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Module LXM-4001:
Modes of Critical Theory

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Eva Bru-Dominguez

Overall aims and purpose

The main aim of this module is to survey a wide range of modern theoretical approaches that explain, analyse critically and ultimately transform the assumptions that keep human beings from truly understanding the socio-political and historical contexts they inhabit. It introduces students to 1) a number of key strands of critical analysis and theory prominent in modern thought; 2) the practice of applying those theories to sources, be it literary, cultural, artistic, cinematic, political or historical; 3) the complexities of scholarly writing and documentation; to lead students 4) to evaluate the uses and validity of modes of critical analysis and critical theory, and 5) to present complex material in clear and precise manner.

Course content

Since the twentieth century, modes of critical analysis and critical theory have developed in such a way as to have a significant impact on visual and performance cultures, literature, historical and cultural studies. Taking a thematic approach, this module will provide students with the relevant theoretical background and analytical skills with which to approach subsequent specialist modules. Students will be introduced to topics derived from critical theory where relevant. This module will explore how different modes of critical analysis and critical theory have affected cultural outputs in a European and Global context.

The course consists of eleven two-hour sessions, which will focus on a wide range of theoretical topics such as gender and sexuality, modernity, marxism, postcolonialism, postmodernity, space theory and travel theories, intermediality, adaptation, performance and actionism among others. Students will be required to read all 'set texts' in depth prior to each lecture/seminar with the aim to contribute to class discussion and present cogently their understanding of and views on the theoretical approaches studied.

Topic-specific reading lists are provided for each segment of the course.

Assessment Criteria


C- - C+: Students should demonstrate a satisfactory comprehension of the topic studied, forming solid conclusions about the validity and uses of critical analysis and theory as a whole.


B- - B+: Students receiving the higher grades of assessment will have analysed the sources provided, evaluating secondary material on set topics and assessing them as they form their own convincing conclusions.


A- - A*: In order to achieve the highest grades, students will have supplemented the texts studied in class with additional primary and secondary reading, they will have analysed and evaluated existing readings of critical theory and come to their own innovative and thoughtful conclusions.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students will acquire a greater awareness of the range of modes of critical analysis and critical theory.

  2. Students will be able to engage critically with textual examples of specific modes of critical analysis and critical theories.

  3. Students will be able to analyse the relationship between individual modes of analysis and theories and the subject to which they are applied.

  4. Students will be able to analyse the uses and validity of the areas of critical analysis and theory.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY essay

5,000 word essay pertaining to one of the topics studied in the seminars. Students are to create their own essay title, which should be approved by the lecturer of the relevant topic before the end of the taught semester.

ESSAY Abstract

The abstract should include the main research questions that will shape the essay and outline the methodological approach to be taken. It should indicate the primary corpus for the essay and outline the main stages of the argument proposed.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


eleven two-hour weekly seminar style lectures.

Private study

Students are required to read the set theoretical texts prior to each lecture/seminar and prepare for and respond to the provided questions related to the topics.

Development of strong theoretical background for the dissertation is key to this module and broad reading and research in all the topics covered is required.


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
  • 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.
  • 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 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)


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

A Talis reading list is available for this module. Please click on the following link to access the reading list:

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: