At the heart of the Manchester Writing School are our Master's programmes in Creative Writing, available to study on campus in Manchester, and also from anywhere in the world via online distance learning.
On our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programme, you will explore and practice techniques and styles of modern and contemporary writing and apply these through the development of your own full-length book or script.
MFA students undertake all of the elements of our MA Creative Writing programme (a taught element blending writing workshops with reading units, an elective, and a dissertation), then take an additional unit about the publishing, literary and arts industries and submit a full-length manuscript: a completed novel or short story collection, poetry collection, book for children or young adults, the script for stage, screen or radio, or book of creative non-fiction.
You will be introduced to professionals from the publishing industries, which may include literary agents, publishers, broadcasters and arts practitioners, and the School has strong links with many major arts, educational and cultural organisations. Our MFA model is exceptional in coaching students through the development and completion of a full-length book under the sustained guidance of distinguished, practising writers and seeing those students achieve success in publishing.
You will specialise in one of the following routes: Novel (including Short Fiction), Poetry, Writing for Children & Young Adults, Scriptwriting (for stage, screen or radio) or Creative Non-Fiction.
The MFA is available to complete over two years full-time or three years part-time. This course is available to study on campus (full-time or part-time) or online (part-time only). We have intakes to the programme in September and January each year.
Applications are also welcome from those already holding an MA in Creative Writing (180 credits) from Manchester Metropolitan or other universities who would like to top-up to an MFA by taking an additional 120 credits (including the Manuscript unit).
Features and benefits
One of the most successful programmes of its kind in the UK today – with more than 95 students and graduates publishing their first books in the past ten years.
An extensive calendar of events - including The Manchester Children's Book Festival, The National Creative Writing Industry Conference, Manchester Writing Competition Gala, Poetry Festivals, book launches, podcasts, and question and answer sessions with guest writers at Manchester Met and Manchester arts venues.
Industry links - strong links to the publishing industry with visits from major agents, editors and publishers, and experts from theatre, film and broadcasting.
Flexible learning - core Reading and Workshop units take place in the evenings (6-8 pm UK time) during the autumn and spring terms, with electives delivered on an intensive three-day model or studied independently with one-to-one tutorial supervision during the summer term.
Full-length manuscript - MFA students submit a full-length manuscript: a completed novel or short story collection, poetry collection, book for children or young adults, feature-length script or book of creative non-fiction, completed over a full year with one-to-one editorial input from a dedicated Manuscript Mentor. Manuscript students also attend The Industry - a term of weekly hour-long seminars with guests from publishing and the literary arts.
Live online teaching - the course can be completed entirely online, with core teaching for distance learning students via weekly online classes in Microsoft Teams.
Academic expertise - taught by high-profile writers and critics including Carol Ann Duffy DBE, Susan Barker, Laura Barnett, Andrew Biswell, Malika Booker, Chloe Buckley, Sarah Butler, Eleanor Byrne, David Cooper, Nikolai Duffy, Paul Evans, Catherine Fox, Rachel Genn, Blanka Grzegorczyk, Andrew Michael Hurley, Sarah Ilott, Oliver Harris, Rachel Lichtenstein, Anjum Malik, Alistair McDowall, Andrew McMillan, Livi Michael, Helen Mort, Gregory Norminton, Adam O'Riordan, Minoli Salgado, Michael Symmons Roberts, Monique Roffey, Nicholas Royle, Jean Sprackland, Simon Stephens, Joe Stretch, Alex Wheatle MBE and Julie Wilkinson.
Visiting Fellows – our course features contributions from our visiting fellows, including Ed Caesar, Mandy Coe, Tim Cresswell, Amanda Dalton, Steve Dearden, Guy Garvey, Colin Harvey, Rachel Mann, Shirley May, André Naffis-Sahely, Ra Page, Stephen Raw, David Shook, Hugh Stoddart and Barry Wood.
MFA Creative Writing can be tailored to suit your writing preferences with routes including Novel (including Short Fiction), Poetry, Writing for Children & Young Adults, Scriptwriting (for stage, screen or radio) or Creative Non-Fiction. There is a range of units to choose from, all delivered by practising writers.
In year one you will explore and practice techniques and styles of modern and contemporary writing, applying these through the development of your own creative work. You will undertake a taught element, blending writing workshops with reading units and an elective. In year two you will take a unit about the publishing, arts and cultural industries and submit the full-length manuscript of a completed novel, poetry collection, book for children or young adults, book of creative non-fiction, or a script.
The programme leader for this course is Dr Catherine Wilcox.
Year one of our MFA blends writing workshops, where you produce and develop your own work-in-progress with regular feedback from tutors and colleagues, with reading courses, which look at the techniques, forms and styles used by a range of writers in modern and contemporary literature. All students also take an elective unit from a suite of options. These electives can also be taken separately as discrete short courses. Year one is completed with the submission of a Dissertation - an extended piece of creative writing from a proposed full-length book. This single year of units is spread across two years for part-time and online students.
Reading Units (2 X 30 Credits)
The Workshop (2 X 15 Credits)
Creative Dissertation (60 Credits)
Crime Fiction (30 Credits)
Utopias and Dystopias (30 Credits)
Writing About Relationships (30 Credits)
Teaching Creative Writing (30 Credits)
Year two of our MFA includes the completion of a manuscript for a full-length book or script within your specialist route, and a series of seminars and Q&A sessions with experts from the publishing, literary and arts industries. This takes place in year three for those studying the MFA part-time.
The Industry (30 Credits)
Manuscript (90 Credits)
The Manchester Writing School is one of the UK's leading schools of creative writing. It is also home to ground-breaking outreach activities, international writing competitions, series of city-wide literary events, innovative publishing projects, the Manchester Children's Book Festival, and the new Manchester Poetry Library. These activities will provide you with many opportunities to get involved and develop your experience in a number of exciting directions.
In order to apply, you will need to submit a completed application form, a sample of creative writing, a critical review and one reference.
On the application form, you will be asked to give a personal statement and should use this to tell us a bit about yourself and give a good sense of what you have been reading and writing, and what has led you to apply for our course.
For the creative sample, applicants to the Novel, Children's/YA and Creative Non-Fiction routes should submit up to 2,000 words of prose (a complete piece, or an extract/extracts from a longer work); poetry applicants should submit up to 15 poems, and scriptwriting applicants should submit up to 15 minutes running time of the script.
The critical review should focus on a piece of 21st-century work, be up to 500 words long, and show evidence of close reading, explaining what it is about the piece you find useful as a writer. Both the creative and critical samples should be relevant to the specialist route to which you are applying (Novel OR Poetry OR Writing for Children/YA OR Scriptwriting OR Creative Non-Fiction).
Your reference can be from anyone of professional standing (e.g. a current/former employer or tutor) who can vouch for your suitability for study at postgraduate level or the quality of your writing, or, if you are unable to obtain a reference from someone who is familiar with your written work, simply verify your identity.
Please collate and submit the application form, writing sample, review and reference, where possible. It will not speed up the processing of your application if you send some elements now with others to follow.
We have intakes into the programme in September and January each year. We recommend applying before the end of August for September entry, and by the end of November for January entry. We normally aim to respond to applications within four weeks of receipt of all four elements: application form, writing sample, review and reference, although it may take a little longer outside of term time.
In each application assessed we will be looking for evidence of:
A very high standard of written English;
Creative talent and potential;
Control of form, style and technique;
Commitment to the craft of writing and willingness to engage with the editorial process of receiving feedback and redrafting work-in-progress;
Experience of the development of writing skills through workshops, supervision, mentoring or previous study;
Commitment to the craft of writing and the development of writing skills through workshops and supervision;
Substantial reading within the relevant field.
Applicants whose first language is not English are required to produce evidence of English Language proficiency. Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 overall, with no sub-component below 5.5, or an equivalent accepted English qualification.
If your application meets these criteria, a tutor may contact you to arrange a telephone or face-to-face interview at a mutually convenient time.
Fees and funding
UK and Channel Island Students
Full-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Part-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Distance learning fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
EU and non-EU International Students
Full-time fee: £2750 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Part-time fee: £2750 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Distance learning fee: £2750 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
More than 95 of our students and graduates have embarked upon publishing careers, launching first books, with many more achieving publication in journals and magazines, winning writing awards and prizes, and setting up small presses and anthologies. Our alumni include winners of the Costa First Novel Award, Forward Poetry Prize and Yale Windham-Campell Prize, and a long-listing for Man Booker Prize.
Our School plays a leading role in establishing Manchester as a city of writers with a commitment to finding diverse new voices and creating opportunities for writer development, enabling new writing and building audiences for the next generation of talent. Manchester has been designated a UNESCO City of Literature in recognition of its thriving live literature scene, with a year-round programme of author events, writers’ forums, networking opportunities and open mic nights.
We are home to a suite of ground-breaking outreach projects including the Manchester Children’s Book Festival and Mother Tongue Other Tongue, an international multilingual poetry competition that celebrates cultural diversity and the many languages are spoken in schools in the UK. Our School has a strong Manchester presence, with links to many of the city’s major cultural and arts organisations, and also a global reach with students and alumni based across the UK and continental Europe, and in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
Our strong partnerships and innovative projects mean that you will have plenty of opportunities to develop your industry experience and network.
On completion of this course, you may decide to pursue PhD study or to develop a career in bookselling, agenting, publishing, editing, the media, or in teaching creative writing. Students have access to the Careers and Employability Hub located in the Business School, offering a host of information resources, one-to-one careers support and employability events throughout the year. This service is also available for up to three years after you graduate.