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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA47330: Ecology, Colonialism/Imperialism and Literature

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Develop an understanding how the histories of environmental degradation, patriarchal capitalism and colonialism/imperialism are intertwined.
  • Familiarise students with a range of literary texts from formerly (or still) colonised countries, that have long engaged in thinking through the relations between racism, sexism and environmental degradation.
  • Familiarise students with recent cutting-edge theories in the environmental humanities and postcolonial studies.
  • Familiarise students with environmental issues debated across a range of related disciplines, including postcolonial studies, ecocriticism and world-ecology studies.


  • Students will read and examine a range of different literary texts from different geographical contexts that have engaged with issues of environmental justice.
  • Students will also be expected to engage with a range of theoretical writing from postcolonial studies, eco-materialism, and environmental humanities.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module:
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of different nodes of debates in ecocriticism and postcolonial studies.
  • Students will develop an advanced understanding of a range of different concepts and methodologies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will develop:
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with cultural texts about environmental issues, employing critical frameworks and perspectives learned on the module.
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with different forms of analysis in the environmental humanities informed by critical theory and cultural studies.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will:
  • Develop an advanced ability to engage cultural analysis.
  • Develop independent research skills, using a wide range of subject-specific search tools and sources.
  • Develop an advanced ability to synthesise complex material from a wide range of sources in order to produce effective written documents.
  • Demonstrate competence in appropriate information technology skills.
  • Demonstrate professional conduct through observation of professional and academic standards, including correct editorial referencing of sources.
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrate organisational skills, including time management.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be assessed by two assignments (20%; 80%).
  • a 15-minute presentation on an issue or a debate within the environmental humanities. It should engage with a pressing topic from a perspective informed by the debates/frameworks studied on this module.
  • an academic essay of 3500-words on a topic agreed with the module convenor. While you will be expected to engage with current thinking within the environmental humanities, your essay can offer a perspective on specific current environmental struggles.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 weekly 2 hours 18
Presentation 1 once 2 hours 2
Student preperation and reading 280
Total SLAT hours (20 credits 200, 40 credits 400) 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation 15 minutes 100% Yes
Component: Academic Essay Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Academic Essay 3,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students will be asked to give in-class room presentations throughout the module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University