Creative Writing - MA

Attendance:
Full Time, Part Time
Starting:
September 2016, September 2017
Campus:
Fees:
£5,500 for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

Our MA Creative Writing course helps you to develop your potential as a novelist, poet, scriptwriter or non-fiction author. It’s taught by distinguished writers, with the support of a superb range of guest seminars and masterclasses by visiting authors, editors and agents, through our Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.

Our graduates have had their work broadcast on BBC Radio 4, been published in leading fiction journals, set up their own publishing companies, secured agents for their work, won places on writer development programmes, and been shortlisted for prestigious writing awards, including (on multiple occasions) the Manchester Fiction Prize.

What's covered in the course?

Our MA is aimed at emerging writers, providing you with the skills and disciplines you need to advance. It’s founded upon the philosophy that writers can benefit from the same kind of training enjoyed by actors, musicians, and visual artists.

Admission to the course is based on talent, commitment and potential. Applicants submit a portfolio of writing, published or unpublished, and are then interviewed by members of the MA teaching team. Applications are considered throughout the year for entry in September of any academic year.

You’ll have the opportunity to develop your writing in the forms of your choice – be it fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, writing for theatre, or poetry – and extend your range in genres that may be new to you.

You’ll attend our programme of guest speakers and public events devoted to cultivating the creative imagination, the life of ideas and the literary arts, all organised by the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing based within the School of English.

As well as receiving specialist tuition from established writers, you’ll have exclusive access to six Masterclasses each year run by a Fellow of the Institute, a member of the MA team or a guest author. These Masterclasses are based on the Conservatoire model of music tuition and involve an expert public close-reading of a volunteered student text.

You’ll study at our new £63 million development, the Curzon Building, which opened in September 2015 and boasts a richly stocked University Library, a wealth of digital learning resources, a new Students’ Union and a dedicated student support hub.

Why Choose Us?

  • You’ll learn from distinguished writers who are experts in their field.
  • Our exciting programme of guest seminars, masterclasses and public events, held by the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.
  • The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 report – which includes Creative Writing – classed 77 per cent of the research in the department as either world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • We have a close relationship with Writing West Midlands, the literature development agency for our region, which also runs the Birmingham Literature Festival.
  • We help you prepare for a career in writing. Our graduates have an excellent record of success with their work.
  • You’ll be part of an outstanding centre of creativity in the Faculty of the Arts, Design and Media.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November. Registration will open shortly.

Sign up for Open Day info

This course is open to International students

School of English

Discover the School of English

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Mills & Reeve LLP

And in jobs such as:

  • Marketing Communications Executive

New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students
Essential

You submit a portfolio of writing, published or unpublished, of recent creative work.

This must be no more than ten pages long typed at 11pt. in any literary genre, of prose (2000 words fiction or non-fiction), and/or six - 10 poems, and/or 10 pages of playscript or screenplay. We also require two satisfactory references.

We also require two satisfactory references.

You will then be interviewed by members of the MA Creative Writing team.

Applications will be considered throughout the year for entry in September of any academic year.

Selection for a place on the course is based on your work and your interview.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £5,500
PT 2 years £930 per 30 credit module
Sep 2017 FT 1 year TBC
PT 2 years TBC

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000
Sep 2017 FT 1 year £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Modules

You’ll choose three option modules (from Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Screenwriting, Scripting and Staging, and Poetry), and complete two compulsory modules (Reading into Writing, and the Final Project).

Option modules

Fiction
30 credits

The Fiction module explores the art of the novel and the short story, and the techniques that will help you develop your control of language and narrative. You’ll learn to situate your writing in relation to the contemporary market, as well as your own cultural and personal contexts.

Creative Non-Fiction
30 credits

In this module, you’ll produce a sustained piece of imaginative prose non-fiction – be it travel writing, memoir, biography, nature writing, social history, or an original combination of any of these. Taking the form of a professional book proposal, the creative non-fiction portfolio develops your understanding of the market for creative non-fiction, while improving research skills into both content and form.

Screenwriting
30 credits

This module teaches you the structural principles involved in the writing of screenplays. It will give you the conceptual tools to examine critically your own creative practice, and the necessary skills and knowledge of the industry to help you work towards professional scriptwriting – all with the benefit of the excellent in-house film-making opportunities and facilities within Birmingham City University.

Scripting and Staging
30 credits

Scripting and Staging focuses on writing for the theatre, and producing work that can be staged to professional standards. With the guidance of a specialist tutor, you’re taken through the process of working with theatre practitioners in the development of dramatic text, including the opportunity to test and develop your scripts using a group of actors.

Poetry
30 credits

This module allows you to develop as a contemporary poet and thinker on poetry. You learn and practise techniques that strengthen and embolden your creative imagination, develop your poetry in the context of close reading, and acquire practical knowledge of the issues involved in publishing and performing your own work through the guided publication of your own slim volume of poems.

Compulsory modules

Reading into Writing
30 credits

Through learning to work imaginatively with classic set texts, this module explores the variety of literary creativity practised and described by authors from the past and the present. You develop both expository and creative writing skills, as well as experience of managing a reading group and an introduction to research methods relevant to creative practice.

Final Project
60 credits

This module leads towards a portfolio consisting of a significant body of creative work, a reflective commentary upon that work, and reports on two activities that you feel have furthered you professionally, as a writer. The work could be a collection of stories; an original screenplay, or theatre piece; a continuous section of a novel; a sequence of poems or a longer poem; or creative non-fiction. It gives you the opportunity to put into practice all that you’ve learnt on the course, and lay the foundation for the next stage of your writing life.

You’ll be given intensive exposure to the creative practice of established writers through our seminars and masterclasses, and enjoy one-to-one tuition as you work towards a larger writing project towards the end of your course.

You can choose to study either full-time over one year or part-time over two years. Throughout the course, your learning will be supported through our Moodle digital learning platform. Assessment is by portfolio, which will include a reflective commentary on your own creative practice, in addition to the writing itself.

You’ll be encouraged throughout the course to make connections with the work of other departments within the Faculty of the Arts, Design and Media, to which the School of English belongs. The Faculty is the centre of an extraordinary range and concentration of creative activity, which helps to make studying at Birmingham City University an exciting and distinctive experience.

Every year, both full-time and part-time students are invited to take part in compiling, editing and producing our annual anthology of new creative writing from the School of English, which is launched at the Creative Writing Summer Show in June. As part of the professional experience we offer on the course, that student committee edits and produces the anthology, with mentoring and funding from the School.

We also encourage you to volunteer at the annual Birmingham Literature Festival and other Writing West Midlands events, so you can garner first-hand experience of the writing industry and gain useful contacts.

Further Study

The School of English is very active in research, with excellent 2008 RAE results. MPhil and PhD opportunities may be available. Please get in touch for more information. For further information on courses contact Birmingham City University Choices. Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5595 Email: choices@bcu.ac.uk, or go direct to the courses section of the website.

We believe that with its focus on language, pleasure, and the creative imagination, the study of creative writing is immensely rewarding in itself. Moreover, a higher degree can help further any career.

Postgraduates earn an average £9,000 more per year than those with just undergraduate degrees.* A postgraduate qualification can really help you stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market. By becoming a specialist in your field, you’ll have the chance to advance thinking in that subject and lead, rather than follow, the latest developments.

*The Sutton Trust, 2015.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Student success

The achievements of our graduates include:

  • Multiple shortlistings for the Manchester Fiction Prize
  • Short fiction broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and selected as Pick of the Week
  • Selection for the Writing West Midlands Room 204 Writer Development Programme, after graduation
  • Shortlisting for the Impress Prize for New Writers
  • Establishing a new publishing company
  • Poems Highly Commended in the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Competition
  • Winning the Orwell Society Dystopian Short Fiction Prize
  • Publication of their debut poetry collection with Nine Arches Press

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our writing course is most popular with international students from:

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USA

Curzon facilities eatery
Curzon facilities staircase
Curzon facilities student hub

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Curzon Building

This course will be held at our newest facility, The Curzon Building, part of our City Centre Campus.

The £63 million building provides you with a unique learning space, featuring plenty of informal ‘break out’ areas available, creating an open, sociable atmosphere. There is also a new home for the Students’ Union, with its location moving to the restored Victorian pub The Eagle and Ball. Both City North and Millennium Point libraries have moved to the new building.

The dedicated social learning spaces ensure you’ll have the perfect facilities to work independently and confidently, having the time and support you need.

All this ensures that The Curzon Building is a vital support hub and a true central location for students in Birmingham City Centre.

Learning from industry experts

Discover more about the industry experts you can meet on our English degree courses.

Islam Issa is one of our lecturers, watch this video to find out more.

Dr Gregory Leadbetter

Director of the MA in Creative Writing, Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing

Gregory is a poet and critic, with research interests in English Romanticism, poetry and creative writing. His poetry collections include The Fetch (Nine Arches Press, 2016) and The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007). A regular contributor to The Poetry Review, and his work is published widely in journals and anthologies. He has written radio drama for the BBC, and was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013. Gregory's book on Coleridge’ s poetry, the transnatural, and the dilemmas of creativity, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) won the University English (formerly CCUE) Book Prize 2012.

As well as his work on Coleridge, he has published book chapters and articles on Wordsworth, Lamb, Keats and Ted Hughes. As Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing in the School of English, he leads our programme of guest seminars and masterclasses with authors, editors and agents for our students, together with a programme of public literary events every year, including readings, book launches, seminars and writing workshops.

Gregory is currently supervising doctoral theses on representations of the domestic uncanny in contemporary short fiction, fictional autobiography and the fragmentary novel, and disability poetics.

Anna Lawrence

Deputy Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing

Anna writes prose and poetry. She is particularly interested in the interaction of the magical and the mundane, and her first novel, Ruby’s Spoon (Chatto & Windus, 2010), is set in a fictional Black Country town where witches and mermaids may (or may not) reside: Susan Hill wrote that this was “one of the best first novels I’ve ever read”. Her critical writing on Margaret Mahy and prize-winning poetry explores similar territory.

Before coming to Birmingham City University, and after leaving her job as a trainee prison governor, she facilitated community writing workshops and site-specific writing projects. Anna gained a first class degree from the University of Oxford.

Andy Conway

Lecturer in Creative Writing

Andy is a prolific screenwriter and novelist with 30 years’ experience of the writing industry. He’s worked as a screenwriter on many films, both produced and lost in development hell, for over 20 years, and runs the Shooting People Screenwriters’ Network, with 11,000 worldwide members. He also co-founded the West Midlands Screenwriters’ Forum, and the new independent publishing collective, New Street Authors.

His feature film, Arjun & Alison, a campus revenge thriller set in Birmingham, toured film festivals around the world and was released in UK cinemas in spring 2014. He currently divides his time between the three feature films he has in pre-production, writing his series of historical fantasy novels, Touchstone, co-writing a guide to the world of self-publishing, and lecturing in Screenwriting at Birmingham City University.

Helen Cross

Author

Helen’s novels include My Summer of Love, which became a BAFTA award-winning film, and Spilt Milk, Black Coffee, which she has recently adapted for the screen. She has written two graphic anthologies with artist Carol Adlam, most recently Women at War (2016). Her stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies and her audio plays, which are regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 4, have been shortlisted for several awards. Helen is a Fellow of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing. Visit Helen’s website.

Caroline Jester

Dramaturg and Literary Manager at Birmingham REP

Caroline was Dramaturg and Literary Manager at the Birmingham REP Theatre, and now works freelance. As a writer her published work includes Playwriting Across the Curriculum (Routledge), Europa (as editor; Bloomsbury), The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting (as contributor; Oberon) and she is currently writing a book for Bloomsbury Playwrights on their Craft. Her plays include Weaving the Town for the Museum of Carpet, Don't forget the lights and (as translator) The Wedding by Brecht for the Birmingham REP Theatre.

She has developed international playwriting programmes in the USA, Singapore, Poland, Croatia, Germany, Italy and Denmark. She is a Master on the MA in Dramatic Writing at Central Saint Martins and a Fellow of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.

Rhoda Greaves

Rhoda is a Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing, and is currently completing a Creative Writing PhD, which includes an original collection of short stories. She is a member of the European Network for Short Fiction Research, and her stories have been highly commended or listed in the Manchester Fiction Prize, the Bridport Short Story Prize, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Frome Festival Short Story Competition, and the Fish Publishing Prize. Her stories have been published in Short Fiction Journal, Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, The View From Here, Cake and Litro.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295