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Student and tutor module reviews

Reading and studying literature

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A230
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

A very in depth module. I do recommend reading all of the set books in advance to save time & help with the study process.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: September 2018

I really enjoyed this course and the texts covered were interesting and engaging. I also thought the diversity of texts were excellent and the poetry sections were great, particularly the New York poets. I enjoyed every assignment and although they challenged me I got some of my best marks on this course; I found that the more I put into the course the more I got out of it. The only downside was the exam which (due to an OU error on the paper) proved very challenging and I was disappointed with my exam result. Overall, an excellent and interesting course, but make sure you keep focused on the end-of-course exam and if things don't go to plan try to stay focused.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: September 2018

A230 helped me better understand the process of textual and contextual analysis in literature, and I gained a great deal from the TMAs and feedback from my tutor.

But I struggled to perform this same analysis under exam conditions. The thinking that produced TMAs seemed to need an extended time period and careful study of texts. When that same thinking was required in an exam, with time constrained and the only textual source being memory, I could not perform to the same standard.

And it seemed strange that the course grade weighted the exam mark at 50%. It meant that three hours of work, amounting to perhaps the word count of one TMA, should be considered equivalent to the production of six more considered and polished essays.
I note that level three literature courses have EMAs rather than exams. My feeling is that A230 ought to have an EMA also, so that the kind of thinking being examined is the same thinking that the coursework seems designed to teach.

Heather Lynn Gout

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: August 2018

very enjoyable module, challenging and really opened up a lot of literature to me.

Course starting: October 2016

Review posted: June 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and would definitely recommend it.

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: December 2015

This was my first Level 2 module and it was definitely a step up from Level 1. I enjoyed the set texts tremendously and both the online materials and the module books were to the OU's usual high standard. The Skills Tutorials were particularly helpful.

The inclusion of 'Metropolis' made a welcome addition to the module (though I know that some of my fellow students found the inclusion of a film in a literature module puzzling). I really enjoyed the film - in fact, I got my best exam mark on the 'Metropolis' question.

The module introduced me to works that I might otherwise never have read, such as the New York poets, the work of Elizabeth Bishop and Sam Selvon's wonderful 'Lonely Londoners'. I also gained a greater appreciation of the Romantic poets. The Renaissance and the Long 18th Century introduced me to the work of Aphra Behn and Voltaire's 'Candide'. The chapters on'Othello' and 'The Duchess of Malfi'(both of which I had studied before) were great treats. I was also fortunate enough to see the National Theatre's 'Othello' and the Globe production of 'Malfi'. I would strongly recommend that students try to see performances of both plays as this is, I think, invaluable in appreciating and understanding them.

Overall, this module covers some wonderful texts - it was a compulsory module for my degree, but I would highly recommend it to those with an interest in literature.

Pamela Newton

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

I did enjoy this module although it was tough at times. Nineteenth Century novel was somewhat boring but I found the Renaissance and the 20th Century fascinating!

Kathleen Jones

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: December 2014

Well, A230 was a really tough but enjoyable module in respect of text analysis and learning techniques, taking into account that I had no prior English literature study experience.

I was really shaking in my boots when starting, as I am not a native speaker but soon realised that through hard study you can finally make it. I had a wonderful and generous tutor, who helped me very much throughout the year up to the last minute.

My advice to those who will take this module is to try to get the module books well in advance and start learning the techniques/terminology needed to analyse a text.

This will be more than necessary at the beginning of the course as you will have to deal with text analysis in the first three assignments.

When I first took a look at the students' reviews before starting the module, I saw that many of them referred to the exam as something difficult or at least different from the sample questions given, thus disheartening me even more. I felt the exam was fair, if not easy, especially for those being consistent with their study and assignments throughout the year.

Finally, I strongly believe that the course books should be enriched with as many as possible and clear examples regarding the so far mere definition of each technique at the end of the book, thus helping students have a better and well in advance understanding of them, before they have to deal with text analysis.

Best of luck to all of you taking this module.

Christos Emmanouil

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: October 2014

I studied this module as part of my literature degree, and on the whole I really enjoyed it.

The course is well structured and covers a lot of ground; starting in the Renaissance and taking us up to almost the present day in terms of literature. Each chapter centres on a particular theme, such as 'Home and Abroad' when considering Wuthering Heights. This was an interesting concept, and we were encouraged to think within these frames, but also to consider others in the TMA questions.

A230 also introduces a considerable amount of historical and philosophical context, ideas about what literature is for, and how it was seen by the contemporary audience as well as the modern. I also had an excellent and passionate tutor who guided me very well.

I do feel that in some cases, various concepts could have been explained better- in some situations a lot of critical arguments from different schools of thought were almost thrown about without much explanation. A little clarity about these schools and their context, which many students would have been unaware of (as there is little in the way of literature criticism at level 1) would have been invaluable at this stage.

Nevertheless, aside from these small issues, this module has prepared me extremely well for the level three literature courses and I would highly recommend it.

A230 has encouraged me to look further into the authors discussed throughout the module, which include Joyce, Sebald, Voltaire and Bronte. As with the other literature modules, there is a lot of reading, so I would recommend reading as many of the texts as possible before the course starts.

The exam, as expected, did require a considerable amount of consolidation on my part, but there were no horrible surprises when it came to the questions and I was delighted with my final result.

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: September 2014

Loved this course. Masses of reading but all really riveting and I liked the film study in the course as well. As always for me a struggle with the writing and the interpretation of the TMA questions. My tutor was very supportive and good constructive feedback on my assignments.

The exam was awful, again wasn't quite sure what was being asked. I got Grade 2 in my assignments only 4 in the exam, but I passed and that is good enough for me. I have the knowledge!

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

I very much enjoyed this course. I thought there was a good mix and balance between the various texts and my interest was maintained throughout. It actually would have been better for me to focus more on specific texts that I was due to tackle in my TMAs but I found it all so interesting I couldn't skip on. I got a distinction in the end which probably influenced my positive feelings for the course but I do genuinely think this was an engaging and enjoyable module and I would recommend it.

Kevin Hickey

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: June 2014

The course was interesting, stimulating and enjoyable. The tutorials were great, very helpful with an excellent tutor whose intelligent insights brought the study material alive.

The course covered what turned out to be a large range of literature and even the poetry and books I originally thought may be dull - on closer inspection and with the course direction and tutorial discussion - turned out to be captivating.

I would say study this course to get a broad view of literature across the ages and wish you luck in getting a good tutor as this from experience on a previous course (Creative Writing) can and will make all the difference.

Cal Craven-Francis

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

A necessary course for my degree. but extremely patchy in my experience.

Firstly, when I started reading the set texts my heart sank. Oroonoko took two attempts, I could barely understand the Lonely Londoners and I forced myself through Candide. I really dreaded the course to be honest, because the only texts I'd enjoyed were Othello, The Duchess of Malfi and The Sign of Four. Even Wuthering Heights, a so-called sweeping romance story, was awful.

Sounds like I had a rough time? Well, as it turned out, no. The textbooks were very well thought out and written, I thought, piquing my interest more than the texts themselves and making them more understandable. I actually got my lower scores on the texts I'd enjoyed in the end, which was a surprise.

My tutor was the saving grace, I think. A real diamond and she put some of the TMAs into a more understandable format and put more work into her tutorials than probably required, and more interaction in the forums than many students.

By the end of the course the themes were recurring, albeit tenuously at times, and the TMAs were less painful. Despite that, I enjoyed the course less as time went on, but that's just personal taste running to older literature (except Oroonoko). In a course with such varied content you're never going to like everything.

The exam was a serious problem for many people. I think this is being looked into so future students may struggle less, but some of the questions were a bit obscure or not what we were expecting at all. I did as well as I thought I would though and I even surprised myself by tackling a poetry question in the exam; something I'd sworn against through most of the course. Word to the wise, go to your exam help day if at all possible. Word to the wiser, don't revise expecting a particular question or angle to come up, that's what tripped up a lot of people. Keep your revision general so you can write about your chosen texts in many different contexts.

The course taught some very good lessons in critical reading and was invaluable preparation for Level 3 literature modules, it's just the bulk of the texts weren't to my taste. That's just me though; plenty of students found new favourites so if you try it, maybe you will too.

My final advice; use your tutor group forums. With all the forums available it's difficult to keep track but I felt sorry for more than one tutor who'd organised something on the forums, only to have only a few people use them. It's a universal problem but a shame; they're a great resource for keeping in touch with your tutor and asking questions.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This course is structured chronologically, which is an excellent way of showing how literature develops over time and helps to relate the texts to the historical period in which they were produced. I found the variety of texts interesting. Othello is a great text to study if you are not particularly familiar with Shakespeare, and although the Romantic poets are familiar to most people, the course explores their work in new and interesting ways.

The course texts also explore beyond the 'canon'. For example, RL Stevenson's South Seas Tales were completely new to me and such a joy to discover. Similarly, 'Dubliners' was a revelation. The assignments were all very clear about what was required, which was helpful. I found the exam questions a little unfocused, but that was not a great problem - just be prepared for it and don't expect predictable questions. I think the inclusion of 'Metropolis' was a mistake - only my opinion, of course, but I prefer to focus on the written word in a literature course, and thought a film rather out of place.

However, you can do the course successfully without even watching 'Metropolis' so don't let it put you off. I didn't bother much with forums because personally, I don't find them very helpful, but try to get to tutorials, if possible, as face-to-face interaction with other students is invaluable. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with a love of literature. It was a great course and inspires you to continue studying.

Hazel Joan Lavelle

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This is a wonderful literature survey course, deservedly compulsory for those reading BA(Hons) English Literature.

The course spans four centuries, from Shakespeare and Webster to Bishop and Sebald, passing by colonial travelogues, Romantic poets, Victorian novelists, and twentieth century modernists. The three course books which you are sent are very well compiled, with multiple cross referencing between the different chapters and glossaries at the back for the various technical terms used, also comprehensive reference and reading lists for the extra keen. The books are well illustrated too, making them lively and enjoyable reading.

The course is structured around six tutor marked assignments (TMAs) and a final exam. My fellow students and I were a little shocked that the actual exam questions were so different in style from those of the specimen paper, being in reality far more tangential than the examples given - but then this does better test a student's understanding and ability to apply what has been learned to answer a specific question, rather than having you just re-hash the memorised chapter of a course book.

Tutorial time is limited to six two-hour tutorials throughout the year, and disappointingly, a measly half day revision course for the exam itself. It was absurdly rushed as a result, skimming over key issues which should have had far more time - many students felt understandably frustrated here. Oddly, a few parts of the country received whole day exam revision sessions, which felt quite unfair to those of us only given a squeezed half day. We would not have found out about this but for an accidental open mailing meant for one lucky region sent to all!

My one major gripe with the course is the inclusion of a film, and a silent German film at that, Metropolis - a bizarre inclusion for the compulsory core module of an English Literature degree. Most other students (and many tutors!) agreed. While the film is undoubtedly historically interesting, I found its inclusion in the course, when so much excellent true literature was necessarily excluded, very frustrating. The excuse offered was that you can 'read' the film. Well, you can 'read' a painting, a sculpture, even a piece of music if you wanted to so stretch a verb - if I had wanted to study film I would have chosen a film module. I don't know that film students are obliged to read T.S.Eliot's 'The Wasteland' which would have been far more apt here - and still relevant to the 20th century urban theme.

But don't worry, you can completely ignore Metropolis as you will never have to write a TMA or answer an exam question on it: you are always given a choice here - you can opt to answer a question on Dubliners and New York poetry/short stories instead!

Metropolis aside, this course is a fantastic experience for anyone who loves literature, and I defy you not to thoroughly enjoy it. I had never read Selvon, Bishop or Sebald before and I absolutely adored them. Thank you OU!

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2016 presentation of A230. The survey was carried out in 2017.

279 students (a response rate of 28.9%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 85.3 238
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 81.7 228
The module provided good value for money 61.4 167
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 80.5 223
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 86.3 240
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 86.7 241
I would recommend this module to other students 76.5 212
The module met my expectations 74.8 208
I enjoyed studying this module 77.4 216
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 75.5 209
Faculty comment: "We are pleased that a high percentage of respondents who studied this module enjoyed it and were satisfied with its quality and their experience of studying it. We noted that the workload appeared to be higher than some expected it to be, although it is in accordance with agreed University norms. We have taken steps to ensure advice provided to students makes clear how much time they need to devote to studying the module, and note the high satisfaction with the support provided to students."
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