Undergraduate prospectus

Course Information

Writing Poetry and Prose

Module summary

Module code: COML1079
Level: 4
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences
Module Coordinator(s): Cherry Smyth / Emily Critchley


Pre and co requisites



The course is designed to:

• introduce students to a range of different forms and styles of contemporary creative prose and poetry; to encourage them to work with and experiment in those forms in order to develop their own poetic styles and voices. To facilitate this, students will be expected to comment on and analyze textual material as well as write and produce texts of their own;
• provide students with the opportunity to explore and write in different forms and styles of poetry and creative prose through the writing workshop;
• develop the range of stylistic and technical skills (grammar, punctuation, formatting of dialogue, use of poetic form etc.) necessary for such types of writing;
• introduce students to a variety of modern critical and theoretical writing contexts, and to get them to think about their own writing practice within the contemporary context;
• encourage students to undertake associated research and preparatory work necessary to produce texts and to enable them to practise technical and research skills in the process of writing creatively;
• allow the students to develop an analytical approach to their own writing process and practice, through the critical commentary.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will:

1. have learned a range of technical and analytic skills essential for creative writing, such as an understanding of rhythm, rhyme, imagery, characterisation and dialogue;
2. be able to conduct independent research in the production of creative texts and to look for stimuli to produce ideas;
3. recognize the importance of analyzing the creative process and have demonstrated the ability to explore and develop students’ own work, e.g. through critical commentary;
4. have learned comparative analytic skills, e.g., through the production of an essay comparing students’ own work to that of an influential writer of their choosing;
5. have learned certain elements of literary theory, such as postmodern and poststructural approaches to writing, feminism, writing by people of other races, sexualities and political persuasions, e.g. postcolonial and Marxist writing;
6. have learned about the contemporary writing context, and have begun to reflect on their own practice within it;
7. have proven good written communication skills, the ability to cite sources appropriately, e.g. through an annotated bibliography, and have IT-based presentation skills for all coursework.

Indicative content

Students will engage in the production of different types of poetry and prose texts, as well as analyzing examples of those creative forms. Students will explore particular aspects of prose writing (e.g. plot structures, point of view, dialogue, description and characterization) and poetry (e.g. voice, form, internal rhyme, enjambment).

Alongside commentary, analysis and production, students will be required to keep a reflective journal in which they are encouraged to reflect critically on work undertaken during the course, and on the course itself.

Students will also be required to produce an annotated bibliography of texts that have inspired or interested them over the period of the course.

There will be a number of site-specific visits which encourage students to write from a variety of stimuli such as environment, London and the visual arts.
Term 2 overview:

Week 1 Introduction to creative writing
How & why we write…

Week 2 What is prose?
What makes it so special? What can we do with it?

Week 3 Diction: avoiding abstraction and over-description

Week 4 Prose structures and narratology
Analysis of James Joyce’ ‘Araby’

Week 5 Characterisation: inspiration from the National Portrait Gallery

Week 6 Dialogue and veracity
Hemmingway’s ‘Hills like white elephants’

Week 7 Microfiction
Lydia Davis’ short fictions

Week 8 One-to-one tutorials
Feedback on student writing

Week 9 Experimentation: crossing the genres

Week 10 The prose-poem
Lyn Hejinian’s My Life

Week 11 Editing and paring it down to the essentials
Killing your darlings

Week 12 Joint readings: and coursework deadline

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be delivered via a range of learning methods within and outside seminars: plenary discussions; lectures on various topics; peer-to-peer feedback and criticism; site-specific writing and weekly writing exercises. The main emphasis in the course will be on workshop activity and the production of different forms of poetry and prose texts.

Workshops are designed to stimulate a variety of group discussions and activities, such as automatic writing, reading out work produced, critical debate and practical advice, all of which allow the students to develop their writing skills, ask and receive answers to questions, and get personal feedback from tutors in a more immediate and intimate environment than, say, a lecture programme.

Site-specific visits provide students with the opportunity to explore the production of texts from various stimuli, e.g. visual art, and to supplement that writing with research.


Poetry Portfolio and commentary - 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Outline Details - Portfolio of students’ original work and commentary. 60-80 lines and 1000 words.

Comparative Essay - 20% weighting, pass mark 40%.
Outline Details - Comparative analysis of students' original work with influential writer of their choosing. 1000 words.

Prose Portfolio: 30% weighting. Pass mark 40%. 1000 words.
Outline Details - Portfolio of students' original work. 1000 words.