Contemporary Poetry module (EN41003)

On this page


Module code


  • Level 4
  • Semester 1
  • 24 places
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


This module focuses on some of the most engaging and original poetry written in Britain and Ireland over the last 50 years, with an emphasis on innovation.

If you study this module, you will develop your skills in the close analysis and criticism of contemporary poetry, including the ability to analyse the subtle and complex ideas and language which constitute the distinctive mode of poetic knowledge.

We also explore some influences and contexts, for poetry: we will read poets' work in relation to other publications (such as autobiography and fiction), in relation to movements and anthologies, and in relation to 'poetics' (ideas and theories of poetry).


Professor Andrew Roberts


This module will be taught by one weekly one-hour lecture followed by one weekly two-hour seminar over 11 weeks.


Coursework makes up 100% of the assessment, as follows:

  • 3,000 word essay (40%)
  • 4,000 word essay (60%)


Movements and Modes: New Lines, ed Robert Conquest (1956); The New Poetry, ed. Al Alvarez (rev. edition, Penguin, 1966); The new British poetry, ed. Gillian Allnutt et al (Paladin, 1988); The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (Penguin, 1993).

City Visions: Roy Fisher, poems from The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 (Bloodaxe, 2005); Robert Hampson, Seaport (Shearsman Books, 2008).

Solitidude, Spirituality, Magic and Scepticism: John Burnside, The Light Trap (Jonathan Cape, 2002), A Lie About My Father (Vintage, 2007) (autobiography) and A Summer of Drowning (Vintage, 2012) (novel).

Ecology and Landscape: Kathleen Jamie, The Overhaul (Picador, 2012), Findings (Graywolf Press, 2007) and Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World (The Experiment, 2013) (essays); Thomas A. Clark, The Path to the Sea (Arc, 2005) and The Hundred Thousand Places (Carcanet, 2009).

The Post-Lyrical Self: Denise Riley, poems from Mop, Mop Georgette (Reality Street, 1993); The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (Stanford University Press, 2000) (essays).

Poetry and Photography: Paul Muldoon and Norman McBeath, Plan B (Enitharmon, 2009); Norman McBeath and Robert Crawford, Simonides (Easel Press, 2011); Thom Gunn and Ander Gunn, Positives (1966; Faber and Faber, 1973).

Digital Poetry: Brian Kim Stefans, The Dream Life of Letters, John Cayley with Giles Perring, 'overboard', Melinda Rackham and Damien Everett, 'carrier (becoming symborg)'.

Myth and Irony: Eavan Boland, poems from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1995); Paul Muldoon, poems from Poems 1968-1998 (Faber, 2001).

Access the online reading list system


This module is available on following courses: