Module code: ELIM058

Module Overview

Drawing on a rich and global variety of contemporary texts, this module will allow you to consider 21st century literature from new vantage points. As a counterpart to other contemporary modules looking closely at theory, this course will focus on contemporary literature, exploring 21stC literary forms, modes and genres including game writing, autofiction, speculative fiction, specialist poetry, Hypertext, and experimental fiction. These will be considered alongside traditional modes such as Realism, Romance, and genres such as travel writing and historical fiction, enabling you to build on the knowledge about literary history that you will have acquired in previous semesters. The module will provide students with a grounding in 21stC literary innovations that will be explored from from diverse critical and creative perspectives. The all-group lectures/seminars will introduce the formal aspects of the literary forms, modes, while the tailored workshops will consist of practical exercises and discussion designed to allow you to engage with the material as literary critics and creative writers.

Through this dual format, you will switch between your role as learner and as a producer of texts and knowledge, building the confidence of your professional voice while simultaneously allowing you to enquire and explore. To this end, you will also have a choice between two forms of final assessments: a critical essay applying the new approaches to a text you are passionate about, or a creative portfolio with a critical commentary, which will also help you build your portfolio as a writer. You will receive detailed feedback on all your work and will be invited to shape the seminar with your own feedback.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

MATTHEIS Lena (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 107

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Exact module content may vary from year to year, but indicative content includes: 

  • Game Writing

  • Autofiction

  • Speculative Fiction

  • Specialist Poetry

  • Historical Fiction

  • Hypertext

  • Experimental Fiction

  • Contemporary Realism

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Essay (3000 words) OR Creative Portfolio (2500 words) plus Critical Commentary (500 words) 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes.

Seminar and workshop discussions with ongoing tutor feedback are designed to assess professional/practical skills in communicating ideas orally and transferable skills in working individually and collaboratively. These also assess subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of 21stC literature.

Workshops will also assess cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in the analysis of literary form and language, as well as the creative application of such forms, modes and genres.

The 3000-word critical essay assesses subject knowledge relating to the close analysis of form, meaning and language, as well as cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking, and professional/practical skills in communicating ideas in writing. It also assesses subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of 21stC literature. The 3000-word essay further assesses transferable skills, namely the ability to conduct research for written work in an organised and critical fashion and to develop and communicate imaginative and rigorous arguments. Practiting research and writing skills directly contributes to employability but also demands resourcefulness and resilience from students.

The 2500-word creative portfolio and 500-word critical commentary encourages the development of students' skills in creative writing (prose fiction, drama and/or poetry) and their understanding of the context of their work in historical and cultural terms, as well as in terms of other creative writing in the field. Productive and informed critical reflection on both the literary writing itself and the secondary material that surrounds it will provide a context for their creative writing on themes related to developments in the literary marketplace.

The summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • A critical essay (3000 words) OR a creative portfolio (2500 words) + critical commentary (500 words)

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative 'feed forward' is provided through seminar discussion and tutor feedback in seminars.

Module aims

  • The module aims to: Introduce students to literary innovations in the 21st C and consider their emergence in the context of
    postmodern culture
  • Critically assess the impact of new forms, modes, and genres on the literary marketplace
  • Equip students to identify and interrogate the ways in which such innovations interact with other media
  • Enable students to identify and critique literary influences and reinventions
  • Encourage students to develop their own writerly styles and abilities in the light of 21stC literary and creative developments

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will be able to: recognise the cultural importance of 21st C literary innovations KC
002 Identify the cultural contexts that have informed such innovations K
003 Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and engagement with theoretical debates that inform contemporary literary and cultural productions CT
004 Analyse key developments in literary forms, modes and genres CPT
005 Develop a creative project informed by a literary form, mode, or genre explored in this module [Creative Writing students] KCPT

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 deliver subject knowledge to develop cognitive/ analytical skills; to develop in-depth transferable, practical, and professional skills; and to acknowledge the different learning environments required by literary critics and creative writers. The module places emphasis on student-led learning, and enables students to develop their skills in analysing, communicating, and debating ideas. The module content is research-led and asks students to develop a sophisticated understanding of formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of 21stC literary forms, modes and genres. This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at FHEQ Level 7, is designed to develop subject knowledge and to develop transferable and professional skills, with an emphasis on sophisticated student-led involvement, critical analyses and discussion.

The module will be delivered through alternating weeks consisting of lectures and seminar/ workshop formats. Topics are taught in 2-week blocks consisting of a 2hr lecture/seminar in one week, followed by 2 x 2hr workshops/seminars tailored to suit the respective needs of literature and creative writing students.

Guided learning is provided through secondary sources on SurreyLearn that the students are expected to read in advance.

Weeks devoted to the lecture/seminar model produce captured content, and students are expected to engage in Independent Learning devoted to primary and contextual reading, research, and assessment development.

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: ELIM058

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:

The module content as well as its assessment strategies contribute directly to employability as they equip students with specialist writing skills and allow them to sharpen their own perspective of contemporary literature and culture. The texts produced in the seminar could become part of a professional portfolio. The quality of these texts will be enhanced and assured by several different types of feedback, in the workshops and for the final assessment, which will empower the students to view their own work critically and build the resilience and resourcefulness that any (creative or other) writer needs to research, write, edit and rewrite. Considering the variety and global breadth of reading materials, students will also have to be resourceful in order to approach not just unfamilar genres but also potentially unfamilIar cultures and contexts (Global and Cultural Capabilities).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Writing MA 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
English Literature MA 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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.