Creative and critical skills development in writing fiction

Module details

  • Offered to 3rd & 4th Years
  • Thursdays 16.00-18.00
  • South Kensington Campus 
  • 2 term module worth 7.5 ECTS
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

This advanced course in creative writing is intended for students who have a demonstrable interest in and appreciation of creative writing and wish to develop and refine their creative and critical skills and potential as writers. Your aim is to write fiction that engages a readership. Our approach is practical and technical with a particular emphasis on creative practice. We explore the creative process in lectures that are highly interactive, using contemporary novels, short stories and extracts from essays.  You will share your writing with classmates in workshops, actively engaging in peer review and creative problem-solving. You will be encouraged to make creative use of your own scientific knowledge and experience.

Please note that a good level of fluency in English writing will be required for this course.

NB If you have already taken Creative Writing (7.5 ECTS) in your 2nd year, you may not take the this course in your 3rd or 4th Year. This course does not offer a progression from the 2nd year Creative Writing module since these Horizons modules are designed to allow as many students as possible to have the opportunity to take one creative writing module during their studies. 

If you have already taken Creative Writing (7.5 ECTS) and produced creative and critical writing of a very high standard, you may be considered for the Humanities Project. Please contact Dr Aifric Campbell. 

Information blocks

Learning outcomes


  • Practice and refine teamwork skills through classroom exercises.
  • Manage uncertainty of outcome and impact through experimenting with structure and form.
  • Acquire ability to deliver, receive and engage with feedback in a group environment with others of different mentalities and perspectives and cultural experience.
  • Plan, monitor and evaluate development as independent learners through written assessments.
  • Write fiction evidenced by the delivery of a fiction assignment and a short story.
  • Consider contributing to the intellectual life of Imperial College by submitting finished work to internal publications.

Indicative core content


  • Narrative form and purpose: How does prose fiction differ from other narrative forms?
  • Developing a creative practice: raising critical awareness of the creative process.
  • Inspiration: How do we challenge and develop our imagination?
  • Characterisation: How do get to know your character? Presenting and developing psychology; realising conflict and motive; examining and constructing flat and round characters
  • Language and style: demonstrating control; clarity, precision, coherence, originality, inventiveness selectivity; descriptive language; managing tenses; coherence and grammar; dramatization and exposition (showing and telling); writing authentic dialogue; using metaphor; managing ambiguity; the purpose and power of gaps in fiction
  • Fictional worlds: how do we create vivid and convincing settings? How does sense of place contribute to story and character development? How do we create fantasy worlds?
  • Structuring creative narratives: How do we manage the narrative arc? How do we manage pace and tension?
  • How to manage time in fiction. Writing seamless flashbacks; using flash forwards
  • Point of view: Managing narrators: omniscient, 1st person, 3rd person. What is the effect of narrator choice in the reader experience? How does narrative choice affect the writer’s relationship to the text?
  • Autobiographically informed fiction: Memory and imagination; what are the challenges of using yourself as material? How do narrator choices impact the creative process?
  • Exploring narrative platforms: constructing stories for games.
  • Research methods in fiction: Weaving research material into fiction. How can fiction contribute to public awareness of and knowledge about science?
  • Narrative truth and historical truth: Narrativity is gaining ground in fields such as history, history and law, and medicine, but does the world present itself in terms of stories? How you do you manage conflicts in narrative truth and historical truth?
  • Presenting creative work for publication: typographic standards for professional presentation; the effect of formatting on reader response; formatting experimental narratives You will be encouraged to contribute short pieces to College publications.
  • Oral presentation of creative work to a workshop: performing work to audiences
  • Making creative use of your scientific knowledge and experience: strategies for taking inspiration from scientific themes and topics; how fiction illuminates science, current affairs, politics, history, economics, and social issues.
  • Editing, revision and finishing: demonstrating and applying editorial skills; understanding how rigorous redrafting transforms the text
  • Developing a critical vocabulary to discuss your own creative work and ideas and those of others
  • Workshop: you will review and respond to your classmates’ writing and ideas as reader and critic, actively exploring opportunities and limitations in form and composition and collaborating in problem solving. Workshops require a willingness to receive and offer constructive advice and to develop and enhance communication skills in a diverse group.

class of 2019


at work

  • 1st assignment: a short story that engages the reader and demonstrates awareness and understanding of the technical and compositional aspects of creative writing as examined on the course. (30% of total mark). Short story 2,500–3,500 words.
  • 2nd assignment: a short story or extract from a longer work of fiction AND a critical analysis of student’s own creative and technical progression over the year. (60% of total mark.) Short story: 2,500-5,000 words. Critical essay: 1,000–1,500 words.
  • Class participation: 10% of the total course mark will be based on students’ overall contribution to and participation in workshops and lectures. This mark is based on an evaluation of critical, communication and teamwork skills

Key information

  • Requirements: Students are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 2-3 hours of private study or reading each week in addition to the assessment
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course.  See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"This is my favourite module. Classes are engaging, there is good discussion and I've learnt a lot."
"This is a wonderful module and I have met students and staff enthusiastic about writing."
"Thank you for offering this course - it is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in the subject. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and am grateful for having been able to do it."
"I love this course! It is break from the normal science stuff and complements my thought process very well. "
"The module was great. I think the structure worked really well - learning the main aspects of writing through analysing texts then using workshops to see how readers interact first hand with your work. The guest lectures were great too. There’s a real sense of passion amongst the staff that teach Horizons subjects, and it makes all the difference."