Writing Poetry for Beginners


Designed for those just starting out on their poetry-writing journey, this relaxed and fun class combines practical writing exercises, group discussion and close reading of poems by published poets to introduce students to the key elements of writing poetry.

Together, each week we shall discover a new aspect of poetic craft, including metaphor, rhythm, structure and tone. We shall read and discuss how classic and contemporary poets have successfully used these techniques in their own work before being guided to apply these creative approaches in our own writing through plenty of in-class composition and editing exercises.

Students will also be given the opportunity to ‘workshop’ the first drafts of their poems, receiving sensitive and supportive feedback from the class tutor and their peers to help take their poems to the next level.  

Programme details

Courses starts: 26 Apr 2023

Week 1:  Getting Started with Poetry

Week 2:  Developing Your Personal Perspective 

Week 3:  Creating Strong Images

Week 4:  Ekphrasis - Using Art as Inspiration

Week 5:  Using Sound in Poems

Week 6:  Form - the Sonnet

Week 7:  Imagery - the Power of Simile and Metaphor 

Week 8:  Eco-poetry

Week 9:  Form - the Villanelle

Week 10:  How to Edit Poems


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.


Description Costs
Course Fee £249.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Mariah Whelan

Mariah is a writer and teacher from Oxford. Her novel-in-sonnets the love i do to you was shortlisted for the Poetry Book Awards, won the AM Heath Prize and was an Oxford Poetry Library 'Book of the Month'.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce students to the key elements of a poem and equip students with the skills to use these concepts to write poems of their own. 

Course Objectives: 

1. To introduce students to key elements of poetry (including aspects of language, form, imagery and sound).

2. To encourage students to use the above techniques in poems of their own.

3. To equip students with the skills necessary to read and respond to poems by published authors.

4. To support students to participate in a workshop setting.

Teaching methods

Each class will begin with an engaging warm-up exercise to get the creative juices flowing. Warm-up exercises will include responding to film clips, guided visualisations and collaborative word games. 

We will then use large and small-group discussion and close reading of a selected poem to introduce the weekly class theme. The tutor will then give students the opportunity to put theory into practice using in-class writing exercises.

In the final portion of the class there will be an opportunity for students to have their initial drafts 'workshopped' by their peers, receiving sensitive and supportive feedback through tutor-moderated discussion. 

Learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate, through group discussion and through their own writing, an understanding of the key concepts involved in writing poetry;

2. read and respond with sensitivity to poems by classic and contemporary poets;

3. participate in workshops, giving their feedback with sensitivity and demonstrating a sound understanding of what makes a poem work;

4. write and redraft three poems, writing a brief reflective commentary to justify their creative choices. 

Assessment methods

Formative Assessment: students will receive peer and tutor feedback on their poems during the workshop portion of each session. 

Summative Assessment: students will submit a portfolio of three poems and three brief commentaries reflecting on the student's writing processes, to be assessed by the course tutor at the end of the term.

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 application form.

Level and demands

This course is designed for beginners. No previous experience is necessary, but it does assume that students are interested in poetry and enjoy reading poems. It is also suitable for those who have written poetry in the past but are looking for a refresher in order to re-establish their poetry-writing practice. 

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)