MA Creative Writing

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Reading Poems: Lyric and the Anthropocene

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL71611
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course requires students to read at least one contemporary collection of poetry each week, usually alongside relevant critical essays on the poet to be discussed, and to consider the poetry in both a critical and creative context.


  • To give students a knowledge of a range of contemporary poetry, so that they become aware of the varied formal and thematic possibilities available to the modern poet and develop a literary context for their own work.
  • To develop students' knowledge of the variety of voice and the devices commonly used in contemporary poetry, eg, to see the possible relationships between poetry and communities, to consider achievements of regional and national poetry, to examine the importance of tradition to contemporary poetry, to look at how gender and race are subjects in contemporary poetry and poetry criticism, to examine ideas about lyric, elegy and form,  to examine the split between linguistically innovative poetry and the broad mainstream
  • To emphasise the extent to which some contemporary poetry is occupied with ideas of community, identity and nation
  • To consider how contemporary poetry draws on contemporary theory
  • To concentrate students' attention on significant canonical authors while exploring the possibilities offered by texts outside the canon
  • To prepare students for advanced research in the subject area through the development of research, analytical, expressive and rhetorical skills.




Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the recent history of poetry in English.
  • Show knowledge and understanding of selected examples of contemporary writing, both creative and critical.
  • Show knowledge and understanding of the poetry collection as a genre in its own right.

Intellectual skills

  • Conceive of and assemble essays which make a meaningful intervention into the field.
  • Write a scholarly essay that demonstrates understanding of both primary literary texts and secondary scholarly treatments of these texts.

Practical skills

  • Read, assimilate and organise a range of contemporary writing and scholarly responses to it.
  • Essay composition, research and bibliography compilation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

•    Produce writing that is stylish, informed and intellectually robust.

•    Formulate a critical response to a variety of poets.

•    Improve creative writing using knowledge acquired.

Employability skills

Project management
See a project through from conception to completion.
Oral communication
Make verbal presentations of ideas to an audience.
Written communication
Write to engage a wide readership

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Weighting within unit 






Recommended reading

Primary texts

1. Lyric form 1: Claudia Rankine, Citizen (Penguin)

2. World-making 1: Ted Hughes, Collected Poems, Faber (Moortown Diary and River)

3. Lyric form 2: Carl Phillips, Then the War, and Selected Poems (Carcanet)

4.  World-making 2: Alice Oswald, Dart (Faber); Kathleen Jamie, The Tree House (Picador)

5. World-making 3: Vahni Capildeo, Scheduled activity hours Lectures 33

Independent study hours
Independent study 267

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jason Allen-Paisant Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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