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ENGL327 The Essay: Creative Non-Fiction

Researching and writing creative non-fiction aimed at a general audience, with an emphasis upon revision for publication.

ENGL 327 is intended to follow up the teaching in ENGL 127 and ENGL 227 on composition, rhetoric and "creative (or "literary") non-fiction", and assumes a reasonable level of competence in writing correct and pleasurably readable English prose. Preference will be given to students who have taken these papers. There has recently been a boom in the reading and writing of non-fiction. The paper is aimed at later-year students, who may be expected to have developed a general view of some discipline or other in their major, or it may be an opportunity for pursuing some non-academic avocation of their own.

ENGL 327 is a project-centred paper, in which students will choose and research a topic of their own choice (subject to approval), with the aim of producing a popularly-oriented non-fiction text which exhibits the fruits of sound scholarship. We will study the structures and strategies of a number of published texts, examining their structure and style, and the variety of sub-genres that can be deployed in writing creative non-fiction.

Paper title The Essay: Creative Non-Fiction
Paper code ENGL327
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ENGL points
SCOM 427
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
Teaching staff

Convenor and Lecturer: Associate Professor Paul Tankard

Paper Structure
Lectures on the genres of non-fiction.
Study of a variety of extended texts of popular non-fiction writing.
All assessment internal.
Teaching Arrangements

Thirteen lectures.
Eight work/seminars, including exercises for assessment.

  • Simon Winchester, The Surgeon of Crowthorne (1998)
  • Mary Roach, Stiff (2003)
  • Nicholas Carr, The Shallows (2010)

Please note the above textbooks are still to be confirmed for 2023.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Research an appropriate non-fictional subject of their own choice
  • Identify and deploy a range of approaches to writing about the subject
  • Demonstrate and practise an awareness of a range of non-fictional writing skills
  • Develop editing skills
  • Produce a major prose work on the subject, suitable for a general readership

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 29-34, 36-41
A2 Thursday 16:00-17:50 29-34, 36-41