Creative Non-Fiction

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA W800 Creative Writing,
BA W801 Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA W803 Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA W808 Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
MLITQ392 Creative Writing,
BA QW30 Literature and Creative Writing,
BA QW31 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Year Abroad),
BA QW33 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Placement Year),
BA QW38 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
MLITQ393 Literature and Creative Writing

Module description

The study and practice of creative non-fiction will give BA Creative Writing students the opportunity to explore aspects of creativity in writing which go beyond the boundaries of the work done in LT209 Creative Writing: Theory and Practice, into areas like the essay, psycho-geography, documentary, (auto)biography and the interview. The creative aspects of other kinds of writing can widen the writer's scope and sense of possibility, making writing a more connected activity, both to the self and to the public world. Creative Non-Fiction is a subject gaining in popularity, both here and in the US, because of its sense of engagement and experiment.

Much non-fiction in poetry, creative prose writing of all kinds, documentary and features for broadcast media are at least equal in significance, in publishing terms, to fictional writing. The course will also explore the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, which has always been a fertile area of creativity, from Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year to today's 'misery memoir'. Engaging with creative non-fiction will also help students understand the use of research and attention to factual and sensory detail, all of which are transferable skills, which can enhance creative work more generally. The voices, formal opportunities and approaches explored will increase all creative writers' repertoire, resources and skill level.

In 2020-21, the module will be delivered (online and, where possible, face to face) through a combination of: seminars and/or workshops; tailored online resources; discussion groups and activities; and tutorials. Academic support hours will offer one-to-one consultation and support.

Where possible, and where this can conform to social distancing and recommended health measures, smaller-group teaching may be face-to-face; where not possible, small classes and tutorials will be conducted online via Zoom. I will be available as normal for academic support hours, either online or in-person where possible.

Module Supervisor's Research into Subject Area

James Canton has written widely in creative non-fiction forms and taught on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex since its inception in 2009, exploring the fascinating ties between the literature and landscape of East Anglia. He has worked on Radio 4 exploring the writing and landscapes of Essex such as for 'Something Understood' on John Clare and Epping Forest (August 2014) and 'Open Country' on Tollesbury Wick and literary Essex (November 2015). His book Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) is inspired by rural wanderings in the county. Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain was published by Collins in 2017. His latest book The Oak Papers will be published by Canongate in July 2020.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to provide students the opportunity to explore aspects of creativity in writing in areas like the essay, psycho-geography, nature writing, travel writing, documentary, (auto)biography and the interview. Creative Non-Fiction is a subject gaining in popularity, both here and in the US, because of its sense of engagement and experiment. Much non-fiction in poetry, creative prose writing of all kinds, documentary and features for broadcast media are at least equal in significance, in publishing terms, to fictional writing.

Module learning outcomes

The module outcomes centre on enabling students to write in various forms of non-fiction. Our teaching is accompanied by writing exercises, conducted both inside and outside class to enable students to practically experiment with creative non-fiction forms of writing. Workshops allow students to present their work to the class, while formal assignments allow more in-depth exploration of their chosen genres.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

2 hours of scheduled contact per week For 2020-21, we will offer a mixture of tailored online, digital, and campus-based teaching where it may be possible and as appropriate, along with personalised one-to-one consultation with academic staff.


  • Deakin, Roger; Hastie, Alison; Blacker, Terence. (c2008) Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, London: Hamish Hamilton.
  • Defoe, Daniel; Richetti, John J. (2003) Robinson Crusoe, London: Penguin. vol. Penguin classics
  • Dee, Tim. (©2009) The running sky: a bird-watching life, London: Vintage.
  • Chatwin, Bruce. (1998) In Patagonia, London: Vintage.
  • Charlie Brooker. (2012) Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn: Faber & Faber.
  • Joe Sacco. (2018) Journalism: Jonathan Cape.
  • Coverley, Merlin. (©2001, 2010, 2018) Psychogeography, Harpenden: Oldcastle Books.
  • Herr, Michael. (1989) Dispatches, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Krakauer, Jon. (1998) Into the wild, London: Macmillan.
  • Amy Liptrot. (2016) The Outrun, Edinburgh: Canongate Books.
  • Waugh, Evelyn. (2003) Scoop: a novel about journalists, London: Penguin.
  • Jan Morris. (2002) Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere: Faber & Faber.
  • Peter Bradshaw. (2015-12-04) 'The Revenant review – gut-churningly brutal, beautiful storytelling', in Guardian.
  • Charlie Brooker. (2010-10-15) 'Charlie Brooker: Why I'm calling time on Screen Burn', in Guardian.
  • Self, Will; Macfarlane, Robert. (June 25, 2012) 'The Road Less Travelled', in The Big Issue. (1006) , pp.18-23

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Individual Portfolio    50% 
Coursework   Assignment 1 (3,000 words)    45% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr James Canton, email:
Dr James Canton
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr James Michael Miller
Kingston University
Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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