Oxford University's Master of Studies in Creative Writing is a two-year, part-time master's degree course offering a unique combination of high contact hours, genre specialization, and critical and creative breadth.
The emphasis of this postgraduate creative writing course is cross-cultural and cross-genre, pointing up the needs and challenges of the contemporary writer who produces his or her creative work in the context of a global writerly and critical community. The master's degree in creative writing offers a clustered learning format of five Residences, two Guided Retreats and one Placement over two years. The research Placement, a distinguishing feature of the course, offers between one and two weeks' hands-on experience of writing in the real world. Students may undertake their placement in a literary agency, a publishing house, the offices of a literary periodical, a theatre company, a screen production company, or other relevant organization. Placement organisations have included Macmillan, Initialise Films, Random House, the BBC, the Literary Review, AM Heath, Pegasus Theatre, the Poetry Society, and Carcanet.
The virtual open event for this programme is available to watch at http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/cwopenday. The open event features acting Course Director Jane Draycott and course administrator Rebecca Rue, who discuss the programme, its requirements and the student experience. Participants' questions were texted in and answered during the event. A FAQ of all the questions and their answers is available at the top of this section.
"The Oxford MSt enables you to fast-track your career in writing." - Fortuna Burke
"… the freedom to explore and experiment… has been fundamental to my development as a writer." - Clare Tetley
"The range and variety of the group … offers truly exciting opportunities for the kind of exchanges that really accelerate your development as a writer." - Michael Schuller
"What does the course offer? Self-discipline, professionalism and confidence." - Abigail Green-Dove
"My life has been so enriched and expanded. My writing evolves daily through the tools that you gave me. Not to mention the wonderful friendships formed throughout our two years together." - Lindsay Moore
"The Masters in Oxford, while encouraging creativity, raised the bar on the quality of the finished work and gave me the discipline to be a professional." - Bette Adriaanse
"I doubt there’s a more suitable MSt in the United Kingdom for work which challenges boundaries and takes risks." - Jennifer Thorp
Students and alumni have won a wide range of prizes. These successes include winning the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize, the Writers’ Village International Short Fiction Award 2014, the Parallel Universe Poetry Competition, the Martin Starkie Prize, the International Jane Martin Poetry Prize, the Heritage Arts Radio play competition, the Cascade Pictures Writer’s Couch pitching competition, first prize in the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition, the Miracle Poetry Competition, Best Photography Book Award from POYi (Pictures of the Year international), and the Yeovil Literary Prize for Poetry. Two alumni have won the Oxford University’s DL Chapman Memorial Prize, another was a finalist in the 2013 Writers at Work Fellowship Competition, and another won the London Fringe Festival’s Short Fiction Award. Alumni have been awarded a Toshiba Studentship, a Hawthornden Fellowship, and funded residencies at the Banff Centre, Canada, and at the Expansionists Project, Whitstable.
Students and alumni have had their work shortlisted across the genres for, among others, the Asham Award, the Bridport Prize, the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction, the Fish Flash Fiction prize, the Yeoville Literary Prize, the Oxonian poetry prize, the Fish Short Story Prize 2013, the Big Issue in the North’s New Writing Award, the Oxonian review, and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition. A 2010 graduate was short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger award 2011. Two alumni were longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and one was shortlisted. An alumnus’ debut novel also made the longlist for the Not the Booker Prize.
Many of our graduate students have signed with agents, and each year a number go on to undertake doctoral study in creative writing or English Literature. Our graduates have obtained positions in publishing, media and the creative arts industries, as well as teaching positions in tertiary education.
The MSt has enjoyed a very strong application field since its inception, attracting record interest in recent years from a global constituency of writers. The course`s emphasis on critical analysis as well as on writerly and creative excellence attracts students of commensurately strong academic potential as well as of significant creative promise. This combination of academic rigour and creativity is a central distinctive feature of the course. The resulting emphasis on exploration and the development of an individual writerly voice serve to attract particularly talented students from around the world as well as a strongly diverse group of UK students of varied backgrounds and ethnicity.
Continuing education and life-long learning in Oxford have been formally linked to the collegiate system of the University since 1990, when Kellogg College, the University’s 36th college, was established. Please consult http://www.kellogg.ox.ac.uk/.
Who should apply?
We are looking for writers with a proven record of commitment to their craft. You should be a keen reader, and bring an open-minded, questioning approach to both reading and writing. You will not necessarily have yet achieved publication, but you will have written regularly and read widely over a sustained period. You will be keen to dedicate time and energy and staying-power to harnessing your talent, enlarging your skills, and aiming your writerly production at consistently professional standards. It is likely you will have a first degree, or equivalent, although in some cases other evidence of suitability may be acceptable.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA we normally seek is 3.6 out of 4.0. We do not seek a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT score. Although a GRE or GMAT score is not a formal requirement, if one is available it should be supplied.
The high number of contact hours are concentrated into Residences and Retreats. Students should be at a stage in their writing where, with appropriate guidance, they can undertake agreed assignments, projects and essays between meetings. There is a dedicated Course Website for provision of up-to-date information; contact and exchange between students; and contact between students and tutors. The course, however, is not a ‘distance-learning’ course, and tutors, while being happy to help with questions or problems, do not offer regular weekly ‘office hours’.
The M.St is unlikely to be suitable for those who are just starting out on their writerly and critical development.
If you have any doubts about whether the M.St is right for your stage of development, please consult the website for information on our Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/dipcw
What does the course cover?
The first year concentrates equally on prose (fiction and narrative non-fiction), poetry and drama. There is a significant critical reading and analysis component, which is linked to the writerly considerations explored in each of the three genres. Students are expected to engage fully with all three genres, in a spirit of exploration and with the aim of discovering what impact and relevance unaccustomed genres have for the development of their individual writerly voice. This necessarily involves undertaking assignments and exercises in areas that are new to students, and do not relate directly to any work they may have in progress. Students may be able to continue with their own longer term pieces-in-progress but the concentration of year 1 teaching is on producing new work, and the exercises and assignments, which should take priority, reflect this emphasis.
The second year offers specialisation in a single genre, again accompanied by a significant critical element focused around issues of interest to the individual student and related to the genre of choice.
Your specialisation choices are as follows:
- The novel - Short fiction - Radio drama - TV drama - Screenwriting - Stage drama - Poetry - Narrative non-fiction
In year 2, the specialisation in the genre of students’ choice provides an opportunity for significant concentration on either new work, or, subject to consultation with supervisor, on existing work-in-progress.