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The Victorians and their World


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Victoria Mills and Ana Parejo Vadillo
  • Assessment: a 1500-word coursework essay (10%), a 2500-word essay (40%) and a 3000-word essay (50%)

Module description

To a great extent we live in the world that the Victorians made. But what was that world really like, and how can we understand both the things that are familiar about it and what is different and strange?

This module will examine key themes crucial to our understanding of the Victorian period (poverty, gender, class, imperialism) and will introduce you to a wide range of Victorian texts and images. Ranging from the novel through journalism, domestic instruction books, travel writing, poetry and painting, the module will show the Victorians in surprising ways, and shed new light on our received ideas of this fascinating period.


  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
  • George Gissing, The Nether World (1889)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • have a deeper understanding of the Victorian period through an examination of a wide range of cultural production (novels, paintings, photographs, journalism)
  • understand how the Victorians dealt with key issues such as poverty and the changing role of women and how this developed across the nineteenth century
  • recognise and understand key critical and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the Victorian period
  • have detailed knowledge of a series of key debates and their critical contexts, and be able to identify connections between them.