Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment First Essay Assignment  1 x 2000 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment Second Essay Assignment  1 x 3000 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed or missing essay  Resubmit 1 x 2000 word essay  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed or missing essay  Resubmit 1 x 3000 word essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

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

2. Describe and evaluate a vareity 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 langauge and narrative in particular works of detective fiction, and the ways in which they engage with and relate to the conventions of the genre.


One of a suite of specialist option modules for final-year students; it enables participants to engage in study of 'genre fiction' and of the rapidly developing body of theory associated with it; of particular interest both the English Literature students, extending the range of their engagement beyond the traditional canon of 'literary' texts, and to students of Creative Writing, many of whom are already experimenting as practitioners in 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 the 'Golden Age' 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.

Estimated student workload:
Contact time: 20.5 hours
Reading and preparation: 100 hours
Independent study preparing assignments: 79.5 hours



1. Reading Detective Fiction: Theories of the Detective Story

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

3. The Golden Age and the Shadows of War: Dorothy L.Sayers, Whose Body? (1923)

4. Fair Play / Foul Play: Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

5. Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled: Raymond Chandler, the Big Sleep (1939)

6. Gender Trouble: Sara Paretsky, Bitter Medicine (1987)

7. Forensics and the Serial Killer: Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem (1990)

8. The American Nightmare: Dennis Lehane, A Drink Before the War (1994)

9. Conscience of a Nation: Ian Rankin, Black and Blue (1997)

10. The Trauma of History: David Peace, Occupied City (2009)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication in the form of essays, oral communication in seminar discussion and group presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing own research skills, management of time, expression and use of language.
Information Technology Through group presentations in seminars – this will involve preparation outside of class and team work within the seminar.
Personal Development and Career planning By critical reflection and the development of transferable communication skills.
Problem solving Formulating and developing extended arguments
Research skills By relating literary texts to historical contexts and theoretical commentaries, and by synthesizing various perspectives in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical and contextual analysis of literary texts and evaluation of the theoretical concepts
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 6