Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour seminar workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 essays (3000 words each)  Continuous Assessment:  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate a broad understanding of the historical development of detective fiction in the twentieth century;

2. describe and evaluate a variety of critical approaches to the genre;

3. locate particular works of detective fiction within their historical and cultural contexts;

4. analyse in detail the handling of language and narrative in particular works of detective fiction, and the ways in which they engage with and relate to the conventions of the genre.

Brief description

Literature that deals with crime and detection has a long history - the Book of Genesis, the Oedipus myth, Hamlet etc. This module looks at the more formalised presentation of crime and its detection since the late nineteenth century; at a self-conscious body of writing with its own developing conventions and generic `laws' (usually laid down only to be ingeniously broken). The texts are chosen so as to offer an introduction to some of the main styles and sites of crime fiction - from the country house mysteries of Agatha Christie to the 1990s urban desolation of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels - and to give some sense of the genre's historical development and its responsiveness to cultural change. Weekly two-hour seminars will be in a variety of formats, often but not always requiring student presentations.



1. Reading Detective Fiction (material to be supplied)

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Sign of Four' (1890)

3. Agatha Christie, 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' (1926)

4. Raymond Chandler, 'The Big Sleep' (1939)

5. Michael Dibdin, 'The Last Sherlock Holmes Story' (1978)/ Michael Chabon, 'The Final Solution' (2004)

6. Sarah Dunant, 'Birth Marks' (1992)

7. Ian Rankin, 'The Hanging Garden' (1998)

8. Denis Lehane, 'Gone, Baby, Gone' (1998)

9. C J Sansom, 'Dissolution' (2003)

10. Kazuo Ishiguro, 'When We Were Orphans' (2000)


This module is at CQFW Level 6