Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Module Cap


  • Students must hold a good BA degree in English or a related subject to be eligible for entry onto the MA in English Literary Studies.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To familiarize students with the formal, generic and technical conventions and properties of poetry, in their historical context.
  • To enable students to relate these conventions and properties to issues of poetic composition, such as poetic 'voice', originality, imagination, and expressiveness.
  • To enable students to produce an original body of poetry at an advanced level.


  • Three seminars covering the forms, genres and conventions of poetry, in their historical context. These seminars will be based on an anthology, such as The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, eds. Mark Strand and Eavan Boland (New York: Norton, 2000).
  • Three seminars covering the technical properties of poetry, such as imagery, rhythm, rhyme, diction, syntax; and related issues such as 'formal' versus 'free' verse, and poetic 'voice'.
  • Three seminar workshops in which students present, debate and work on their own poetic productions, with the guidance of the module teachers and, where appropriate and possible, guest poets.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The student will be expected to demonstrate specialised and advanced knowledge of forms, techniques and methods involved in writing poetry, and the ability to write poetry to a high standard.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • Seminars covering the formal, generic and technical conventions and properties of poetry will enable students to develop critical skills in the close reading and analysis of poetic texts in preparation for the production of their own poetic compositions.
      • Seminar workshops will facilitate the further development of these skills to produce an assessed Portfolio of poetry.
      • A 2,500 word summative essay will assess the students' ability to think critically about poetic texts with a view to writing their own poetry.
      • The students' Portfolios of poetry will be assessed in the light of the following criteria: demonstration of appropriate formal and technical skills; expressiveness; enterprise and originality; imagination.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 0
      Tutorials 0
      Seminars 9 Fortnightly 2 18
      Practicals 0
      Fieldwork 0
      Other: Formative essay handback 1 15 minutes 0.25
      Preparation and Reading 281.75
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 2500 words 100%
      Component: Portfolio of poems Component Weighting: 60%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Portfolio 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      A draft of a short poetic composition (maximum 30 lines), with a critical commentary demonstrating appropriate formal and/or generic considerations (maximum 1,000 words). The poetic composition could be, but would not have to be, the basis of work submitted in the summative Portfolio of poetry.

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University