module specification

SJ4003 - Theory and Practice of Poetry (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Theory and Practice of Poetry
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
192 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 20%   10 mins group presentation - analysis of two poems for period, genre, theme, or form.
Coursework 30%   Essay 2000 words
Coursework 50%   Reflective writing 2500 words - portfolio of criticism and commentary on poetry OR student's own poetry + reflective
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

The module Theory and Practice of Poetry will provide students with a wide-ranging introduction to reading poetry and to the great variety of poetic forms and genres, from sonnets to free verse. It will introduce students to poetic literary history and give students the skills to identify key poets including Shakespeare, Pope, Wordsworth and Eliot, and also poetic forms and poetic conventions. It will conclude with an exploration of contemporary poetry and poetics. Throughout the module, students will be provided with the skills and opportunities to read published poetry, write their own poetry, and discuss classic poetry, their own work and the work of other students in a supportive environment facilitated by their tutor. The module is taught in weekly three hour sessions comprising a lecture and seminar or workshop, and a weekly hour of guided blended learning or tutorial time and is assessed by presentation, essay, reflective writing or creative writing with a commentary.

Module aims

This module aims to:

• Consider a range of critical and practical skills required to read and write poetry
• Examine a variety of poetic forms and genres
• Explore the development of poetry throughout (generally British-based) literary history
• Identify key aspects of contemporary poetry


Students will be introduced to a range of key poetic concepts for close-reading poetry, such as use of language, image, line, rhythm, musicality, and poetic form. The module will also provide students with an overview of poetic history and the key genres and poets of specific periods such as the Renaissance, the Neo-Classical, the Romantic and the Modernist period. Forms and genres introduced will include fixed forms such as the sonnet, genres such as the dramatic monologue, and the various uses of free verse in modernist and contemporary poetry. Throughout the module, students will be provided with opportunities to both read and write poetry, strengthening their knowledge of the connection between creative and critical practice. In the later weeks of the module students will be able to specialise in their chosen field of creative or critical writing, having practised both approaches in the initial weeks.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught by a programme of weekly sessions for each of the 30 teaching weeks of the academic year. Generally the sessions will comprise a lecture followed by a seminar or workshop. In all cases seminars and workshops will include time for small group work, short presentations, individual writing and comprehension tasks (all allowing students to develop employability skills), support from the tutor and reinforcement of the weekly lecture’s themes. The lectures will remain pertinent to both disciplines throughout. The module will be enhanced by guest speakers and published poets where appropriate and will also include field trips to London-based venues such as the Poetry Library and the Poetry Café where students will complete writing and research projects pertinent to future employability. Independent learning will include guided reading, weekly writing tasks and use of tutor-moderated online forum. Tutors will make full use of weblearn and students will be directed to other websites and blogs of relevance and will be invited to research their own. The Personal Development Portfolio will focus on formative assessments and reflection on the connections between their critical and creative work.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to

1. Analyse poetry through application of key poetic terms and critical concepts
2. Evaluate key aspects of literary history
3. Engage in oral and written presentation of their ideas
4. Develop an understanding of contemporary poetic practice

Assessment strategy

• Formative assessment will comprise short weekly written exercises both creative and critical, and contributions to seminars and workshops
• Summative assessment will comprise: oral and written presentation and analyses of poems; essays demonstrating knowledge of form and genre, and reflective writing on the development of contemporary poetics


Julia Casterton, Writing Poetry: a Practical Guide, Crowood Press, 2005
Tom Furniss and Michael Bath, Reading Poetry : an Introduction Prentice Hall, 2007 (2nd edition)
Steve Kowit, In the Palm of Their Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop, Tilbury House, 1995
John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook, OUP, 2005 (2nd edition)
Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook,Harcourt, 1995
John Redmond, How To Write A Poem, Blackwell, 2006
Wainwright, Jeffrey, Poetry: The Basics, Routledge, 2004


Ferguson, Margaret ed., and others, The Norton Anthology of Poetry(5th ed., Norton, 2005; or earlier editions)

Neil Astley, ed., Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, Bloodaxe, 2002
Strand, Mark and Eavan Boland (eds),The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Norton, 2001

The Poetry Archive:
The Poetry Foundation: