Critical Reading

Course summary

  • Thu 25 Apr 2019 to Thu 27 Jun 2019
  • 7:00-9:00pm 10 meetings
  • Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA
  • From £205.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O18P476LTW
  • +44 (0)1865 280900
  • Applications being accepted

Critical Reading


This course will introduce you to the key skills of English Studies, in particular close critical analysis and the use of contextual information.

In this course we shall hone our skills of close critical analysis of prose, poetry, and drama. Through exercises in the analysis of nineteenth- to twenty-first-century narrative fiction as well as poems and plays in English, you will learn how to develop your opinions about literary texts into informed and convincing arguments. You will be introduced to key concepts and movements in literary criticism, and to key terms of the critical idiom. We shall also consider how placing texts in their literary, historical, and cultural contexts can help us to understand them.

Programme details

Term Starts:   25th April 

Week 1:          What is literature?

Week 2:          Analysing fiction 1: narrative voice and characterisation

Week 3:          Analysing fiction 2: dialogue and monologue

Week 4:          Figurative language

Week 5:          Poetic form 1

Week 6:          Poetic form 2

Week 7:          Free Verse

Week 8:          Drama

Week 9:          Using the critical idiom and contextual material

Week 10:        A sense of an ending


Background Reading:

Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th Edition (Routledge, 2016)

Margaret Ferguson et al. (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th Edition (Norton, 2005)

Chris Baldick, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms

Edward Clarke, The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry


If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September and we will try to ensure that as many titles as possible are available in the Library by the start of each term. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List



Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit full yfrom the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not registered for CATS points during the enrolment process can either, register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Course Fee: £205.00
Take this course for CATS Points: £10.00


Dr Edward Clarke

Edward Clarke teaches English literature at St Catherine's College and on the Liberal Arts Programme at St Clare’s. His latest book is The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry (Iff Books, 2014) and his work is published in numerous magazines and journals.

Course aims

To enable students to become more attentive, analytical, and critical readers.

Course Objectives

1. To enable participants to gain knowledge of characteristic techniques employed in English literary texts

2. To enable participants to understand the use of contextual information

3. To enhance participants' skills of close critical analysis

Teaching methods

Tutor talk followed by discussion; small group work; analyses of extracts provided

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. Have confidence in using the critical idiom.

2. Be able to produce effective close critical analyses of literary texts.

3. Have encountered a range of writing in different genres and styles

Assessment methods

Formative: oral presentation

Summative: written comparative analysis   

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)