What it’s like to study ~ A215 ~ Creative Writing at the Open University

A215 Creative Writing

This post is about the Open University module “A215 Creative Writing”. I’ve been studying this module for the last few months and I’ve really enjoyed it. If you’re keen to improve your creative writing, or even if you’re starting from scratch, you may want to consider this module. I’ve been studying it as part of my degree course but I think that it can be studied as a standalone module also. This module is expected to run for another couple of years. I think it’s one of the most popular modules at the Open University so I’ll be very surprised if it isn’t replaced.

An essential part of A215 is the Big Red Book (“BRB”) pictured above. The book is divided into five parts: The creative process, Writing fiction, Writing poetry, Life writing and Going public. There is also a section for Readings which are mostly excerpts from books for reference purposes. In the main, the module follows the same order as the book. There are a couple of deviations along the way but these are easy to pick up on if you keep your eye on the module calendar.

Each part of the book is divided into chapters which are scheduled to take a week to complete. The chapters are packed with activities that can be completed to reinforce the ideas being covered. I started well and completed every activity in the early chapters. As I became more familiar with the module I reduced the number of activities that I was completing. This meant that I could focus on the ones that I thought had the most value. My plan is to go back to complete the other activities when I have more time; perhaps in the summer break between modules.

The module includes five “TMA”s (assignments); one for each part of the book. The first assignment was to write a short piece of prose fiction, the second was to write a short story, and the third was to write one or more poems. The fourth assignment was life writing (poetry or prose). This work could be autobiographical, biographical or travel writing, but the work was required to be creative rather than journalistic. For the fifth assignment we were asked to produce a piece of creative writing (poetry or prose) and then identify a publishing outlet for the work.

Each assignment also required a “commentary” which described the creative process that had been followed, and, in the case of the fifth assignment, explained how the publishing outlet had been selected (don’t panic, it is optional whether you decide to actually submit your work for publication).

The module included one face-to-face tutorial and two day schools. I enjoyed these sessions and found that they were well attended compared to my previous modules. There were also online tutorials available for anyone who was unable to attend the face-to-face sessions but I didn’t try these on this module.

The final assignment of A215 is the “EMA”: End of Module Assignment. This can be fiction or life writing, and may be written as poetry and/or prose. Like the TMAs, the EMA also includes a commentary. The Open University expects the EMA to be more substantial than the TMAs. This is reflected in the word counts (line counts for poetry).

I’ve enjoyed A215 and I will be going on to study more creative writing later in my degree. The structure of the Open University degree that I’m following requires me to study another discipline first though. Many people choose to study English Literature in this situation. This is probably a smart move as reading feeds creative writing, but it’s not the right move for me. Instead, I’m off to philosophy next which will be a huge challenge, and a huge contrast to creative writing. Gulp!

I hope that this blog has been helpful and if you’d like to find out about the Open University’s module A215 Creative Writing, here’s a link to the Open University’s information page:h


Copyright 2019, Noa Summerlock.

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