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Get underneath the skin of a novel by understanding some of the main building blocks of modern fiction with How to Read a Novel at The University of Edinburgh by FutureLearn.

Visit the official programme website for more information


What makes a great novel? How is a novel woven together? How can we best appreciate works of fiction?Answer these questions and more with this course from The University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Key facts:

On How to Read a Novel at The University of Edinburgh by FutureLearn  you’ll discover four of the main building blocks of modern fiction: plot, characterisation, dialogue, and setting using examples from a range of texts including the four novels shortlisted for the 2021 James Tait Black fiction prize. You’ll also explore the formal strategies authors use, how they came to be, and how they affect us as readers.

Programme Structure


  • The course examines specific techniques relating to plotting and temporality including flashbacks, unreliable narration and framed narratives.
  • The course considers ways of understanding character, such as behaviour and motives.
  • It explores issues relating to the presentation of dialogue, including conversational mood and dialect voices.
  • The course examines the impact of various different settings on the development of plot and character.

Key information


  • Part-time
    • 1 months
    • 2 hrs/week

Start dates & application deadlines

You can apply for and start this programme anytime.





Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

English requirements

We are not aware of any English requirements for this programme.

Other requirements

General requirements

This course is for anyone who enjoys reading. You don’t need any past experience. You don’t need to have read all four books before you commence the course, but you may find it enhances your learning experience if you have.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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How to Read a Novel


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