MA Creative Writing

This programme is for those who have completed an undergraduate degree containing some creative writing or for English graduates with considerable experience in writing creatively and who wish to proceed to a career or further study in this area. You will receive instruction and experience across a range of writing types, including new media, collaborating with other students across genres before specialising in either screenwriting, playwriting, fiction or poetry for your dissertation.

Course fact file

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September

Details

The programme brings together students who are working in different genres so that you can engage collaboratively across genres before specialising in screenwriting, playwriting, fiction or poetry for your dissertation. 

You will take five core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • Creative Writing Research Skills I: Theories and Practice
  • Creative Writing Research Skills II: Theories, Models, Self
  • Poem as Story - Story as Poem
  • Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft
  • Editing as Collaborative Practice

You will also take one optional module from within English, or from another discipline.

You will complete the programme with a dissertation which will be 75% creative portfolio and 25% critical essay. You will write a 20,000-25,000 word portfolio of creative work in as a screenplay, novella, excerpt of a novel, a collection of short fiction or a collection of poetry. This will be accompanied by a 5,000-word essay placing your work in a critical and creative context, with reference to your development as a writer over the course of the MA. You will receive feedback on work in progress during one-to-one tutorials and in work-sharing seminars with peers (groups divided along the lines of genre/form).

The programme is also assessed by creative portfolios and assignments throughout the taught modules.

Why study this course

You’ll be joining a lively writing community. The undergraduate Creative Writing programme and Creative Writing Societies provide an energetic and talented scene in which to write. There are regular events, readings, poetry slams and student publications, and Creative Writing Societies provide an energetic and talented scene in which to write. There are regular events, readings, poetry slams and student publications.

We have links to the award winning local press Tindal Street and the boutique poetry pamphlet publishers Nine Arches Press, including visiting lectures from writers, publishers and editors.

Modules

You will study five core modules:

Creative Writing: Research Skills I: Theories and Practice

This module offers you the chance to generate new material, experiment with form and technique and share your work in writing workshops with the supervision of your tutor.

Creative Writing Research Skills II: Theories, Models, Self

This module asks – what advantages are gained from placing your writing in a critical context? How do you see yourself as a writer? Through the study of historical and contemporary ideas of authorship and the role of the writer, socially and artistically, you will be encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of your own work and motivations for writing.

Poem as Story - Story as Poem

This module allows for a simultaneous focus on poetry and fiction, allowing you to work in both forms rather than choosing to be a “poet” or “prose writer” at this stage in your development as a writer. There will be weekly writing exercises and the opportunity to critique one anothers’ work as well as a weekly set text exploring contemporary poetry and fiction.

Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft

How does a story change when its form changes? Are the characters in the screen adaptation the same characters as in the source novel? Are we freer in our approach to adaptation than we used to be? There will be weekly set texts to explore the themes. You will be assessed through a critical paper focusing on two different genres (e.g. a book adapted for the stage or screen, a poetry collection adapted for radio, etc.) as well as an extended piece in the genre of your choice.

Editing as Collaborative Practice

This module uses the concept of editing as a tool to question the nature of writing as process and product. It will provide a broad, market-focused contextualisation of editing issues and practices as well as hands-on editing. Working in collaboration with an external MA programme students will build towards the production of a professional quality anthology of creative work.

You will take one optional modules - in the first semester - and your choice includes:

Contemporary Literary Cultures: Politics

This module investigates key problems in performance history and historiography. You will consider a range of conceptual and methodological issues raised by the historical analysis of theatre and performance. You will focus particularly on the strategies and politics of historical representation in drama and theatre studies, looking at how performance practices have been narrated within theatre studies and how these narratives represent theatre's relationship with other social practices. NB: this module has limited spaces.

Victorian Modernity: 1880-1910

This module will enhance students' ability to explore the diversity of literary impulses in a turn-of-the-century period characterised by literary non-conformity. Major topics to be covered include: the late nineteenth-century city, decadence, imperialism, aestheticism, and early modernism. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period. In spite of its interest in diversity the module will be unified by two themes that are characteristic of the period: an intense interest in the past as well as fascination with the future.

Writing Revolutions: Politics, Publics and Professionalism in Literary Culture, 1580-1700

This module provides a theme and topic-based survey of English literature of the period 1580-1700 (excluding Shakespeare). It encompasses literature from all the principal genres of the period, addressing literary texts, from the time of Sidney and Spenser through the Civil War to Dryden and Rochester in the late seventeenth-century.

Alternatively, you may choose an optional module from outside your discipline from other areas of the College or University.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £5,940 full-time; £2,970 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,665 full-time

Learn more about fees and funding 

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

University of Birmingham graduates - including those due to graduate in summer 2014 - may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

Our Creative Writing staff have interests in prose, poetry, drama and screen-writing, so you will be supported to pursue your specific interests. Coupled with the broad range of optional modules available, you will find that that the course is very much tailored to you as an individual.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Over the last five years, over 95% of English postgraduates have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation using the transferable skills gained in their postgraduate degree.