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Revising for the exam

Revision is not a process whereby you re-learn everything the module has addressed over the course of the year; it is a selective process where you should revise certain topics in detail. Past exam papers will help you to choose topics to revise (but remember that the exam paper has changed from some previous years and is now TWO hours, not three).

Revision should be twofold. First, read through the set texts again in full. Reading and re-reading the set texts will help prepare you for part A of the exam, which is a close reading exercise. Second, choose 3 or 4 revision topics, and identify some secondary sources to help you formulate your ideas about these topics in relation to specific poets. This will help you prepare for part B of the exam, in which you must choose one question from a list.

The exam has two sections, (A) and (B):

• Section (A) requires you to choose one pair of texts (either complete short poems or extracts from longer poems) and compare them within a close reading; you have two pairs of texts to choose from and should think about how the pair interacts and what themes they share
• Section (B) requires you to answer one question on Romantic and/or Victorian poetry


• Exam questions require you to discuss 2 but not more than 4 poets in each answer: successful exam answers come in many forms—you may examine two poets in detail, or discuss a theme via the work of three or four poets in less detail. Thorough close readings are essential even in the section (B) essay and as a general rule depth is more important than breadth. Ensure your argument and close readings are detailed and specific.
• The exam questions are thematic and broad and do not ask you to write on specific poets.
• Some exam questions require you to think about certain themes in relation to one another.
• You do not have to memorize large sections of poetry: however, a few select quotations within each answer is helpful.
• When answering section (B), try to be as focused as possible: do not write general overviews about themes spilling out everything you know. You do not need to give the dates of a poet's birth or death, for example, or basic biographical detail. Only refer to a poet's life if it directly helps you to make a specific argument related to the question.
• The exam requires you to write essays, not summaries, and you should remember to introduce each answer as if it were an essay with a short introduction and a statement of your argument.

This is a list of topics from which you can choose your revision topics. You are not limited to this list; it is only a guide.

  • Nature
  • Subjectivity
  • Domesticity
  • Imagination
  • Politics
  • The sublime
  • Revolution
  • Science
  • Religion
  • City / urbanism
  • Gender
  • The nonhuman
  • Poetic influence