Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Contemporary Writing and Climate Crisis
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Comparative essay  ​(3000 words)  60%
Semester Assessment Critical essay​  (2000 words​)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Comparative essay  ​(3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Critical essay​  (2000 words)  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

​1. Demonstrate an understanding of the distinctive thematic concerns that characterise contemporary literature in an era of climate crisis.

2. Locate and discuss contemporary texts in terms of their historical, political, social, and cultural contexts.

3. Display awareness of some of the key formal innovations of literary texts that seek to respond to climate crisis and issues of environmental justice.

4. Examine the ways in which issues of class, gender, and/or race intersect with environmental concerns in contemporary writing.

5. Write about literary texts from a range of genres in a critically-focused and well-structured manner.

Brief description

This module introduces students to a wide range of contemporary literary texts that respond to climate crisis and issues of environmental justice. Covering poetry, novels, short stories, and non-fiction prose, the module is deliberately global in scope, considering writing from Britain, North America, India, and West Africa. Part of the purpose of the module is to examine the various strategies that writers have employed in an effort to make climate crisis imaginable and comprehensible to readers, whilst also acknowledging the challenges that such immense processes and events pose to aesthetic representation. Some of the topics that the module will cover include: climate scepticism and denial; fossil fuels and consumerism; environmental pollution and climate justice; storms and floods; arctic landscapes; human and non-human communities.


​Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Climate crisis and denial
Ian McEwan, Solar (2010)

Week 3: Literature and fossil fuels 1
Stephen Collis, ‘Reading Wordsworth in the Tar Sands’*

Week 4: Literature and fossil fuels 2
Ben Okri, 'What the Tapster Saw'*
Ken Saro-Wiwa, 'Night Ride'*

Week 5: Storms and floods 1
Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2004)

Week 6: Storms and floods 2
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011)

Week 7: The politics of water
Arundhati Roy, ‘The Greater Common Good’*

Week 8: Arctic landscapes
Extract from Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams (1986)*
Extract from Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe (2006)*

Week 9: Imagining the future
Sarah Hall, The Carhullan Army (2007)

Week 10: Revision and assessment advice

  • These texts will be digitized and made available via the module’s Aspire Reading List.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Accurate reading of student timetables and time-measuring devices (e.g. watches, alarm clocks).
Communication Oral communication skills in seminar discussions and group exercises; written communication skills via two assessed essays.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through reflection on how novel concepts or modes of interpretation can enhance critical understanding.
Information Technology Through use of Blackboard, research using online databases, and word processing skills to complete and submit essay assignments.
Personal Development and Career planning ​Development of key transferable skills in research, written and oral communication.
Problem solving Through in-class exercises as well as research, writing, and presentation skills employed in completing assignments.
Research skills Independent and directed research for seminar preparation and work towards summative assessment.
Subject Specific Skills Writing skills, critical reflection, and conceptual knowledge in key fields of literary study.
Team work Group work and discussion exercises in seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 5