Postgraduate Course

MA Creative Writing

MA Creative Writing

Overview

The details
Creative Writing
October 2019
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Our challenging, practice-based course offers you a unique approach to the practice of writing, emphasising innovation and experimentation in your work.

On our MA Creative Writing, you deepen your knowledge of literary tradition, exploring different modes and genres in order to develop your own creative and expressive written skills. You expand your use of creative writing techniques and improve your critical judgement of your own work.

Our course encourages you to develop your writing by stepping outside your comfort zone and discovering the different approaches to verbal art that are possible today. This will invigorate your own practice, whether you are writing psychogeography, plays, novels, stories or something else. You will choose from a variety of modules, covering topics such as:

  • Development of a novel plan, from research and concept-development, to plotting, character, and structure
  • Experimental language play of the Oulipo group across the short story, autobiography, cartoons, cookery and theatre
  • Relating magic to writing and creativity, both in theory and in practice
  • Psychogeography, writing about walking, place, landscape, history and the psychic environment
  • Poetic practice across experimental writing in poetry from the performative to the visual

To help you hone your craft, we also host two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional writers on-hand to help you develop your writing on a one-to-one basis, and regularly host talks and readings by visiting writers.

Essex has nurtured a long tradition of distinguished authors whose work has shaped literature as we know it today, from past giants such as the American poets Robert Lowell and Ted Berrigan, to contemporary writers such as mythographer and novelist Dame Marina Warner, and Booker Prize winner Ben Okri.

We are ranked among the top 200 departments in the QS World University Rankings (2018).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Why we're great.
  • Learn from the professionals as part of our innovative Writers at Essex series
  • Join a diverse network of distinguished alumni and award-winning teaching staff who have shaped the world of literature
  • Publish your own work in our annual creative writing journal, Creel

Our expert staff

Our teaching staff are experienced and established writers who have a breadth of experience across literary genres, from novels, prose and plays, to poetry and song.

Our creative writing teaching team has a breadth of experience in the literatures of different cultures and different forms. Our current teaching staff include poet and short story writer Philip Terry, lyric writer and essayist Adrian May, novelist and camper Matthew de Abaitua, poet and performance-writer Holly Pester, poet, fisherman and memoirist Chris McCully, and award-winning playwrights Elizabeth Kuti and Jonathan Lichtenstein.

Our Centre for Creative Writing is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers students the skills, support and confidence to respond artistically and critically to the study of writing with the guidance of experts.

Specialist facilities

  • Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show
  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
  • Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading literature specialists at regular talks and readings
  • Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
  • Improve your playwriting skills at our Lakeside Theatre Writers workshops
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
  • Contribute some of your work to our annual publication 'Creel', an anthology of creative writing produced by our postgraduate students.

Your future

Many of our students have gone on to successfully publish their work, notable recent alumni including:

  • Ida Løkås, who won a literary prize in Norway for The Beauty That Flows Past, securing a book deal
  • Alexia Casale, whose novel Bone Dragon was published by Faber & Faber and subsequently featured on both the Young Adult Books of the Year 2013 list for The Financial Times, and The Independent’s Books of the year 2013: Children
  • Elaine Ewert, recent graduate from our MA Wild Writing, placed second in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2015
  • Patricia Borlenghi, the founder of Patrician Press, which has published works by a number of our alumni
  • Petra Mcqueen, who has written for The Guardian and runs creative writing courses

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers, and others are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

"The facilities were fantastic while the lecturers were very supportive and still continue to offer help, even though I have now graduated! There was always a good atmosphere and I know I’ll never have writer’s block again! I am working towards a career as a playwright, so of course my degree has been invaluable to me, and I have recently been approached to do a Channel 4 TV show called The Audience."

Janine Hornsby, MA Creative Writing, 2012

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A mid 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages and Art History.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here.Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

Dissertation

Your dissertation is the culmination of your time at Essex. Focusing on one particular topic in great depth, you formulate an urgent research question to be subsequently addressed, either critically or creatively. Your dedicated supervisor will be on-hand to guide you through the process, and our pre-requisite module on research methods will ensure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

Creative Writing Workshop

Editing and redrafting is a crucial part of the writing process, but can often feel like the most difficult phase. This participatory workshop is your opportunity to receive peer-to-peer feedback on your work, in a mutually supportive and friendly environment. You work alongside colleagues to develop creative best practice, and learn how to provide constructive comments on features such as form, voice, and distance.

View Creative Writing Workshop on our Module Directory

Writing the Novel (optional)

What inspires a writer? How do you develop your idea? What about plotting, character, structure and setting? Explore the general principles of developing a novel from initial inspiration to final draft. Undertake practical exercises to find out which writing methods best suit you and your ideas.

View Writing the Novel (optional) on our Module Directory

Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography (optional)

A new genre of literature has been emerging: moving between fiction, history, traveller's tales, and memoir, it explores the spirit of place. This tradition of “psychogeography” has been most vividly taken up and given a new contemporary twist by writers in the eastern stretches of England, in the work of writers such as Ronald Blythe, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair. This module is concerned with writing on the landscape of this region – the ways the wilder reaches of Essex and Suffolk have been depicted – and allows you to develop your critical and creative writing about place. This module usually involves a walking tour around Colchester where we will have the chance to explore these literary landscapes and experience these worlds for ourselves. Students will incur travel costs of approximately £2.50 for this trip.

View Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography (optional) on our Module Directory

Dramatic Structure (optional)

Want to write your own stage plays? Have an idea of a screenplay? Learn about the range of contemporary plays and possibilities that exist within contemporary drama. Develop your own work, discussing topics like dialogue, construction of plot and structure of scenes within a supportive and creative environment.

View Dramatic Structure (optional) on our Module Directory

The New Nature Writing (optional)

On this module, you approach writing about the natural world through a series of three-week units on subjects such as trees, marshes, coasts, and birds. Each unit will begin with a focus on the local – the wild east of Essex and Suffolk – before moving outwards to larger perspectives. Several of the units will involve field trips led by the writers being studied, which will include such figures as Richard Mabey and Robert Macfarlane.

View The New Nature Writing (optional) on our Module Directory

Writing Magic (optional)

Magic and writing have a close association, in terms of subject, structure and in the creation of literature itself. Magic is a 'pretended' or 'hidden principle', which uses the supernatural and works in the same way as mythic or metaphorical literary writing in seeking to reveal hidden connections and truths. The history of magic, both as a subject for writing, with its colourful characters and events, and in its use of ritual and archetype and with its themes of transformation, offers many possibilities for writing and creativity in theory and practical application.

View Writing Magic (optional) on our Module Directory

Literature and Performance in the Modern City (optional)

Explore the cultural and political capitals of the twentieth and twenty-first century: New York, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow and London. By considering these urban spaces, you actively explore the categories of modernism and postmodernism, as well as a range of theories of the modern/postmodern city. Emphasis is placed on taking an interdisciplinary approach – discussion of literary works (including plays) will be complemented by viewing/listening to performances, films, and readings. You also consider paintings and photographs, city maps, and even urban planning decisions.

View Literature and Performance in the Modern City (optional) on our Module Directory

Applied Theatre Making: Writing in the Community (optional)

How do you write a play for young people? Or vulnerable groups? What skills are needed to produce a site-specific play? Understand the practical research methodologies and ways of writing for community groups. Engage with work by key practitioners in applied drama and examine plays created for a specific community.

View Applied Theatre Making: Writing in the Community (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Five modules are followed over the autumn and spring terms, and generally consist of ten two-hour seminars
  • An emphasis on practice, experimenting with different techniques to produce work of your own
  • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
  • Visiting scholars are invited to speak about their research

Assessment

  • Four essays of 4,000-5,000 words, usually combining a creative piece and critical commentary
  • There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays
  • A reflective piece on research methods

Dissertation

  • You produce a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words
  • This takes the form of a creative piece and a critical commentary

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£7,940

International fee

£17,040

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

If you are applying to a masters course in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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