Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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Creative Writing Dissertation

Level 6 (30 credits)

This module gives students the opportunity to produce a sustained piece of original writing of their own devising. They will have the chance to develop both their imaginative and critical abilities through completion of the creative work and accompanying reflective commentary of 2500 words. Possible project forms include a long short story or a sequence of linked short stories (totaling 7500 words), a cycle or pamphlet-length collection of poems (total number of pages to be agreed with supervisor), a work of creative nonfiction (7500 words), a one-act play or the script for a short film (7500 words or number of pages to be agreed with supervisor). Students will choose and design their project in consultation with academic staff and write the dissertation under appropriate academic supervision. Supervisions and independent student research and writing will be complemented by six small-group workshops over the course of the academic year.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Apart from spending the summer focusing on your own writing practice, as far as you are able, it will be useful to think about the form or genre in which you want to write (this might span more than one genre of course!). Here are some texts and videos that I have recently found useful or inspiring, and you might too, whatever genre you're working in:


by Anne Boyer
- by Wayne Koestenbaum, and "The Writer's Obligation"
- Claudia Rankine
- An evening with
- Lydia Davis, Ten of My Recommendations for Good Writing Habits and an on shaping messy material.
- Ali Smith
- John McPhee, "Structure"

Early in the autumn semester we'll ask you to attend the first module workshop and outline very informally what you hope to write for the creative writing dissertation. In subsequent workshops we'll ask you to more formally deliver your plans, and then we'll move on to more specific workshop tasks: thinking about structure, language, editing your own work, etc. You don't need to start the autumn semester with a complete plan, but you should have this at the back of your mind as you write and read more adventurously in the meantime.

And a broader reading list -- the books marked with an asterisk would be among the best places to reflections on writing and the writing life:

*Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
*Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story
*Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay
*John McPhee, Draft No. 4
Gabriel Griffin Research Methods for English Studies
Al Alvarez, The Writers’ Voice.
Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots
Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
Anne Hoffmann, Research for Writers.
John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
Maura Dooley, How Novelists Work
Steven Roger Fischer, A History of Reading
Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot
Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending

Learning Context Workshop
Semester 1 and 2

1. Dissertation (10000 words, to be comprised of 2500 words critical reflection plus creative work (7500 words prose, or in the case of poetry or drama for stage or screen, 7500 words or no fewer than 25 pages), 100%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Brian Dillon