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Creative Writing (Novels) - MA

Course Description

The only Creative Writing MA in the UK which is dedicated solely to the novel and ensures you finish yours.

Who is it for?

We take students of any age and from anywhere in the world. All you need is a desire to write exciting words and spend two years working on a novel.

All our group teaching is conducted in the evening – so if you have a job or a family, you can still take this course. We actively seek to attract people who, with other life commitments, are still committed above all to writing great fiction.

David Young, Crime Thriller MA - "The chance to have a novel-length manuscript read and challenged by leading published crime writers is what attracted me to the MA course. The focus is on writing your own novel and giving you the tools to do that, rather than getting bogged down in literary criticism. I'd thoroughly recommend it."


At the end of the Novels MA course, you will be very different; you will have written a novel.

This course is designed to provide a supportive and thought-provoking, yet challenging, environment for novelists to develop their skills, experiment with approaches to writing, learn about the industry and, most importantly, complete a polished novel ready to send to publishers and agents.

This MA allows you to focus on one of two areas: Literary Novels or Crime Thriller Novels. As a focused, high-intensity course, we only have a maximum cohort of 14 students each year for each genre, therefore you must apply and be awarded a place for Literary Novels or Crime Novels at the outset.

At the core of the Novels course is the experience of established writers. Everyone who teaches on this MA course is a working, published novelist. Their experience underpins all the teaching.

Teaching and learning

Workshops, seminars and lectures are 6pm to 9pm every Tuesday and Wednesday of the first two terms. Thereafter tutorials are fixed at mutually convenient times – we are happy to work around other life commitments.

Everyone who teaches on this course is a published and working novelist – we strongly believe that only published writers understand everything it takes to write a novel. The core of the teaching comes in one-to-one tutorials which are used to discuss a minimum of 10,000 words of your novel in progress. Thus, across the two-year programme we read and discuss more than 200,000 words of creative writing by each student.

In the first two terms, we aim to provide you with your toolbox for when you start the novel. This covers every way in which you might approach constructing and writing and polishing your novel: we look at the word, the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter and the entire plotting and structuring of a full-length novel. During these terms, we encourage you to experiment with your writing, to find skills and aptitudes you didn’t know you possessed. We also examine published novels, taking them apart like clockmakers, to see how the constituent parts make them tick. That said, there is no literary criticism on this course – we are not theorists, we are a craft-based course, teaching you the techniques and devices (and pitfalls) required when writing your first novel.

In addition to the tutors and lecturers, there are Q and A sessions with visiting guest authors in each term.


For this course you are required to write 2,000 words a week for 100 weeks. 2,000 in order to generate 1,000 polished, edited words. During the first two terms, the exercises require 1,000 words each week. For the remaining 80 weeks of the course, you need to write a novel and the average length is 80,000 words. This is a serious course for serious writers who want to work hard and write better.

In addition, during the first two terms there are two other modules requiring an analysis and an outline.

Term 1
-Fundamentals of fiction
-Storytelling (Part 1)
-Reading as a Writer

Term 2
-Experiments in style
-Storytelling (Part 2)

Term 3-6
-Complete your novel

Career prospects

The focus is for you to finish a novel and use City’s unparalleled industry links to help start our literary career as a published novelist.

At the end of this course, you will have the manuscript of your novel and we will do everything we can to assist you to find an agent to represent you who will then work to find a publisher for it.

Our recently published alumni include:
-Rod Reynolds
-Hannah Kohler
-Jem Lester
-David Young

Visit the Creative Writing (Novels) - MA page on the City, University of London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A writing sample of 5,000 words (maximum) The writing sample is about quality, not quantity. Ideally it would be a section – probably the opening – of a novel, but it is equally acceptable to submit a short story. We are looking for writers who are interested in the power of words, writing which revels in the joy of prose and everything that can be done through the written word. Previous qualifications are not important. Knowledge of the publishing industry is not important. Love for the written word is essential.

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