BA English Literature and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Creative Writing: Poetry

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL20901
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Variable teaching patterns
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit uses a workshop format so that each session begins with an exercise/discussion which will introduce ideas about form, metaphor, rhythm etc. In response to set exercises, students will write a poem per fortnight (14 to 40 lines), which will then be marked up by all other students and discussed in detail in class every other week. 


  • To widen and deepen students' knowledge of contemporary poetry in English;
  • To develop students' critical, editing, communication and writing skills;
  • To encourage an interest in, and the practice of, writing and reading contemporary poetry;
  • To encourage students to join in productive group-work in a workshop context in order to reflect on their own learning and to assist with the learning processes of other students;
  • To provide students with skills that are both related to the discipline and transferable to appropriate professional contexts.


Learning outcomes

  • An intelligent consideration of how poems are made and are made interesting;
  • Demonstrate a wide range of independent reading in contemporary poetry;
  • To write poems originally and well, and to develop skills for deploying the poetic tool-kit;
  • To hone critical assessment
  • An understanding of the traditions and applications of a range of poetic devices such as form, rhyme, metre, voice, enjambment, imagery, etc;
  • A level of critical and analytical thinking and skills in written expression appropriate to work that will form part of the final degree assessment;
  • An ability to formulate opinions about each other's work, and to communicate these in constructive ways;
  • Confidence in presenting his, her, their own work;
  • Skills with editing and re-drafting, responding positively to feedback received
  • An ability to engage in group-work in order to reflect on and develop his, her, their own learning and to assist with the learning processes of other students;
  • Skills that are both related to the discipline and transferable to appropriate professional contexts.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
Group/team working
Students taking this unit will be able to work courteously and constructively as part of a larger group.
Students on this unit must take responsibility for their learning and are encouraged not only to participate in group discussions but to do so actively and even to lead those discussions.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively
Oral communication
Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.
Innovation/creativity On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Portfolio 100%

Feedback methods

Written and face-to-face (upon arrangement)

Recommended reading

The Zoo of the New, eds Laird & Paterson, (Penguin Modern Classics, 2018)

Staying Alive, ed Neil Astley, (Bloodaxe, 2002)

The Making of a Poem, eds Boland and Strand (Norton, 2000)

The New Penguin Book of English Verse, ed Paul Keegan (Penguin, 2000)

The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them, Stephanie Burt, (Belknap, Harvard, 2016)

Why Poetry, Matthew Zapruder, (Harper Collins, 2017)

Stepping Stones, Seamus Heaney & Dennis O’Driscoll (Faber & Faber, 2009)

The Best American Poetry annual publication, Rotating Eds (Scribner)

The Forward Book of Poetry annual publication, Rotating Eds, (Forward Publishing)

Who Reads Poetry: 50 Views from ‘Poetry’ Magazine, eds Sasaki & Share, (University of Chicago Press, 2017)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vona Groarke Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Other information

Entry to this course is by competition only. Places will be offered on the basis of samples of creative work submitted during the second semester of year 1. Those who have been successful in their application for the course will have been informed before pre-registration.

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