Module code: ELI3058

Module Overview

The module asks students what it means to write a life. We consider the function of auto/biography and the ways in which its writers have reflected on the possibilities of truth-telling, the significance of subjectivity and the distillation of narrative from the everyday. It explores writing that bears witness to war and injustice, that blurs the lines between fact and fiction, and re-makes the self through bold experimentation with language.
The module examines a variety of forms and modes that Life Writing might take - biography, autobiography, diaries, poetry, journals and others – and gives students the opportunity to create and/or analyse these forms in their assessment.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

PALMER Beth (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 8

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative list of topics to be covered:
Myth-making and Myth-Busting
Bearing Witness
Poetry and Life-Writing
Letters, Diaries, Journals, Memoirs, Interviews
Collective biography

Metabiography and Formal Experimentation

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3000 word critical essay OR 2400 word Life Writing piece (fictive or non-fictive) plus 600 word critical commentary 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate critical and/or
creative engagement with forms of life writing and to enable the achievement of the module’s learning

Assessment Pattern

Formative: creative/critical journal to be kept weekly and discussed in class in written/audio/video/text/image form – or a variety of those methods.

- 3000 word critical essay
- 2400 word Life Writing piece (fictive or non-fictive) plus 600 word critical commentary
If you wish to submit a creative piece in a form other than prose you are welcome to (see further guidance for word-lengths/duration)

Module aims

  • • Become sophisticated and sensitive readers of life writing texts
  • • Gain an enhanced and theorised understanding of the relationships between a writer’s life and their work
  • • Analyse and appraise styles and techniques used in life writing and to apply these critical insights to their own writing practices or published texts
  • • Engage with the conceptual frameworks of a variety of life writing texts
  • • Research and evaluate a range of textual sources, debates, and ideas, and to communicate their conclusions clearly and accurately in writing;
  • • Discuss, debate, and exchange complex ideas as part of a group whilst also work independently on individual projects.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 • Analyse and appraise styles and techniques used in life writing and apply these critical insights to their own writing practices and/or the works of other authors CK
002 • Engage with a range of research methodologies (including action-based research) and creative practices through work within and beyond the seminar setting CKP
003 • Understand, describe and explain the nature, role and significance of the creative and/or critical choices they make as writers and critics CKP
004 • Locate their own critical and/or creative writing in relevant theoretical, literary and historical contexts CKP
005 • Work as a group in the production of collaborative responses in the workshop context CP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

 Hone and develop students’ writing skills in academic writing, and/or creative writing by helping students understand the context of various types of life writing

 Assist students in locating life writing and their own critical and/or creative work in historical, cultural or theoretical contexts by developing a strong sense of the various techniques and modes of life writing.

 Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed academic writing and/or creative life writing by helping them gain significant confidence and ability in critical analysis and thinking and/or an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers of biography, autobiography, or other forms of life writing.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Two contact hours per week over the semester. Classes will take the form of 2 hour seminars.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELI3058

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2022/3 academic year.