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Creative Writing - MA

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.

Studying with us in 2021/22

It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.

Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of English
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media


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.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this 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 Applicants submit a portfolio of writing, published or unpublished, and are then interviewed by members of the MA teaching team.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.

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.

You may 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 the course is based on your application portfolio and, where relevant, your interview.

International Students

Entry requirements here

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £7,700 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £8,500 per year

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £14,500 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £16,000 per 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.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Personal stationery and study materials (optional)

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £30 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

*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.

Portfolio Guidance

You must submit a portfolio of your creative writing. This should be between 1,500-2,000 words of prose fiction or creative non-fiction, 10 pages of properly formatted screenplay, or six to eight poems. If you wish to submit your work in more than one form, you can upload a combination of any two.

Please submit your portfolio as either a Word document or PDF file.

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.

Course in Depth


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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:

Facilities and Staff

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

Professor Gregory Leadbetter

Professor of Poetry, Course Director of the MA in Creative Writing, Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing

Gregory Leadbetter is Professor of Poetry at Birmingham City University. His research focuses on Romantic poetry and thought, the traditions to which these relate, and the history and practice of poetry more generally. His book Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) won the University English Book Prize 2012. His poetry collections include Maskwork (Nine Arches Press, 2020), The Fetch (Nine Arches Press, 2016) and the pamphlet The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007).

More about Gregory

Andy Conway

Course Director Film Studies

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

More about Andy

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.

More about Helen

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.

More about Rhoda