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Creative Writing - MA

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: January 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time
  • Location: City Centre

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 Applicants submit a portfolio of writing, published or unpublished, and are then interviewed by members of the MA teaching team.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 both the home of the School of English in Millennium Point, and at our £63 million development the Curzon Building, which boasts a richly stocked University Library, a wealth of digital learning resources, a 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

English Right Column

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 £10,906 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,906 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

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

International Students

Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.

Apply now

  • UK/EU students
  • International students

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £7,400 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • TBC

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £14,000 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • TBC

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. 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.

*Professional Placement option

The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.

This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

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.

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

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 can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans


In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits)

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.

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practical outcome with accompanying reflective, critical and contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be relevant to your programme and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 80 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

40 credits

In this module you will explore the fundamental techniques involved in writing fiction: creating character, establishing an immediate and concrete setting, balancing drama and exposition, managing story and plot, choreographing point of view, imagery, stylistic and structural control. You will also experiment with different ways of editing and shaping your writing. Each week, in collaboration with your fellow students, you will consider a particular element of writing craft in relation to a novel or short story, working towards a portfolio (either continuous chapters of a novel, or a collection of short stories) to be submitted at the end of the module. You will also explore practical aspects of the writing life (editing, making time to write, routes to publication, social media) through our Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.

40 credits

This module is designed to help you develop your range and technique as a contemporary poet, reader and thinker on poetry. As well as cultivating your ability to read poetry sympathetically and critically, you will learn how to nurture the poetic imagination and what Ted Hughes called its ‘psychic disciplines’, with a view to strengthening and emboldening the intuition and sensitivity upon which poetic technique depends. You will also acquire practical knowledge of publishing and performing your own work.

40 credits

The module will familiarise you with the structural principles behind the writing of screenplays. It will give you the conceptual tools to critically examine your own creative practice, and the necessary skills and knowledge of the industry to help you work towards professional screenwriting.

Creative Non-Fiction
40 credits

In this module, you will study the nature and practice of creative nonfiction, exploring the distinctive issues it raises for writers in recent published works and in your own, including the ethical considerations involved in drawing from real-life subjects as source material, the quality of truth, and the interplay between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’. You will explore several forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, travel writing, nature writing, auto/biography, the personal essay, the nonfiction thriller, and literary journalism, and consider the variations in style these might involve.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

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

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 £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

You will study at both the home of the School of English in Millennium Point, and at our £63 million development the Curzon Building, 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.

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

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.