ENGL1330 Writing the Environment

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1
  • Credits: 20
  • Module Manager: Dr Jeremy Davies
  • Email: J.G.H.Davies@leeds.ac.uk
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces ENGL1320 'Literature, Landscape and Environment'

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

The stories that we tell shape the world that we live in. Literature can reveal the dreams, myths, and fears that lie at the root of environmental change. In this module we will investigate sustainability, environmental (in)justice, and ecological crisis through an exciting variety of literary texts, and through the ideas and arguments of environmental literary criticism. It is a course for anyone who enjoys reading, and who wants to think about the cultural, artistic, and philosophical issues involved in human beings' relationships with the living things around them. The module will help students from all disciplines to understand the power of words to influence environmental practice, as well as paving the way for the advanced study of environmental literature at levels 2 and 3.


  • - To analyse creative representations of human relationships with the non-human world
  • - To compare environmental literary texts from a range of periods, with attention to their contexts and their formal qualities
  • - To consider issues of environmentalism and sustainability from cultural, historical, and ethical perspectives
  • - To recognise how the present-day landscapes and cultures of the British and Irish islands have been shaped by long- term ecological and political processes


The world is experiencing an immense environmental crisis, affecting its climate, wildlife, forests, oceans, and many human societies. How can we understand the causes of that crisis? And how can we imagine alternatives? Studying literature offers unique insights into the changing ways in which humans have interacted with the rest of the physical world. This module provides an introduction to environmental literary criticism, or ecocriticism, for students at the beginning of their university studies.
In the books on this course, a king is cursed to live naked in the treetops like a bird; a poet bears witness to the destruction of the countryside that shaped his identity; a woman mourning her father's death trains a hawk to hunt; and a drug dealer meets a giant by the side of a road at dawn. These texts show how literary writing can take us beyond exclusively human concerns, in ways that shed new light on the history and politics of sustainability and the environment. This course should change the way you think about the landscape of Britain and Ireland, about what makes you different from animals of other species, and about the creative imagination's role in confronting some of the most urgent problems of the twenty-first century.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • - appreciate the distinctive contribution that the study of literature can make to thinking about sustainability and environmental crisis
  • - recognise the historical changefulness of foundational words and ideas such as 'nature,' 'country,' 'environment,' 'animal,' and 'landscape'
  • - identify some of the main controversies, problems, and priorities in the field of environmental literary studies
  • - show a detailed knowledge of the set literary texts, and make connections between those texts and the conceptual issues involved in interpreting them
  • - articulate their understanding of the set texts in an essay and an exam, displaying an appropriate competence in scholarly writing

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1,700 words. One preparatory exercise of 500 words is also required. This does not form part of the assessment for this module, but is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the exercise will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass). 35
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 35


Exam type Exam duration % of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 0 mins 65
Total Percentage (Assesment Exams) 65

Private Study

Lectures (11 x 1 hour) and seminars (10 x 1 hour)
Private study: Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing.

Progress Monitoring

  • - Contribution to seminars
  • - Feedback on preparatory exercise
  • - Feedback on 1700 word essay

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Lecture 11 1 11
Seminar 10 1 10
Private Study Hours 179
Total Contact Hours 21
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
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