Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Writing Crime Fiction
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Creative-Critical Portfolio  Portfolio of creative and critical work 4000 words.  100%
Supplementary Assessment Creative-Critical Portfolio  Portfolio of creative and critical work. 4000 words.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate knowledge of the approaches and techniques underpinning crime fiction.

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

Communicate knowledge and undeerstanding in their critical writing.

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

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 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.


The module will be developed through a series of seminars and 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. Seminars will consider:
The criminal and the investigator: characterisation, relationships and exchanges of power
The murder scene: setting, environment, cadavers, and clues
The critical context: scholarly approaches to genre fiction.
Plotting: narrative structure and techniques
Suspense: how to write jeopardy
Crime fiction in conversation with other genres such as historical fiction and speculative fiction
Each seminar will encourage students to discuss a number of exemplar texts and to produce their own work in response to these.
Students will be asked to consider and scrutinize broader questions about the nature of crime fiction over the course 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