Creative Writing: Prose Poetics and Practice

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Module code


  • Level 2
  • Semester 1
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


If you are serious about your reading of literature and about the quality of your own creative work in both poetry and prose, and willing to be challenged by the processes of learning through practice, then this demanding Module might be right for you.

A Programme of activity that is about reading, thinking... and writing

Our explorations in reading and writing are of literary, aesthetic nature, and take "Memory and Place" as the times ‚Äí investigating the reading and writing of real and remembered spaces, and also exploring the play of imagination on historical/real events and locations in fiction, creative essaying (creative non-fiction) and poetry. The module will ask you to write to prompts and exercises, read to learn and also situate your own writing. Unfortunately, as we will be reading and writing about real and remembered spaces, there will be little emphasis on science or speculative fiction.

And then thinking some more, and then writing and and rewriting...

The module emphasises reading like a writer - that is, reading with attentiveness to the aesthetic properties of language, to the expressive choices you make as a writer, paying attention as much to form as to content. Prose poetics is the best way to describe the kind of writing you will be learning to make in this Module - in fiction and non-fiction - though there will be room to explore the writing of poetry too, if you should choose it.

In Creative Lectures you will be encountering a range of texts, reading them aloud and responding to them to share your ideas, as well as producing some written work, quickly and regularly in timed exercises in response to those texts. Alongside the reading and writing of fiction and poetic prose or prose poetry, you will also develop essaying writing as a creative intellectual skill, and will be introduced to a range of creative non-fiction, and to creative criticism.

In Workshops, you will be working on your own workbooks and writing projects that will be set for you in line with the lecture programme. See the reading list below to get an idea of the kind of prose we will be encountering in this Module. It sets a standard!

In addition to taught writing hours, you will be expected to read and reflect on set titles on the Reading List throughout the term, create and contribute regularly to your weekly Writing Workbook, and to complete and further develop the exercises that have been set in class, working towards a folio that will be submitted at the end of the semester for assessment.

If you intend joining this course, you might want to start your reading journey now. The texts provided are a starting point only, and as your writing develops, so will your reading expand.


Professor Kirsty GunnDr Gail Low

Teaching staff

Professor Kirsty GunnDr Gail Low


The programme is convened by Professor Kirsty Gunn and Dr Gail Low who deliver the five four hour CreativeLecture series that is the main body of the teaching. Four WordCraft seminars of two hours each supplement these Lectures and are taught by a range of published writers and poets. In addition there is an end of term two hour Final Remarks session, and three two hours “Writers Read” events which you will be expected to attend.

Throughout the term, you will be contributing to a Writers' "WorkBook", which will be assessed informally over that period, and will submit a mid-term close reading essay to reflect your reading. At the end of term, your assessment is based on a  portfolio of writing, accompanied by one piece of critical and reflective essay to support the work submitted in the folio, as well as the Writing WorkBooks that you have been creating throughout.


This module is assessed as follows:

Coursework: 5000 words in total,

  • mid-term essay (2000 words - 20%),
  • end of year WorkBook comprising weekly creative and critical entries, (1000 words - 30%),
  • one longer piece of creative writing of a finished standard (1000 words - 30%)
  • one essay contextualising work produced and reflecting on it (1000 words - 20%)


Neil Gunn, Highland River (Edinburgh and London: Canongate, 1997)

Carson McCullers, Member of the Wedding (Penguin)

Mark Slouka, "Dog" - short story only

D H Lawrence, "The Blind Man" available at

Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain (Edinburgh and London: Canongate, 2011)

Derek Walcott, “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory”

Chris Arthur, "Chestnuts" and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Briefcase" from On the Shoreline of Knowledge (Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2012); both essays are available for download.

"Ars Poetica and the Essay" (available from

"A Blind Spot in the Ornithology of Letters" (

Lia Purpura, "Glaciology" Agni Magazine 60 (available at  and "The Space Between", Ecotone 2(1), 2006, 114-118 (available online through Project Muse) in On Looking (New York: Sarabande Books, 2006)

Access the online reading list system