Critical Reading

Course summary

  • Thu 20 Apr 2017 to Thu 22 Jun 2017
  • 7:15-9:15pm 10 meetings
  • Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA
  • From £195.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O16P678LTW
  • +44 (0)1865 280892
  • 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, looking at extracts from texts published in the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. We shall also consider how placing texts in their literary, historical, and cultural contexts can help us to understand them.

Programme details

Week 1:           What is good and bad writing?

Week 2:           Narrative

Week 3:           Dialogue and monologue

Week 4:           Figurative language

Week 5:           Characterisation

Week 6:           Poetic form 1

Week 7:           Poetic form 2

Week 8:           Drama

Week 9:           Using context

Week 10:         A sense of an ending


Background Reading:

Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory.

Dictionary of Literary Terms (ANY)

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


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. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. 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.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)


Course fee: £195.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Sandie Byrne


Sandie Byrne is Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing at Oxford University and Director of Studies in English at OUDCE

Course aims

To enable students to gain understanding and appreciation of literary tropes and techniques.

Course Objectives:

1. To enable participants to gain knowledge of characteristic techniques employed in English literary texts since 1800

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

Teaching outcomes

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

1. Have confidence in using the critical idiom.

2. Be able to identify key literary tropes and techniques.

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

Assessment methods

Formative: oral presentation

Summative: written comparative analysis


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)