Poetry: How to Read a Poem Course - University of York


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description


Discover what poetry can tell us about human emotion and learn key ideas and techniques for understanding and interpreting verse.

Dive into the wonderful world of poetry and learn how to analyse a poem

Humans have communicated their thoughts, ideas, and feelings through poetry throughout history. At its best, it tells us new truths about the human experience. However, it’s often presented as hard to understand without expert knowledge.

On this course, you’ll build your confidence in reading and enjoying poetry.

Whether you’re a poetry fanatic or you’re eager to learn, you’ll learn tools for approaching the study of poetry, ways to express your appreciation of poetry, and ways to find new riches in your favourite poems.

This course will also give you guidance on developing your own poetic voice when writing verse.

What topics will you cover?

  • Traditions: the history of poetry, where it comes from, how it has changed, and how it has been important to societies in different times and places.
  • How to read a poem: tips and techniques to understand poetic form and genre.
  • How poetry works: critics and creative writers on poetic technique, and the craft of writing.
  • Intertextuality: how poets talk to one another across time.
  • Close reading: how to analyse a literary text in-depth, and express your insights effectively.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Identify different poetic forms, techniques and genres.
  • Debate how poems create their effects and describe how a given poem works in a way that is effective, accessible and compelling.
  • Engage with some key critical and theoretical arguments about poetry, intertextuality and literature.
  • Reflect on the social and cultural dynamics that inform poems and inspire and influence poets.
  • Develop an understanding of the place of contemporary poetry in a long poetic tradition.
  • Apply these insights to improve and develop your own critical and creative writing, if you wish to do so.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for poetry and literature lovers everywhere and anyone who wants to develop and expand their writing skills.

It is suitable for keen poetry readers as well as those just getting started on their journey.

The course will be especially useful for A-level (and equivalent) students who want to know what it’s like to study English at a university level.

Who will you learn with?

Alexandra Kingston-Reese

I am a Lecturer in Contemporary Literature in the Department of English and Related Literature at York and a widely published critic on contemporary writing and visual culture.

Flora Sagers

I manage the University of York's 'How to Read a Poem' course, and am a PhD student in the Department of English at York. I research the politics of genre in contemporary literature.

Helen Smith

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

Join this course



Unlimited (New!)
$259.99 for one year

Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks

Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Last updated Sep 2020

About the School

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses.

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
Albuquerque , London , Aberdeen , Auckland , Baltimore , Barcelona , Bath , Bathurst , Bergen , Biel/Bienne , Birmingham , Bracknell , Brisbane City , Cambridge , Cape Town , Clayton , Crawley , Charlottesville , Delhi , Dublin , Dundee , Durham , Edinburgh , Enschede , Exeter , Fiesole , Geneva , Royal Borough of Greenwich , Grenoble , Groningen , Hawthorn , Hsinchu , Jerusalem , Canterbury , Hong Kong , Lancaster , Leeds , Leicester , Leuven , Madrid , Makati , Manchester , Melbourne , Ann Arbor , Milton Keynes , Montreux , Murdoch , Norman Gardens , Norwich , Oxford , Padua , Paris , Darling Heights , Reading , Rehovot , Seoul , Sheffield , Slough , Southampton , Glasgow , Guildford , Sydney , Taipei , Tokyo , Trondheim , Uppsala , Warwick , West Lafayette , York , Chicago , Newcastle , Coventry + 71 More Less
Visit the school’s website