Block 1: Articulating Practice
This module explores the uniqueness of Creative Writing as a practice research discipline, allowing students permission to find innovative ways to articulate their individual practice. It challenges them to write creatively about this practice in ways that stretch the standard academic ‘analytical’ writing and yet encourage them to understand and articulate the research issues and questions that underpin their emerging sense of their creative priorities and thematic concerns). It gives students the opportunity to situate their writing, and thinking, amongst contemporary issues and ideas. These concerns may range across considerations of creativity, play, knowledge, gender, identity, sexuality, class, and the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Students explore alternative traditions of articulating practice from the manifesto to the experimental essay and the rich heritage of ‘poetics’ as a speculative hybrid discourse, a mid-point between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. The module builds upon the Benchmark Statement’s commitment to ‘Creative Writing as an academic pursuit [that] develops a range of cognitive abilities related to the aesthetic, ethical and social contexts of human experience.’ As such, it examines how ‘making’ can be an act of ‘knowing’ and fosters ‘the ability to see the world from different perspectives, both as a life skill and as an essential part of artistic practice’ (QAA 6). The ability to conceptualise their practice in relation to its original contribution to knowledge is a crucial M level skill that will assist them in their professional development, for example in funding applications, and PhD work.
Students will produce a 6,000-word Portfolio, with flexibility for this to consist of one sustained piece of work arising from the module, or a document combining several discrete forms covered on the module (indicative topics might include poetics pieces, dream essays, manifestoes, becoming animal exercises).
Block 2: Icebergs and Audience
The focus of this module is on understanding and conducting research directly related to the production of a creative piece. It takes as its focus Hemingway's model of the creative working being like an iceberg: the reader only sees one-eighth of the craft, research and intellectual labour that goes into its creative production. Students will understand, through practice, how writers manage the seven-eighths of the iceberg that the reader does not directly encounter, in terms of the practical, historical, cultural, theoretical and speculative research necessary to bring a piece of creative writing to life. The module will involve looking at how writers build worlds, characters and stories; and how they research settings, time periods and ideas. We will consider the use of archives, mood boards, video resources, images, paintings, newspapers, other creative texts, websites, wider reading and experiences to aid the creation of believable worlds, characters and stories, imagery, voice, or supplementary knowledge in poetry/experimental work. The anchor will be the ideas and plans the students have for an individual long project that could potentially form the basis of their eventual dissertation.
Students will develop a research portfolio, made up of a Research Poster, and a written or recorded Commentary and Research Project Summary.
Block 3: Developing Your Project
This module uses exploratory techniques to develop the individual research projects begun in Icebergs and Audience. It rehearses an understanding of key craft elements (such as world-building, genre-choice, scene-construction, and the ability to transmute abstract ideas into concrete images, situations, and dialogue), but is inflected by the nature of the projects being developed by the individuals in the group. It continues the programme’s exploration of the unique behaviours of creative writing as a practice research methodology by addressing Italo Calvino’s conviction that ‘there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it.’ It involves a consideration of case-studies of published creative models through which to examine the subtle ways writing can ‘digest’ or ‘embody’ ideas. For example, ‘weird fiction’ is used to explore how non-realist modes can simultaneously embody a critique of contemporary life.
Students will create a portfolio, with flexibility within the brief to submit either one single 4,000-word excerpt from a long creative project, one or more ‘weird fiction’ tales amounting to 4,000 words; or a combination of exploratory writing exercises that are stepping-stones towards a long project. All submissions must be accompanied by a 2,000-word reflective commentary.
Block 4: Writing Ecosystems
This module faces out from the experiments in individual practice to consolidate a professional focus. It acknowledges that writers operate within an ecosystem of networks that may include the following employment opportunities: industry publishing, pedagogy, self-publication, public engagement, community work, grant application, collaboration, presentation and performance. The module is underpinned by a conviction that the 21st writer must be multimodal and equipped to not only seize every existing opportunity; but to create new ones in this ever-shifting digital world. There will be a focus on markets, national and international, and the diverse world of publishing and production of written work.
The module will investigate ecosystems that provide work, professional development and support for writers. We will look at submitting work for publication, applying for grants, writing as a business and the publishing/production industries. We will also explore avenues of self-publishing. Fundamental to the module is the need to equip students with skills for a range of career contexts. In the current professional landscape, it's imperative that writers are able to present themselves and their work, as being involved in events and elements of self-promotion are a necessity. The module enables students to confidently present their processes and practice for a variety of audiences; formal interviews, post-reading Q+A, running workshops or teaching creative writing as part of a portfolio career.
Students can tailor their final assignment to their individual practice and future employment intentions. This professional dossier may include at least two from this indicative list: Community Arts plan for projects and workshops, workshop tasks for a Higher Education Creative Writing class, an author’s talk for a non-scholarly audience, a recorded performance with prefatory materials, an indie business plan, a project pitch or treatment, a fiction or non-fiction submission package, an author story.
Blocks 5 and 6: Creative Writing Dissertation
The final dissertation module is an extended creative project, which may take the form of a collection of poems or short stories, a novel extract, a creative non-fiction piece, scripts of all modes, a digital project, or an experimental cross-platform/genre piece. The dissertation will be supported by a critical or reflective commentary or poetics piece.
Total word count is 12,000 words, including a 2000-word reflective commentary. The submission should also be accompanied by a synopsis that is not included in the word length.
Note: All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.
See pre-Education 2030 version of this course.