• University of Reading

A-level Study Boost: Unseen Poetry and the Creative Process

Discover effective techniques to analyse unseen poetry and learn about the creative writing process.

15,356 enrolled on this course

3 simple cartoon characters each standing on a column that are at different heights. The one on the left is reading a book, the middle character is reading a sheet of paper and the right one is writing in a book.
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Improve your skills in analysis and creative writing

What do you do when you encounter a poem for the first time?

How can the process of writing poetry help you to enjoy and understand the written word in new ways? 

In this course, you’ll explore strategies for close reading and creative writing using an example poem.

You’ll explore the techniques that poets use and consider their impact on you as a reader.

By the end of the course, you’ll be inspired to read poetry in different ways, express yourself more effectively and you’ll have created an original poem of your own.

Hear from our course team

You can take this course at any time. However, if you’d like to engage with the course team, our educators/mentors will be joining the course discussions during the following dates:

15 March 2021 – 28 March 2021
21 June 2021 – 4 July 2021


  • Week 1

    Unseen Poetry

    • Getting Started

      Welcome! Meet Dr Rebecca Bullard, your Lead Educator and find out what you'll be learning over the next two weeks to help you get the most out of poetry.

    • A way in

      If a poem were a room, what kind of room would it be? Over the next few Steps you'll explore a way to get started with reading poetry.

    • Feelings

      Feelings can be emotional and physical, and both responses have an impact on your interpretation of poetry. Reflect on how poetry makes you feel, and where these feelings come from.

    • Patterns

      Identifying patterns in the shape or sound of a poem can impact us in unexpected ways. Discover how the tone of a poem can change when you start to notice patterns in poetry.

    • Puzzles

      Sometimes poems can feel like unsolvable puzzles. In this activity you'll discover methods you can use to unpick some of the more challenging aspects of understanding a poem.

    • Review and reflect

      This week you explored techniques to help you understand and find meaning in poetry. Next week you'll examine the creative process in more detail and create your own poem.

  • Week 2

    The Creative Process

    • Beginning the creative process

      Welcome to Week 2. Poetry can be used as a form of creative expression, and is also a way to help us make sense of the world around us. This week, you'll explore these ideas more fully by making your own poem.

    • The abstract

      Thinking in an abstract way can help us to see the world a little differently and to make unexpected connections. In these Steps, you'll discover techniques to help get your poem off to a strong start.

    • Shaping

      Now that you've got words down on paper, completing this activity will help you to shape your poem by experimenting and playing with the way it looks, sounds and feels.

    • Finishing

      Writing poetry often involves sharing your work with others to gain a new perspective or interpretation. In these Steps, you'll have the opportunity to critique another Learner's poem and to gain feedback on your own work.

    • Sharing

      Receiving criticism for your work can be difficult. In this activity, you'll take a moment to reflect on the feedback received for your poem and use it to improve and refine your work, ready to be published in the course anthology

    • Review and reflect

      Thank you for joining us on this University of Reading course. Now you’ve reached the end, let’s reflect together and think about the value of poetry.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe how the creative writing process can lead to a better understanding of unseen poetry
  • Explain the techniques available to authors when writing poetry
  • Assess why poets use certain techniques in their writing and how this has an impact on meaning
  • Discuss the ways in which the creative writing process provides an outlet for creativity
  • Apply pattern, puzzle and shaping techniques to the interpretation and creation of poetry

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students studying A-level English literature, language, history, and drama, and those looking to study English at university. It will also be of interest to anyone looking to develop their critical thinking about poetry and improve their skills in analysis and writing.

This course will also be of interest to A-level teachers of the same subjects looking for teaching resources and ideas to use with their students in the classroom.

Who will you learn with?

I'm an Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading in the UK. I'm looking forward to exploring poetry with you.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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