module specification

SJ7109 - Creative Nonfiction (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Creative Nonfiction
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
161 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   5000-word portfolio
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module explores creative nonfiction, focusing on researching and writing different kinds of narrative such as history, life writing (biography and memoir), travel writing, science writing, sports writing, nature writing, reportage and literary journalism. You will study some leading examples of the genre. You will  learn to identify suitable stories and apply techniques from both creative writing and long-form journalism to bring them to life in your own original portfolio of creative nonfiction. You will  develop an understanding of the market for creative nonfiction and the ethical issues that can arise, along with an awareness of the history and cultural context of the form, and emerging, innovative new trends.

Creative nonfiction is a flourishing genre, opening up for novice writers a variety of pathways into publication. It bridges the Creative Writing and Feature and Arts Journalism core modules, so that together they provide you with a suite of advanced writing skills. It is a particularly valuable component of an inclusive curriculum since it encourages you  to draw on your  personal experience, to explore different ways of  communicating this and to address the challenges of turning it into publishable writing.

The module will enable you to transform research and personal experience into creative nonfiction, to enhance your writing and editing skills through advanced writing workshop activities and to develop your understanding of the different markets and outlets for creative nonfiction and therefore the publishability of your writing.

• You will learn how to plan, write and edit attractive pieces of creative nonfiction, with an understanding of how to structure them for different markets
• You will develop a critical awareness of the creative processes and research techniques involved in producing your own and others creative nonfiction
• You will learn how to identify the main characteristics of narrative nonfiction and be able to analyse creative nonfiction as a genre
• You will be able to learn independently as part of your continuing professional development

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? YES


The syllabus will develop students’ ability to identify the subject matter and potential readerships of creative nonfiction, and to devise, plan and write it in a variety of forms and orientations. (LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5)

It will introduce them to a wide variety of texts, and develop their ability to reflect upon and discuss both published examples of creative nonfiction, the work of their fellow students and their own writing in the genre. (LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching provides the guidance and foundation to ensure that independent study is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks. The module is taught by a programme of weekly sessions over the semester. The sessions combine workshops, writing practice, seminar discussion, and research tasks. Students are required to reflect critically on their learning and on their personal creative practice, through peer and tutor feedback, workshops, and tutorials. The module may include guest speakers and/or guided visits to external venues. Independent learning will include guided reading, weekly research and writing tasks, set texts and preparation for seminars/workshops. Students are encouraged to carry out independent research and incorporate it critically into their writings.

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches. Information is provided through a range of means and sources to minimise and remove barriers to successful progress. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework. A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students. Activities, especially workshopping, will foster peer-to-peer community-building, support for learning, and reflective learning. Students’ final coursework will include an analytic commentary in which they reflect on the development of their work.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-based learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal and career development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress through their programme, to understand the professional environment of their discipline, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes


On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

Subject specific skills

LO1 plan, develop and write attractive and original pieces of creative nonfiction, with an understanding of how to structure them appropriately for different print and multimedia platforms and markets

Knowledge and understanding

LO2 apply critical awareness of the creative processes and research techniques involved in the production of their own and others' creative nonfiction

Cognitive and intellectual abilities

LO3 identify the main characteristics of narrative nonfiction and demonstrate the ability to reflect analytically upon creative nonfiction as a genre

Transferable skills
LO4 learn independently for the purposes of continuing professional development.

Behaviours and values
LO5 demonstrate creativity, inclusivity and social responsibility in your creative nonfiction practice


Assessment strategy

Students will produce a portfolio addressing the module’s learning outcomes through the tasks and criteria as set out in the assessment brief. These will be detailed at the start of the module.

Typically the portfolio will total 5000 words and comprise a) two or three pieces of creative nonfiction with different orientations; b) a reflective and analytical commentary, with appropriate evidence and reference to critical reading, on the planning and research involved in the development and writing of one of the submitted pieces of creative nonfiction.