Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University

Educational aims

The Literature strand aims to provide you with:

  • a broad knowledge of aspects of Western European culture
  • an opportunity to develop skills associated with a number of different disciplines, in particular skills of analysis and interpretation of literary texts, and an awareness of the range and variety of current critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
  • an opportunity to develop conceptual and communication skills, and to progress towards more independent thinking and judgement.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you complete your studies for this strand you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a substantial number of authors and texts in English (or translated into English), and of the development, character and conventions of at least two of the principal literary genres – poetry, fiction and drama
  • the central role of language in the creation of meaning, and the ways in which the English language is capable of complex articulation, communication and rhetoric
  • key critical concepts, terms and current theoretical approaches to literary study, and an awareness of how literary texts and language both reflect and impact upon cultural change and difference
  • how literary texts are written and received within literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts, and of how the study of literature can benefit from interdisciplinary work.

Cognitive skills

When you complete your studies for this strand you will be able to:

  • read analytically a range of literary texts and secondary sources, including complex theoretical writings
  • engage with different interpretations of texts, and to relate abstract concepts and theories to specific literary texts
  • synthesise information and ideas drawn from varieties of sources and to evaluate critically opposing positions
  • engage with literary texts from the past and from other cultures and recognise how cultural assumptions affect understanding and interpretations of texts
  • think logically and make rational judgements based on evidence.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you complete your studies for this strand you will be able to:

  • construct and present sustained, coherent and persuasive written and oral arguments
  • collect, sift and organise material, and evaluate its significance
  • work independently
  • plan and write essays and longer projects, including the provision of appropriate scholarly apparatus and acknowledgement of the work of others
  • be aware of how to acquire knowledge through the use of an academic library.

Key skills

When you complete your studies for this degree, you will be able to demonstrate that you can:

Communication

  • write essays in an appropriately academic form
  • participate in oral discussion of the subject, and develop communication strategies over an extended period of time
  • read and synthesise substantial quantities of written material
  • develop listening and viewing strategies.

Improving own learning and performance

  • study subjects and complete academic tasks of increasing complexity, and sustain and develop your learning over an extended period
  • study and learn more independently, and from a variety of different media and teaching methods
  • make use of feedback from a tutor, and develop self-assessment activities to improve your performance

Information technology

  • be aware of the extent to which ICT can be of value in the academic study of literature, for example in word-processing documents and in accessing data.

Working with others

  • work with another person or group of people in discussion and debate, and in the preparation of joint projects.

Problem solving

  • analyse a problem and define its constituent parts.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will gain knowledge and understanding through study of study materials, including published teaching texts, audio-visual materials, set texts, study guides, assignment and project guides, specimen examination papers, and written feedback on assignments. Learning outcomes are assessed by means of assignments requiring text analysis, comparative discussion of texts, independent project work, and examinations.

You will develop and practice cognitive skills through study of the study materials, which include in-text self-assessment questions, as well as interactive audio-visual materials and associated study guides, assignment booklets and specimen examination papers. Cognitive skills are also taught and practised through group tutorial and residential school work, and through carefully monitored written feedback by tutors on your written essays and project work.

Practical and/or professional skills are taught cumulatively throughout the programme. At Level 1 you are guided through the study of pre-selected texts. At Level 2 you are expected to make use of relevant information from set books and extracts from a range of critical and historical materials. Level 3 modules lay more emphasis on the use of critical, theoretical and historical materials, and require you to present your work in a more scholarly way. Information on the importance and use of libraries  is provided at each level.

Teaching of key skills is by published teaching materials, by detailed tutor feedback on written work, and by participation at tutorials and residential school as well as telephone and written communication. You will practise and develop them throughout all the modules that make up the programme, though there is more emphasis on independent learning at honours level.

Assessment of writing skills is by continuous assessment including essays and project work, and by examination. You will have the opportunity to practise other key skills, though they may not be directly assessed, for example, understanding of ICT, and of participation in group discussion and debate. Assessment methods on most modules include short written answers, essays, extended essays, and examinations. Level 3 project modules are assessed by means of essays and a 6,000-word independently planned and prepared project.