Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ENGL44030: Reading as a Writer: the Workshop

Department: English Studies

ENGL44030: Reading as a Writer: the Workshop

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap 20
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.


  • in partnership with the module Reading as a Writer, which will introduce students to a range of twentieth-century poetry and prose fiction selected for its implementation of particular formal techniques, this module will enable students to apply the reading and analytical skills they are learning to their own work.
  • enable students to produce (i.e. draft and edit) original poetry or prose fiction (either short stories or chapters/sections of longer prose narratives), at an advanced level, in response to specific writing prompts
  • introduce students to the writing workshop format and enable them to systematically and constructively critique original work


  • Each seminar will be structured around the writing challenge that accompanied the preceding seminar in the Reading as a Writer module, allowing students to put what they have learned into practice. Writing challenges might include: writing from observation; adapting syntactical techniques; experimenting with poetic forms; creative translation; opening paragraphs; editing methods.
  • The directed writing prompts will strengthen the students’ understanding of technical considerations such as syntax, structure, voice, image and point of view.
  • Each seminar will take the form of a writing workshop in which all students are invited to submit some original poetry or prose fiction for discussion and critique by the rest of the students on the module. This will give students an idea of how their work may be read and received, and provide them with criticism and observations that they can use when editing their work.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a practical understanding of literary techniques associated with poetry and prose fiction
  • advanced, practical knowledge of how readers respond to their work
  • an awareness of the aesthetic decisions they are making in their writing, and the attendant effects and limitations of those decisions
Subject-specific Skills:
  • advanced close-reading and editing skills
  • the ability to articulate written and spoken criticism of fellow students’ work that evaluates their success as works of art (as opposed to providing a thematic or contextual analysis) and expresses this evaluation in technical, analytical terms
  • advanced ability to compose original works of poetry and fiction and delineate their aesthetic aims
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically
  • an advanced ability to articulate constructive criticism in a teamwork setting; general teamworking skills
  • an independence of thought and judgement, and an ability to assess acutely the critical ideas of others;
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning and problem solving
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing
  • professional conduct skills, e.g. observing professional academic standards, including correct referencing of sources
  • professional organisation and time-management skills.

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

  • Students are encouraged to develop advanced conceptual abilities and analytical skills as well as the ability to communicate these within workshops.
  • The workshops will actively develop the students' skills in writing original poetry and prose fiction. They will also help to facilitate the development of critical skills in the close-reading and analysis of poetry and prose fiction texts. Both the critical skills and the ability to produce original work will be assessed through a Portfolio.
  • The student Portfolios will include the following types of text: original poetry or prose fiction compositions workshopped in class in revised form; original poetry or prose fiction composition(s) written specifically for the portfolio; and a 2,000-word analysis of the revisions made to the initial drafts.
  • The students' portfolios of poetry or prose fiction will be assessed in the light of the following criteria: demonstration of appropriate formal and technical skills; aesthetic coherence; originality; imagination; sensitivity to audience / context.
  • 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 presenting their ideas or findings to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

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 6,000 words of prose OR up to ten pages of poetry. To be accompanied by a 2,000-word self-critique 100%

Formative Assessment:

A formative Portfolio of up to five poems or 1,500 words of prose fiction will receive written feedback from the tutor. This material can then be revised by the student, and submitted as part of their summative Portfolio. Each student can expect to have their poetry or prose fiction workshopped several times over the course of the module. These initial drafts will be revised for the student Portfolio.

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