old aircraft wreckage in desert

Exploring literature’s engagement with nature and the transformation of the earth

Module details

  • Offered to 1st years
  • Tuesdays 16.00-18.00
  • 8 weeks (autumn term only)
  • Planned delivery: On-campus (South Kensington)
  • Non-credit only
How to enrol

Exploring the literature of nature and landscape, this module examines both natural and modified terrain through readings of selected influential texts, highlighting literature’s engagement with nature and the physical and imaginative transformation of the earth.

From Edens of innocence to deserts of death, the module treats a selection of major writers' interactions with distinctive features of the natural and constructed world. Texts will be placed in their literary, historical, and cultural contexts and through the lens of contemporary debates on environmental change and extinction.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be better able to:
  • Acquire knowledge of literary texts that explore the environment and distinct landscapes.
  • Situate texts in their historical and cultural context regarding debates about the environment.
  • Understand how literary texts relate to and inform contemporary eco-critical debates on the environment.
  • Synthesize your knowledge to produce informed critical positions on the texts and contexts of the class.
  • Deliver your ideas and arguments on the texts and contexts.

Indicative core content

Each of the eight weeks of the module will focus on a particular environment in detail through the exploration of a key text. The module will offer works that speak to current and emerging issues relating to the transformation of various types of terrain, from desert, mountain, ocean, and city to wilderness, river, forest, and subterranean spaces. The module will bring together major literary works and both longstanding and emerging critical and eco-political debates and perspectives on the environment.

Learning and teaching approach

An introductory, interactive lecture each week will be followed by a seminar style discussion exploring both text based readings and audio-visual excerpts. Each session will look at a particular text/texts in detail and discuss key elements of its style, form, themes and related historical, political, cultural and eco-critical contexts. You should read the relevant text in advance in order to get the most from their engagement and participation.

You will submit assignments through the module VLE, though which you will receive written feedback commenting your assessments. You will receive feedback within two weeks of submission.


  • Coursework: Essay - 1500 words (80%) 
  • Practical: Individual contribution to group presentation (10-15 minutes per group) (20%) 

Key information

  • ECTS value: 0
  • Requirements: You must be prepared to attend all classes and to spend about an hour a week preparing for each session
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 4 course. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌