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Module QXP-3011:
Discovering Cities

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Zoë Skoulding

Overall aims and purpose

This module provides an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to writing the city. Some seminars are shared with Modern Languages students and others are dedicated to practical writing workshops on urban themes. Focusing both on specific cities and, more broadly, on the construction and cultural representation of urban space, the module will make students aware of urban planning and its effects on social structures, the historical and cultural significance of monuments, and the multiple and contradictory representations and imaginaries of the city across literature and visual arts. The module draws on the fields of history, visual cultures, film, literature and architecture as a basis for creative writing in response to cities. It encourages students to reflect on the city in different linguistic, historical, cultural and geographical traditions, with an investigation of specific cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Berlin (English translations will be provided of all primary sources), and to find new ways of writing about familiar urban locales such as Bangor.

Course content

Beginning with theoretical approaches to urban space, the module will move on to an investigation of specific cities, covering topics such as: Barcelona as a symbol of modernity and cultural identity focusing on the expansion of the city in the early twentieth century powered by economic and demographic growth and the consolidation of the bourgeoisie; Paris as cultural icon and touristic capital, on the one hand, and as a city built upon processes of exclusion, peripheral identities and creativity at the margins, on the other; and Berlin as the contested capital of Germany on the one hand; and Berlin as a metropolis of modernity in literature and film. Alongside these explorations, practical writing exercises will enable students to develop their own creative responses to urban space.

Assessment Criteria


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.


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 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

  1. To develop an understanding of key theoretical approaches to the urban space

  2. To explore and develop original creative responses to the city in fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry.

  3. To become aware of how key historical processes have influenced the development of the urban environment and its cultural representation.

  4. To gain an awareness of the city as a space to negotiate identity

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Reading as a Writer 30
COURSEWORK Creative Portfolio and Commentary

Creative Portfolio of 2,500 words Commentary of 1,000 words


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 11
Private study 178
Seminar 11

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
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • 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.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • 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


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Courses including this module