Course syllabus




English 252 Introduction to Creative Writing

Semester 1 2019 University of Auckland

Convenors: Selina Tusitala Marsh ( & Lisa Samuels (

Tutors: Ruby Porter ( & Selina Tusitala Marsh

Tuesday class: 1-3PM in PLT2 Lecture Theatre 303-G02 (Science Centre)

Well-being always comes first

We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.


PART I Course Description & Assessment Overview

Kia Ora Koutou, Talofa Lava, Welcome, and Warm Pacific Greetings!

This is an introductory level class for those interested in Creative Writing. Your teachers are published authors and will guide you through four writing genres: Poetry, Multimedia, Creative Nonfiction, and Short Fiction. These genres often overlap in terms of craft and content, and it is useful to engage with all four even if you start the course with a particular interest in one.

Course delivery format: A weekly 2 hour lectorial (a mix of lecture and workshop-like in-class activities) and a 1 hour workshop.


ENGL 252 Course Schedule 2019

Week 1, 4-8 March

Introduction + Poetry Lisa

Week 2, 11-15 March + workshops (EX 1)

Poetry Selina

Week 3, 18-22 March + workshops

Poetry Lisa

LOUNGE, 20 March 5.30-7pm Old Government House



Week 4, 25-29 March + workshops

Poetry Selina

Week 5, 1-5 April + workshops (EX 2)

Multimedia Lisa

Week 6, 8-12 April + workshops

Multimedia Selina


Midsemester Break, 15-25 April


Portfolio 1 due 3pm Monday 15th April (NB: during the break)

LOUNGE, 1 May, 5.30 - 7pm, Old Government House

Week 7, 29 Apr-3 May + workshops (EX 3)

Creative Non Fiction Lisa

Week 8 , 6-10 May +  workshops

Creative Non Fiction Selina

Week 9, 13-17 May + workshops (EX 4)

Short Fiction Emma Neale (MKW)

Auckland Writers Festival 14 – 19th May 2019

Week 10, 20-24 May + workshops

Short Fiction Emma Neale and Lisa

Week 11, 27-31 May + workshops

Short Fiction Emma Neale

Week 12, 3-7 June

Wrap Up Selina/Lisa

LOUNGE, 5 June, 5.30 - 7pm, Old Government House

Portfolio 2 due 3 pm Monday 10th June


Learning outcomes

This course helps prepare you for further Creative Writing at Stage 3. On completion of this course you will be familiar with:

1 Some broad technical terrain in four genres of writing (Poetry, Multimedia, Creative Nonfiction, Short Fiction);

2 Applying and experimenting with techniques specific to each genre;

3 Ways in which each genre has connections with the other genres;

4 How to give and receive constructive criticism and to develop techniques to apply feedback;

5 Editorial and peer review skills;

6 Curatorial skills that help you produce a cohesive body of work.


Assessment Overview

This is a 100% internally assessed course – there is NO EXAM.

There are TWO portfolios

Portfolio A (including exercises and drafts, worth 40%)
Portfolio B (including exercises and drafts, worth 40%)

The remaining 20% is made up of your workshop and peer review participation and contribution.


Creative Workbooks

Keeping a creative workbook or writing journal is often a very helpful and rewarding part of a writer’s creative practice. Writing journals do not work for everyone, which is why they have not been included as a requirement for the course. Nonetheless, we strongly encourage you to keep and maintain a creative workbook. You may like to work in one for exercises and writing prompt responses given to you in lectures and workshops. You may also find that bits and pieces you have been writing in your journal may help you to respond to the prompts in class. Visuals help with this too – try gluing photos, pictures of events, and other visual aesthetics you find inspiring in to your workbook.


When you post your work into your peer group discussion (see below), you may find that including additional details about what inspired your workbook creations will help your group mates to see what you were hoping to achieve and to respond to your work in ways that are useful to you. There will be at least one workbook check up by your tutors.


Peer Review Process & Canvas

Workshop and peer review participation and contribution are worth 20% of your total grade.

Submission upload and peer reviews are submitted in weeks 2, 5, 7 and 9 as per the schedule above.  There are 4 peer review uploads and responses in total.   

You will be marked on:

  • Participation and contribution during in class writing sessions and group work
  • The submission of work done in class uploaded to canvas in a timely fashion
  • Feedback given to your group mates every week in a timely fashion
  • The generosity and support you provide to your group mates
  • The quality and improvement of the feedback you provide to your group mates


Peer Review

You will be working in groups of six. These groups will be decided for you by your instructors.

For each genre you are required to upload ONE of the exercises you did in either lecture or workshop. It must be uploaded by Thursday 11pm of the week it is due. You may type it out and improve it before posting it online, but it is also fine to take a photo of your exercise book (provided it is legible) and upload this without edits.

You must then read the submissions from your group mates. You must comment on each member’s work. Your review must include three types of comments:

1 an aspect that worked well;

2 a piece of constructive feedback;

3 and an idea or suggestion they might like to try in a future edit.

Feedback is due to your group mates by Sunday 11pm that week. If you miss the deadline without consulting your tutor, this will count against your Workshop participation for that week. Note: these comments can be seen by lecturers and tutors and may be called upon or highlighted during lectures or workshops.

If you miss the deadline to upload work, you can still get feedback from your group (and therefore use it in your portfolio) – but this will be up to you to organise with your group, and up to your group whether they can respond.


Uploading and posting comments using CANVAS

All of your six-person group members will be in the same workshop as you. Please ensure you attend the correct workshop every week.Your group has its own page in canvas. Find groups here on canvas

Note. Groups will be created during week 1 of semester, so you may not be able to see this option on canvas until Friday 8th March.  If you are not in a group by then, contact your tutor IMMEDIATELY.


Discussion process:

Click on your group (it is likely that there will be only one option – but if your other classes also use groups, there may be more)


Create a discussion with your draft in your group canvas page


Make sure that you include a subject line that clearly indicates the exercise from class that you are responding to and your name.


Paste your text or photo in the content box.


You may wish to click ‘allow threaded replies.’


Click Save.


Providing peer review

Click on each team mate’s discussion, read their work and provide a comment. Your comment must include:

  1. an aspect that worked well, and
  2. an idea or suggestion they might like to try in a future edit.

Your comment will be around 50 – 100 words, or 2-3 sentences. It is better to be short and succinct.

In week 2, ensure that you upload your work with plenty of time to spare in case you have any issues with the upload process.

Peer review will be discussed in lectures. If you are concerned at any point by the feedback you receive, please get in touch with your tutor.


Peer review process:

In your group discussions – click on the exercise by your group mate that you want to comment on. Add your comment below and don’t forget to click post reply / save.


Your comment will appear below. You can also comment or add on ideas to other people’s comments if ‘allow threaded replies’ has been clicked.



Due:    Portfolio A: 3pm, Monday 15th April

Portfolio B: 3pm, Tuesday 10th June

Each portfolio must include TWO works, one from each genre.

Portfolio A will include Poetry and Multimedia. NOTE: for the Poetry part, your portfolio should include 5-8 poems equaling at least 1000 (and approximately 1250) words.

Portfolio B will include Creative Nonfiction and Short Fiction.


Word count: 2500 words per portfolio.


Each portfolio will include:

  • A contents page (how you have set up your portfolio)
  • Two pieces of creative writing: one each of the two genres
  • Draft work to show the creative and editorial development of your work. Please clearly label draft work and place it AFTER your labelled Final pieces. 
  • Detailed captions provided for any visual content
  • For multimedia only: a 1 page letter explaining your project


How to submit your portfolio

Each portfolio will be a single Word document. Include a contents page for each genre. Place all final work together in the front of your document and label 'Final'.  Place all Drafts at the back of the document and label 'Drafts'. 

If your initial draft is a photograph or picture of your writing, paste this picture into your portfolio Word doc.


Portfolio Marking Criteria

Each Portfolio is worth 40%

You will be marked on

  • The creativity and originality of your work
  • Ability to take on board feedback (you might include interim drafts that show how you applied some of the suggestions you were given)
  • Creative and editorial development
  • Fulfilment of portfolio requirements listed above


Genre-specific marking criteria


Poetry: to what extent does the poetry:

Perform effective relations between form and function?

Attend to language features and poetic devices (imagery, metaphor, simile, titles, word choice, patterns etc)?

Engage with the page visually (form/shape, use of space, line breaks etc?)

Engage aurally (rhythm, meter, pacing, alliteration, etc)?

Push boundaries?


Multimedia+ (see ‘special instructions’ below)

To what extent is the project transaesthetic (merging at least two forms and aesthetic bases to create a third)?

To what extent is your concept expressed in your forms, and vice versa?

How well thought through (multi-layered), cohesive, and interesting (in terms of text and multimedia application) is the project?

How well executed is the project?


Creative Nonfiction

How effectively does the piece tell a true story (personal experiences and documented events)?

How effectively does the piece demonstrate your point of view (reactions, reflections, opinions, emotions)?

To what extent does the piece pay attention to language (poetic devices, syntax, verb choice, rhythm, etc)?

To what extent does the piece perform effective relations between form and function?


Short Fiction: to what extent:

Are key technical elements (point of view, characterization, setting, structure, etc) effectively developed?

Does the piece use effective language style (poetic devices, syntax, verb choice, etc)?

Does the piece perform effective relations between form and function?


+Special instructions for Multimedia component 

Multimedia assessment notes

It is likely that your multimedia work will not take the form of text in a word document. Instead you must include photographs of the final work and/or a link to view the work if it is audio or video.

Detailed captions must be provided for all visual content.

You are responsible for making the appropriate arrangements for your work to be assessed, whether this involves recording your work in a suitable medium, or arranging an assessment performance/viewing time with your tutor (we will be delighted to attend).


NOTE ON COLLABORATION: You are welcome to collaborate with other students and non-students. Please add documentation that explains the extent of your contribution to the collaboration.


Multimedia assignment options

Multimedia simply means writing combined with at least one other form of media.

Create a written text and interlink that text with another form of media. A minimum of 500 words (up to 1500 words) is required to fulfil this assignment, no matter how you combine those words with your other chosen media.


  1. Word and Image: Intersect words with visual media.


Examples of successful word and image options:

Picture books for grown-ups - write fairy tales, guidelines for living, allegorical fables, created histories of various areas or persons. Draw images that accompany and illustrate your tales.

Handmade/artist's books - create your own short book using printing press or drawing and writing by hand. Learn how to bind chapbooks with needle and thread, etc.

Storycloths or clothpoems - write and revise a creative piece (you want to choose your words carefully so you don't have to pick out threads later!) and sew it into a piece of cloth.

Annotated found images - take x-rays, photographs, maps, newspaper images and create wildly imaginative annotations on their significance.


  1. Ekphrasis / Comics: Words and visual art. This alternative is for the artists among the writers (for example, Elam students). Original drawings or art work with writing that explores the themes of the art work, or art that explores the themes of the writing.

For those interested in graphic novels, a short 'comic' with original visuals and writing.

Or for non-artists interested in comics/graphic novels: a comic script giving instructions for visual presentation to an artist. (For example, Alan Moore’s script for Big Numbers, <>)


  1. Sound / Talk piece: Recorded sound production or performance of a written piece (not necessarily involving music). Submit a CD/MP3 plus written text and instructions for performance.


  1. Creative blog: Words in electronic media.

Submit a blogsite. This is for students who are already conversant with blogging or who might already have a blogsite. Students will need to show evidence of new blogsite posting and comments on other postings. Possibly include here fan fic (world building).

Check your particular project with your tutor, if you intend to take up this blog option.


*5. Public Theatre: Score a public event or events and perform at least one of them. Submit the written instructions and documentation of the event, or make arrangements for assessment of the performance.

Examples of successful public theatre:

Mask walk. Make an original mask and walk in some public place(s) with the mask on. Make notes on the experience. For this students would need a mask walk buddy and some hand-held tape-recorder. Photographing or video recording the mask walk is also a possibility.

A performance piece similar to Spencer Tunick’s event, in which he organized several hundred people to stand naked on a glacier to publicise global warming.

See Fluxus Performance Workbook examples.


*6. Public poetry / concrete performance work: Word installations in public places (For example, Martin Firrell (see <>), 'guerilla poetry', chalked interiors, stone poems in Mt. Eden crater, etc).


*Note for options 5 and 6: You may submit concepts for installation or performance without actually installing and performing, IF

the concept is of a scale that makes realisation impossible at this stage AND

your written concept/score/instructions/rationale are of interest as creative works in and of themselves (see Fluxus examples) AND

you also submit a smaller scale, realised (performed/installed) concept.

Check your particular project with your tutor, if you intend to take up this concept option.


  1. Multimedia Documentary: Interview a person or group of persons and provide photos of their faces, relevant objects and landscapes/urbanscapes, or draw diagrams illustrating histories or events or instructions for performances they carry out. See the histories plus photos done by Glenn Busch, for example. Recordings and edited transcript should be provided.


General procedures and student support & opportunities

Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details. 

Disabilities Accommodation Statement

If you have a condition that impairs your ability to satisfy course criteria, please meet with the convenor and with your tutor to discuss feasible instructional accommodation. Accommodation can be provided only for a documented disability. Please tell your convenor about such circumstances by the second week of the semester or as soon as possible after a disability is diagnosed.

Contact Disability Services for more information:

or 373 7599 ext 88808.

Student Support Service Health and Counselling

If you need support in any way, shape or form, you’ll find support and care here:


Staff Student Consultative Committee

The English and Drama disciplines maintain an active SSCC with 2 meetings per semester. At the first lecture, 2 students will be asked to volunteer to represent their ENGL 252 peers to the SSCC. Meeting schedules will be advised.


Auckland Writers Festival: Volunteers Needed

The University of Auckland is a sponsor of the Auckland Writers Festival. Typically over 60,000 people attend its events, from the Ockham NZ Book Awards to the panels, interviews and readings. It’s held at the Aotea Centre and other locations nearby, including the Art Gallery. See <>.

English 252 students are encouraged to attend the 2019 festival 14-19 May. It’s a chance to engage with contemporary writers and writing from New Zealand and overseas. Over 100 events are free of charge. When the programme launches in March, we’ll get copies delivered to class.

Usually around 30 University of Auckland students volunteer at the festival. If you’re keen to do this, email Programme Manager Roger Christensen ( before 15th March, and complete the necessary forms. Volunteering means you may get into a range of events that are high-price or sold out. This is how a number of students in the past got into events like Haruki Murakami, Alice Walker and David Walliams appearances – they were working as ushers. Students have secured paid internships as a result of their festival work, and it is excellent for CVs, as well as entertaining and inspirational.


Required Information

The University’s Statement on Plagiarism

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student’s work, reflecting his or her learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the world-wide web. A student’s assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms. Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review. For more detailed information, see the University’s guidelines on the conduct of Coursework at

Complaint Procedures

In the first instance, students or the class representative should take any concerns they have with their course delivery or assessment to the lecturer or  tutor or convener concerned. Students or staff may approach the Mediator’s Office or the Student Advocacy Network at any time for assistance. In the event that the matter is not resolved satisfactorily at an informal level, students or the class representative should approach the Head of Department with a formal statement of their complaint. For more detailed information, see the University guidelines regarding Student Learning and Grievance procedures at:

AUSA also offers advice on grievance and harassment issues. See the AUSA website’s ‘Need Help?’ section for further information.

Other sources of information and assistance

Guides to Library sources for all undergraduate papers in English are available from the Learn home page: follow the links from Resources By Subject / Arts / English. Announcements and Resources for this paper are regularly posted on CANVAS. The University’s policy is that all communication with students is via their university email address—please check your university email address regularly.


***FOR PART II Glossary and Sample Readings: see complete Course pack in "Files"***



Course summary:

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