Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


In this course, you will gain detailed knowledge of one of the most popular and widely read literary genres: crime fiction. You will become familiar with the evolution of the genre from the early nineteenth century to the present day and will develop advanced skills in analysing and contextualising crime fiction texts from the UK, the US, Australia and beyond.

The course as a whole challenges the traditional view of crime fiction as formulaic “genre fiction”, seeing instead the genre as a form of literature defined by its diligent investigation of some of the key issues of modern society: justice, inequality, urban life, gender, sexuality, race and many others.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Outline the history of crime fiction and some of the key crime fiction subgenres.

2. Examine the key formal, thematic and contextual characteristic of individual crime fiction texts.

3. Investigate crime fiction texts in relation to their genre and the idea of genre evolution.

4. Analyse crime fiction texts as investigations of specific political, social or philosophical issues.

5. Debate the concept of “popular literature”, its significance in modern culture and its limitations.


The course provides detailed insight into a range of crime fiction texts in English.

Topics and activities may include:

  • The history and evolution of crime fiction
  • Main subgenres (classic, Golden Age, hardboiled, police procedural, metaphysical)
  • Genre theory
  • “Popular fiction” vs “Literature”
  • Hybridisation and genre mobility
  • Reading crime fiction
  • Victims, detectives, criminals
  • Beginnings and endings
  • Plots and narrative structures

Assumed knowledge

20 units of 1000-level English

Assessment items

Log / Workbook: Reading Log (25%)

Online Learning Activity: Book review exercise (20%)

Quiz: Two in-term quizzes (20%)

Essay: 1,500 word essay (35%)

Contact hours



Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.