You take the following typical creative writing modules:
Creative Writing Conventions and Techniques
Develop your writing practice by exploring a range of creative techniques and media as they apply to both prose and poetry. You will be encouraged to reflect on your writing output and incorporate the critiques of others when editing and developing your work.
Writing Workshop: Fiction
Examine the process of novel writing by exploring various structures, techniques, and methodologies and engaging with an international body of work in genres such as fiction, creative non-fiction, and autofiction.
Learning to Read: Criticism for Creative Writers
Analyse how reading and writing techniques can be affected by literary, theoretical, personal, and cultural contexts. You will explore a wide range of texts, including hybrid forms such as the creative critical essay, the poem-essay, and art-writing.
Writing Workshop: Poetry
Explore a range of poetic conventions and the contexts in which poetry is produced whilst developing your own poetic style. Through the ‘practitioner’ approach, students are not only supported in their craft but encouraged to work towards submitting their work for publication. The reading list includes poetry magazines; new writers’ anthologies; debut poetry collections; poetry in performance.
Practice and Practitioners
Investigate the complex relationships between writer, genre and creative industries by studying the role of publishers, booksellers, editors, producers, and literary events in the production of prose and poetry. The assessment will consist of a portfolio of either prose or poetry, or a combination of the two, as well as a critical essay.
You then choose modules offered by the School of English from the following representative list:
Drama and Creative Writing
Learning to Publish: Contemporary Forms & Practices
This module is designed to introduce students to the broad publishing landscape, including: journals, small presses, online writing and social media. Students will explore the landscape of contemporary literary journals both offline and online, and study the practical skills needed to research, write, edit and publish writing across a range of forms and platforms. The module will be structured around practical work in support of The Letters Page literary journal, and will be a mixture of lecture-style content on relevant topics and practical writing workshops.
Shakespeare: Text, Stage and Screen
This module offers students the opportunity to explore the fluidity and interpretive possibilities of the Shakespeare work and text across multiple genres. Built around three theatre trips, this module will go into depth on three plays, looking at their literary interest (from textual history and sources to thematic concerns and characterisation) and their performative possibilities, including at least one stage and one screen adaptation of each play. By approaching the plays from multiple angles, students will be able to consider the varied potential for reinterpretation and recreation that each text offers. Students will build on seminar explorations (taught by a team of tutors) to develop their own project question about the interpretive possibilities opened up by different versions, and the choices made by specific interpreters of the text. Projects will be developed in consultation with tutors to take into account the interplay of performance and text.
Riotous Performance: Drama, Disruption and Protest
This module allows you to engage with a range of modern drama, all themed around the idea of riot.This module explores the phenomenon of the riot, examining both how such a notion is defined and how it might relate to other kinds of western performance event. In particular, the module asks students to analyse the way that riots have both been triggered by, and represented in, an assortment of other performances, and students will be encouraged to compare and contrast material from a range of different chronological periods and across a range of different genres. Although the module is largely focused upon dramatic texts, it will allow students the opportunity to consider an assortment of other performance events, as we analyse the drama of Synge and O’Casey, the ballet of Stravinsky and Nijinsky, and the performance poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Cognition and Literature (20 Credits)
This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.
Consciousness in Fiction
The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. Students will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters thoughts and perceptions. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.
Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, this module explores the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance through the lens of linguistic analysis. Drawing on facets of stylistics and discourse analysis, the module considers the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage, exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation), the role of language in story-telling on stage, and the 'management' of performance through stage directions.
Research in Literary Linguistics
This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, students will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods. The course will invite students to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.
It has often been suggested that the very idea of literary history of a narrative that understands, classifies, and explains, the English literary past is an inherent impossibility. The relationship between literature and the history of the time of its creation is an equally vexed and productive question. This module will look at the various ways in which literature in the last few centuries has combined with the study of history, with significant changes in the ways in which works of the past are viewed, and also how histories of literature began to be constructed (a history of literary histories, so to speak) paying attention to such questions as the development of the literary canon, periodicity, inclusions and exclusions, rediscoveries, and lack of representation. It will also look at the ways in which literary biography, autobiography and life-writing relate to the creation of literary histories. This will be a team-taught module, introducing key topics in the area and apply them to a variety of types of literature from different historical periods, and the myriad critical ways in which such literature has been viewed, retrospectively.
Modernism and the Avant-Garde in Literature and Drama
This module will investigate radical strategies of aesthetic presentation and the challenge they offered to prevailing limits of personal, gender and national identity between 1890 and 1960. Through a selection of key literary, dramatic, cultural, and critical texts, the module will examine ways that modernist and avant-garde writings draw their formal, generic and political borders, how they reconfigure ideas of the self, and what the political consequences of that reconfiguration are. The module will also consider the multiple meanings of 'radicalism' in an aesthetic and literary context, relating those meanings to questions of taste, community, and the market. This will be a team-taught module which examines a wide spectrum of literature and drama, including as well the era's cultural criticism and more recent critical and theoretical studies. Some of the texts are difficult; students will be expected to have read material thoroughly before each seminar, and to come prepared to discuss its theoretical, aesthetic and political implications.
Textualities: Defining, making and using text
This module provides an introduction to the presentation of text through editing and anthologising.It considers modes of transmission, both manuscript and print, and modes of representation, including scholarly editions and anthologies, both print and digital. It interrogates editorial theory and practice, including ‘best text’, genetic editing and single witness. Students are encouraged to apply questions of editing to their own areas of interest, and work through the practicalities of producing an edition themselves.
The History of the Book: 1200-1600 (Distance Learning - 20 Credits)
This module introduces the study of the book as artefact. Students will learn about methods of construction and compilation, handwriting and early printing techniques, reading marginalia as well as text; they will also be introduced to the benefits and applications, as well as the problems, of applying an understanding of the artefact to the texts contained within.
Middle English Romance
This module considers twenty-first century historicized readings of a major English literary genre, and demonstrates that medieval English romance texts can be set in complex and profound critical relationship to each other and to other artistic media. Such an approach is possible largely because of the vibrant and privileged international socio-literary milieu in which many romance tracts were first written and received. Students will be encouraged to explore how reading Middle English romance texts can equip us with vocabulary and concepts to discuss the cultural specificities of the literary representations of romance, love and chivalry in this period, the representations of public and private identities, and the questions regarding individuality and selfhood that arise in literature produced in a volatile period of religious and social uncertainty and dissent. These are all issues that now define the Middle Ages for modern scholars.
Students take their dissertation in creative writing, which is a major piece of advanced independent work, alongside a critical essay under the supervision of a specialist in their chosen genre.
Dissertation in Creative Writing
At the end of the programme, you will complete a dissertation with the support of a supervisor who has appropriate expertise in your chosen field. You will produce an original piece of work in a medium of your choosing: you could produce a set of poems, a piece of fiction, or a series of short stories, for instance.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Teaching methods and assessment
All taught modules are assessed by written work. Tutors provide feedback on practice exercises as preparation, and detailed comments on assignments.
Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a supervised dissertation. The MA dissertation is your chance to push yourself that little bit further. By now you’ll have read a lot and written a lot of and you’ll have some sense of the writer you want to be. The dissertation is where you bundle together your skills and experience, add in the influence of your favourite writers, and let your ambition drive things forward. You will work independently and will meet your supervisor in person for four individual sessions. You could write a pamphlet-length set of poems, or an extended story or group of stories. Or you could try something experimental that stretches the conventions of literary genre.
Scholarships and bursaries
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International and EU students
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