BA Creative Writing and English Literature

Welcome to the course page for the BA Creative Writing and English Literature. You can find details on our first-year modules below.

All creative writers may also wish to check out the following list of links to get you started on becoming a successful working writer: Some Useful Leads

First Year Modules 2017-18

Beginnings in Writing

This module comprises two distinct but mutually supporting strands, introducing students to core elements of creative writing whilst situating their practice in the heart of the city. Strand 1, ‘Ways of Writing’, encourages students to experiment in a range of diverse written styles and forms, including poetry, prose, life-writing and journalism. Strand 2, ‘Writing the City’, offers students the opportunity to engage with the city as ‘raw materials’ for their work, encouraging a deep understanding of the critical importance of ‘place’ in writing.

Useful preliminary reading:
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides. Fourth Estate.
John Singleton, Mary Luckhurst and Mary Singleton (eds.), The Creative Writing Handbook. Palgrave Macmillan.

Reflective Writing 1

This module asks students to become analytical about their writing, both from the point of view of process and output. By critiquing their own work, and considering the writing practice of others, it aims to develop students’ ability to formulate answers to questions such as ‘Why do I write?’, ‘What is the value of storytelling?’, ’What are the stories I am best able to tell?’ It is supported by a year-long lecture and workshop series, delivered by members of the department alongside visiting poets, playwrights and novelists.

 Useful preliminary reading:
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. Tarcher/Putnam.
Joan Didion, ‘Why I Write’ (1976), in The Writer On Her Work, ed. Janet Sternburg. W.W. Norton.


What is Literature?

This module encourages students to think about two related things: what we mean by literature or the literary; and why, for any literary work, a particular form has been chosen in which to address the reader. The module gives you a historical map of developments in the forms of poetry, prose and drama and the texts are chosen from various periods, including the contemporary, in order to explore why and how literature, of these many periods, might still matter today. Assessment: 100% coursework.

Useful preliminary reading:
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. Penguin
James Joyce, ‘The Dead’, in Dubliners. Oxford World’s Classics
Emily Berry, ed. Best British Poetry 2015. Salt Publishing
William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing. Arden, New Cambridge, Oxford, or RSC/Macmillan
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest. Methuen
Virginia Woolf, ‘The Mark on the Wall’, in The Mark on the Wall and Other Short Fiction. Oxford World’s Classics

Keywords for Literary Studies (option)

What is meant by ‘realism’ or the ’image’ or the ‘unconscious’? This module introduces a series of ‘keywords’ that have been historically central to the study of literature. By exploring these words and concepts in relation to specific critical approaches to literary works, the module helps you develop your own critical and argumentative skills. Assessment: 100% coursework.

Useful preliminary reading:
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. Oxford World’s Classics.
Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual’ and ‘The Man With the Twisted Lip’, in The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Penguin
Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography. Oxford World’s Classics.

Shakespeare and Performance (option)

The module samples a mix of Shakespeare’s plays and provides a broad introduction to the various emphases of contemporary Shakespeare study. We explore the specific forms of Shakespearean drama in their original contexts, including the performance practices of the time, but also in terms of modern and current scholarship. Assessment: 100% Coursework.

Useful preliminary reading:
Julius Caesar; Richard II; Macbeth; Twelfth Night; Measure for Measure; Hamlet; The Winter’s Tale

Poetry and Politics (option)

This module introduces students to both the varieties of modern poetry and the ways in which poetry engages with the world. It focuses principally on poetic works drawn from the last 200 years, focusing on topics like gender and the body, political voices, violence and conflict. Assessment: 100% Coursework.

Useful preliminary reading:
Terry Eagleton, How to Read a Poem. Wiley.
Rhian Williams, The Poetry Toolkit. Bloomsbury.