and written forms.
2. capacity for independent and imaginative thought, judgement and critical reasoning through participation in seminar discussions, presentations and planning/writing of the assessed work.
3. research expertise, including information retrieval, the organization of complex materials and the evaluation of the significance of research findings.
4. an understanding of the range and diversity of Orwell’s writings and their continuing importance to literary, social and cultural discourse.

Skills outcomes
Masters (Taught), Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate students will have had the opportunity to acquire the following abilities as defined in the module specified for the programme:
– the skills necessary to undertake a higher research degree and/or for employment in a higher capacity;
– evaluating their own achievement and that of others;
– self-direction and effective decision making;
– independent learning and the ability to work in a way which ensures continuing professional development;
– to engage critically in the development of professional/disciplinary boundaries and norms.


This module focuses on the diverse range of George Orwell’s literary output from the 1920s until his death in 1950. It examines his major novels, in conjunction with sampling his short stories, essays and journalism. It traces the development of his literary career and writing styles, analysing the diversity of his fictional imagination, narrative techniques and polemical writings. His reflections upon poverty and privilege, doubt and belief, social aspiration and dystopia, and individual and social identity will be considered, alongside his reflections upon the after-effects of World War I, the impact of World War II, the decline of British colonialism and radical shifts in national and international political debates during the first half of the twentieth century.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be required to submit (in week 7) an essay plan of up to 1,000 words with formative feedback in writing and via individual consultations (in week 9). Written feedback will also be provided on the assessed 4,000 word essay. Feedback will be provided on the discussions in the weekly seminars and the short presentations made by the students.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 15/08/2023 12:47:52


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