Module QXE-4011:
MA Open Essay 1

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Raluca Radulescu

Overall aims and purpose

(1) to help students develop their autonomy as learners, through guidance from an experienced researcher.

(2) to help students gather knowledge of the current state of scholarship in a given field of literary research.

(3) to help students structure a complex argument in secondary form.

(4) to help students employ a mixture of primary and secondary evidence in an essay.

(5) to help students learn to frame working hypotheses, to evaluate them in the light of counter-arguments and counter-evidence, and to revise them. In doing this, they relate abstract principles and concepts to particular literary texts.

(6) to help students design a small-scale programme of literary research.

Course content

This optional module enables students who have completed two taught modules (QXE4015 Literary Theory, Scholarship and Research OR KAH 4401 Understanding the Middle Ages, and one other module) to develop an individual research project, shorter in length than the MA Dissertation, with guidance from a supervisor. The precise nature of the topic will be agreed between the student and the supervisor.

Assessment Criteria


60-69% A candidate’s work reaching Merit will show many of the following qualities: • An advanced level of factual knowledge. • Significant [substantial] knowledge of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Some evidence of original thought. • The ability to organise and argue effectively, make balanced judgements, and demonstrate critical thought. • Fluent and accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.


70% and above Typically, the work of a candidate reaching Distinction will show many of the following qualities: • Thorough knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Thorough knowledge of a range of sources and the capacity to engage these critically. • Introduction and discussion of original ideas. • Relevant, well-organised and sophisticated argument. • High ratio of analysis to exposition. • Maturity, clarity and cogency of expression. • Excellent handling of quotation and references.


50-59% A Pass (C) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities: • A satisfactory level of knowledge, analysis and expression. • Some familiarity with, and understanding of, relevant theoretical issues. • Generally sound organisation of argument, with some critical ability. • Accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.

Learning outcomes

  1. Present a Masters level argument that takes due note of the current state of scholarship in its field.

  2. Write persuasively and unambiguously at an advanced level.

  3. Structure a complex and sophisticated argument in essay form.

  4. Incorporate primary and secondary evidence in an essay, as appropriate to the chosen topic, and to document it using a specified system of annotation.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 294

up to 6 individual supervisory tutorials, one hour each, the exact timing across the semester to be agreed between tutor and student.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.

Courses including this module