MA Creative Writing

Do you want to develop your own work, your own voice and your own ideas?

Are looking for an insight into the industry by professional editors and publishers? Define and refine your discipline at Birmingham: short fiction, the novel, poetry, scripts.

If you have completed an undergraduate degree containing some creative writing or are an English graduate with considerable experience in writing creatively and wish to proceed to a career of further study in this area then our innovative MA in Creative Writing is for you.

Learn among a community of writers and scholars with structured modules across the discipline and engage collaboratively before specialising in screenwriting, playwriting, fiction or poetry for your dissertation.

Maria Arroja Ferreira

Maria Arroja Ferreira

“The best thing about studying Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham is the ability to discuss your work within a group, and the opportunity to edit and give feedback within workshops also. Subjects such as Creative Writing rely heavily upon feedback and editing, so having the opportunity to gain feedback regularly allows your work to improve gradually throughout your time on the course. ”

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, Film Studies or from another discipline.

Assessment

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

You will also complete a dissertation which will be 75% creative portfolio and 25% critical essay. You will write a 12,000-word portfolio of creative work as a screenplay, novella, excerpt of a novel, a collection of short fiction or a collection of poetry (600 lines). This will be accompanied by a 3,000-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).

Why study this course

  • Breadth and depth of study – at Birmingham we focus on the craft of writing and editing, combining academic skills with creative, and an artistic focus with industry insights.
  • Learn from our permanent staff of published authors - Elsa Braekkan Payne, an expert in the short story who also has particular interests in editing; Luke Kennard, a poet and novelist whose criticism appears in Poetry London and the Times Literary Supplement; Richard House, fiction and screenwriter, recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Dan Vyleta, author of four award-winning novels, the most recent being The Crooked Maid, published by Bloomsbury in 2014; and the best-selling novelist Ruth Gilligan.
  • Opportunities for experimentation – the course combines focused modules with the opportunity to develop your own work through independent study.
  • Join a lively and supportive writing community – we encourage our students to be active within the university and the broader community, and to participate in readings, festivals, and events, both regionally and nationally. For example the Creative Writing Societies provide an energetic and talented scene in which to write. There are regular events, readings, poetry slams and student publications.
  • Links within the West Midlands – the Department has 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. 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

The module uses the concept of editing as a tool to question the nature of writing as process and product. It provides a broad, market-focussed contextualisation of editing issues and practices, as well as hands-on editing. During the course of the module, you will be introduced to editing as a professional practice through Publishing Industry case studies as well as case studies aimed at building practical editing skills in prose. Relevant 'classical' examples will be included to offer a comparative perspective (e.g. Eliot, Pound, Lish, Perkins). Particular emphasis will be placed on delivering high-level reading skills in relation to new/un-validated texts, and on paying attention to cultural as well as individual difference.

From the outset, you will engage in a Collaborative Project where you will work in part as two groups for the purpose of conducting anonymised evaluations and practical edits, and in part as a full cohort for the purpose of participating in interactive lectures and lecture demonstrations. In addition you will have the opportunity to develop a range of one-to-one, professional-style editing skills and strategies. You will act as both author and editor/peer mentor; the edited texts will be be published online, in-house, at the end of the module.

You will also choose one optional module from a range which typically includes:

  • Aesthetics of Television
  • Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Studies
  • Contemporary European and American Cinema 
  • Death and the Moving Image
  • Film Theory Politics
  • Last Year's Novels
  • Modernism 
  • Writing Revolutions: Politics, Publics, and Professionalism in Literary Culture


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £7,290 full-time; £3,645 part-time
  • Overseas: £15,660 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for home/EU or overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in 2017-18 or 2018-19 academic years will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition 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.

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

International students requiring visas

Monday 3 July 2017 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. Applications received after this date will not be considered. Applications will reopen for 2018 entry on 15 September 2017.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

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

Our Creative Writing staff are accomplished authors with accolades and interests in the novel, the short story, 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 lively 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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Over the past three years, over 96% of Creative Writing postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Postgraduates in the Department of Film and Creative Writing develop a range of skills including: the ability to lead and participate in discussions; critical thinking, and an appreciation of different theoretical contexts; the ability to develop opinions and new ideas; and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others. While some graduates go on to careers in related industries - such as writing, media and television - others have used their transferable skills to pursue roles such as advertising, teaching, and in the heritage and cultural sectors.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.