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The art of English

The art of English looks at creativity in the English language: from everyday language use (conversation, children’s language, letter writing, online chat) to ‘high culture’ literary language and new kinds of media texts. You’ll consider how ‘verbal art’ works in a wide range of texts, and the extent to which the seeds of literary creativity may be found in more routine uses of English. The module has an international dimension too, enabling you to explore language use in different parts of the English-speaking world, and should help you consider your own daily experiences of the English language.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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Student Reviews

A challenging module, with demanding reading. It has proved useful in rounding off my English studies with the OU since...
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I really enjoyed this course; it's definitely my favourite so far. The first half of the course starts with creativity...
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What you will study

The module is relevant to anyone with a general interest in the English language and how it is used by speakers, writers and producers of multimodal texts such as illustrated books and film; or in specific areas of language study such as language and literature; language and media; or children’s language. It is also relevant to teachers and others with a professional interest in English. Unless you have previous experience of studying the English language, or linguistics, language and literature or some other branch of language studies, you are advised to take this module after studying the OU level 2 module Worlds of English (U214).

The module is divided into two main sections, organised as two main teaching texts, with accompanying study guides and CD-ROMs. The study guides (one for each main section of the module) link all the components of the module, including audiovisual activities. The module also makes use of two set books, the details of which are given below.

Everyday creativity – The first part of the module looks at everyday creativity or verbal art in both spoken and written English. It examines how speakers routinely use forms of language often associated with literary texts in their everyday talk, for instance in language play, jokes and other forms of verbal humour, metaphorical imagery, narratives of personal experience and everyday performances in interaction with others. We also examine creative uses of written English varying from graffiti and text messages to letters, diaries and blogs, and consider how everyday textual creativity is related to particular cultural contexts and historical moments. Our focus here is on the functions and meanings of linguistic creativity in people’s lives and the ways in which speakers of English use different kinds of reading and writing to construct and express aspects of their identities.

Literary creativity – The second part of the module looks at texts designed for public consumption, including: poetry, plays and novels, picturebooks, performance art, e-literature, and adverts. What distinguishes some of these texts as high quality literature while others are dismissed as ephemeral and of little lasting value? How are new types of technology enabling or even challenging our understanding of literary creativity and its different forms? And how far does considering the processes involved in reading and authoring literary texts help to illuminate these issues? This section of the module explores the idea that more ephemeral texts make creative use of a shared literary and cultural heritage. It also explores social and ideological issues, and the influence of historical processes and different cultural contexts on what counts as literary language and how this is understood.

In exploring creativity across a range of genres and social contexts, this module provides a lively introduction to stylistic, sociolinguistic and multimodal analysis. It draws on work in literature and performance studies as well as English language studies.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015 when it will be available for the final time. A replacement module is planned for October 2016.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU. You are expected to have some knowledge of language study, and the module is particularly appropriate if you have taken our module Worlds of English (U214) (or the discontinued module U211).  

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
26 Sep 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

October 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 30/07/2015.

What's included

Module books, study guides, CD-ROMs, module guide, other printed material, website.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Short, M.H. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose Routledge £31.99 - ISBN 9780582291300
  • Carter, R. Language and Creativity: The Art of Common Talk Routledge £29.99 - ISBN 9780415234498

If you have a disability

The set books are available in a comb-bound and DAISY Digital Talking Book format. The printed study materials are available in the DAISY Digital Talking Book format.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.