Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ENGL43930: The Word in the World

Department: English Studies

ENGL43930: The Word in the World

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2020/21 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.


  • To introduce students to a broad range of ways in which their creative work (and, as appropriate, their skills and experience as creative practitioners) may be made available to the public, and to the possibilities and challenges presented by the different methods.
  • To introduce students to the practicalities of how to get published and make a living as a writer.
  • To allow students to gain insights, and practical experience, of how the publishing industry works; how to approach the teaching of creative writing; or how to work with artists in other mediums, as appropriate.


  • This module will focus on some of the ways in which the students’ writing can be made available to the public. Teaching on the Michaelmas and Epiphany terms will be provided by visiting writers, artists, and industry experts (agents, editors, etc), as well as in-house creative writers, in a series of informal seminars. Students will hear a range of talks and interviews and will be invited to participate in Q&As. This part of the module will be assessed via an essay on an aspect of contemporary literature, or a case-study of a specific publisher.
  • In the Easter term, students will choose one of three possible options: an industry placement at a publishing house or sales and distribution company; a teaching placement at a local school and/or local prison; and collaborative work with a student from another discipline (probably a Music or Visual Arts student, or a student interested in drama: the module convenor sits on the Durham Student Theatre steering group, and could provide contacts and introductions).
  • The exact content of the module will vary from student to student in the Easter term, and will reflect the interests of a given MA cohort and the opportunities available in any given year; however, all students will be assessed in the same way, via a 3,000-word report on their chosen activity.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an advanced understanding of the contexts and considerations in which literary works are created, published, promoted and received: how writers make a living; financial realities; where to send work; how to write a pitch letter; how to get an agent; how to go about submitting work to literary journals; how to make best use of web resources; the pros and cons of self-publishing; negotiating a contract; intellectual property; royalties and advances; how the editorial process works; how literature is promoted; how to go about writing a book review; the possibilities and challenges presented by collaborating with other artists; how to adjust teaching methods according to the setting and audience
  • an advanced ability to develop and reflect critically on professional practice within an industry, teaching or interdisciplinary collaborative context
Subject-specific Skills:
  • an advanced ability to work with others in a professional context
Key Skills:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically
  • an independence of thought and judgement
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning and problem solving
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access information
  • professional conduct skills, e.g. observing professional academic standards, including correct referencing of sources, and appropriate use of relevant ethical codes of practice when reporting on placement experiences
  • professional organisation and time-management skills.

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

  • Seminars: these would be provided both by published creative writers from outside and within the university, and also by visiting editors, publicists, agents, and literary industry experts.
  • Industry placements: this would require the student to spend three weeks at a publishing house, or in the offices of a sales and distribution company. This would give the student hands-on knowledge of the publishing industry. Assessment would take the form of a 3,000-word report on the placement, written by the student.
  • Teaching placements: this would require the student to design and deliver a series of creative writing workshops in a local school and/or a local prison. The module convenor would provide coaching and supervision at each stage of the process. Assessment would take the form of a 3,000-word report on the placement, written by the student.
  • Collaborative work: this work may be produced in response to another student’s art or music, or may be something more integral to the finished work, such as a film script or a libretto. The actual work produced will not form part of the assessment, though students may include some of the work they contributed to the collaboration as part of their final portfolio if they wish. Assessment would take the form of a 3,000-word report on the collaborative project, written by the student.
  • 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 either completing the industry placement, or designing/delivering a writing workshop, or entering into a collaborative relationship with another artist, as appropriate.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 2 hours 18
Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
Formative assessment consultation 1 30 mins 0.5
Preparation and Reading 271.5
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay / Case-study 3,000 words 50%
Report on either industry placement or teaching placement or collaboration 3,000 50%

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