University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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The English Department at the University of Sydney is the largest in Australia and forms part of the School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The department offers a wide range of approaches to the discipline of English. Students can choose to study a variety of texts, from Old and Middle English through Early Modern, Romantic, and Victorian to contemporary Australian, Caribbean, American, and British works – as well as all the major forms of critical analysis of which the discipline is comprised at present: literary theory, literary history, history of the book, cultural and gender studies, postcolonial and American studies, film and multimedia, linguistics and language studies.

All units taught in the department are designed for students with native-language ability, and although there are no formal prerequisites all units are based on the assumption that students will have completed one of the more demanding courses for the Higher School Certificate, or the equivalent.

First Year
In their first year, students are required to take ENGL1009 Reading English Texts, and are offered a choice of two other junior level units: ENGL1026 Constructing the Fictive Self and ENGL1008 Australian Texts, International Contexts. They may, if they wish, take all three junior level units in English.

Second and Third Year
Senior level units are normally offered on a two-year cycle and are organised into two generically distinct groups – Core and Extension – to create a meaningful progression within the English major (see below) from units introducing major issues of literary theory and practice through to more focused and demanding units extending these Core units and allowing students to specialise in topics or periods of interest to them.

The team-taught Core units involve two lectures and one tutorial per week, with 4000–4500 words of assessment. Seven units will be on offer each year, mostly though not exclusively in the first semester, with 14 different units available over a two-year cycle.

The Extension units are normally taught by a single member of staff in any one of a number of teaching modes, sometimes combining one or two formal lectures with a one-hour tutorial per week, sometimes through a lecture and a two-hour seminar, sometimes through two-hour seminars only. 14 units will be on offer each year, mostly though not exclusively in the second semester, with 28 different units available over a two-year cycle.

Students wishing to major in English must take at least two junior level units in the subject area (12 credit points). At senior level they complete six English units of study (36 senior credit points). Students majoring in English must choose AT LEAST three of the Core units – though they may do more than three and a major may comprise units chosen exclusively from the Core – and they are required to do their three Core units BEFORE they embark on units from the Extension group.

In addition to the English major, the English department offers a separate major in Australian Literature with its own code (ASLT) and students majoring in Australian Literature are advised to consult the separate pages of information provided above. Students majoring in English who choose Australian Literature units will be required to meet the progression requirements relating to Core and Extension units within the English major.

English and Australian Literature Senior Level Curriculum 2012-2013

2012 Semester One

  • ASLT2620 Writing Australian Nature
  • ENGL2617 Postmodernism
  • ENGL2654 Novel Worlds
  • ENGL2657 Myths, Legends and Heroes
  • ENGL3962 Literary Theory: An Introduction


  • ASLT2616 Australian Stage and Screen
  • ENGL2635 Contemporary American Literature
  • ENGL3607 Modern Irish Literature
  • ENGL3635 Old Norse

2012 Semester Two

  • ENGL2607 Drama Classical to Renaissance
  • ENGL2650 Reading Poetry


  • AMST2602 Regionalism and American Culture
  • ASLT2609 Australian Writing in the Postmodern Age
  • ENGL2603 Imagining America
  • ENGL2611 Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries
  • ENGL2651 Transatlantic Negotiations
  • ENGL3615 Street Narratives
  • ENGL3633 Introduction to Old English
  • ENGL3643 Canterbury Tales
  • ENGL3657 The Brontës

  • ENGL3655 The Literary in Theory (Honours prerequisite)

2013 Semester one

  • ASLT2602 Revolutionary Writing? Australian Literature
  • ENGL2648 Travellers’ Tales
  • ENGL2658 Love and Desire in Early Modern England
  • ENGL2660 Reading the Nation: American Literature
  • ENGL2662 Deceit and Disguise in Medieval Narrative


  • ASLT2619 Australian Gothic
  • ENGL2659 18th-Century Literature: Scandal and Sociability
  • ENGL2664 Transpacific Literature
  • ENGL3635 Old Norse

2013 Semester Two

  • ENGL2613 Literature, Politics and Modernity
  • ENGL2653 Western Theories of Language


  • ASLT2618 Anatomy of the Hoax
  • ENGL2627 Reading Sexuality
  • ENGL2638 Literature and Cinema
  • ENGL2640 Shakespeare
  • ENGL2656 Metaphysicals to Milton
  • ENGL3612 Metaphor and Meaning
  • ENGL3633 Introduction to Old English
  • ENGL3642 Dreams and Visions
  • ENGL3651 Christopher Marlowe
  • ENGL3658 Narrating Trauma
  • ENGL3655 The Literary in Theory (Honours prerequisite)

A number of units in other departments are cross-listed to English and up to three cross-listed units may be included in an English major (18 senior credit points). All ASLT (Australian Literature) and CLST (Celtic Studies) units are cross-listed to English. For other cross-listed units, please refer to Table A in this handbook.

Students are advised to consult the Possible Pathways document on the Department of English website, which offers them guidance in their English studies by organising the large range of junior, senior, and Honours units on offer to students of English and Australian Literature into areas reflecting the historical, generic, national, and thematic diversity of offerings in the department.

Honours in English or Australian Literature allows students to specialise further in their area of interest. It offers students the opportunity to work independently and creatively in a community of scholars that includes both their peers and the staff of the department. A number of Honours graduates each year continue on to postgraduate study in Australia or abroad.

Students wishing to enter Honours in 2012 must have achieved grades of Credit or above in eight senior level English units (48 senior credit points), one of which is compulsory: ENGL3655 The Literary in Theory. During their Honours year, students will write a thesis of 15,000 words and complete three Honours options. Further details regarding prerequisites for 2012 and the nature of the Honours year are described in the Unit of Study section of this handbook.

Contact/further information
For comprehensive information see the English department website:
Undergraduate Student Adviser: Dr Lawrence Warner
Phone: +61 2 9351 4286