Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Humour and Conflict in Contemporary Writing
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Writing Portfolio  Writing Portfolio (4,000 words): a) A critical commentary (1,500 words). b) A creative piece (2,500 words)  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed Writing Portfolio  Writing Portfolio (4,000 words): a) A critical commentary w (1,500 words). b) A creative piece (2,500 words)  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate knowledge of the approaches and techniques underpinning humorous writing.

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

Communicate knowledge and understanding of humour writing in their critical writing.

Students should be able to examine the interplay between conflict and humour to produce a piece of comedic writing that is valuably informed by their own research.

Evaluate key issues within Humour Studies, in relation to comedic fiction which deals with conflict.

Brief description

What makes writing humorous? Why do writers employ humour in their work, and how can it be utilized in grappling with social issues? This module explores the manner in which tone, characterization and narrative are used by contemporary comedic writers to create incongruity, levity and comedic resilience. It introduces students to a range of Humour Theories in relation to set texts. This module is designed to give students an insight into the conventions and techniques involved in writing humour across contemporary literature which deals with conflict, power dynamics and racial or social adversity.


The aim of this module is to offer an insight into humour in contemporary literature, particularly as it deals with conflict and social change, and to equip students with the techniques required in comedic writing. Since comedy is used to criticise society, the module will also explore the relationship between the writers, the historical or social conditions and the text. The module will present a range of theoretical approaches to comedic literature, which enable students to analyse the types of humour in contemporary literature and to employ relevant techniques in their own writing.


The module will be developed through a series of workshops, each intended to introduce students to a particular aspect of humour in writing; students will also be required to study, and respond to, works of fiction which employ humour or comedic resilience in grappling with conflict and adversity. 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 humour in contemporary novels allows for the exploration of issues such as racism, immigration, classism and gender inequality. Students will learn the devices, techniques and conventions associated with writing humour, particularly in relation to conflict.

Sessions 1&2: Mining Experiences: using experiences and backgrounds in order to produce satirical, observational, anecdotal, dark or self-deprecating humour (types of humour)

Sessions 3&4: Theories of Humour: Incongruity, Superiority and Release

Sessions 5&6: Creating Funny People: characterization

Sessions 7&8: Comedic Distance: tone, narration and perspective

Sessions 9&10: Challenging Assumptions and Comedic Resilience: using irony and exaggeration to critique society (satire)

Students will be given the time and space to consider and study the above aspects separately, but they will also be asked to scrutinize broader questions about the nature of humour in writing, which draw together the elements of the module: what are the functions of humour? How does it serve to tackle challenging and serious subject matter? What is Comedic Resilience? What are the limitations of humour writing with regard to conflict and can it be counter-productive? Does it have to make the reader laugh? How does humour work in autobiographical and coming of age narratives?

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