Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Writing Crime Fiction
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Creative Writing Portfolio 1  (2,500 words) A 1500 word character study for a piece of crime fiction and critical commentary of 1000 words.  50%
Semester Assessment Creative Writing Portfolio 2  (2,500 words) A plot outline of 6-8 points (1000 words) and a creative piece (1500) words which addresses one of these points.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed Creative Writing Portfolio 1  (2,500 words) A 1500 word character study for a piece of crime fiction and critical commentary of 1000 words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed Creative Writing Portfolio 2  (2,500 words) A plot outline of 6-8 points (1000 words) and a creative piece (1500) words which addresses one of these points.  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the approaches and techniques underpinning crime fiction.

2. Apply elements drawn from these approaches and techniques to their own writing.

3. Communicate knowledge and undeerstanding in their critical writing.

4. Students should be able to produce a piece of crime writing that is valuable informed by their own research.


The module is intended to fill a gap in genre creative writing provision by introducing students to the specific skills and techniques of crime fiction. As such it will sit alongside other genre modules such as science fiction and fantasy, and creative non-fiction, allowing students to explore a range of material and techniques. It also complements the Literary Studies option module EN34620 Detective and Crime Fiction but places the emphasis on practice rather than literary context.

Brief description

What makes crime fiction distinctive? How does the writer approach the conventions of crime fiction, and how are these conventions changing? Crime novels and short stories are often considered ‘classics’ of genre fiction: learning to recognize common features and approaches of crime fiction, and to practice the skills of the crime writer, allows students better to understand the nature of genre fiction and to position themselves as writers within the spectrum. This module looks at ways in which narrative, setting and characterization are used by crime writers to create intrigue and suspense, and allows students to explore some of the genre’s key techniques.


The module will be developed through a series of workshops, each intended to introduce students to a particular aspect of crime-writing practice; students will also be required to study, and respond to, texts by influential writers in the field. Workshops will allow students to research, prepare and present their own work on the basis of material studied.

Students will look at the ways in which crime fiction has evolved from traditional whodunnit mysteries to more complex contemporary works, and consider the similarities and differences in a range of approaches to crime fiction. The four key areas of study are: The criminal and the investigator; the murder scene; plotting; suspense.

Weeks 1 & 2: The criminal and the investigator: characterization
Weeks 3 & 4: The murder scene: setting, environment, cadavers, and clues
Week 5: The critical context: scholarly approaches to genre fiction.
Week 6 & 7: Plotting: narrative structure and techniques
Week 8 & 9: Getting hooked: creating suspense
Week 10: Overview and ways ahead.

Each workshop will encourage students to discuss a number of exemplar texts and to produce their own work in response to these.
Although the 4 key aspects of the course will be studied separately, students will be asked to consider and scrutinize broader questions about the nature of crime fiction over the 10-weeks of study, which draw together the elements of the module: what is crime fiction and how does it differ from other genres? What is the difference between the stand-alone novel and a series? Why do readers enjoy crime fiction? Does crime fiction need a crime?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Oral communication in seminar and workshop discussion; written communication in portfolio submission text.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent reading and research; developing and refining new writing techniques.
Information Technology Word-processing skills required to prepare and submit portfolios; use of digital resources for research.
Personal Development and Career planning Through critical self-reflection; transferable communication and research skills.
Problem solving Analysing and employing crime fiction techniques; planning and developing written tasks.
Research skills Undertaking research into key techniques and approaches, and presenting this in a scholarly and coherent manner.
Subject Specific Skills Practical proficiency in creative writing; close reading; analysis of texts and research sources; revision and editing.
Team work Collaboration in seminars and workshops.


This module is at CQFW Level 6