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MFA Creative Writing

Course Description


The MFA (Master of Fine Arts) Creative Writing programme at the University of Surrey offers you a unique opportunity to enhance your creative, critical and professional skills. It is taught by published writers and research-active academics expert in their fields.

Our MFA is a two-year full-time course of study, designed to build your confidence and technical ability in composing creative prose and/or poetry. The programme will help you gain hands-on practical skills and fuller understanding of the professional possibilities in your chosen field of artistic endeavour, while also developing a deeper and more extensive critical awareness of the cultural, literary and theoretical history of text production.

Visit the website http://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/creative-writing-mfa


In your first year you will be studying alongside students in the MA programmes in Creative Writing and English Literature, taking modules intended to assist aspiring writers with honing and developing their writing skills in prose fiction and poetry. Over the course of the year you will develop a sizeable portfolio of increasingly sophisticated creative work, polished and improved through regular feedback from both peers and tutors. We will also help you to locate your work in its historical and cultural context, and you will become familiar with the history of literary production. Additionally, this first year of the programme will equip you with the research and writing skills you will need to produce both critically informed prose or poetry and creative criticism. You will also have the chance to reflect productively on both the creative process itself and the finished work that has resulted from it. The second year of the MFA gives you the chance to gain hands-on experience of the practical skills and creative challenges involved in a specific branch of creative practice (such as poetry, or writing for the stage) and/or of the workings and structure of a creative industry relevant to your own practice. This might take the form either of an intense and focused creative project (such as the composition and self-publication of a chapbook of poems) or a formal professional placement (for instance in a publishing company).

In your second year you will also be producing an extended Creative Portfolio and Critical Commentary – a chance to produce a sizeable piece of Creative Writing in prose or poetry and to reflect upon the cultural contexts and creative challenges of this work. These pieces of writing mark the culmination of the two-year MFA, allowing you to demonstrate how far you have developed as a creative writer and critical thinker. Having successfully completed your MFA at the University of Surrey you will be graduating with a thorough practical and theoretical grounding in your specific chosen field of creative practice, and have produced a body of compelling and sophisticated creative and critical writing.

At the beginning of the MFA programme each student will be assigned a personal advisor who will help with the choice of modules, offer guidance on finding or choosing an appropriate form of Situated Professional Practice and summative creative portfolio proposal, as well as any issues which may arise relating to the programme. Once the first year is complete, students will be assigned a creative writing dissertation supervisor who will provide one-to-one guidance in planning and structuring the summative creative writing portfolio.

Programme Content

First Year:

In the first year the programme consists of three compulsory modules and one optional module in the first semester, and three compulsory modules and one optional module in the second semester.

Compulsory Modules:
- Creative Writing Workshop
Weekly themed workshops in which all students read from and discuss work produced and circulated in advance of the class.

- Literary Scholarship and Creativity
A joint seminar with students from the MA in English Literature, exploring the ways in which changing modes of text production and circulation have shaped the course of literary history, from Caxton to Kindle.

- Research Skills
A joint seminar with students from the MA in English Literature, introducing key techniques and approaches shared by both critical and creative writing. Over two semesters, these seminars take students all the way through the composition process, from the initial research, planning and plotting stages to revising and editing an extended and highly developed finished piece of writing.

Optional Modules:
Optional modules will vary from year to year but will include some of the following:

Advanced Studies in 19th-Century Literature and Culture
Advanced Studies in 20th and 21st-Century Literature and Culture
Contemporary British and American Poetry
Creative Identities
Creative Non-Fiction
Critical and Cultural Theory
Found Materials and Poetry
Genre Writing
Humour in Literature
Realism and its Critics
Semester-long ‘Special Author’ Critical Studies and Creative Pieces
Theorising Gender and Sexuality
Translation and Creativity

Creative Writing Options this year include:

Realism and its Critics
Beat Writing
Narrative and the Body
Found Materials

Other optional modules offered this year include:

Theorizing Gender and Sexuality
Identity: Marketing and Communication in Practice
Organisations and Written Communications
Issues in Literary Translation

Second Year:

All Modules in the second year of the MFA are Compulsory.

- Situated Professional Practice (Semester One)
In the first semester of Year 2 students do their Situated Professional Practice module. This allows for skills development, enhancement and critical reflectivity on practice. The Situated Professional Practice modules can be understood either as a form of internship at Surrey (for instance working with either Veer or Contraband books, our two in-house poetry presses) or with a relevant organisation/individual (such as a publishing company or literary agency), or as an intense and focused type of a specific practice (poetry writing, for example). Assessment consists of a reflective log on either an internship or a specific professional practice. Transfer of what students have learnt in terms of experience to future career or creative development will be part of the log.

- Creative Portfolio and MFA Thesis Critical Commentary (Both Semesters)
During both semesters of their second year, students will be working towards the production of a supervised summative creative portfolio. During the second semester of the second year they will also undertake the ‘MFA Thesis Critical Commentary’ module, producing an extended critical commentary locating their Creative Writing Summative Portfolio in critical, historical and literary context.

- Module Overview

The MFA in Creative Writing provides a strong foundation in the core skills necessary to embark upon PhD research or a career in writing, communications, publishing, marketing, advertising, journalism or teaching.

English at the University of Surrey is a dynamic and innovative discipline, with established undergraduate and postgraduate research programmes in both English Literature and Creative Writing.

Teaching is research-led, with the MA in Creative Writing designed to reflect the individual expertise and passion of the members of staff who teach on it.

As a student on the MA Creative Writing, you will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of academics and published authors.

You will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year. These events cover a range of topics to broaden your thinking in the fields of literature, language and linguistics, cultural studies and creative writing. Writers to have recently visited the University of Surrey include the novelist Monica Ali and the poet and critic Rod Mengham.

Each year’s cultural activities begin with a poetry lecture on campus by a visiting speaker and feature readings by students at the Guildford School of Acting.

The annual Surrey New Writers’ Festival – affiliated with the Creative Writing graduate programs at the University of Surrey – aims to engage with writing and creativity in dynamic ways, and involves readings, book signings, performances, panel discussions and talks by writers, thinkers, editors and literary agents.

The year’s activities culminate in the annual Morag Morris Poetry Festival, held in Guildford, which combines readings and performances by prominent, innovative and up-and-coming poets with the opportunity for Creative Writing students to present their own work in public. This event is organised and hosted by our poet-in-residence – a position that is held by a different poet each year. English at Surrey also has a close relationship with English PEN, the charity dedicated to promoting literature and human rights.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.surrey.ac.uk/apply/postgraduate

Visit the MFA Creative Writing page on the University of Surrey website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Christina Webb

I wanted to experience life at a campus university, and have fond and funny memories of getting involved with all kinds of events at Surrey - from fancy dress to raising money for charities.

What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?

The English Literature undergraduate course was the major factor in that it was very contemporary, thought-provoking and had a diverse range of culturally-significant topics. Secondly, Surrey’s employment factor. For me it was hugely important to focus on the future and results, so Surrey’s top employment statistics were essential. The gorgeous campus was also a pull. I wanted to experience uni life at a campus university, and have fond and funny memories all over it.

What is your strongest memory of your time at Surrey – what do you picture first when you think of being here?

Too many things – I’m torn! Lunches with friends on campus, creative discussions, that feeling of handing submissions in, Rubix nights. I’d have to say the overall strongest memories are of getting involved with various events at Surrey. From fancy dress to raising money for charities and more specifically the newspaper/radio/TV media party, a formal casino night and theme park rides and dressing up at graduation ball.

What were the best things about your course?

The contemporary reading list, as mentioned before. The fact I meandered into creative writing alongside English literature and took up a Creative Writing MA at Surrey afterwards. Making like-minded friends for life. The lecturers who were always happy to informally chat about your individual development and ideas. Opening up to new ideas and theories I wouldn’t have found before. I Loved it.


Discounts for Surrey graduates - No. of awards TBC

If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford, you could be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught postgraduate Masters programme fees. This scheme is for applicable to Postgraduate Taught entry students only and is reviewed annually.Students who graduated in 2013 are eligible, as well as alumni from previous years, on receipt of evidence of the award from Surrey and where we can identify that you actually studied in Guildford. Students from SII-DUFE are eligible for this scheme.Associated Institution students are not eligible. Not available to modular self-pacing students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

10% tuition fee discount


If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford

Application Procedure

If you have any enquiries regarding this matter please contact the Student Fees and Funding Office on [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first or 2.1 degree (or equivalent) and will be asked as part of the application procedure to provide a portfolio of creative material (5,000 words prose or equivalent). In exceptional cases, students with a proven commitment to creative writing but no first degree may also be admitted. IELTS minimum overall: 7.0; IELTS minimum by component: Reading: 6.0, Writing: 7.0, Speaking: 6.0, Listening: 6.0

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