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Develop your writing in a supportive and creative environment, with tips from our team of professional writers on how to improve your technique and get published.
- Join a course taken by successful published writers including Costa Short Story winner Caroline Ward Vine, Penny Hancock, and Kaddy Benyon
- Learn from published writers including Laura Dietz (In The Tenth House; chapters in The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story in English / New Writing) and Dr Tiffany Angus (‚What Cannot be Described’ in The Book of Flowering)
- Get feedback on your writing from other students as well as published authors
- Refine your existing projects or experiment with different forms of writing
- Study techniques used by acclaimed writers through history
Our MA Creative Writing will give you the rare opportunity to improve your writing by practising and sharing it with a close group of fellow writers, including specialist lecturers who are published authors.
You will study the most acclaimed writers of the past 200 years and discover the techniques they used to make their writing stand out. Our in-class and extra-curricular exercises will allow you to practise your technique with different forms of writing and in areas such as characterisation, structure, and pacing.
Using what you have learned, you will create samples of your writing to share with your lecturers and fellow students, allowing you to receive a wide range of responses to your work as well as learning to critically evaluate the work of others.
Our optional modules will give you the chance to explore topics from publishing to Renaissance drama and, at the end of the course, you can choose a piece of writing to develop in depth on our Major Project module.
You will also have access to talks, masterclasses, and networking opportunities with agents, publishers, and other established writers, including many events organised by our Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Our MA Creative Writing will help you prepare for a career as a creative writer or in related areas such as publishing and the media, but will also give you critical and analytical skills valued by many employers.
Many of our past students have gone on to have successful careers as writers, including Costa Short Story Award 2019 winner Caroline Ward Vine, Kaddy Benyon, Penny Hancock, and Kate Swindlehurst.
You might also decide to continue on to a research degree, such as our PhD Creative Writing.
MODULES & ASSESSMENT
Patterns of Story: Fiction and its FormsThis module is a literary history course for writers. You will examine the history of the novel from its formation in the 18th Century through to some of its more modern forms, exploring along the way some of the cultural and social contexts that have helped to shape these changing patterns of story. Your studies will include some narrative theory. Through reading and discussing recent and classic books on the history and structure of the novel, by writers such as Jane Smiley, Christopher Booker, John Mullen and Dorothea Brande, you will consider what it means to write novels and what it means to be a writer, and the ways in which some contemporary writers use and reuse much older forms of storytelling and patterns of story. You will be assessed through a 6000-word essay on an aspect of narrative form that will incorporate samples of your creative writing.
Master’s Project in Creative WritingThis module will support you in the preparation and submission of your Masters Major Project in Creative Writing. This is the single most important element of your assessment for the course, comprising a 12,000-word major writing project and a 3,000-word critical commentary. You may work on any fiction writing project that the Department is able to supervise and assess. This might be either part of a longer fiction project, such as a novel or screenplay, or a collection of shorter pieces, such as short stories or poems. This module will allow you to showcase your work and consider how to present it to future agents and publishers. You will develop rigorous editorial skills and work with established writers and supervisors to edit, draft and polish your work.
Workshop: the Short StoryOn this workshop-based module you will study and practice the techniques of short story writing. To maximise the use of group feedback and feedback from the tutor you will undertake many exercises in workshop time, but also longer writing exercises to consolidate what you have done in class. You will undertake a series of structured exercises designed to develop your techniques in, for instance, characterisation, dialogue, plot structure, time frames and time sequencing with a particular emphasis placed on how these techniques differ from those used in novel writing. You will read short stories from a range of classic and contemporary short story writers such as Chekhov, Henry James and Alice Munro and the work of other writers featured on the East of the Web short story website. As the module progresses you will be expected to reflect critically both on your own writing and that of your peers. This module will also incorporate practical advice on agents, the marketplace, writing competitions and how to get writing published. You will be assessed through the portfolio of writing of up to 4,000 words and a critical commentary of up to 2,000 words.
Shakespeare and SocietyOn this module, you will focus on a detailed study of Shakespeare’s works and their later performance, history and creative reception in the context of the social changes at work both in his era and in the centuries which followed. You will study a wide-ranging selection of Shakespeare’s works, including examples from all major genres. You will explore key cultural contexts, such as gender, race, politics and power, in relation to both the early modern stage and to later adaptations and performances. From the seventeenth century to the present day, Shakespeare’s works have been re-appropriated within a range of different cultural, geographical and political contexts. This module will require you to examine an indicative selection of these: global performances, film versions, poetic and visual responses, prequels and sequels in fiction and drama. You will also be required to engage with relevant critical and theoretical debates. Your two assessment elements for this module consist of a 1000-word critical review and a 5000-word essay.
Twentieth and Twenty First Century Fiction and Social ChangeThis module provides a survey of literature from the 20th and 21st centuries. You will analyse fiction within a framework of social and political change. Centring on a number of key developments – the first and second world wars, gendered and sexual change, migration and multiculturalism, the rise of neo-liberalism and 9/11 – you will explore a range of literary and theoretical texts. Your assessment will include two elements, the first a 1000-word literature review discussing one key area of social change and its relationship to developments in fiction, the second comprises a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with the module team.
Creativity and Content in PublishingYou will cover issues, principles and practices related to the research, commissioning, preparation and packaging of publishing products and services in a variety of formats and on various platforms. You will consider the importance of determining the strategic direction of a publisher’s list, the publisher’s relationship with content creators, and the need for quality control in managing editorial projects. The module will introduce you to the world of contemporary publishing and the importance of different media markets. You will also be introduced to the processes by which publishers work with authors and designers in the preparation of text and images for publication in both print and electronic formats. Workshops will cover commissioning and editorial skills and in further sessions you will address issues such as marketing and the making of effective presentations. Industry specialists will be brought in where appropriate to introduce you to case studies in order to illustrate salient contemporary content management issues. The module will conclude with student group presentations of new product proposals. For assessment you will complete an editorial plan to present a new publishing idea. You will work in a group to submit an acquisitions proposal comprising appropriate documentation and graphics, as well as an assessed presentation.
Workshop: the NovelOn this module, you will study and practice the techniques of novel writing in peer-discussion workshops. Outside of these workshops, you will complete samples of your own novel, which will be presented to your fellow students and module tutors during the workshop, allowing you to receive a range of feedback on your writing. You will undertake smaller writing exercises during workshop time, but will also receive longer writing exercises to consolidate what has been done in class. You will undertake a series of structured exercises designed to develop your techniques in, for instance, characterisation, dialogue, and the selection and effectiveness of different points of view, setting. You will also read extracts from a number of well-known novels to underpin these discussions of techniques. The module will also incorporate practical advice about agents, the marketplace and how to get your work published. You will be assessed through the portfolio of writing of up to 4,000 words that you produce during the module, and a critical commentary of 2,000 words.
Special Topic in Creative Writing/English LiteratureThis module will give you the opportunity to study a particular topic or genre taught by a practising writer with current or recent work in this area. The texts will include those written for adults and children or young adults that share the focus. You might study a particular subgenre such as historical fantasy or weird fiction, or a particular topic such as the apocalypse or time travel. The module will include close reading of the texts, instruction and discussion on how to write in the particular genre, and workshopping of your writing. You will be assessed by means of a final 4,500-word portfolio of creative writing appropriate to the special topic and a critical commentary of 2,000 words. Please note all students wishing to enrol in this module must submit a short writing sample to get approval from the module leader.
The Business of PublishingYou will cover issues, principles and practices related to the management of publishing organisations as well as marketing in a publishing context, finally coming to an understanding of how publishing operates across various platforms. You will focus on the need to understand the competitive media environment. You will also explore organisational and management issues, and will be introduced to marketing principles and the skill of writing business plans. You will become familiar with different publishing organisations. You will also explore the variety of strategies employed by publishers and related businesses in order to successfully market their products. Industry specialists may introduce you to case studies in order to illustrate relevant contemporary industry issues. For your assessment you will complete an analysis of marketing strategies, based on sound marketing principles (e.g. segmentation, targeting, positioning, and list building policies), and conduct an analytical study of annual publishing finance reports.
Revolution and Reform in the Long Nineteenth CenturyOn this module, you will examine writing produced during the ‘long’ 19th century that relates to or engages with the revolutions and major reforms between 1789 and 1914. The controversies and revolutions of the period are political, religious, social, cultural, and scientific: for example, the political ferment in Britain following the French Revolution and after the Napoleonic Wars, and the continuing pressures for a widening of the franchise throughout the Victorian period and beyond; the socio-scientific debates about sanitation in overcrowded Victorian cities; social, political, medical and legal debates about the status of women; and the changing scientific and religious divisions prompted by evolutionary hypothesis and discovery. You will consider the imaginative use of contemporary debate in the work of, for example, Wordsworth, Shelley, Dickens, Tennyson, Gaskell, Eliot and E.B. Browning alongside the strategies in a wide range of other writing and graphic art, paying close attention to the changing historical and political context. Your assessment will consist of two elements: a 10-minute oral presentation using PowerPoint or Prezi in which you will analyse a critical essay or article and assess its usefulness in relation to a literary text or texts, and a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with the module leader.