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Module QXP-2019:
Contemporary Writing (CW)

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Zoë Skoulding

Overall aims and purpose

  • Study of a broad range of literature published from the 1950s to the present
  • Situate this literature within broader historical, social, cultural and political contexts
  • Establish and explore areas of contrast and continuity between the texts on the module
  • Develop creative responses to the texts presented on the module.

Course content

Contemporary Writing introduces students to the first postmodern texts in the 1950s, and takes them right up to literature from the present day using these texts as a basis for students own critical and creative work. The course asks students to investigate how literature (across a range of genres) responds to the broad historical trends and specific events of the age. While these might include residual literary traditions from the 1950s such as the theatre of ‘angry young men’ and ‘Movement’ poetry, the module will initially focus on the emergence of postmodernity. It will go on to consider how the Anglophone literary field has become more international in the second half of the twentieth century, witnessing the emergence of national literary traditions in a range of former colonies. New and contemporary movements and traditions in Anglophone literature will be explored in the second part of the course. These might include British Asian literature, post 9/11 literature, recent American drama, eco-poetry and the effect on literature of recent digital innovation for example. These contemporary works will be used as springboards and inspiration for the students own creative work, and students will be encouraged to develop a critical sense of their creative work in its contemporary context.

Assessment Criteria


Typically, the work of a first class candidate will show many of the following qualities:

Excellent levels of originality, vision and depth; striking and thorough engagement with ideas.

Excellent understanding and control of form.

Impressive linguistic control and/or innovation.

Sophisticated understanding of the creative process and assured control of decisions made in writing.

Dynamic work approaching publishable standard.


A 2(i) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:

Demonstration of a degree of vitality and originality.

Very good understanding of generic conventions; sound use of structures and forms.

Resourceful use of language.

Sound understanding of the creative process and thoughtful control of decisions made in writing.

Very good work, which at times comes close to publishable standard.

C- to C+

A 2(ii) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:

Some attempt at serious exploration of ideas.

Some link between themes and form. Good attempt to engage with form, but this may not be entirely sustained.

Use of language technically proficient, but not always focused.

Some awareness of the creative process and of decisions made in writing.

Good work, but its strengths need to be more fully sustained to reach publishable standard.


A 3rd class candidate’s work will show many of the following features:

Limited engagement with ideas.

Link between themes and form not always clear.

Limited sense of formal conventions. Inconsistent with regard to linguistic technicalities.

Limited awareness of redrafting and editing process.

Learning outcomes

    • Critically appreciate, analyse and interpret a range of literary texts in relation to postmodernity, contemporary and emerging movements and traditions • Examine patterns and variations in the literary response to the historical trends and events of the period 1953- present
  1. • Reflect critically on the contemporary context of their creative work.

  2. • Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form, to a deadline.

  3. • Develop creative work that is aware of its contemporary context

  4. • Examine contemporary texts from the perspective of a particular critical concern or emerging trend (for example, Cold War literature, postcolonialism, 9/11 literature)

  5. • Construct a meaningful cultural and historical understanding of the period

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Creative Portfolio and Commentary

2,000 words of creative prose or 7-10 pages of poetry that demonstrates engagement with the themes and texts of the course and 500 word commentary that demonstrates an understanding of the work’s contemporary literary context as illustrated by the course texts.

ESSAY Critical Essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Personal research


Two weekly lectures to be shared with QXE2019 Contemporary Writing (LIT)


Weekly Creative Writing Workshop


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

Graduates of Creative Writing are able to:

i produce clear, accurate, artistically coherent and technically sophisticated written work, which articulates a combination of research and creative ideas

ii communicate orally and through the written word concrete ideas and abstract concepts

iii read as a writer - with an ability to analyse texts, performances and broadcasts, and respond to the affective power of language, using appropriate approaches, terminology and creative strategies

iv use language in a sophisticated and nuanced fashion, with a heightened awareness of concision, voice, idiom, idiolect, simile, metaphor, analogy, rhythm and media-specific restraints

v use reflective strategies to help capture and synthesize personal experiences and other research in an imaginative form

vi apply a well developed aesthetic sensibility and sense of intellectual inquiry

vii employ an imaginative and divergent mode of thinking which is integral to identifying and solving problems, to the making of critical and reflective judgements, to the generation of alternatives and new ideas, and to engaging with broader issues of value

viii edit their own work, and that of peers, with a high level of rigour and scrutiny, at the various levels of clause, line, sentence, stanza, paragraph but also at the structural level of overall scene, chapter, collection, book

ix apply scholarly bibliographic skills when and where necessary

x use the views of others in the development and enhancement of practice; formulate considered practical responses to the critical judgements of others, while developing a generous yet rigorous critical scrutiny in peer review and workshop activities

xi view themselves as practitioners and reflect critically on their own creative writing practice

xii conduct independent research including that which is practice based.

QAA Benchmark Statement Creative Writing 2016, 3.2


Reading list

See reading list for Contemporary Writing (LIT) QXE2019

Courses including this module