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Creative writing graduate programs uk

Creative Writing MSc

The community has been one of my favourite parts. The department has very warm and encouraging staff. Some of my classmates are now close friends, and we still workshop stories across time zones, and complain to each other about writing – and not writing!

Bhavika Govil, prize-winning fiction writer MSc in Creative Writing, 2020

Postgraduate mini Open Day

Join us at the Postgraduate mini Open Day on Wednesday 29 June.

Programme description

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, this one-year, full-time taught Masters programme is tailored towards your practice in either fiction or poetry.

There is a strong practical element to the programme, helping you develop your creative skills through workshops, presenting your work for peer discussion, and hearing from guest writers and other professionals on the practicalities of life as a writer.

You’ll also sharpen your critical skills through seminars exploring the particulars of your chosen form and through option courses in literature, helping you move from theoretical considerations to practical applications.

The programme culminates with the publication of ‘From Arthur’s Seat’, an anthology of student work.

Why Edinburgh

Literature has been taught here for over 250 years, and today Edinburgh thrives on its designation as the first UNESCO World City of Literature, home to the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library, and a number of celebrated publishing outlets, from Canongate and Polygon, to Luath Press, Birlinn and Mariscat. The University hosts the prestigious James Tait Black Awards, established in 1919 and the oldest literary prizes in Britain.

There are lots of opportunities to write and share your work, from ‘The Student’, the UK’s oldest student newspaper (founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson), to The Selkie, which was founded by Creative Writing students in 2018 to showcase work by people who self-identify as underrepresented.

Around the city, you’ll find library readings and bookshop launches, spoken word gigs, cabaret nights and poetry slams.

We team teach our programme so that you benefit from the input of a range of tutors, as well as your fellow students and our Writer in Residence, the poet Ryan Van Winkle, who also co-ordinates a range of student writing prizes and our annual industry event, The Business.

The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, including well-published and prize-winning writers of poetry, prose fiction and drama. They include:

Programme structure

Over the duration of the programme, you’ll take two core courses, both worth 40 credits, and two optional courses chosen from a wide range of subjects, both worth 20 credits.

The core activities in Creative Writing are tutor-led workshops in which you’ll present your work-in-progress, and critique the work of your fellow students, and regular seminars exploring techniques and issues specific to your practice (either fiction or poetry), and the statements and theories of practitioners.

Optional courses

We have a large number of option courses to choose from, including preferred courses for fiction and poetry (which will be offered to Creative Writing students in the first instance), and courses from across the Department of English Literature and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Visiting speakers

Throughout the programme, you’ll be expected to attend readings and talks by visiting speakers. Early on, these will be from published writers and, later, advisors from the writing business: literary agents, magazine editors and publishers.

Dissertation

The final element of the programme is your dissertation, a piece of creative writing (worth 60 credits) written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor. Fiction dissertations are between 15,000 words and 20,000 words, poetry dissertations between 25 and 30 pages.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

Award Title Duration Study mode
MSc 1 Year Full-time Programme structure 2022/23

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify, conceptualise and define formal elements of craft in your chosen field (poetry or fiction) within published works and within works by your peers
  • remain open to criticism and respond effectively and creatively to feedback on your own creative work
  • work from initial conception through multiple drafts to the final version of a creative piece within your chosen field (fiction or poetry)
  • transfer editorial skills and creative abilities from one context to another
  • analyse creative works within your chosen field (fiction or poetry), work with a focus on craft effectiveness, and articulate strengths and weaknesses in a piece of writing in a constructive manner

Career opportunities

Over the course of this programme, you’ll complete a body of creative work that has been rigorously peer reviewed.

Our students go on to careers in a wide variety of fields, including publishing, marketing, arts administration, web and audio book editing, script and ghost writing, and gaming narrative design. Some decide to extend their studies and take a PhD with us.

Many of our alumni go on to achieve literary success, publishing novels and short story and poetry collections, and winning awards. Our graduates’ recent successes include:

  • Debut novels from Amanda Block (The Lost Storyteller, published by Hodder Studio), Karin Nordin (Where Ravens Roost, published by Harper Collins), August Thomas (Liar’s Candle, published by Simon and Schuster), Secrets of a Serial Killer by Rosie Walker (published by One More Chapter) and Mark Wightman (Waking the Tiger, published by Hobeck Books and shortlisted for Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2021)
  • Debut short story collections from Dayle Furlong (Lake Effect, published by Cormorant Books), and Dima Alzayat (Alligator and Other Stories, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Award for Fiction)
  • A non-fiction debut from Sonali Misra (21 Fantastic Failures, published by Rupa Publications India)
  • Debut poetry collections from Rebecca Tamás (WITCH, published by Penned in the Margins), Naomi Morris (Hyperlove, published by Makina Books) and Aileen Ballantyne (Taking Flight, published by Luath Press)
  • The 2021 Brotherton Poetry Prize, won by Lauren Pope, and the 2021 Pontas & JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize, won by Bhavika Govil

Meet our graduates

A word from our Programme Director

Entry requirements

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in any discipline. This will often be in a directly related subject like English Literature/Creative Writing, but we welcome applicants from all academic backgrounds.*

Applicants who are entered into selection will be asked to provide a sample of written work to enable their suitability for the programme to be assessed.

(*Revised 9 November 2021 to clarify that degree may be in any discipline.)

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS , TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE , in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Creative Writing MFA

The first Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the UK, this course offers talented and aspiring writers the chance to refine their craft under the tutelage of acclaimed professionals and develop a unique combination of creative and practical skills on this course, in preparation for a career as a published writer.

Our external examiner has rated this course highly:

  • ‘This course has developed a strong identity in terms of encouraging students to fuse disparate, varied influences in their work.’
  • ‘I’m a fan of this course – well done!’
Mode Duration Start date
Full time 2 years September 2022
Part time 4 years September 2022
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston

  • The Creative Writing MFA (Master of Fine Arts) is designed for serious writers who would like to build upon their publishing record or become a published writer.
  • It uses a practical approach to develop your writing skills and is ideal if your writing is already of a good standard but you want to progress towards producing potentially publishable material.
  • You also have the chance to learn more about professional elements of writing, such as working with agents/publishers and presenting proposals.
  • You can enrol on the MFA at the beginning of your postgraduate degree at Kingston or after completing an MA in Creative Writing (or related subject).

The Art School Experience

As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.

Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines – enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.

What our students say

In this video, one of our creative writing alumna and a current student discuss why they chose the course, what they enjoyed about it and why they’d recommend it to future applicants.

What you will study

You’ll attend writing workshops; examine literary genre and texts; take a module designed to prepare you for the world of publishing; and write a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice in the first year of the course. In the second year you progress to smaller group writing workshops. The extensive one-to-one supervision for the dissertation leading to the MFA (no less than 40,000 words) will be provided by one of the course’s permanent staff, one of our distinguished professors.

Core modules

MFA students need to complete all four MA modules (120 credits) before they can progress to the MFA (second) year. The MFA dissertation has 120 credits. The option modules and dissertation give you the chance to further specialise and pursue an area of interest in depth.

Core modules
MFA Dissertation

120 credits

This module provides students with one-to-one supervision over an extended period of time (approximately one year for full time students and two years for part time students). The module is assessed in two ways: firstly, by a creative dissertation of 40,000 words that may take the form of a single sustained piece of writing or a collection of pieces from a suitable range of genre; and secondly, by a critical reading log of approximately 4,500 words.

Special Study: Workshop in Popular Genre Writing

30 credits

This module offers a regular and intensive review of your writing in one of the following genres: poetry, crime writing, prose fiction, biography, drama, scriptwriting or writing for children. You will be advised on how to strengthen your knowledge of the codes and conventions of your chosen genre to produce a substantial piece or collection of work that will reflect your knowledge of and engagement with your chosen genre. You will apply detailed feedback on your work to your writing as well as using your increased knowledge of your chosen genre to make your writing more effective. These elements will help you improve the key transferable skills of analysis and implementation that will feed forward into your dissertation module and into all analytical/practical tasks you subsequently undertake.

Structure and Style

30 credits

This module provides the opportunity to write across three genres – including prose, poetry and playwriting – to teach you how to apply literary techniques from other forms to your own work. It will look at:
• issues of voice, imagery, tone and characterisation;
• elements of narrative, dramatic and lyrical forms; and
• contemporary works – allowing you to master structure and style and understand how a variety of literary forms function.
You will also submit a portfolio of writing exercises in the different genres studied.

Ten Critical Challenges for Creative Writers

30 credits

The module is designed to introduce students to some issues of critical and literary theory. The module is also designed to make students more aware of how their work impacts upon wider literary, cultural, political and philosophical issues. Awareness of these theories and of some of the issues surrounding the production and reception of literary texts will stimulate them, encouraging creative and conceptual thinking. The module will explore debates about literature and the practice of creative writing through readings of essays and texts that are relevant to criticism and theory. The academic component of the assessment will support the creative work with the objective that students will also have to demonstrate critical, academic, analytical skills.

Writers’ Workshop

30 credits

In this module you will present and discuss your own and each other’s work in a weekly workshop. The draft work presented may include several genres and forms, such as crime writing, fantasy fiction, children’s literature, historical fiction, science fiction, romance and autobiography. Practical criticism of student writing will be accompanied by discussion of the scope or constraints of the various genres, as well as the implications of particular forms. Attention will be paid to the transferable components of good writing: appropriate use of language, narrative pace, dialogue, expression, characterisation and mood.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.