EN3MPS-Creative Writing Masterclass: Prose

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Successful completion of 40 credits’ worth of Creative Writing modules at Part Two.
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Ms Shelley Harris

Email: michelle.harris@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will deepen student writers’ understanding of narrative techniques and sharpen their prose. Using a range of short stories, narrative non-fiction and novel extracts as a springboard, students will advance their knowledge of issues such as structure, characterisation, dialogue and prose quality. At the same time, they will put theory into practice by writing, editing and submitting to competitions and publications.

Learning takes place in a weekly two-hour workshop and one hour peer group, where students support each other’s work with constructive feedback. Where possible, we will invite guest writers and industry experts into the workshops, to share their know-how. This module is delivered at the University of Reading.


The module has three aims:

  • To enable students to read and analyse a range of prose, deepening their understanding of literary considerations specific to the form.

  • to encourage students to engage with literary debates around fiction and narrative non-fiction, and to explore those debates in their own creative writing. 

  • to equip students to write, evaluate and edit their own prose fiction.   

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of prose produced by a range of authors

  • identify and analyse distinctive literary features of prose forms.

  • engage critically with key debates about novels, short stories and narrative non-fiction.

  • write and edit their own prose

  • Reflect critically on their own creative writing

Additional outcomes:

Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner. 

Outline content:

We will be reading prose by a range of writers, likely to include authors such as Jon McGregor, Sarah Waters, Joan Didion, Kathleen Collins, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, David Sedaris, Robert Macfarlane and Roshi Fernando. We will engage with current debates about prose writing and consider recent trends in the genre. Students will take this body of knowledge into their own writing, editing and submission, supported by their seminar leader and members of their peer group.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module will be taught in two weekly sessions: a two-hour writing workshop and a one-hour seminar, for both of which students are required to do preparatory reading and writing. These will be supplemented by a weekly one-hour autonomous peer group session in which students will consider issues of editing and redrafting set in advance by their seminar leader. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 20
    Wider reading (directed) 20
    Peer assisted learning 15
    Advance preparation for classes 15
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 29.5
    Essay preparation 70
Total hours by term 0 200 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Portfolio 60
Project output other than dissertation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

60% of the summative mark is awarded for students’ own creative writing (at least two short stories or narrative non-fiction pieces totalling between 3,000 and 3,500 words, or an extract from a novel or longer work of narrative non-fiction, also totalling 3,000-3,500 words).  30% of the mark will be awarded to a 1500-2000-word reflective essay on the student’s portfolio (a total of 5,000 words for the combined portfolio and essay). The remaining 10% will be awarded to a process journal which tracks the student’s writing practice over the term. All work will be due for final submission at the end of the second week of Summer Term.

Formative assessment methods:

Verbal feedback will be given in seminars. Students will also receive one piece of formative written feedback on their creative writing, as well as a half-hour tutorial.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by a date to be advised.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 11 July 2019


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