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Last modified: 25 Mar 2016 11:34

Course Overview

This course traces the use of key Western myths from antiquity to the present to examine the way knowledge is often presented as both dangerous and compelling. As well as introducing students to a range of historical, social, and formal variations on the theme of knowledge, the course also highlights the role of storytelling and adaptation in the formation of knowledge and understanding.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Tim Baker

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

How do we know what we know? Are our lives shaped by our own efforts and learning, or are we subject to forces we cannot control? Does the acquisition of knowledge carry tragic consequences? Such questions have reverberated throughout literary history. Looking at a wide range of texts from ancient to modern, and including poems, plays, and novels, this course will introduce students to some of the central ethical and intellectual concerns found in literature, as well as providing a solid cross-period foundation for further study. Besides literary expressions of the Fall such as Milton's Paradise Lost, the course features reworkings of the Faust and Prometheus legends, including texts by authors such as Aeschylus, Marlowe, Mary Shelley and Angela Carter.

Further Information & Notes

This course aims to:

-Introduce students to a wide range of literary texts on the subject of knowledge

-Situate texts in their historical and cultural contexts

-Provide a diachronic account of the way knowledge has been presented in literature

-Formulate key ethical and epistemological questions in the study of literature

-Through an emphasis on tragedy, relate thematic and intellectual ideas to form and genre


By the end of the course, students should be able to:

-Distinguish between various types of knowledge presented in the course.

-Reflect on the relationship between literature and knowledge as presented in the prescribed texts, and be able to analyse this relationship using appropriate language

-Judge the extent to which knowledge can be considered tragic

-Articulate the relationship between texts from different periods

-Express their ideas clearly and succinctly in both oral and written forms, with appropriate use of secondary sources

-Asses their own learning process in relation to the prescribed texts


Students will also have acquired:

-The practical skills necessary for literary and cultural analysis

-A periodic and formal foundation on which to base their choices of Honours options

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st attempt: Continuous Assessment (100%)
1,500 word essay (20%)
2,000 word essay (30%)
Tutorial Assessment Mark (10%)
Take-home Exam (40%)

Resit:1 two-hour written examination (100%).

Formative Assessment

Students will keep a weekly course journal which will not be given a CAS mark, but will be taken into consideration as part of tutorial assessment.


Summative assessments will be given CAS marks, and written or verbal feedback will be provided. Additional informal feedback on performance and tutorial participation is also given in tutorials.

Course Learning Outcomes


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