Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module LXE-2011:
Discovering Cities

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Armelle Blin-Rolland

Overall aims and purpose

This module provides an interdisciplinary and transnational overview of the study of the city. Focusing both on specific cities and, more broadly, on the construction and cultural representation of urban space, it will make students aware of urban planning and its effects on social structures, the historical and cultural significance of monuments, and the multiple and contradictory representations and imaginaries of the city across literature and visual arts. The module draws on the fields of history, visual cultures, film, literature and architecture and explores the relationship between urban space, memory and identity through close analysis of cultural and artistic production. It encourages students to reflect on the city in different linguistic, historical, cultural and geographical traditions, with an investigation of specific cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Berlin (English translations will be provided of all primary sources).

Course content

The module will begin with Theoretical Approaches to the Urban Space. Following on from this, it will move on to an investigation of specific cities, covering topics such as: Barcelona as a symbol of modernity and cultural identity focusing on the expansion of the city in the early twentieth century powered by economic and demographic growth and the consolidation of the bourgeoisie; Paris as cultural icon and touristic capital, on the one hand, and as a city built upon processes of exclusion, peripheral identities and creativity at the margins, on the other; and Berlin as the contested capital of Germany (focusing on architectural re-imagining of a Germany Re-united) on the one hand; and Berlin as a metropole of modernity in literature and film.

Assessment Criteria


D- - D+: In order to merit the award of credit, student should demonstrate a basic comprehension of the material presented, and demonstrate that they can clearly differentiate between the various portions of that material.


A- - A*: Students attaining the highest grades in this course will have thoroughly immersed themselves in primary and secondary reading, with which they will engage at a mature and incisive level. They will produce insightful, nuanced analysis. They will have demonstrated a very high level of engagement with the conceptual as well as factual aspects of the material studied.


C- - B+: Students attaining the higher grades in this course will have shown not only comprehension of the concepts and case studies studied in their own right, but will also demonstrate a clear ability to contextualise them, grasping the historical context of each case study. They will show an ability to explore and re-evaluate critical judgements in the light of their own reading.

Learning outcomes

  1. To appraise the national capital as a space to negotiate national identity

  2. To be able to produce structured and coherent arguments in written assignments.

  3. To analyse how key historical processes have influenced the development of the urban environment and its cultural representation.

  4. To develop an understanding of key theoretical approaches to the urban space

  5. To critically evaluate literary and visual representations of the city.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM 2-hour written exam

Two-hour written exam, involving two essays, each in response to visual materials relating to topics and themes seen in the module.

ESSAY 2,000-word essay

Essay of 2,000 words on one of a selection of topics relating to the case studies analysed in the module.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


One 1-hour lecture per week for 11 weeks.


One 1-hour seminar per week for 11 weeks.

Private study

During private study students will engage with the set texts to read (primary case studies, and theoretical texts), prepare materials in advance of lectures and seminars.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to work creatively and flexibly both independently and/or as part of a team. (Benchmark statement 5.15).
  • The ability and willingness to engage with and appreciate other cultures and to articulate to others (in written and verbal form) the contribution that the culture has made at a regional and global level. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical understanding of key topics in the sphere of modern critical, cultural and translation theory, highlighting landmark figures and offering close readings of segments of their texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)
  • Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)


Courses including this module

Optional in courses: