The English Language and Creative Writing MA allows you to explore the interconnections between your knowledge of how language is used and produced, and your literary compositions. It will provide you with a thorough understanding of the linguistic features of English from a wide range of perspectives (theoretical and applied, synchronic and diachronic), as well as leading you to explore the writing process across genres and to take the city of London as one of your main sources of inspiration. The MA will equip you with the intellectual perspectives and the scholarly skills that will prepare you to conduct independent research, and will offer you many opportunities to network with other writers, agents, TV producers and performance poets.
The English Language and Creative Writing MA is suitable for students who have taken English language, literature and/or creative writing modules at undergraduate level, and others with experience in these fields. It is of particular interest to those wishing to pursue further study, and those aiming to apply their knowledge of language and the writing process in their careers.
If pursuing the degree full-time, you will study 180 credits in one academic year; if part-time, you will normally complete 180 credits in two academic years. You will study three or four core modules (including a 60-credit dissertation on a topic of English language or a creative writing project), as well as two modules from the list of options. The core module English Language in Use will help you acquire the scholarly tools necessary for the stylistic interpretation of literary and non-literary texts, while the modules Tales of the City and Conflict and the City invite you to explore the writing process in connection with prose and dramatic texts.
The teaching is mainly through weekly two- or three-hour sessions for each module, which include tutorials, seminars, practical sessions and workshops. There is also independent self-directed study, and you will be prepared for the Dissertation via structured sessions in research methodology. Assessment methods include submitted coursework such as essays, reviews and exercises; there are no formal examinations.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
Conflict and the City (Drama)
This module focuses on the craft of playwriting, with a particular emphasis on drama that exploits the possibilities of the urban environment. You will draft a dramatic work of 60-90 minutes, critique the work of experienced dramatists and develop a shared vocabulary of ‘technical’ terminology. It will also introduce you to major new writing opportunities in London and beyond. While contextualising new playwriting within the wider parameters of 20th and early 21st-century drama, the module will encourage you to reflect in depth on your own writing and develop an advanced understanding of the elements of a dramatic text, including characterisation, structure, conflict, dramatic irony and subtext.
The Dissertation gives you the opportunity to conduct autonomous work with supervisory support on a topic you feel passionate about. At the beginning of the module you will have a series of practical seminars on the different issues involved in the process of writing a dissertation, such as finding a topic, the role of the supervisor, research methodology and the conventions of academic writing.
English Language in literary CONTEXTS
In this module you will study English historical linguistics and stylistics, literary linguistics and cognitive poetics. Thus, you will gain a good knowledge of the ways in which the language has changed over time and the stylistic effects of particular linguistic choices, as well as an in-depth understanding of the theoretical frameworks that can be used to describe the interaction between language and literature.
How to Write Creatively: Portfolio
This module will develop your creative writing skills using a variety of exercises and techniques. It will allow you to put together a portfolio of creative writing inspired by the city through a combination of practical workshops and close reading of established authors. You will also learn to critique your own work, while being challenged to raise your own writing to professional level.
Tales of the City (Fiction)
This module focuses on fiction writing inspired by the city. Through a combination of exercises, close readings of established authors and critiques of your own work, you will be challenged to raise your own prose writing to a professional level. As it establishes your understanding of prose fiction and treating the city as a primary source or background presence, the module will nurture your potential to be an innovative and independent writer. You will also examine approaches to writing short and longer prose fiction that either overtly takes the city as its theme or employs it as a significant presence.
Writing Project (year-long)
You will focus on one substantial piece of creative work or portfolio of smaller pieces, with a view to submission for publication. The module aims to provide the support needed for you to prepare a substantial piece of creative writing and develop your individual voice in the genre of your choice. As the module seeks to synthesise the discoveries about the city made during the course, and helps you to respond appropriately in your creative work, it will allow you to absorb and process your explorations of the city, and respond through your creative work.
Analysing Spoken and Written Discourse
This module offers a range of different linguistic tools for exploring texts. They are analysed for lexical and grammatical cohesion, metonymy and metaphor, and register and thematic progression (Hallidayan functional grammar). Texts are also analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA). You will acquire a theoretical understanding of the main approaches to discourse analysis, and the practical skills for carrying out these analyses on real texts. You will also gain a broader awareness of how written discourse is constructed by comparing it to spoken discourse, and by discussing it in terms of more general semiotic and communication theories.
This module will develop your understanding of the aesthetic, ethical and methodological choices that underpin writing practice. You will learn how to evaluate different theories of writing (including realist, modernist and postmodernist approaches), while widening your knowledge of associated literary styles and practices such as stream of consciousness writing, automatic writing, writing as representation and visual writing. The module will also introduce you to the ways in which place, in particular the urban environment, affects writing, and will encourage you to interrogate the ethical and political dilemmas arising from literary production.
Current Developments in Language Teaching
You will examine current practice and developments in language teaching, including communicative competence in language learning. During this module you will cover a range of topical issues in language learning and teaching, including: content and language integrated learning; individual differences in language learning; language for specific purposes; learner autonomy and strategy training; methodology; neurolinguistic processing and multiple intelligences; skills lessons and real language; and teacher language and national curriculum.
You will gain a greater understanding of what is happening in cross-cultural communication, and develop your ability to do it well. In the first part of the module you will examine critically different theories of the nature of cultural difference and its impact on cross-cultural interaction. You will also explore theories of the intercultural abilities needed to manage such interaction effectively. In the second part of the module you will apply these theories to specific issues in professional contexts of potential relevance, such as language teaching.
Language and the Imagination (Poetic Writing)
You will develop your use of poetic language through a combination of short exercises, close reading of poetry and prose poetry, and critiques of your own work. You will gain a sophisticated understanding of poetic language and its applications to a range of other genres, and enhance your ability to identify imaginative uses of language as a writer and reader of poetry on the city. The module will allow you to develop an advanced understanding of formal poetic structures and of the publishing and performance opportunities for poetry in London.
You will critically explore concepts and issues in sociolinguistics, including: language in face-to-face interaction; language variation, choice, creation, planning, change, decline and death; languages and factors such as age, class, gender and ethnicity; multilingual communities; language and society; bilingualism and diglossia; casual and ritual interaction; conversational interaction focusing on issues such as linguistic politeness; oral narratives, and conversational routines; language socialisation; conversational code-switching; and talk and gender. Throughout the module, attention will be paid to issues of methodology, and the most appropriate methods for studying each topic area.
The Writing Business
This module focuses on the development of knowledge, personal and professional skills that will allow you to plan your professional development, with a particular emphasis on the writing business in London. Providing useful and relevant information about working in the creative industries through visiting speakers and workshops, the module aims to develop and nurture advanced and transferable entrepreneurial skills and allow you to network with other professionals with confidence.
This module aims to give you a better understanding of what translation is, how translation is a reflection of its social setting, and what goes on in the mind when a translator translates. Translation Studies has seen rapid growth in recent years, and this module reflects these developments. The topics you will cover include: discourse analysis approaches; equivalence; historical and contemporary translation theories; loss and gain; psycholinguistic approaches; ‘skopos’ theory; the unit of translation; translatability; translating culture; translating ideology; translating literature and sacred texts; and translation and ICT.
Teaching and assessment
Teaching is conducted mainly through weekly two or three hour sessions for each module, which include tutorials, seminars, practical sessions and workshops. Teaching will also include visits to selected London institutions to support certain aspects of writing, and you will be encouraged to use various archives, galleries, etc. There is also independent self-directed study, and you will receive one-to-one advice for your dissertation or writing project.
Assessment methods include submitted coursework such as essays, projects, reports or reflective logs. There are no timed written examinations.
The Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster boasts a long established research culture in literature and linguistics. Its commitment to the study of language and its interaction with literature, both from a theoretical and an applied perspective, has led to its more recent expansion of the English language and creative writing areas and the appointment of internationally renowned experts in these fields.
The course will enable you to develop sophisticated critical and creative skills and a widely applicable knowledge base that can be adapted to various fields of language use and study, creative practice and writing business. This course is intended to move you to a new level in your career as a writer by developing your skills as a sophisticated critical practitioner, and your knowledge of literature about the city as well as the writing business. You will be encouraged to network with other writers and identify useful opportunities for career development, partly through the wide range of extra-curricular activities, including writers' events and talks, and partly through the workshops organised by the departmental employability coordinator. The critical and practical skills you will acquire by the end of the course will make you a strong candidate in many areas, including arts management, copy editing, education, freelance writing, journalism, media, publishing, research and academia.
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Last updated March 1, 2017