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.

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

  1. Flexibility – through our focused modules combined with the opportunity to develop your own work through independent study, you will be able have the best of both sides of a postgraduate experience.
  2. Structure of programme – at Birmingham we focus on the craft of writing and editing, combining academic skills with creative, and an artistic focus with industry insights.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 


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

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.

Optional first semester modules include:

  • Contemporary American and European Cinema
  • Aesthetics of TV 
  • Death and the Moving Image
  • Film Theory Politics
  • Modernism 
  • Last Year's Novels
  • Writing Revolution 1
  • Literature and Aesthetics in the 19th Century 

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £6,570 full-time; £3,285 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

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

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

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 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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; 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.

University of the Year for employability

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. Such skills can be used in a variety of occupations.

In recent years our postgraduates have made their mark in a variety of careers – for example, in the media, in advertising, teaching, performing arts 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

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

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.