Creative Dissertation

Module code: EN7034

Module co-ordinator: Dr Emma Parker

Please note that places on this module are limited and will be allocated on the basis of performance and potential as demonstrated in previous modules.

This module enables students to develop the skills gained on one or both of the creative option modules (EN7133 and EN7135) in an imaginative work or group of works more independently conceived and more substantial in length and ambition. The module aims to further students' skills in the deployment and control of fictional and/or poetic genres and registers, and to foster their ability to initiate and carry out independent creative work in fiction and/or poetry to a standard of presentation appropriate for publication. As well as developing skills in written communication to a high level, it aims to develop students' sensitivity and understanding as readers; through composition and disciplined reflection, students will deepen their engagement with modern literature.

The main work of the module is the composition of an imaginative work or group of works in poetry and/or prose. Students choose the subject and approach for their creative dissertation, which may arise from work they have written on one of the creative option modules and which are then developed and revised with the help and advice of the supervisor. Students must not submit work that has already been submitted and assessed for either of the creative option modules (EN7133 and EN7135); if you have any questions about this, speak to your supervisor. The penalties for self-plagiarism are severe.

In addition, students compose a reflective commentary describing the creative process behind their imaginative work, and write and submit (although not for formal assessment) a short prefatory synopsis outlining the creative work's nature and aims.

The presentation

Proposals for the dissertation are presented at a special seminar in the summer term.

The presentation should...

  • Not be any longer than five minutes
  • Give a general outline of the topic and address two or three specific issues relating to it
  • Comment on the appeal and potential of the project
  • Include a list of key research questions
  • Indicate methodology and, where appropriate, relevant theoretical frameworks
  • Consider how the material in the dissertation might be best organised
  • Identify gaps in knowledge and outline areas that require development
  • Comment on any problems that may be encountered
  • Be of a professional standard (including, for instance, the use of a handout and PowerPoint)
  • Demonstrate good presentation skills

The written proposal

Students are required to submit a written proposal on the Dissertation Proposal form.

The proposal must include a title, a brief outline of the subject (no more than 200 words), an account of its aims and methods (no more than 400 words), and a short bibliography featuring key primary and secondary sources.

For a Creative Dissertation, the questions that must be considered include:

  • What genre(s) will I be adopting? What characters will feature? What themes am I going to explore? 
  • Why am I writing in this genre and about these characters and themes?
  • How do I propose to use the genre, characters, and themes? What effects do I hope to achieve? How does my work relate to works I have read or studied?


This is an independent project but at every stage, from conception through composition and revision to final submission, staff are available to offer support and feedback. With the help of the supervisor's advice and guidance, students plan, develop, revise, and improve their work through a series of drafts. They are provided with up to five hours of one-to-one supervision and must meet with their supervisor on a formal basis on at least three occasions during the process of writing the dissertation, which is generally between May and September. Supervisors may read and offer feedback on all of the rough draft but no more than one third of the final draft.


By the end of the module, students will be able to...

  • Identify a viable extended creative project consisting of fiction and/or poetry
  • Present a short paper on their dissertation using appropriate handouts and audiovisual aids
  • Organise research material relevant to the accomplishment of the project
  • Compose fictional prose and/or verse showing control of register and genre
  • Organise and structure their creative work appropriately and present it in a format suitable for publication
  • Improve their creative work through a process of drafting
  • Reflect clearly on their creative work, showing an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses
  • Situate their creative work in a literary (and, where appropriate, critical) context
  • Show genuine insights into modern literature in a piece of extended creative work and a reflective commentary
  • Demonstrate the creative writing skills necessary to proceed to an MPhil or PhD

Students must submit:

  • Creative project (80% of module mark): this may consist of around 12,000 words of fiction (the first few chapters of a novel, an entire novella, or between two and four short stories) or it may consist of between 20 and 30 pages of poetry (normally 12 to 20 poems; fewer longer poems may be allowed) or it may consist of a portfolio combining fiction and poetry, which will normally comprise two short stories totalling around 7,500 words and between 10 and 20 pages of poetry (six to ten poems).
  • Reflective commentary of around 3,000 words (20% of module mark): this will describe the creative process behind the development of the student's project. It must cover the significant decisions made and challenges encountered in attempting to realise the creative aims, and a context, or contexts, in existing genres and published literature (and, where appropriate, literary criticism) from which the work emerged and in which it can be understood. It might, for instance, examine how and why the aims and ambitions of the project changed, or how literary, critical, or theoretical works studied on the MA influenced the project, or how the project yielded certain insights into the literature studied on the MA. 
  • A synopsis of not more than 500 words outlining the creative project’s nature and aims.
  • One earlier draft of the creative project.

Preparation and submission guidelines are provided in the course handbook.