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Last modified: 25 Mar 2016 11:35

Course Overview

This course explores the intersection of science and literature during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It is taught by staff from both the English and History programmes, and is designed to challenge many preconceptions about the role of science in nineteenth and early twentieth century society. No scientific knowledge is required. However, students will read a mix of fictional and poetic writings alongside non-fiction and scientific texts. This course will show how literature reflected the changing status of science in society and accommodated new ideas. It will also show how science itself was shaped by literary production and cultural expectation.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Hazel Hutchison

Qualification Prerequisites


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

  • Either English (EL) (Studied) or BSc Medical Science (Medical Humanities) (Studied)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Programme Level 4

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

Science became a major force in society during the nineteenth century. This course offers an exciting interdisciplinary look at the place of science within the literature and culture of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It also explores how science was in turn shaped by wider cultural concerns during this period, and how science writing developed alongside other literary genres. Exploring fictional and poetic writings alongside essays and scientific non-fiction, it investigates how developments in areas such as geology, technology and physics were linked to the rise of an industrial, urban society, and challenged (or reinforced) traditional ideas about religion, gender, class and the human mind. It will also explore how science was used (and abused) in the central political and social debates of the period, and how this cultural context altered the course of science itself.

Further Information & Notes

One twohour seminar per week.

Students will also be asked to complete a short preparation task online each week.

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: Two 2,500-3,000 word essays (40% each), research exercise (10%), seminar participation (10%).

Resit: For honours students only: candidates achieving a CAS mark of 6-8 may be awarded compensatory level 1 credit. Candidates achieving a CAS mark of less than 6 will be required to submit a new essay.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment take place through the marking of written work throughout the semester.


Written feedback will be given on written work and on participation in class. Students will also have opportunities throughout the semester to discuss their progress with tutors.

Course Learning Outcomes


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