Coursework

This page provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about coursework units CREW2 and CREW4. Regularly updated, this is the best place to find the most up-to-date advice.

If you don't have the details of your coursework adviser, please contact the subject team at creativewriting@aqa.org.uk.

Coursework FAQ

Submissions

Students may need to be advised as to the suitability, acceptability and appropriateness of their chosen creative elements for CREW2 and 4. Teachers should therefore bear the following points in mind while helping students to make those important decisions.

Q: Are transformations and/or imitations of other writers' works acceptable for submission?

A: Students will be rewarded for using an imaginative and effective approach to language in their chosen form [AO1 & 2].  Awareness of creative processes and of responses to existing writers' work is rewarded separately in the reflective commentary [AO3 & 4].

The presentation of sequels or prequels, of new episodes of dramas or stories, or of poetry sequences based upon communities and/or locations established by other writers may be acceptable as submissions.  Indications of that creative process will need to be clearly evident in the evolution of the final piece from the student's original draft. 

Creative elements are judged on their individual strengths.  Where the meaning and effectiveness of the writing is dependent on explanations of contextual significance, the quality of the work is likely to be undermined because the writing must be assessed as a 'stand alone' piece and has to be submitted as such.

Explanations of formal or stylistic purpose cannot be considered in the assessment of the creative work but may be rewarded in the reflective commentary. The assessment of the commentary is informed by the writing but not vice-versa.

Q: Is it appropriate for students to submit work presented for other specifications as coursework in Creative Writing?

A: No. Students should be informed that submitting the same piece of writing for separate subject specifications is not acceptable.  Duplicate submissions are not permitted in A-level examinations. For example, an original piece of writing in the form of a creative transformation that has been submitted for English Literature cannot also be submitted for Creative Writing; nor can a story or article offered for assessment in English Language or Media Studies.  This applies also to scripts prepared for Drama or Theatre Studies.  It would not be appropriate to submit a piece of work that was also being assessed for the Extended Project.

However, original work arising from tasks undertaken for other specifications might be entirely acceptable.  It would, for instance, be appropriate for a drama student to produce fictional writing that had its seeds in an original stage script written for A-level Theatre Studies. Similarly, a student might develop a science-fiction story or script arising from issues studied in Physics or Chemistry.  Another candidate might produce a documentary script for radio, film or television or a magazine article, based on topics studied in Geography or Sociology.

Q: Is it acceptable for students to submit more than one piece of writing in each form?

A: Yes. As stated in the Specification, it is acceptable to submit a number of pieces of writing within the same form.  A student may submit a series of pieces of flash fiction, or a sequence of poems, but please note that the minimum submission for each of the two forms is 500 words in CREW2 (see also equivalencies in CREW4).

Q: Can imagined scenarios form the basis for non-fiction pieces? For example, is it appropriate for students to present a feature article built around an imagined or invented interview?

A: No, because such tasks are fictional and should be submitted under that form as such.  Similarly, a piece of travel writing about a journey between interplanetary resorts in a neighbouring solar system would only be acceptable as a piece of science-fiction (prose fiction).

However, the inventive crossing of formal boundaries would be recognised in the assessment of AO1 & 2.  The approach would also offer opportunities for fruitful reflection in the commentary.

Q: Are graphic forms acceptable for CREW2 & CREW4?

A: Where students wish to offer work in a graphic form they should be reminded of the minimum word requirement and advised that only the written words will be assessed. None of the assessment objectives allow for consideration of visual elements. Students should be advised not to follow this route. 

Q: Are screenplay synopses allowed in scripted pieces? If so, what proportion might be acceptable?

A: Students presenting scripts should be aware that dialogue is expected to dominate the piece.

Appropriate directions and special effects will be rewarded where they demonstrate a creative contribution to the form.  Some thought needs to be given to screenplay elements. Where narration and description inspire, direct, or influence the production of the performance they will be rewarded under AO1 & 2. Should synopsis, scene setting, characterisation and direction dominate the work, the effectiveness of the script may be weakened.  Consideration should to be given to submitting the work under a different form.

Q: What advice should students be offered regarding specific audience genre pieces such as fairy tales and writing for children?

A: Students should be advised that, in this specification, audience awareness is not explicitly assessed, although showing understanding of genre and convention can be rewarded through AO1&2.

Candidates wishing to work in fairy tale genre, or for children, should be advised that writing for a young audience may not enable them to demonstrate the expertise, technical control of language or   "highly developed" or "skilful" employment of form and effect.  Such achievement might, however, be possible in writing for young adults.

Q: How much attention should students give to specific audience and genre issues in the reflective commentary?

A: Choices of form and genre [both conventional and innovative] and use of language are relevant to AO1 and 2 and offer opportunities for reflection under A03 and 4. 

Consideration of audience is one of many things that can be rewarded in units 2 & 4 as demonstrating "evidence of awareness of own processes" [AO3] and when appropriate, "influence of published work as stimulus and inspiration" [AO4].

Q: Are there guidelines to be observed regarding adult content?

A: Where the content of creative work raises issues of suitability, centres should make the judgement on what they deem appropriate for the student and the institution. These issues often arise around the use of sexually explicit language and the presentation of violence, for example. AQA does not have any specific guidelines about the acceptability of such writing because it is the responsibility of schools and colleges to judge the appropriateness of work that will be submitted for a public examination assessment.  Ultimately, students need to be aware that the work they submit for assessment enters the public domain and their creative decisions should be influenced by that.  Such considerations may offer opportunities for exploration in the reflective commentary.

Q: Will it be appropriate for a CREW4 submission to be a development/extension of work presented for CREW2?

A: No. The Specification states that work must be entirely new.

Q: Will the word count for CREW2 be rigorously enforced?

A: Candidates will be expected to adhere closely to the specified word guidance of 3000 words in CREW2. 

Q: Why is there a minimum word limit for the creative elements in CREW2 (500 words)?

A: To allow for submissions of shorter forms and genres, such as a collection of flash fiction or poetry. Students are expected to balance the length of submissions to reach the overall 3000 word guidance.

Q: Why is there no minimum word limit for CREW4?

A: There is no minimum word limit for CREW4 as there is in CREW2, though students are expected to adhere to the word ranges detailed in the specification.  There is guidance on equivalence for poetry and scripts. The absence of minimum word limits for CREW4 will encourage students to take more responsibility for their writing project and for their editing decisions. There should be no assumptions about a perfect length for a particular piece of writing.

General questions

Q: What kind of teacher advice on coursework drafts is appropriate?

A: Students are required and should be encouraged to make independent drafting decisions, becoming increasingly self-critical and reflective as they develop their coursework pieces for submission, and then to comment on this process in the accompanying commentary. It is expected that these decisions will arise out of an ongoing reflective process during which they may receive feedback on their ideas, plans and written drafts from their peers and other readers of their work. Their reading and exposure to the reflective writing of other writers will also enhance this developmental process.

Wider discussion with the teacher will play a vital part in this process. However, in accordance with JCQ guidelines, the teacher should give written feedback on one written draft of coursework only and should not provide any critical comment for the candidate on subsequent drafts. Teachers can suggest ideas for development in the final version. For example, they might suggest that the ending of a piece might be developed further or that the dialogue could be honed. They might point the candidate in the direction of a particular writer in order to explore characterisation techniques or skilful plot construction. Much of this feedback will be verbal rather than written. Although general advice may be given on technical accuracy, teachers should not be 'proofreading' or correcting spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Q: What advice should be given to students about writing the commentary?

A: Detailed guidance on the writing of the commentary is available in the Teacher Resource document 'Approaching First Teaching'. In CREW2 both single commentaries on individual coursework pieces and holistic commentaries on the whole submission are permissible, though the latter might allow for a more probing, comparative critical reflection. Sample commentaries will be available for teachers but students should be encouraged to formulate their own questions to be addressed in the commentary and to write in their own voice, exploring material from their notebook and journal.

Q: What kind of help is available for teachers regarding the assessment of coursework?

A: Face to face meetings will be offered in January/February 2014. As this is a new course there will be a limited selection of candidate work available for standardisation in January 2014, to include examples of marked work in a variety of forms as well as commentaries with some whole folders for CREW2.

Candidates should be encouraged, however, to be innovative and exploratory in their approach and samples of work should in no way be regarded as prescriptive models.

More detailed guidance on the requirements of the Commentary can be found in Teaching and Learning Resources on the AQA website. In this task too, however, candidates should not feel restricted to a specified or exemplified approach and should be encouraged to be original and innovative whilst addressing the assessment objectives.

Q: Is there a particular reading list for teachers?

A: AQA do not recommend specific books published by external publishers. Teachers are advised to select from the suggested list provided in addition to other texts and websites suggested in the teaching and learning resources to suit their own needs. There is also an ever-increasing number of texts and websites offering advice on Creative Writing.

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Academic year 2015/16