Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: English Studies


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap 20


  • 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 enter into and understand the technical / formal choices made by poets as they write.


  • Seminars covering the forms, genres and conventions of poetry, in their historical context.
  • 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'.
  • 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

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.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An advanced ability to analyse poetry critically.
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 summative essays.
    • Two 3,000 word summative essays will assess the students' ability to think critically about poetic texts, in relation to such matters as formal conventions and imaginative expressiveness, and entering into and understanding the technical / formal choices made by poets as they write.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 9 Fortnightly 2 18
    Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
    Preparation and Reading 272
    Total 300

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Two Essays Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay 1 3000 words 40%
    Essay 2 3000 words 60%

    Formative Assessment:

    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