Why do English teachers take part-time qualifications in creative writing and literature from the University of Cambridge?

We all tend to have our own reasons for approaching each course we take and each additional qualification we work towards.

Some courses can cover an aspect of a syllabus that one is teaching and which has not been central to one’s studies in the past. Some take participants into the world of creative writing, and some involve original research.

And then the status and credibility of the awarding body is also important, not just for the quality of the teaching and the work, but also in terms of how the qualification will look on our CV should we wish to apply for a new post at some time in the future.

This coming academic year the University of Cambridge is offering a range of part time courses in Creative Writing and English Literature of relevance to English teachers, starting this October. Brief details are given below, and more information is available on our website.

The Certificate in Creative Writing I  starts by considering different forms of fiction – such as the novel, flash fiction, and short stories. Using published works and their own writing, those on the course examine the difference between fiction and other forms of writing such as poetry.

The second unit studies the structure of a range of novels to see how different authors have followed or subverted the “rules”, while the final unit considers the ways in which a piece written for performance tells its story and engages with its audience.

The Certificate in Creative Writing II looks in depth at creative non-fiction and the different forms of writing it involves, such as writing about food, narrative history, popular science, comic writing, and the essay.  It then considers the importance of creating a memorable sense of place, while the final unit explores “life writing”, such as memoir, biography, letter, and diary writing.

The Diploma in Creative Writing I focusses on advanced techniques for identifying a potential story, constructing a coherent sense of time and place, keeping dramatic control, etc. The second unit examines different approaches to structure and the use of pace, drama, description, characterisation, and humour.

The final unit considers the tradition of writing inspired by art, exploring sculpture, portraiture, landscapes, and modern art to observe the evolution of word-and-image in world literature.

The Diploma in Creative Writing II starts with historical fiction from Tudor England to Cold War Germany, considering issues from creating convincing flashbacks to the interweaving of storylines from different points in history.

The second unit on Advanced Crime Writing considers key elements in all such writing, such as the compelling plot, convincing dialogue, a strong sense of place, and accurate research in different types of crime novels such as: “urban noir”, “rural noir”, “Scandi noir”, as well as true crime.

The final unit studies techniques used in writing for TV, film, stage, and radio along with the art of adapting a story from one medium to another.

The above certificate and diploma courses can be taken individually or sequentially in any order.

The Diploma in English Literature I focusses initially on the adaptation of literary works into film and other forms, examining questions of genre, authorship, and form, using examples from Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, and Lewis Carroll, and filmic works by directors including Stanley Kubrick, Andrea Arnold, and Jane Campion.

The second unit looks at a range of major writers in poetry and prose, encompassing the religious debates that characterise much 17th-century writing and focussing on how each writer manifests his particular concerns in the minutiae of form and style.

The final unit considers matters of place, identity, and the spirit of discovery in a range of 19th- and 20th-century works, questioning what it once meant to travel and settle in the age of empire.

Finally the Advanced Diploma in English Literature is a part-time research-based course which offers students the opportunity to undertake supervised independent study over two academic years, culminating in a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words on a topic of their devising.

The course provides a good foundation in research methods for those who wish to continue with their research at a higher level, either through a postgraduate course or on their own initiative.

Alternatively if you’d like to dip your toe in the water or explore a specific topic, we also offer a range of short courses throughout the year.

You can find out more about all the above courses and apply online by 5 September on our website

Alternatively, you can contact me directly with specific enquiries on 01223 746 417 or email me at enquiries@ice.cam.ac.uk.

Paul Ireland
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ