Developing And Finishing Your Novel


Are you near giving up with your novel or struggling to finish? Perhaps you are half-way through but lost sight of why you began. Maybe you have an idea but can't get started.  Maybe you feel confused and it's not clear which way you need to turn. Novels often fail because the writer puts their pen down in the face of seemingly insurmountable structural and /or technical challenges. 

Don't despair. Over a ten-week period, together we shall confront our stories and the way we are telling them. By returning to the basic elements of fiction and examining our own novels in the light of them, we will remember what it is we should be doing, and how to do it - even better. We will be looking to strengthen our story arcs, improve our prose and in the process, be reminded of why we love writing. 


Programme details

Courses starts: 25 Jan 2024

Week 1:  Introductions and simple storytelling

Week 2:  Story v plot

Week 3:  Narrative point of view

Week 4:  Tone, style and voice

Week 5:  Characterisation and setting

Week 6:  Themes

Week 7:  Tension and suspense

Week 8:  Dialogue and silence

Week 9:  Structure

Week 10:  Editing your novel

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend at least 80% of the classes on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Course Fee £269.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Daisy McNally

Daisy completed her PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2021.  She is also a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing and wrote her debut novel I See Through You (2018) during that time. The option for the film and TV rights were bought in 2020 and a mini-series has recently been written. She is currently working on a new novel.

As well as her weekly classes, Daisy teaches on our part-time Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing. She lives and writes in Oxford.

Learn more about Daisy, including her time as a creative writing student at the Department by reading her full profile.

Course aims

Through mentoring and tutoring, the developing novelist with a work in progress will be able independently to edit/advance the narrative of their novel. 

Course objectives:

  • To enable students to further develop their skills in writing fiction.
  • To improve students' understanding of the imaginative and technical possibilities of creative writing.
  • To enhance students' powers of critical thinking and skills in written and verbal forms of expression.
  • To further develop students' expertise, proficiency, and confidence in editing their own work and in commenting constructively on that of others, to a level appropriate to approach publishing professionals.
  • To plan and organize their work for the purpose of editing.

Teaching methods

Lecture and seminar. Handouts with extracts will be provided in class. There will also be opportunities to have passages from your novel workshopped.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • work independently but confidently as novelists;
  • comprehend the creative tools required to write strong fiction;
  • comprehend the creative tools required to edit their novels;
  • plan and organise their work.

Assessment methods

The course will be assessed by a 500 word synopsis of your novel, and 1500 words from it.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)