MA Creative Writing

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.

The programme will allow you to develop your own work, your own voice and your own ideas with dedicated workshop time and opportunities to give and receive feedback to and from your peers. You will also benefit from professional skills training to prepare you for entering the writing industry, with insights from industry professional such as editors and publishers.

You will learn among a community of writers and scholars, taking a series of structured modules across the discipline.

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 four core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • The Writer's Workshop
  • Creative Writing Masterclass: From Workshop to Bookshop
  • Poem as Story - Story as Poem
  • Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft

Assessment

The programme is assessed by creative portfolios and assignments in all 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 in the form of a screenplay, 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 dissertation work in progress during one-to-one tutorials and/or in small group work-sharing seminars with peers (groups divided along the lines of genre/form and led by a specialist in this field).

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, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Anna Metcalfe, a short story writer and novelist whose work has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award; Dan Vyleta, author of four award-winning novels; Isabel Galleymore, an award-winnning poet; 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 four core modules:

The Writer’s Workshop

The module provides an introduction to technical and conceptual issues encountered by the creative writer, along with research training to facilitate the critical work you will have to complete as part of your studies. The module introduces you to creative writing techniques and genres by analysing other people’s writing and through hands-on practice, as well as introducing you to the procedures and challenges of the creative writing workshop environment. The module will also provide a grounding in research practices, including effective library use, the rules of referencing and how to spot and avoid plagiarism.
Assessment: A 5,000-word portfolio of creative writing, and a 3,000-word portfolio of critical writing

Creative Writing Masterclass: From Workshop to Bookshop

This module builds on the research and professional skills developed in The Writer’s Workshop. It provides a venue for in-depth editorial discussion of your own work, while also providing systematic training in editing and in providing detailed, constructive critiques of other writers’ works. The module will help you to articulate your personal artistic vision in both formal and conceptual terms. The module also provides insight into roads to publication and guidelines on how to approach agents/editors.
Assessment: A 5,000-word portfolio of creative writing, and a 3,000-word portfolio of critical/professional 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 the work of your peers as well as a weekly set text exploring contemporary poetry and fiction.
Assessment: A 3,000-word poetry and/or short fiction portfolio and a 2,000-word essay

Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft

This module encourages you to explore notions of intertextuality, viewed as an integral part of all creative writing, and representing a broad continuum, from one-off textual allusions or verbal echoes on the one hand, to full-length adaptations on the other. 'Story' and 'story-telling’ will be used as a focus for identifying both generic and genre-specific, popular and literary, narrative techniques and conventions (to include a focus on language, character, plot, time and vision). In addition, you will explore ways in which 'reading' in the broadest possible sense can generate ideas, strategies and structures for the developing writer. This will entail an engagement with narratology and with aspects of genre theory and translation theory, key principles of which will be illustrated through case studies of texts that form part of intertextual clusters.
Assessment: A 3,000-word piece of creative writing in any genre, and a 2,000-word analysis of the intertextual relationships between two or more of the literary texts studied, with reference to your own creative writing

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £17,010 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 UK/EU or international 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 the 2018-19 academic year 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 2018-19 academic year 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

We ask for a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Creative Writing, or in English with considerable experience of writing creatively. 

All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. This must be provided when you make your application or by the deadline for the round in which your application is submitted. If this is not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined. Your sample should be in the form of a portfolio of creative writing of c. 3,000 words. This may be a prose sample (e.g. one or more short stories; part of a novel); a play or film script; or a selection of poems (in which case a line of poetry equates c. 20 words of prose; a portfolio focusing on poetry would be c. 150 lines in total). We encourage applicants to submit more than a single piece of work where possible (e.g. one short story and a novel opening, rather than a longer excerpt of a novel) though this is not strictly required.

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

Due to the competitive nature of this programme, applications are being considered in rounds, with application deadlines for 2018 entry as follows:

  • Round 1 application deadline: Friday 19 January 2018
  • Round 2 application deadline: Friday 4 May 2018
  • Round 3 application deadline: Monday 2 July 2018

Please note: Most funding deadlines fall in spring, and funding applications usually need to be considered alongside an application to study. Applicants seeking funding are therefore encouraged to apply in round 1.

Applications will be considered as a gathered field, so round 1 applicants can expect a decision as to whether they have been offered a place to study by the end of February, round 2 applicants can expect a decision by the end of June and round 3 applicants can expect a decision by mid-August.

As we can only make offers to a limited number of applicants, those who receive an offer of a place to study will have approximately one month to accept their offer, after which time the offer will be withdrawn so that the place can be offered to another applicant.

Advice on your application

Please note that we take your degree grades, personal statement, English language results (if applicable) and relevant experience into consideration when we make admission decisions.

Please ensure that your application has been completed fully by the deadline as we cannot consider your application without all of the necessary documentation (references, personal statement and results, if available). If you have outstanding documentation relating to pending language test results and degree results, please make this clear on your application, and your application will be considered. We are able to make offers which are conditional on you achieving a particular qualification if you have not yet finished your current programme of study.

In your application, you should use your personal statement to explain why you wish to study this programme, with reference to any relevant past and present experience you have. Candidates are expected to have a 2:1 Honours degree (or its academic equivalent) in Creative Writing, or in English with considerable experience of writing creatively. 

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry by 21 September 2018.

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

Modules are delivered by either weekly (Intertextuality; Poem as Story) or twice-weekly (Writer's Workshop, Masterclass) two-hour seminars, for a total of six hours of seminar a week for full-time students.

Most modules include a substantial workshop element, directly focussing on student work. Dissertations are supervised via one-to-one tutorials and/or small group seminar.

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.