The Beginning of a Novel

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

What is a novel? How did the form originate? How does its relationship with time and space make it particular from other forms and how does it renew itself?

In this module, students will learn how to devise and plan their own novel through the reading and study of a selection of other novels. Seminars will consist of lecturer-led discussions, student discussion of the selected reading, and creative workshops.

The module builds to a creative and critical assessment in which the student submits the outline of a novel, writes its beginning chapters, and submits an essay exploring the learning outcomes of the module through the novels of other writers.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. To increase students' awareness of the creative possibilities of the novel and discover various practices for developing and scoping our substantial narrative creative projects.
2. To continue the practice of giving, receiving and redrafting work in response to feedback in the workshop environment.
3. To increase the understanding of the history of the novel, and how it can inform students' own creative practice.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

1. Identify the significant formal conventions in the novel and critically evaluate their suitability to the student’s own creative practice.
2. Conceive, plan and produce an original creative outline of a novel.
3. Display self-awareness of writing and planning technique and the process of revision and redrafting of fiction.
4. Develop the emotional intelligence required to give and receive feedback in workshop groups.
5. Practice the habits and discipline of regular prose composition.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: There will be a one-hour seminar and a one-hour tutorial group each week over one term. For the seminar, there will be compulsory reading of novels, extracts from novels, and writer’s commentary upon writing technique. Students should do at least ten hours of independent reading and research as preparation for each seminar group. For the tutorial, students will share their creative writing with their workshop group, and the lecturer will participate in this discussion of the work produced that week. Students should do at least eight hours of independent creative writing and two hours independent reading of the work of their study group as preparation for each tutorial.


  • Moretti, Franco. (2006) 'The Rise of Fictionality', in Novel, Volume 1, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Bellow, Saul; Roth, Philip. (©1992) Herzog, New York: Penguin Books.
  • Smith, Zadie. (©2012) NW, London: Penguin Books.
  • Rooney, Sally. (2018) Conversations with Friends, London: Faber & Faber.
  • Thomas, Scarlett. (2012) 'Characterisation', in Monkeys with Typewriters, Edinburgh: Canongate.
  • Cusk, Rachel. (©2014) Outline, London: Faber & Faber. vol. [volume1]
  • Luckhurst, Roger. (2009) 'Preface', in The Portrait of a Lady, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.3-17
  • Tolstoy, Leo; Davies, Andrew; Maude, Aylmer; Maude, Louise. (2015) War and peace, London: BBC Books.
  • Tolstoy, Leo; Maude, Louise; Maude, Aylmer; Mandelker, Amy. (2010) War and peace, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Stendhal; Gard, Roger. (2002) The red and the black, London: Penguin.

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   Participation marks    5% 
Coursework   Portfolio: the beginning of a novel (1,000-word outline of a novel and a 2,000/2,500-word draft of first chapter)    65% 
Coursework   Critical analysis: three books by writers on their writing practice and three novels by different writers and how they inspire and provide context to your own creative project. (2,500 words)    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Matthew De Abaitua, email:
Matthew de Abaitua
LiFTS General Office, email: Telephone: 01206 872626



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 32 (80%) hours available to students:
8 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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