Creative Writing - MA

Full Time, Part Time
September 2019

Our MA in Creative Writing helps you to develop your potential as a novelist, poet, scriptwriter or non-fiction author. It is 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.

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 Applicants submit a portfolio of writing, published or unpublished, and are then interviewed by members of the MA teaching team.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.

"We are very fortunate students to have a Faculty who are pulling out all the stops to help writers of the future fulfil their writing ambitions. I appreciate the lengths that you and rest of the School of English go to, to make BCU's MA in Creative Writing course such an exciting experience. Thank you." Ms Shirley Lloyd, MA Creative Writing student and Student Academic Leader

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 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 report – which includes Creative Writing – classed 77% 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.

This course is open to International students

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

Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Gregory Leadbetter.

Email Course Director

Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

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.

International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year £6,100 per year
PT 2 years

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

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

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements


Fees for part time students

If you study this course part-time or via distance learning, you will be charged on a pro-rata basis. This means your fee will be calculated per module.

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 your course. 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.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

View additional costs for this course

Additional costs

The additional costs listed at the bottom of the page are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

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


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

Each 40 credit module involves 28 scheduled hours. You will also be expected to attend the public events run by the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing wherever possible.

Option modules

40 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
40 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.

40 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.

40 credits

This module enables you to develop as a contemporary poet and thinker on poetry. You learn and practice 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.

Compulsory modules

Reading into Writing
40 credits

On this module you will study the creative connection between what you read and what you write. You will examine the structure, form, method, diction, and subject matter of two set texts, and their imaginative, technical or thematic relationship to works by other writers, artists and thinkers, developing your awareness of creative writing as part of a living literary tradition. The module will introduce you to research methods relevant to creative practice, and the fundamental principles of postgraduate practice-led research. You will also study the art of the book review, and its place in contemporary literary culture.

Final Project
60 credits

Through one-to-one tuition, this module supports you in producing a larger portfolio of creative writing, 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 online 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 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, a student committee edits and produces the anthology, with mentoring from a leading industry editor, funded by 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:, or go direct to the courses section of the website.

students on the grass in front of Curzon

School of English Blog 

A blog that offers you an insight into life as a student at the School of English at Birmingham City University.

Visit the blog 

We believe that with its focus on language, pleasure, and the creative imagination, the study of creative writing is immensely rewarding in itself. Moreover, the ability to think and communicate clearly, imaginatively and effectively are among the most valuable skills you can have.

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 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

Our graduates 

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.

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 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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Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £260 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

The Curzon Building

Our School of English is housed in the Curzon Building, a £63 million development, located on our City Centre campus, in the vibrant second city that is Birmingham.

Discover your bright and open learning spaces, your 24 hour (during term time) library, drama, media and radio studios, along with state of the art lecture theatres, and a variety of sociable break-out areas, all adding to your unique learning experience.

The Curzon Building
Curzon Building entrance
Lecture theatre in The Curzon Building.
ADM English Discussions
ADM English Discussions 2
Curzon Building - Social space
Entrance to Curzon Library, which is open 24 hours a day during term time.
A selection of books in our six storey library.
English Drama Workshop 3
English Drama Workshop 1
English Drama Workshop 2
English Drama Workshop 4
Drama room controls 1
Drama room controls 2
The ASK desk – your first point of contact for all queries related to university life.
The light filled atrium leads into the café and restaurant.
The restaurant has a diverse menu with affordable and high quality food.
Curzon Building - Eagle and Ball bar
Eastside Park

Our Staff

Dr Gregory Leadbetter is a poet and critic.His most recent poetry collection is The Fetch (Nine Arches Press, 2016).

Anna Lawrence writes prose and poetry. Her fiction includes the novel Ruby’s Spoon (Chatto & Windus, 2010).

Andy Conway is a prolific screenwriter and novelist. His feature films include Arjun & Alison.

Rhoda Greaves writes short stories, and has twice been shortlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize.

Helen Cross is a distinguished novelist and scriptwriter, and a Fellow of our Institute of Creative and Critical Writing

Gregory Leadbetter

Dr Gregory Leadbetter

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.

Read Gregory's full profile

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.

Read Anna's full profile

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.

Read Andy's full profile

Helen Cross


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.

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.