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Victorians: Critical Themes

Course Code
Application Code
Study mode
Start Date
To be advised
25 hours
Course Fee
About the teacher

Shelagh first joined HKU (after working previously in England, Spain and Macau) and taught English for Academic Purposes, especially English for Arts Students, for the English Centre. She is now an adjunct lecturer in English Literature for HKU SPACE, where she teaches a range of courses, from foundation studies introducing literary theory and basic methodology, to advanced studies in the novel, modernism and postmodernism.

Her particular interests include myths, legends, folklore and fairytales, especially using literary theory and a variety of approaches to explore the significance and hidden meanings in popular fairy stories and in their present-day film adaptations.

‘I am keen to make my subject both accessible and enjoyable to students. The secret, I think, is enthusiasm and organisation. Also, I am constantly impressed by my students’ motivation and participation – whether they are native or non-native speakers, approaching the study of English Literature for the first time or resuming their education at a tertiary level after a gap – their active contribution is the key to success!’
~ Shelagh Byron

The Victorian era was a time of extreme social and cultural change, represented by huge discrepancies between rich and poor and dramatic differences in the status of men and women. Art and literature reflected these current preoccupations: critical themes range from social advancement, mobility, realism and discussion of social problems, gender roles, aestheticism, art for art’s sake, to Gothic horror. Taking an interactive approach, this course uses a variety of media - paintings, movies and documentaries - to focus on relevant cultural and socio-historical topics while relating these to representative literary texts.

The course covers:


Orphans and Governesses: social mobility

  • Dickens: Oliver Twist
  • Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre*
  • Thackeray: Vanity Fair

Industrialisation and the Social Problem Novel

  • Gaskell: North and South
  • Dickens: Hard Times

The Status of Women: ‘angel in the house’ or caged bird?

  • Tennyson: The Lady of Shalott, Mariana
  • Browning: My Last Duchess, Porphyria’s Lover
  • Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
* Possible substitution for Jane Eyre 
  • Hardy: Tess of the d'Urbervilles


Applications will be accepted from 1 June 2017 on a first come, first served basis.

You may also be interested in two other Ms Shelagh Byron’s courses.


1.  Introducing Literary Theories (Part 2)  

September 23 – November 4 (Saturdays)

A short, 15-hour, tertiary level course including Marxism, Queer Theory and Myth - the second of a series of three, which focus on introducing a range of important contemporary literary theories to beginners. Prior completion of the first is not a requirement.


2.  Comedies of Shakespeare and Jonson

November 19 – December 10; January 21 – February 11 (Sundays)

A 25 -hour course following the syllabus of the London U level 4 foundation course Renaissance Comedy: Shakespeare and Jonson. This course is in two parts, scheduled before and after the Xmas break, finishing  before Chinese New Year 2018.  




For more comprehensive information about SPACE English services, please visit:

Days / Time
  • Sunday, 2:00pm - 5:00pm (Last 2 meetings: 2:00pm - 5:30pm)
  • 8 meetings, 25 hours
    (6 meetings x 3 hours per meeting and 2 meetings x 3.5 hours per meeting)
  • Hong Kong side (To be announced)
  • Ms Shelagh Byron, BA Stirling; MA HK; DipTEFL Roy Soc of Arts
  • Applicants are required to have reached the age of 18. 
  • Students applying for this course should demonstrate experience and background in English literary studies.
  • Applicants should have a good reading knowledge of English, a willingness to participate in discussion and, above all, an interest in literature.
Course Fee
  • Course Fee : HK$5,800

Application Form Download Application Form

Enrolment Method
Online Application

We provide online application and payment service for students to make enrolment via the Internet. Enrolment will be confirmed once students have made the payment online by using either PPS or credit card.

By Post / In Person

Applicants are required to complete the Application for Enrolment Form SF26.  Either take or post the completed form, along with the appropriate course fee and supporting documents, to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres.

Payment Method
1. Cash or EPS

Course fees can be paid by cash or EPS at any HKU SPACE enrolment counters.

2. Cheque or bank draft

Course fees can also be paid by crossed cheque or bank draft made payable to “HKU SPACE”. Please specify the programme title(s) for application and applicant’s name. You may either:

  • bring the completed form(s), together with the appropriate course fees in the form of a cheque, and supporting documents to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres;
  • or mail the above documents to any of the HKU SPACE enrolment centres, specifying “Course Application” on the envelope. HKU SPACE will not be responsible for any loss of payment sent by mail.
3. VISA/MasterCard

Applicants may also pay the course fee by VISA or MasterCard, including the “HKU SPACE MasterCard”, at any HKU SPACE enrolment centres. Holders of the HKU SPACE MasterCard can enjoy a 10-month interest-free instalment period for courses with a tuition fee worth a minimum of HK$2,000; however, the course applicant must also be the cardholder himself/herself. For enquiries, please contact our staff at any enrolment centres.

4. Online payment

The course fees of all open admission courses (course enrolled on first come, first served basis) and selected award-bearing programmes can be settled by using PPS via the Internet. Applicants may also pay the relevant course fees by VISA or MasterCard online. Please refer to the Online Services page on the School website.

  1. For general and short courses, applicants may be required to pay the course fee in cash or by EPS, Visa or MasterCard if the course is to start shortly.
  2. Fees paid are not refundable except under very exceptional circumstances (e.g. course cancellation due to insufficient enrolment), subject to the School’s discretion. In exceptional cases where a refund is approved, fees paid by cash, EPS, cheque or PPS (for online payment only) will normally be reimbursed by a cheque, and fees paid by credit card will normally be reimbursed to the payment cardholder’s credit card account.
  3. In addition to the published fees, there may be additional costs associated with individual programmes. Please refer to the relevant course brochures or direct any enquiries to the relevant programme team for details.
  4. Fees and places on courses cannot be transferred from one applicant to another. Once accepted onto a course, the student may not change to another course without approval from HKU SPACE. A processing fee of HK$120 will be levied on approved transfers.
  5. Receipts will be issued for fees paid but HKU SPACE will not be responsible for any loss of receipt sent by mail.
  6. For additional copies of receipts, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a completed form and a crossed cheque for HK$30 per copy made payable to ‘HKU SPACE’. Such copies will only normally be issued at the end of a course.
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