The Creative Writing MA course offers you the chance to follow one of three pathways, all distinct but all containing common elements: Fiction Writing; Poetry Writing; and Poetic Practice.
The first two of these options are designed to encourage you to develop and reflect on your work as a creative writer, in the context of contemporary and well-established literatures. Whether you choose the Fiction or the Poetry strand, you will be expected to make the most of your existing experience, but also to discover ways of going beyond the merely personal, and writing with an engaged sense of society. At the same time as you learn to stretch your imagination, you will also be encouraged to develop your technical and analytic skills, and in the process to sharpen you self-criticism. The pathway in Poetry focuses on innovative forms of expressions across many media, including sound, film installation and architecture.
All three Creative Writing pathways are taught in Bedford Square, in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury, in a building which is adjacent to the facilities of the University of London. The Fiction and Poetry pathways have now been running for nearly a decade, and have achieved an extremely high reputation. Many of our graduates have gone on to publish collections of poems, novels and short stories, and also to win awards. In 2012 alone, four of our graduates published their first novels, and one of our poets her first full collection.
It is unfortunately not possible to switch from one pathway to another in mid-course, or to mix and match. However, the MA may be studied full-time or part-time.
- Distinguished writers, including Giles Foden, Susanna Jones, Ben Markovits and Jo Shapcott, contribute to teaching on this course.
- You will benefit from small workshops in poetry and fiction writing of no more than ten people.
- Since launching in 2004 the course has produced many successfully published authors including Tahmima Anam, Adam O'Riordan, Sam Riviere and Kate Williams.
- You will make important contacts through guest lectures by leading figures in the industry.
- All teaching is done in central London, at premises in Bedford Square and Gower Street.
Department research and industry highlights
In the most recent RAE (2008), 90% of the work submitted by the department was judged to be of international standard with 30% assessed as world-leading (4*), 35% as internationally excellent (3*) and 25% as internationally recognised (2*). The department’s performance, in terms of 4* and 3* results, was ranked 11th equal. Overall, the department was ranked one of the top three English departments in London.
We have particular strengths in the following research areas: - Medieval Studies - Shakespeare and the Renaissance - 17th and 18th Century Literature and Culture - 19th Century Literature - 20th Century Literature and Theory - Postcolonialism - Creative Writing and Practice-based Research.
Course content and structure
In the Autumn and Spring terms, you will meet for a three-hour workshop and a one-and-a-half-hour critical class each week.
Core course units: - Fiction or Poetry This is a weekly three-hour workshop,in either fiction or poetry writing, in which your work is discussed, and critical skills are developed. You will be involved in the regular production of new work for this unit.
- Practical Work Project You will undertake a major writing project (under supervision) and produce a critical and/or theoretical piece of writing reflecting on your work.
- Supplementary Discourses: Core Course This is a weekly seminar in the Autumn Term. It involves critical and theoretical reading designed to supply you with appropriate critical and theoretical discourse for discussing your own work and others.
- Reading as a Writer This is a weekly seminar in the Spring Term. You will read a selection of contemporary fiction and poetry from the perspective of a writer.
- Dissertation You are required to produce a major critical and/or theoretical dissertation relating to your literary interests and your Practical Work Project, under supervision.
On completion of the course graduates will have:
- developed the ability to experiment in their writing and discover new things - become more ambitious and perceptive about their own work - broadened their appreciation of traditional and contemporary work, and extended their powers of communication - a greater knowledge of shaping their work for publication.
At the beginning of the Spring term fiction writers will submit a 5,000-word piece of work and poets a portfolio of 12 pages. In addition, they will submit a 3,000-4,000 word essay arising from their work in Supplementary Discourses. They will be given feedback and then, at the beginning of the Summer term, resubmit improved versions together with a second piece of creative work, and a second essay in relation to Reading as a Writer. Part-time students hand their work in at the end of the relevant term instead of the beginning.
At the end of the course fiction students will submit a 15,000 word piece of work and poets a portfolio of 24 pages. In addition, students will write a dissertation of 10-12,000 words, relating to their creative work and to their wider literary interests, to be submitted with the portfolio. Part-time students will make these final submissions at the end of their second year.
Employability & career opportunities
A number of our Creative Writing students have become published authors or found work in publishing and allied professions. In addition, the Department has an impressive record for placing graduates in academic jobs; recently they have secured positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Sussex and Leeds, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the National University of Ireland.
The course also prepares graduates for successful careers in a variety of other fields, such as publishing, teaching, writing and journalism, administration and marketing.