MA Creative Writing

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2022:
UK: £9,810 full-time
International: £21,240 full-time
More detail.

Short fiction, the novel, poetry, plays and screenplays: define and refine your chosen genre at the University of Birmingham, and explore genres that are new to your writing experience.

If you are a graduate with considerable experience in writing creatively and wish to proceed to a career or 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 your encounters with the writing industry, with insights from industry professional such as editors and publishers.

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

Please note: There are specific application deadlines for this programme. Please see 'How to apply' in course details for more information.

“The collaborative atmosphere of the program has been incredibly helpful to my growth as a writer. Giving and receiving feedback is central to the course as it helps us improve not only with our writing, but also our editing skills. Having an array of opinions and suggestions has been invaluable for me, especially from the department whose expertise covers a range of writing styles.

Moyo Abiona, MA Creative Writing

Why study this course?

  • Breadth and depth of study – at Birmingham we focus on the craft of writing and editing, combining academic with creative skills, 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, an award winning, bestselling novelist; Isabel Galleymore, an award-winning 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. Each year there are visiting lectures from writers, publishers and editors.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

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You will learn among a community of writers and scholars, taking a series of structured modules across the discipline. You will study four core taught modules plus a dissertation.

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 also provides guidelines on how to approach agents/editors, along with a grounding in research practices. 

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 by studying a range of artistic manifestos and writerly positions.
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


In addition to your taught modules, you will complete a dissertation. This 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).


We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £9,810 full-time; £4,905 part-time
  • International: £21,240 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 or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

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.

How To Apply

Due to the competitive nature of this programme, applications are being considered in rounds:

  • Round 1 application deadline: Monday 31 January 2022
  • Round 2 application deadline: Friday 22 April 2022
  • Round 3 application deadline: Monday 13 June 2022
  • Final deadline: Friday 1 July 2022

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), writing sample 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 (writing sample, 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), preferably in English and/or Creative Writing, but other disciplines will be considered. Applicants should also have considerable experience of writing creatively.

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 Standard Requirements

We ask for a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, preferably in English and/or Creative Writing, but other disciplines will be considered. Applicants should also have 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: for this course we ask for IELTS 6.5 overall with no less 7 in writing and 6 in all other bands. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course – if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

Learn more about international entry requirements.

International Requirements

Most modules include a substantial workshop element, directly focussing on student work. 

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

The programme is made up of two 40-credit modules (Writer's Workshop, Creative Writing Masterclass) and two 20-credit modules (Intertextuality; Poem as Story). As a full-time student, you will take one 20-credit module and one 40-credit module in each term, followed by your dissertation. You can typically expect six hours of classroom time per week, two for a 20-credit module and four for a 40-credit module. If you are a part-time student, we advise that you complete the 40-credit modules in your first year and the 20-credit modules in your second year, allowing you more time to focus on your dissertation in year two.

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

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 your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Film and Creative Writing

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. Over the past 5 years, 82% of Arts and Law postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017).

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