If you want to become a produced or published writer, or to develop your writing skills, this programme will give you the chance to be tutored by leading and established writers in a supportive and creative environment.
The emphasis is on different forms of scriptwriting - playwriting, screenwriting, dramatic writing, writing for film and television, and writing for radio – but you can also develop imaginative writing in other forms, especially prose fiction. Specialist pathways in screenwriting or writing for theatre are open to you.
Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a teacher or simply want to learn more about the writer’s craft, you’ll be working in an environment dedicated to developing new and emerging talent. Our students come from all over the world, and we have a powerful record for developing successful writers and creative leaders. Through our partnership with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the course is linked to the Playhouse’s own new writing schemes.
Our tutors are professional dramatists and leading researchers with a wide range of expertise. The Programme Director for the MA is the award-winning playwright, screenwriter and producer Garry Lyons, who established the degree in 2006.
Find out more about Garry Lyons
You’ll be based in our landmark building [email protected], with two professional-standard and publicly licensed theatres that regularly host works by students and visiting theatre companies. You’ll be encouraged to use these facilities to try your work out in workshops, rehearsed readings or full productions, and gain experience of practical drama-making.
The programme also benefits from our close links with external organisations. As well as our partnership with West Yorkshire Playhouse, we work with the BBC’s new talent unit, Writers’ Room. Other partners include Opera North, ITV, Screen Yorkshire, the National Media Museum, Creative England, Red Ladder Theatre Company, True North Productions, Chapel FM Radio, Valley Press and many more.
A core module will introduce you to creative writing research, including the potential of practice-led research. This will help to equip you for the rest of the programme, giving you the tools to reflect analytically on your writing and compare it with existing writing of a similar genre or style.
In Semester 1 you’ll spend time in intensive workshops refining your own short pieces of narrative writing, exploring the principles of storytelling and more experimental approaches. You’ll also choose from optional modules, allowing you to specialise in writing for the screen or for theatre and radio.
You’ll have the chance to build on this foundation in the following semester, when you’ll choose from further optional modules. These will allow you to continue working on film and television writing or choose to work on an original project of your own – individually, in collaboration with students from across the School, or based on a two-week placement with an external organisation.
All of this work will culminate with your major project, which you’ll submit by the end of the programme – this could be an extended piece of creative writing, a conventional dissertation, or performance-led research.
Working with West Yorkshire Playhouse
The MA is partnered with West Yorkshire Playhouse, one of the UK’s leading theatres outside London. This links us to the the Playhouse’s new writing schemes. Directors and associate artists from the Playhouse regularly run workshops and masterclasses for us, and we collaborate with the theatre on joint projects such as new writing events and festivals. The Playhouse occasionally offers work experience opportunities for our students to apply for.
Our tutors are professional dramatists and academic specialists in a range of genres, with experience of dealing with theatres, agents, production companies, editors and publishers. We also invite guest speakers from the worlds of theatre, broadcasting, film and publishing to share their insights into the creative industries.
You’ll be taught using a range of methods including lectures, seminars and tutorials as well as practical sessions and workshops. Independent study is also a vital component of this degree, allowing you to conduct your own research and develop your own ideas.
You’ll be assessed mostly on the basis of your creative writing, including theatre, screen and radio scripts and short prose stories you’ll develop in your modules. To encourage you to reflect on your practice, you’ll also write commentaries on your own work. Core modules may also use assessment methods such as essays and presentations to allow you to demonstrate your knowledge.
Many students will want to pursue a career as a professional writer. Although this is a fiercely competitive field, this degree is designed to try to help you realise your ambitions. Alternatively, you could use your additional experience and qualification to progress in your current career or pursue a related path within the creative arts.
You’ll also be well equipped for a future in education, arts administration, script editing, literary management, broadcasting, journalism, advertising, the media, publishing, literary agencies, marketing, PT and many other areas.
The programme has established a powerful record for developing successful writers and creative leaders, from playwrights and television writers to novelists, directors and lecturers.
The MA Creative Writing is an intensive course which treats your ambition as a writer seriously. Our students come from a range of backgrounds including the arts, teaching, law, journalism, history and writing. The course is for anyone with an interest in or ambition towards writing.
Some of our most successful students include best-selling author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka, T.S. Eliot short-listed poet Frances Leviston and Radio 4 and BBC TV script writer Sharon Oakes.
Our internationally-acclaimed team of published writers teach in all areas of contemporary literary practice. They include
The E.A Markham Award
The E.A Markham Award means that one student each year will study the course for free. The award covers the full-time study fees and is awarded solely on merit and potential. It is offered in memory of Professor E.A Markham, a respected tutor here who worked to shape the development of this course.
Download the E.A Markham award guidance for more information.
Short course – single modules
If you are not able to commit to the whole course, you can apply to take a single module. Choose a genre from the optional modules listed in the course content and apply as normal. Your portfolio needs to include examples of writing in your chosen genre. The credit you gain for completing one module will count towards the full MA should you choose to pursue this at a later date.
Publications and prizes
The Ictus Prize in Poetry is awarded to the best poetry collection – this consists of a small pamphlet publication. Every year, we publish Matter, a stylish anthology, edited and designed by students, and sold and promoted in bookshops. If you would like to receive a sample copy of this, email the course leader [email protected]
Submission of written work to specified word lengths with accompanying critical commentaries.
By enhancing your skills in writing, literary revision and reflection, you are preparing for a number of roles where knowledge of writing and the processes of writing are important such as