Jane Austen (Online)
Many readers enjoy Austen's novels but cannot define the qualities that make them so special and enduring. This course will help you to analyse Austen's style and techniques, and give you a greater knowledge of the novels' context, which will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of reading them.
Jane Austen's six major novels have hardly been out of print for two hundred years. Many readers enjoy them but cannot always define the qualities that make Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion so enduring and so rewarding for reading and rereading. This course helps students to learn to analyse Austen's characteristic style and techniques and thus gain an enhanced appreciation of her art. It also looks at the historical and literary contexts of the novels, allowing students to gain a greater understanding of their themes and sub-texts. The course is suitable for those new to Austen's writing as well as for the devoted Janeite. Though the topics covered range across all six major novels, and those who have read all six will be able to use that knowledge, each week's required reading includes key sections of one novel.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
Unit 1: Who was Jane Austen? Biography and biographies; Family history; Letters.
Unit 2: Jane Austen's language and style: The narrative voice; Dialogue; Perspective; Inner and outer; How to analyse an Austen novel.
Unit 3: Sense and Sensibility: Background: Elinor and Marianne; the epistolary novel; The literature of Sensibility; Romanticism; Siblings in Austen's work.
Unit 4: Northanger Abbey; Background: the Gothic novel and Gothic novel readers; Ann Radcliffe; Pastiche and parody.
Unit 5: Pride and Prejudice I: Background: marriage and property in Austen's time; soldiers and militia men; The 'courtship ordeal novel'; Fashion in Austen's time.
Unit 6: Pride and Prejudice II: The War and the militia, Brighton, The big house and the estate, subversion.
Unit 7: Mansfield Park: Background: The Georgian, the Augustan and the Regency; Imperialism, and Mansfield Park; Mothers and home-makers.
Unit 8: Emma I: Background: dancing games and puzzles in Austen's writing; Governesses; Irony; Parents in Austen's novels.
Unit 9: Emma II: An error in Emma? The comedy of manners.
Unit 10: Persuasion: Background: Bath and Lyme; the Navy in Austen's time; Persuasion and persuasiveness; The cancelled section of Persuasion.
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books (all by Jane Austen):
- Sense and Sensibility,
- Northanger Abbey and Other Works
- Pride and Prejudice
- Mansfield Park
Students will be required to read from all six novels. You will be encouraged to read as much as is practical of all of the novels.
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 register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses 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.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Dr Octavia Cox
Dr Octavia Cox has recently completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford. She has taught at Oxford and elsewhere, lectured for the English Faculty, has published peer-reviewed articles, and is writing her first book.
This course aims to introduce or reintroduce Austen's major fiction, placing her work in its historical and cultural context and encouraging close critical analyses of the texts in order for students to gain a greater understanding of the themes and undercurrents of the stories as well as of Austen's literary techniques.
This course will enable students to go beyond immediate opinions about Austen's novels to the production of reasoned, informed, and supported arguments based on close critical analysis and contextual knowledge.
The activities will include reading the introductions to the required editions of the novels, and commenting on them, commenting on online Austen resources, producing short analyses of short extracts from the novels, comparing short extracts from Austen's work and short extracts from the fiction of her contemporaries (using Project Gutenberg's legal downloads), looking up the ways in which word meanings have changed since Austen's time (using online resources), and answering quizzes on (e.g.) Austen characters and places. Students will be expected to keep personal logs about their reading of the novels and their changing interpretations and analyses of the texts as the course develops.
By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:
- The chronology of Austen's life and work.
- Some of the most important themes of Austen's major novels.
- Austen's characteristic techniques and style.
And students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
- The ability to speak and write with confidence about Austen's life and times.
- The ability to speak and write with confidence about their readings and evaluations of Austen's fiction.
- Some practice in close critical analysis and the formulation of reasoned arguments supported by reference to the text.
- Some practice in using understanding of the context of a text to enhance readings of the text.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support