Short fiction, the novel, poetry, plays and screenplays: define and refine your chosen genre at the University of Birmingham, and explore genres that are new to your writing experience.
If you are a graduate with considerable experience in writing creatively and wish to proceed to a career or further study in this area, then our innovative MA in Creative Writing is for you.
The programme will allow you to develop your own work, your own voice and your own ideas with dedicated workshop time and opportunities to give and receive feedback to and from your peers. You will also benefit from professional skills training to prepare you for your encounters with the writing industry, with insights from industry professionals such as editors and publishers.
The programme brings together students who work across different genres so that you can engage collaboratively across genres before specialising in screenwriting, playwriting, prose fiction or poetry for your dissertation.
Please note: There are specific application deadlines for this programme.
Why Study this Course?
- Breadth and depth of study – at Birmingham we focus on the craft of writing and editing, combining academic with creative skills, and an artistic focus with industry insights.
- Learn from our permanent staff of published authors - Elsa Braekkan Payne, an expert in the short story who also has particular interests in editing; Luke Kennard, a poet and novelist whose criticism appears in Poetry London and The Times Literary Supplement; Richard House, fiction and screenwriter, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Anna Metcalfe, a short story writer and novelist whose work has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award; Dan Vyleta, an award-winning, bestselling novelist; Isabel Galleymore, an award-winning poet; and the best-selling novelist Ruth Gilligan.
- Opportunities for experimentation – the course combines focused modules with the opportunity to develop your own work through independent study.
- Join a lively and supportive writing community – we encourage our students to be active within the university and the broader community, and to participate in readings, festivals, and events, both regionally and nationally. For example, Creative Writing Societies provide an energetic and talented scene in which to write. There are regular events, readings, poetry slams and student publications.
- Links within the West Midlands – the Department has links to the award-winning local press Tindal Street and the boutique poetry pamphlet publishers Nine Arches Press. Each year there are visiting lectures from writers, publishers and editors.
You will learn among a community of writers and scholars, taking a series of structured modules across the discipline. You will study four core taught modules plus a dissertation.
The Writer’s Workshop
The module provides an introduction to technical and conceptual issues encountered by the creative writer, along with research training to facilitate the critical work you will have to complete as part of your studies. The module introduces you to creative writing techniques and genres by analysing other people’s writing and through hands-on practice, as well as introducing you to the procedures and challenges of the creative writing workshop environment. The module also provides guidelines on how to approach agents/editors, along with a grounding in research practices.
Assessment: A 5,000-word portfolio of creative writing, and a 3,000-word portfolio of critical writing
Creative Writing Masterclass: From Workshop to Bookshop
This module builds on the research and professional skills developed in The Writer’s Workshop. It provides a venue for in-depth editorial discussion of your own work, while also providing systematic training in editing and in providing detailed, constructive critiques of other writers’ works. The module will help you to articulate your personal artistic vision in both formal and conceptual terms by studying a range of artistic manifestos and writerly positions.
Assessment: A 5,000-word portfolio of creative writing, and a 3,000-word portfolio of critical/professional writing
Poem as Story – Story as Poem
This module allows for a simultaneous focus on poetry and fiction, allowing you to work in both forms rather than choosing to be a “poet” or “prose writer” at this stage in your development as a writer. There will be weekly writing exercises and the opportunity to critique the work of your peers as well as a weekly set text exploring contemporary poetry and fiction.
Assessment: A 3,000-word poetry and/or short fiction portfolio and a 2,000-word essay
Intertextuality: Story, Genre, Craft
This module encourages you to explore notions of intertextuality, viewed as an integral part of all creative writing, and representing a broad continuum, from one-off textual allusions or verbal echoes on the one hand to full-length adaptations on the other. 'Story' and 'story-telling’ will be used as a focus for identifying both generic and genre-specific, popular and literary, narrative techniques and conventions (to include a focus on language, character, plot, time and vision). In addition, you will explore ways in which 'reading' in the broadest possible sense can generate ideas, strategies and structures for the developing writer. This will entail engagement with narratology and with aspects of genre theory and translation theory, key principles of which will be illustrated through case studies of texts that form part of intertextual clusters.
Assessment: A 3,000-word piece of creative writing in any genre and a 2,000-word analysis of the intertextual relationships between two or more of the literary texts studied, with reference to your own creative writing
In addition to your taught modules, you will complete a dissertation. This will be a 75% creative portfolio and 25% critical essay. You will write a 12,000-word portfolio of creative work in the form of a screenplay, excerpt of a novel, a collection of short fiction or a collection of poetry (600 lines). This will be accompanied by a 3,000-word essay placing your work in a critical and creative context, with reference to your development as a writer over the course of the MA. You will receive feedback on dissertation work in progress during one-to-one tutorials and/or in small group work-sharing seminars with peers (groups divided along the lines of genre/form and led by a specialist in this field).
Teaching and Assessment
Most modules include a substantial workshop element, directly focussing on student work.
We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term.
The programme is made up of two 40-credit modules (Writer's Workshop, Creative Writing Masterclass) and two 20-credit modules (Intertextuality; Poem as Story). As a full-time student, you will take one 20-credit module and one 40-credit module in each term, followed by your dissertation. You can typically expect six hours of classroom time per week, two for a 20-credit module and four for a 40-credit module. If you are a part-time student, we advise that you complete the 40-credit modules in your first year and the 20-credit modules in your second year, allowing you more time to focus on your dissertation in year two.
Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:
- UK / EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
- International: £19,170 full-time
The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.
For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year
The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to the financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course.
How To Apply
Due to the competitive nature of this programme, applications are being considered in rounds, with application deadlines for 2020 entry as follows:
Deadlines for 2020 entry
- Round 1 application deadline: Friday 17 January 2020
- Round 2 application deadline: Friday 1 May 2020
- Round 3 application deadline: Wednesday 1 July 2020
Early applications are strongly encouraged, but we will continue to accept applications from UK/EU students until Friday 28 August, and these will be considered if there are any spaces left on the programme.
Please note: Most funding deadlines fall in spring, and funding applications usually need to be considered alongside an application to study. Applicants seeking funding are therefore encouraged to apply in round 1.
Applications will be considered as a gathered field, so round 1 applicant can expect a decision as to whether they have been offered a place to study by the end of February, around 2 applicants can expect a decision by the end of June and round 3 applicants can expect a decision by mid-August.
As we can only make offers to a limited number of applicants, those who receive an offer of a place to study will have approximately one month to accept their offer, after which time the offer will be withdrawn so that the place can be offered to another applicant.
Advice on your application
Please note that we take your degree grades, personal statement, English language results (if applicable), writing sample and relevant experience into consideration when we make admission decisions.
Please ensure that your application has been completed fully by the deadline as we cannot consider your application without all of the necessary documentation (writing sample, references, personal statement and results, if available). If you have outstanding documentation relating to pending language test results and degree results, please make this clear on your application, and your application will be considered. We are able to make offers which are conditional on you achieving a particular qualification if you have not yet finished your current programme of study.
In your application, you should use your personal statement to explain why you wish to study this programme, with reference to any relevant past and present experience you have. Candidates are expected to have a 2:1 Honours degree (or its academic equivalent), preferably in English and/or Creative Writing, but other disciplines will be considered. Applicants should also have considerable experience in writing creatively.
Our Standard Requirements
We ask for a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, preferably in English and/or Creative Writing, but other disciplines will be considered. Applicants should also have considerable experience of writing creatively.
All prospective students must also submit a sample of written work as part of the online application process. This must be provided when you make your application or by the deadline for the round in which your application is submitted. If this is not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined. Your sample should be in the form of a portfolio of creative writing of c. 3,000 words. This may be a prose sample (e.g. one or more short stories; part of a novel); a play or film script; or a selection of poems (in which case a line of poetry equates c. 20 words of prose; a portfolio focusing on poetry would be c. 150 lines in total). We encourage applicants to submit more than a single piece of work where possible (e.g. one short story and a novel opening, rather than a longer excerpt of a novel) though this is not strictly required.
- Academic requirements: we accept a range of qualifications - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
- English language requirements: for this course, we ask for IELTS 6.5 overall with no less 7 in writing and 6 in all other bands. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course – if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.
The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.
You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:
- Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
- Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
- Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
- Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV
What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.
Postgraduate employability: Film and Creative Writing
Postgraduates in the Department of Film and Creative Writing develop a range of skills including the ability to lead and participate in discussions; critical thinking, and an appreciation of different theoretical contexts; the ability to develop opinions and new ideas; and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others. While some graduates go on to careers in related industries, such as writing, media and television, others have used their transferable skills to pursue roles such as advertising, teaching, and in the heritage and cultural sectors. Over the past 5 years, 82% of Arts and Law postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017).
About the School
Our College of Arts and Law Graduate School is a vibrant international community of over 1500 postgraduate students. We benefit from excellent research resources and a supportive environment that allo ... Read More