Module code: ELI3034

Module Overview

This module provides students with the opportunity to explore the challenges of producing a large scale portfolio of creative writing accompanied by self-reflective critical commentary. This Dissertation portfolio may consist of a single extended piece of writing or a collection of pieces of a shorter length. An agreed word count for students submitting poetry should be negotiated with their supervisor, although as a rule 5,000 words of creative prose is considered equivalent to 150 lines of poetry. Each student will be assigned a supervisor who will assist them in choosing their subject matter and literary approach, and who will provide advice, encouragement and formative feedback over the course of the writing process, as well as suggesting relevant reading material which may help inspire or critically locate the project. This module also allows students to reflect at length on the project’s rigourous relationship to previous work in the field, form or genre, on the writing processes and thinking behind the creative choices made, and to locate the work productively in literary and theoretical contexts. As well as the dissertation itself students will undertake a formative presentation in semester 1, and work on developing self-reflective skills through completing a progress log with their supervisors.

This module connects to other modules on the programme undertaken by the students and can act as a culmination of their studies, in that the students can bring together and build from strands from earlier modules that they have particularly liked and excelled at, or act as a complement to other modules that the student has enjoyed but where they wish to use this dissertation module as an opportunity to explore and develop a different area that they wish to write on. As such, this module can connect with any of the modules students have studied across their degree, and allows them to tailor their pathway through the degree, and the degree itself, in their own way.


Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

DOVE Danielle (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 45

ECTS Credits: 22.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 12

Independent Learning Hours: 378

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 50

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

In order to give students training in the research skills needed to plan and complete an independent and large-scale research project, this module includes a range of workshops which are compulsory for all students.

Indicative workshop content might include:

Introduction and Research Methods (start of semester 1)
Critical Commentary (mid-semester 1)
Drafting and Editing exercises (end of semester 1)
Creative Piece (start of semester 2)
Workshopping (mid-semester 2)
Troubleshooting (prior to Easter break)


Assessment Deadlines

Dissertation outline proposal submitted in level 5 (Year 2) or P (Placement Year) of the degree: [circa late March of the year before the Dissertation module commences]

Formative presentation: semester 1 of the year of the Dissertation module.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:
•    their ability to identify a creative project area and to realise this as a large piece of work in specific prose, poetic or other writing form or forms
•    their creative ability in writing on themes or in techniques related to their own interests as creative writers
•    the development in their critical writing skills in analysing texts from a range of genres
•    their understanding of the context of their work in relation to other creative work and critical ideas
•    the student’s awareness of global and cultural issues, possibly including ecological and cultural sustainability issues and of the context of their work in these terms
•    their development of research and writing skills, highly prized by modern employers

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:
An 8000 word creative writing piece (for prose projects; or the equivalent in another creative form) PLUS a 2000 word self-reflective critical commentary (plus completed Supervision Log)

Formative assessment and feedback

The summative assessment is an opportunity for students to develop their writing into a polished piece of creative work in a form/genre of their choosing. The Critical Commentary element of the portfolio offers an opportunity for students to employ their research skills to determine and develop the literary context of their creative work to better understand where they may fit in a contemporary literary landscape (e.g. literary markets, readerships, or specific publication streams).

Verbal feedback and formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through one-to-one supervisor advice and feedback, as well as in special dissertation skills session seminar from tutors and peers. Students will have the opportunity to present samples of their work to the class in this context. Students are able to submit a 2000-word extract to their supervisors for written and verbal feedback (6 weeks prior to the deadline), which helps them better finalise their final summative assessment, i.e. the creative writing dissertation. As such, writing, presentation and critical analysis skills will be developed and honed which will feed forward to the summative assessment at the end of the module. There is the option of a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between supervisor, tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and dissertation related writing exercises.

Module aims

  • The module aims to: Encourage students to reflect on and engage with the specific challenges of attempting a longer piece (or collection) of creative writing
  • Help students identify the specific creative challenges posed by a project of this kind, and to reflect on and engage with these challenges in a productive fashion
  • Help students develop confidence in making creative decisions in a well-informed and productive way, and build the ability to explain and justify them lucidly
  • Assist students in developing more effective personal writing habits, as well as more effective habits of editing and revision
  • Engage students in independent guided research, exploring the history of the form, genre, mode and/or literary techniques they are employing in their work, as well as the key critical and theoretical issues raised by their project
  • Position students to produce a piece of critical writing which draws on their own creative practice and critical research in an informed and insightful manner

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have: produced a portfolio of high quality creative writing K
002 Developed knowledge of, and the ability to analyse, a specific interest as a research area for their large project and the in-depth subject knowledge required for their topic by undertaking, with advice from their supervisor, independent creative and critical research into their chosen area of writerly interest/topic KC
003 Developed a high level of critical and theoretical awareness through the research process as well as the ability to think self-reflectively about their own skills and practices KCPT
004 An understanding of how to locate such analyses in their broader political, historical and socio-cultural cultural, historical, socio-political and environmental contexts K
005 Further developed their ability to research, interpret, and evaluate sources, debates, and ideas independently and as an independent researcher but also as part of a group of independent researchers as facilitated by the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops provided in both semesters, as well as have honed their skills in research methodology, independent learning and time and project management CPT
006 Developed further their ability to structure and communicate complex arguments in written form and gained further workshopping and editing skills, as part of the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops provided, and honed their writing, planning, editing and structuring skills in their creative writing, all of which will stand them in good stead in the final stretch of their degree of their degree and beyond as professional critics and writers and members of writerly communities and the literary industries, for example, as well as in a host of other employment roles in which these skills are highly desirable KT
007 Drawn more fully on their creative practice to inform their critical thinking, and vice versa and demonstrated further developed awareness of their creative process though the safe space of the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops where students will receive support and advice in their journey to becoming a writer from both the workshop leader and fellow student creative writers as well as written competently and confidently in their chosen form though interaction with research materials and through discussion and feedback with their supervisor and with fellow dissertation researchers on the module KCP
008 More fully developed their sense of their own practice as writers and/or that of other writers¿ composition practices that are relevant to their area of research and writing interest (including writing, film and that in other visual media) and also developed a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers, and to other writers, and begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary writing KCP

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’ critical skills in analysing texts from a range of genres: prose, fiction, poetry, drama, etc as appropriate to their creative project by developing their familiarity with a range of literary techniques and devices, as well as their confidence in using critical and theoretical language though applied independent research assisted by their supervisor.
•    Help students produce innovative, imaginative and exciting publication standard creative work through applied independent research guided by their supervisor and though sharing work for feedback from both their supervisor and from tutors and peers in the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops, thus helping them engage in exploring and effectively realising their creative ideas as practical and inventive larger creative pieces or portfolios of smaller pieces
•    Assist students in locating research materials in creative, critical and literary contexts by providing special creative writing dissertation skills workshops throughout both semesters aimed at addressing common and specific issues that arise in dissertation research
•    Bolster student resilience and resourcefulness in what can be an isolating learning experience through regular one to one supervision session with their supervisor and through the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops where both tutors and fellow creative writing dissertation research students will share encouragement, knowledge and experiences in the safe space of the workshop setting.  Other additional session may also be made available such Dissertation Bootcamp sessions as required
•    Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed analyses of literary texts and engage with literary criticism by developing their experience in drawing on their own critical thinking and by developing independent research skills through the special creative writing dissertation skills workshops and detailed supervisor feedback on writing samples. Also, students are encouraged to take advantage of academic writing workshops provided by the School.
•    Facilitate students’ productive reflection on both the creative and critical agendas of creative writing and literary studies and on their own relationship to theoretical positions by developing their ability to reflect clearly and in an informed manner on their creative and critical goals and how they have attempted to achieve them, in planning, writing, rewriting and editing a large-scale project.

The learning and teaching methods include a combination of one-to-one supervision sessions with an allocated academic supervisor, special creative writing dissertation skills workshops, captured content, guided learning and independent learning and includes opportunities in the schedule of interactive seminars for students to present their own to the class and respond to the work of other creative writing dissertation research students in a supportive, constructive and open manner.

Designed to help students reflect on and apply their learning to critical research and writing, the seminar environment acts as a safe space for developing and exchanging ideas, support, writerly practices, critical thinking and writing skills.

Students are encouraged, in presenting their research to consider varied materials such as, for example, lexical texts, visual materials, video and sound objects, etc with a view to increasing student accessibility.


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: ELI3034

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas: 

Resourcefulness & Resilience: This module most represents resourcefulness and resilience within the overall programme structure, because it is entirely focused on an independent project designed and led by the individual student, with guidance from a supervisor. Students must set their own (in consultation with their supervisor) research plan, reading lists, project design, and writing process to achieve a polished summative assessment. It requires a high level of independent, guided learning which will allow students to practice their resourcefulness and resilience as researchers and creative writers. 

Employability: While the content of each student’s independent project will vary (thereby covering a variety of pillars depending on their chosen programme of research and writing for the module), the underlying skills of independent learning, time management, organisation, and structuring/designing a project are desirable and transferable skills that underpin many essential skills that employers seek in fields related to the degree programme. 

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Although the focus of each student’s final creative writing dissertation project is unique, every completed project represents a sustained, sophisticated and nuanced presentation and exploration of some aspect of writing in its cultural context. An exercise of this length and sophistication also always involves a significant degree of self-reflection and increased understanding of the student’s own subject position and inherited cultural assumptions. The dissertation thus inherently enhances cultural literacy and the student’s capacity to think critically and sensitively about their own and other cultures.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory 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 2024/5 academic year.