Undergraduate prospectus

Course Information

Advanced Poetry Writing

Module summary

Module code: COML1048
Level: 5
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences
Module Coordinator(s): Cherry Smyth


Pre and co requisites



The aim of Advanced Poetry is to consolidate and expand on the introduction to writing poetry in Level 4. Using both narrative and non-narrative poetry, it will develop both individual creative voices and the critical skills necessary to draft and edit a successful poem. The course will be taught through weekly writing seminars in which there will be an opportunity to do close readings of contemporary poetry, complete writing exercises and apply critical tools to the students’ drafted poems.

The course will examine the role of love poetry from classical work by Sappho and traditional sonnets by Herbert and Donne, to radical contemporary approaches by poets like Judy Brown and Selima Hill. Notions of gender and cultural identity will be discussed through the work of Indian and Irish poets whose first language is not English. How to create belonging in the home of language will be explored through the poetry of African-American, Iranian, Turkish and Asian poets. Theoretical discourses of writers like Hélène Cixous and Hamid Naficy will help to contextualise how poetry creates a political and cultural language of belonging. Poetry is a powerful material conduit between speakers and listeners and this course reflects the multidimensional capacity of language to confront and respond to what it means to cross borders, to be in transit and to shift boundaries.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 demonstrate a secure knowledge of a wide range of poetic forms;

2 attain an in-depth understanding of poetic practices and aesthetic strategies and their reciprocity;
3 produce a distinctive portfolio of original written work to a publishable standard, contextualised by the academic framework of the course;
4 improve their strengths as poets through peer-critique which will enhance their critical and editorial skills;

5 demonstrate the wider cultural context of poetry and themes of belonging and identity expressed through an annotated bibliography and reflective essay.

Indicative content

During the course, students will engage in the production of a wide range of different forms of poetry, as well as commenting on and analysing poetry. Students will explore particular aspects of writing poetry, such as rhythm, rhyme, metre, imagery, metaphor, and deepen their understanding of free verse and non-narrative forms. Students will explore a range of writing exercises designed to further develop the processes of writing poetry. There will also be excursions to poetry readings and to the Poetry Library at the South Bank Centre, as well as visits by established and new poets. Alongside commentary, analysis and production, students will be required to keep a course journal in which they are encouraged to reflect critically on re-drafting and editing work undertaken during the course. They will also be asked to produce a research project on a poet whose work has influenced or inspired them.

Through weekly seminars of close readings and writing exercises and a visit to the Poetry Library, students will explore the lyric, free verse and narrative traditions, studying texts that question and undermine traditional forms and examining where alternative and experimental narratives blur critical categories. Poets studied include Lorca, Octavio Paz, Paul Farley, Nazim Hikmet and Wislawa Szymborksa and themes include political struggle and identity; poetry of resistance; love and imprinting the body.

Teaching and learning activity

Learning will be through workshops structured around the close reading of set texts and critical essays, plus writing exercises to stimulate new work and peer-group critiques. Individual tutorials with the tutor will provide advice and guidance on research methods, themes and the development and structuring of ideas.


Poetry Portfolio 1 - 40% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Portfolio of original poems. 100 lines.

Poetry portfolio 2 40% weightng, 40% pass mark.
Portfolio of original poems. 100 lines.

Journal - 20% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Essay to reflect on the student’s development as a writer and thinker and bibliography to show research and diverse reading. 2000 words.

Students are not required to pass all components in order to pass the course.