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Postgraduate course

Writing Historical Fiction MA

Interrogate the function and form of historical writing in reflecting cultural, political and environmental contexts.

In this MA, which is studied online, you will engage with and write historical fiction using fiction and historical research methods. You will have the opportunity to develop the kinds of historical fiction writing that interest you. As part of this process you will also develop a range of key skills in critical reflection and creative practice.


  • Duration – 2 years part time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    1,000-2,000 word sample of writing

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Course overview

You will have the opportunity to deepen employable skills through the production of industry focused writing, a module analysing industry contexts and meeting industry professionals in the final residential module. As well as the group sessions (delivered online) and directed exercises you will work with tutors on a one to one basis.

The staff team of award winning writers have an exciting and diverse approach to creative writing and are able to supervise a huge range of proposed projects. All staff members are actively publishing their writing and have won several awards between them for creative outputs.

We also have a strong focus on the relationship between critical theory and creative writing and the intersection of a number of theoretical perspectives with creative practice, including eco-criticism, psychoanalysis, biopolitics and regionality.

As a student on this course you will be part of the York Centre for Writing. We offer you:

• The integration of writing practice, critical appreciation of texts and employability skills
• A focus on contemporary writing
• Regular engagement with visiting speakers and writers
• Partnerships with local publishers and writing festivals, as well as national organisations
• Research-led teaching
• A diverse and inclusive syllabus
• Opportunities for you to experience additional optional residentials (residentials are subsidised by the university but you may be asked to pay a small contribution).

Course structure

Year 1

  • Research Methods in Writing Historical Fiction (Residential) (30 credits, compulsory)
  • Historical Fiction - Forms and Response (30 credits, compulsory)
  • Contemporary Issues in the Past (30 credits, compulsory)

Year 2

  • Experimentation and Innovation: Re-writing the Past (30 credits, compulsory)
  • Historical Fiction - Major Project (includes a residential) (60 credits, compulsory)

Teaching and assessment

The aim of our teaching is:

  • to support independent writing practice
  • To facilitate discussion and feedback on each other’s writing
  • To refine your skills drafting and redrafting
  • To enhance your own writing through the discussion of classic and contemporary example

You will learn through group discussion as well as one-to-one virtual and face-to-face (where possible) meetings with your tutors. We will discuss work in progress, give advice about redrafting, suggest sources of research and advise on genre, language, characterisation, setting and form.

You will hone your editorial skills in supportive virtual workshopping and discussion environments, writing on a regular basis and producing work which can then be shared with your peers. While the course is mostly delivered online, you will also have the opportunity for face-to-face teaching and learning facilitated via the residencies and summer school. 

We will help you to develop skills in the use of archive material and historical research methodologies. This will allow you to produce an extended piece of historical fiction such as a short novella, single film or TV drama. You may also be able to submit aspects of your portfolios in other forms. For instance, you may wish to include performed readings or include photographic or video presentations which include composed text along with integrated images.

The MA will open with a short residential which focuses on archive and museum based research. Before you start on your final project you will also attend a summer school. This is where you will work with expert practitioners to evaluate your work as it moves towards its conclusion.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:1 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    1,000-2,000 word sample of writing

  • You must have a BA (Hons) degree at 2:1 grade or higher (or equivalent). We are open to considering previous degrees in the Humanities, Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences.
  • You also need to submit a sample of creative writing of at least 1,000-2,000 words in order for staff to ascertain if the writing is of an appropriately high standard.
  • If your first language is not English, you need to take an IELTS test or an equivalent qualification accepted by the university

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you may be eligible for entry on the basis of Accredited Prior (Experiential) Learning (APL/APEL). We also consider applications for entry with advanced standing.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU fees for 2021 - 22

For UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students studying part time, the tuition fee for 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £6,500 (£3,250 per year).

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about postgraduate funding opportunities.

International fees for 2021 - 22

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Student Visa must be studying full-time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

More information about funding your studies is available on our International Fees and Funding page.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are an alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for Alumni

Additional costs and financial support


The residential trips which are essential to this course are subsidised by the university, but you will have to make a contribution towards them.


View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

This MA will give you the skills you need to become a successful writer of historical fiction. Other careers creative writing graduates go on to include editing, copywriting, publishing, pr, marketing, advertising and journalism.


Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.
Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice.

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Apply for this course

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Apply now

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