Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Detective and Crime Fiction
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 11 x 2 Hour Seminars
Workshop 11 x 2 Hour 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)
workshop: Theories of the Detective Story

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)
workshop: Holmes and Empire

3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
workshop: Detective Stories and Victorian Criminology

4. Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) / Michael Innes, Death at the President's Lodging (1936)
workshop: Games and Puzzles

5. Dorothy L.Sayers, Whiose Body? (1923) / Agatha Christie, The Body in the Library (1942)
workshop: Bodies

6. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
workshop: Pulp Fiction and the Reader

7. Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem (1990)
workshop: Gender Trouble

8. Dennis Lehane, A Drink before the War (1994)
workshop: Fathers and Sons: Crime Fiction and Oedipus

9. Ian Rankin, Black and Blue (1997)
workshop: The Crime Writer and the Nation

10. Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans (2000)
workshop: The Crime Writer and History


This module is at CQFW Level 6