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Murder Mystery Mayhem Research Paper

SEL3308 : Murder, Mystery, Mayhem: British Detective Fiction, 1850-1950

  • Offered for Year: 2017/18
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stacy Gillis
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
SEL1003Introduction to Literary Studies 1
SEL1004Introduction to Literary Studies II
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites


This module introduces students to the historical and critical development of British detective fiction as it began to emerge as a genre in the mid-nineteenth century through the work of authors like Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, through to the genre's dependence on the figure of the private detective (as in Arthur Conan Doyle) before considering its consolidation in the inter-war Golden Age of detective fiction, with the work of such authors as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. The module also investigates the narrative structures of detective fiction and considers the significance of the various avenues from which it emerged: the Gothic novel, the penny dreadfuls/penny bloods and the sensation novel. The module introduces and investigates contemporary critical and theoretical arguments concerning popular fiction and genre studies. By the end of the module, students will have a sophisticated understanding of these texts and will be able to engage with various theoretical approaches.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures and seminars will concentrate on specific aspects of the key period in the history of the British detective novel (including the gothic, sensation fiction, the relationship between the reader as detective, the emergence of the middlebrow novel, the politics of genre fiction, World War One) The texts/authors studied on the module will vary from year to year and may include some film. An indicative syllabus may include novels, short stories, journalism and criticism by Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, John Buchan, E.C. Bentley, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Daphne du Maurier.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

(a) Knowledge of the development of British detective fiction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
(b) Familiarity with a range of aproaches to detective narratives and to genre studies.
(c) Ability to think critically about popular fiction and canon formation.
(d) Ability to explore the relationship between gender and genre.

Intended Skill Outcomes

(a) Critical engagement with secondary reading
(b) Increased confidence in and reflection upon presentation skills
(c) Peer assessment
(d) Critical analysis
(e) Research and writing skills

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Assessed
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
CategoryActivityNumberLengthStudent HoursComment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion401:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1121:00112:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity121:0012:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to ways of thinking about the study of detective fiction. Seminars are used for critical analysis of the primary and secondary reading, for student presentations and for research and writing workshops. Study groups supplement the seminar work and will be based around questions set by the module convenor.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
DescriptionSemesterWhen SetPercentageComment
Written exercise1M15600 words
Report1M15600 words
Essay1A702800 words
Formative Assessments
DescriptionSemesterWhen SetComment
Oral Presentation1MN/A
Computer assessment1MN/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Report One: The essay outline and draft bibliography allows students to gain feedback before they submit their essays.

Written Exercise: Each study group will collectively write a chapter of a detective novel, requiring them to think about the impact of tone, structure, plot and character.

Essay: The essay requires a critical engagement with secondary reading, critical analysis and research and writing skills.

Formative Assessment 1 (Oral Presentation): Study group participation is a crucial component of the module and students will be asked to reflect critically upon their work in seminars and to do a group presentation.

Formative Assessment 2 (Computer Assessment): The discussion board postings will allow them an informal space in which to explore concepts and texts across the seminar groups.

All the assessment models require the students to demonstrate a facility with the intended learning outcomes.

Study abroad international students will complete all of the assessment but may submit the essay electronically if s/he has returned home.


Past Exam Papers

Murder mystery mayhem research paper

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Murder mystery mayhem research paper

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