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MA Creative Writing


Course Description

This course will help and encourage you to bring a novel, book of poems, book of short stories or work of literary non-fiction as near to publishable quality as possible. The programme, located in the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries, has become established as one of the leading courses of its kind.

COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT

The course is modular and is currently offered for full-time study only.

The MA in Creative Writing is concerned with imaginative writing, which includes novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction. The emphasis is upon encouragement, to help you to find and pursue a direction in your writing, and to understand the process of offering a manuscript for publication.

Because of the reputation of the MA in Creative Writing, we are able to recruit excellent students who, every year, form an exciting and mutually supportive community of writers. Frequent visits by other writers, literary agents, publishers, broadcasters and other professionals connected with writing ensure that students are given plentiful advice about how to place work and make decisions about their careers as writers.

The course is not for the writer whose only interest is in their own work, but rather for the writer who can benefit from working closely with fellow students and with tutors, many of whom are practising and published writers.

In recent years, several current or former students have been awarded excellent contracts for novels; Two were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, three for the Orange Prize, one for the Costa Prize and one for the Guardian First Book Award. One received the Betty Trask Prize; another the Manchester Book Award; another a W.H. Smith New Talent Award. One reached the best-seller lists. Student poets have had their poetry accepted for publication in numerous literary journals, including Ambit, Magma, London Magazine, Poetry Wales, PN Review and The Reader, among others, and have been placed in such competitions as the Bridport, the Frogmore, Mslexia, and Writers Inc. Janklow and Nesbit Ltd, a leading literary agency, awards an annual prize for the best novel or novel in progress by a student on the course.

It is implicit in the course philosophy that critical reading aids the development of writers. Workshops, in which you look constructively at each other’s writing, and context modules, to study the ways in which writers meet certain challenges, are integral parts of the course.

MODULES

The full MA programme consists of two writing workshops, two context modules and the Manuscript (a double module):

Workshop One - You can either start with a general writing workshop in which you experiment with a range of forms, or a specialist workshop in prose fiction or poetry.

Workshop Two - This is a specialist workshop in prose fiction or poetry.

Context Modules - These modules examine genres and look at ways in which writers meet challenges from the public world. At least five of the following are offered each term:

• Writing and the Environmental Crisis
• Suspense Fiction
• Contemporary American Writing
• The Writer and Place
• Modernism and Postmodernism
• Writing and Gender
• The Short Story
• Writing and Politics
• Reviewing and Journalism
• Narrative Non-Fiction
• Genres of Television Drama
• The Love Story
• Writing for Young People

The Manuscript - For this module each student brings a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. You are assigned a specialist tutor.

TEACHING METHODS AND RESOURCES

Students take two three-hour seminars a week for the workshop and context modules. The Manuscript is completed between June and September. Students meet tutors regularly during this period. A residential writing weekend is an essential part of the course.

TUTORS

Tutors include prestigious, best selling and award winning writers, such as Gerard Woodward (novelist and poet); Tim Liardet (poet); Tessa Hadley (novelist); Andrew Miller (novelist); Carrie Etter (poet); Samantha Harvey (novelist); Steve May (radio dramatist, playwright and novelist); Richard Kerridge (nature writer); Paul Evans (nature writer); Lucy English (novelist and poet); Mimi Thebo (novelist); Jonathan Neale (novelist, dramatist and non-fiction writer); Tricia Wastvedt (novelist); Celia Brayfield (novelist); Jenni Mills (novelist); Neil Rollinson (poet). In addition you will have the opportunity to meet a wide range of writers, publishers and literary agents.

VISITING WRITERS

Readings and seminars conducted by writers are built into the programme. Visiting writers have included Moniza Alvi, John Burnside, Stevie Davies, Helen Dunmore, Roy Fisher, Peter Flannery, Nick Hornby, Michael Hulse, Emyr Humphreys, Kathleen Jamie, Mimi Khalvati, Toby Litt, Tony Lopez, Benjamin Markovits, Les A. Murray, Tim Pears, Ashley Pharoah, D.B.C. Pierre, Jem Poster, Philip Pullman, Fiona Sampson, Michael Schmidt, Matthew Sweeney and Fay Weldon. There will also be visits from publishers, literary agents and broadcasters. Every year there are opportunities to show work to agents and editors who visit.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

Assessment is by coursework only. Each writing workshop is assessed on the basis of a folder of creative writing and an early draft of part of the Manuscript. Each context module is assessed on the basis of an essay and a folder of creative responses. The Manuscript is 35,000–40,000 words (or the equivalent for poetry and scriptwriting).

Visit the MA Creative Writing page on the Bath Spa University website for more details!

Videos
(Student Profile)

Nikita Lalwani

765.jpg ‘Being at Bath Spa was something invaluable and indefinable for me. I was worried that going on a creative writing course might be a bit like being in a slightly sick, ‘show us your underwear’ form of group therapy. I was very wrong. Instead I was thrust into the company of some of the most interesting writers around - the current spread of tutors in the department - who have managed to create a space where ideas really are exchanged rather than reduced to templates. I wrote more than half of my novel there and am indebted for the way in which being on the course made writing the centre of my life.’

Nikita’s debut novel, Gifted, was included in the longlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, the shortlist of the Costa first novel award, and won the 2008 Desmond Elliott prize for sparkling new fiction. Nikita’s novel was conceived on the MA course, and a first draft was her manuscript submission.

(Student Profile)

Nikita Lalwani

Being at Bath Spa was something invaluable and indefinable for me. I was worried that going on a creative writing course might be a bit like being in a slightly sick, ‘show us your underwear’ form of group therapy. I was very wrong. Instead I was thrust into the company of some of the most interesting writers around - the current spread of tutors in the department - who have managed to create a space where ideas really are exchanged rather than reduced to templates. I wrote more than half of my novel there and am indebted for the way in which being on the course made writing the centre of my life.’

Nikita’s debut novel, Gifted, was included in the longlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, the shortlist of the Costa first novel award, and won the 2008 Desmond Elliott prize for sparkling new fiction. Nikita’s novel was conceived on the MA course, and a first draft was her manuscript submission.


Scholarships

Entry Requirements

Admission to the course is based on a portfolio of creative writing, our estimate of the student’s commitment and potential as a writer and ability to benefit from the course, and normally, but not invariably, on a first degree. Applicants will need to submit a short piece of creative writing with their application form, such as two chapters of a novel, two short stories, six poems, or the equivalent.

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