Jane Austen: Regency Novelist

Level 6 (15 credits)

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is one of the greatest English novelists and, since the First World War, has become a national icon. This module provides an opportunity for in-depth study of her six full-length novels. It explores the various ways in which she transformed the genre of the women's domestic novel into a vehicle for social analysis and commentary. Her novels are full of signs which conveyed to her contemporaries opinions about economics, class, religion, and politics. We shall decode those signs and explore their significance.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

(1) The best preparation will be to read as many of the novels as possible in advance of the module. Recommended editions are the New Penguin Jane Austen series as listed below. This is because the introductions and notes are excellent, and the paperbacks can be purchased cheaply (in the region of £3) from second-hand outlets such as, or borrowed from QM Library. 

(There are many other satisfactory editions, the best alternatives being those published by Norton and Oxford University Press; those published by e.g. Wordsworth Classics, may also be ok, but are unlikely to have useful explanatory notes.)  

  • Northanger Abbey, edited by Marilyn Butler (1995)

  • Sense and Sensibility, edited by Ros Ballaster (1995)

  • Pride and Prejudice, edited by Vivien Jones (1996)

  • Mansfield Park, edited by Kathryn Sutherland (1996)

  • Emma, edited by Fiona Stafford (1996)

  • Persuasion, edited by Gillian Beer (1998)

(2) There is a great deal of critical literature on Jane Austen. Here are just three recommendations to begin with:

  • Janet Todd (ed), Jane Austen in Context (2006). In the QMUL Library - shelfmark: PR4037 JAN

  • Mary Lascelles, Jane Austen and Her Art (Oxford, 1939, 1995): the classic study of Jane Austen’s style. There are copies in the QM Library and it is also available as an e-book online, for example on

Primary texts costing approximately £30 if purchased new in recommended editions; these costs can be reduced by purchasing items second-hand (e.g via Abebooks) or borrowing them from the Library.

Why take
Jane Austen: Regency Novelist

  • This module enables you to study six great novels in depth, opening up Jane Austen's Regency-period world. 
  • Why was it initially hard for Austen to publish her work? What is it about Austen and money that has put her on the £10 note today? How does her characterization work? The module will help you form answers.
  • You'll learn how global issues such as colonialism and national identity inform Austen's novels, as we explore her imaginative engagement with her literary, social, political, and cultural contexts.

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester One or Two
  1. Written Assignment 1 (1000 words), 25%
  2. Written Assignment 1 (3000 words), 75%
Mode of reassessment Standard