module specification

SJ7109 - Creative Nonfiction (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Creative Nonfiction
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
161 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
39 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio of two or three pieces of creative nonfiction, plus reflective commentary, 4000 words
Running in 2022/23

(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. Students study some leading examples of the genre. They learn to identify suitable stories and apply techniques from both creative writing and long-form journalism to bring them to life. They develop an understanding of the market for creative nonfiction and the ethical issues that arise, along with an awareness of the history and cultural context of the form, and emerging new genres.

Creative nonfiction is a flourishing genre, opening up for novice writers a variety of pathways into publication. It also serves as a bridge between the Creative Writing and Feature Journalism modules and so helps students bring together the skills that they learn in these other two core modules. In addition, since storytelling has become such a prized skill, it provides students with an opportunity to develop their narrative abilities, which in turn serves them well in the Digital Storytelling module. It is a particularly valuable component of an inclusive curriculum since it allows students to draw on their personal experience, to explore different ways of organising and communicating it and to address the challenges of turning it into publishable writing.

The module will enable students to transform research and personal experience into creative nonfiction, to enhance their writing and editing skills through advanced writing workshop activities and to develop their understanding of the different markets and outlets for creative nonfiction and develop the employability of their writing accordingly.


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

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

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module is delivered in a three-hour workshop setting. Most sessions involve students analysing, discussing, devising ideas for, planning, researching and writing creative nonfiction. Other elements include: critical appraisal of published examples of creative nonfiction; sharing and mutual critical support of each other's work in pairs, small groups and with the class as a whole; discussion of potential outlets and markets for creative nonfiction, especially in London; individual research activity in the Learning Centre, including the appropriate use of IT. Students are expected to spend the requisite amount of independent study on all the above activities as well as conduct empirical research or field visits.

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.

Assessment strategy

Formal assessment is based on a portfolio consisting of a) two or three pieces of creative nonfiction with different orientations; b) a reflective and analytical commentary (750-1000 words), 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 – the creative nonfiction and commentary together totalling 4000 words. The commentary needs to be analytic, drawing on examples of the genre published in print or online/e-book, as well as academic texts about creative nonfiction.


Cline, S. and Angier. C. (2010) The Arvon Book of Life Writing, London: Bloomsbury
Gerard, P. (2002) Writing Creative Nonfiction, Cincinnati, OH: Story Press
Gutkind, L. (1997) The Art of Creative Nonfiction, New York: John Wiley

Core Texts:
Capote, T. (1965) In Cold Blood, London: Penguin
Macdonald, H. (2014) H is for Hawk, London: Jonathan Cape

Other Texts:
Darlington, M. (2012) Otter Country, London: Granta
Dee, T. and Holmes, R. (2018) Ground Work: Writing on People and Places, London: Jonathan Cape
De Waal, E. (2010) The Hare with Amber Eyes, London: Vintage
Dyer, G. (2015) 'Based on a true story': the fine line between fact and fiction, The Observer, 6.12.15 [Available at:]
Eggers, D. (2000) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, London: Picador
Gavron, J. (2015) Woman on the Edge of Time, London: Scribe
George, D. (2005) Travel Writing, London: Lonely Planet
Hornby, N. (2005) Fever Pitch, London: Penguin
Jack, I. (2006) The Granta Book of Reportage, London: Granta
Knausgaard, K. (2013) My Struggle, Book 1: A Death in the Family, London: Vintage
Lanham, R. (2006) The Longman Guide to Revising Prose, London: Pearson      Longman
Lyon, E. (2003) Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write, New York: G.P Putnam's Sons
Macfarlane, R. (2017) The Wild Places. London: Jonathan Cape
Marques, S. (2015) Now and at the Hour of Our Death. (Transl. Julia Sanchez) London: And Other Stories
Masters, A. (2006) Stuart: A Life Backwards, London: Harper Perennial
McGinniss, J. (2007) The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, London: Sphere
Orwell, G. (1937) The Road to Wigan Pier, London: Penguin
Roorbach, B. (2008) Writing Life Stories, Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books
Sebald, W.G. (2002) The Emigrants, (Transl. Michael Hulse), London: Vintage
Summerscale, K. (2009) The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House, London: Bloomsbury

The European Journal of Life Writing
Life Writing


Social Media Sources:

Electronic Databases:
Project Muse