Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module ENGL43730: Creative Writing Poetry

Department: English Studies

ENGL43730: Creative Writing Poetry

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap None.
Tied to


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


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • to enable students to produce (ie. draft and edit) original poems with a full, advanced awareness of the technical and aesthetic choices made in the process of writing
  • to analyse at an advanced level the creative writing of students alongside extracts from literary texts, revealing close reading as a method for learning how to write, and also creative writing as a method for understanding the stylistic qualities and historical content of canonical works
  • to introduce students to a broad range of poems, traditions, and techniques


  • This module will focus on the writing of poetry, and will include close-reading and advanced criticism of the students’ work. Students will be asked to comment (in writing and/or in person) on each other’s work.
  • Seminars will foreground the close-reading of the students’ own poetry, as well as published poetry (mainly from the 20th and 21st centuries), and work that theorizes or criticizes poetry. This material will be provided by the module convenor.
  • A close examination of the poetry will help students to understand the relation between reading and writing, theory and practice.
  • While the content of each seminar will largely be shaped by the work produced by students, particular attention will be paid to: the uses of the line-break; diction; syntax; metre and rhythm; issues of poetic form (both ‘traditional’ and ‘free’); style; voice; and influence.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain advanced knowledge of the aesthetic decisions made by writers and their relationship to matters of poetic form, and intellectual and historical context
  • Students will gain advanced, practical knowledge of how readers respond to their work
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critical skills: the close reading and analysis of texts
  • Creative writing skills: the application of the student’s critical skills to their own practice
  • An ability to demonstrate knowledge of a range of critical approaches
  • The ability to articulate written and spoken criticism of fellow students’ work that evaluates their success as works of art (ie. that focuses on their formal and aesthetic dimension as opposed to their thematic or contextual dimension) and expresses this evaluation in the appropriate technical, analytical terms
  • An ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to literary studies
  • Advanced awareness of literature as a medium through which values are affirmed and debated
Key Skills:
  • Practice of writing poetry
  • A capacity to analyse critically
  • Skills of effective communication and argument
  • The ability to articulate constructive criticism in a workshop setting
  • A capacity for independent thought and judgement, and an ability to assess the critical ideas of others
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning and problem solving
  • An ability to handle information and argument in a critical manner
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing
  • professional conduct skills, e.g. observing professional academic standards, including correct referencing of sources
  • Organisation and time-management skills

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

  • Workshop seminars: enable students to to develop and demonstrate advanced conceptual abilities and analytical skills in the close reading and analysis of texts; encourage peer-group discussion and skills of effective communication and presentation; promote awareness of diversity of interpretation and methodology.
  • One-to-one meetings with students: each student will receive at least two 15-minute one-to-one sessions in which they will receive feedback on their work-in-progress; in addition, their formative assessment will take the form of a further 30-minute one-to-one meeting in which up to five of their poems will be discussed as a whole. These sessions will encourage students to reflect critically and independently on their work
  • Coursework: the portfolio will be assessed according to the following criteria: control of form, tone, and style; originality of theme, voice and formal strategy; sophistication of conception and execution; expressiveness and imagination; ability to put the theoretical knowledge gained from the course into practice; ability to establish and achieve artistic goals. The self-critique offers students an opportunity to express their poetics in the context of the work and poetics as discussed in the course, and to reflect on the development of their own creative practice
  • Feedback: the written feedback that is provided after the assessed portfolio and self-critique will allow the students to reflect on their creative work and gain a more objective sense of its value, potential, theoretical assumptions, and how successful it was in fulfilling its goals.
  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for a one-to-one tutorial.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 fortnightly 2 hours 18
One-to-one tutorials 2 15 mins 0.5
Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
Formative assessment consultation 1 30 mins 0.5
Preparation and Reading 271
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio Ten pages of poetry; plus 2,00-word self-critique 100%

Formative Assessment:

A formative Portfolio of 5 poems will receive written feedback from the tutor. This material can then be revised by the student, and submitted as part of their summative essay.

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