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Writing Crime Fiction

Duration 10 weekly meetings
Tutor Katherine Stansfield
Course code CRW21A5166B
Fee £175
Concessionary fee £140 (find out about eligibility and funding options)
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This course is for you if you are passionate about crime novels and would like to try your hand at writing crime fiction.

It will introduce you to the building blocks of crime fiction, including plotting, character construction, writing convincing dialogue and how to build tension and create mystery and suspense. It will be particularly suitable for writers coming to this popular genre for the first time, but it will also suit more experienced writers who are wishing to learn more about what publishers of crime fiction are looking for.

Course syllabus

  • Week 1: Crime fiction - the hows and the whys.
  • Week 2: Choice of murder weapon - genre characteristics.
  • Week 3: Plotting the perfect crime.
  • Week 4: Detectives, traditional and otherwise.
  • Week 5: Criminals - the other side of the coin.
  • Week 6: Whose crime it is anyway? Thinking about point of view.
  • Week 7: Withholding evidence - showing not telling, and tension.
  • Week 8: Witness testimony - dialogue.
  • Week 9: Working out the details - research.
  • Week 10: Just one more thing: An opportunity for questions and course review.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be 10, two-hour meetings, once a week (20 contact hours in total) which will include discussions, exercises (optional) and workshops.

The aim is ensure that the classes are enjoyable and stimulating for all. You will be expected to write in your own private time, with the guidance of your tutor, and to learn about revision, while at the same time becoming familiar with the fundamental concepts of writing crime fiction.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects. There will be no formal examinations.

You will be encouraged to write and read examples of your own work to your fellow class members and to comment on their work in turn, in the process sharpening your critical skills.

The form your writing takes is for you to decide but your tutor will offer you advice and, depending at what level you are studying, work out a scheme of study with you which is intended to bring out the best in you.

The basis of assessment will be a portfolio of creative writing consisting of your best work produced on this module. This portfolio may consist of several separate creative pieces or one piece of extended writing, by prior agreement with the tutor. Your work will be assessed by your tutor, who will offer you written reports which we hope you will find constructive.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are flexible and are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

The course tutor will suggest titles, as appropriate.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.


21-23 Senghennydd Road
CF24 4AG