Creative Writing BA (Hons)
Are you driven to write? Love to explore writing that has pushed boundaries?
If you love reading and writing, then we can help you to develop your creative potential. Creative Writing is taught by a team of award-winning writers, and helps to foster skills that matter in the workplace as much as on the page. Communication, creativity, reflection, analysis and collaboration are at the heart of this degree.
92% of Creative Writing students were satisfied with their course (NSS 2019)
100% of students agreed that staff have made the subjects interesting (NSS 2019)
- UCAS Code – 3S3S
- Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
- Start date – September 2020, September 2021
- School – Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
Minimum Entry Requirements
96 UCAS Tariff points
3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language
UK and EU 2020-21 £9,250 per year
International 2020-21 £12,750 per year
The York St John Experience
Whether you are penning your own poetry, finding your way with fiction, shaping scripts, exploring creative non-fiction or experimental writing, our Creative Writing Programme enables you to develop work in a variety of forms and genres.
It’s an exciting time to join us. You’ll become part of the York Centre for Writing, a hub for innovative new work with strong links to the wider literary community and to the publishing industry. Our participation in the annual York Literature Festival will give you the chance to study and learn directly from many popular and internationally-acclaimed writers. We also have regular visits from industry professionals and innovators, including agents, publishers and literary activists.
Good writing comes through good reading, so our course emphasises the importance of engaging with the wider world of literature in order to develop your own style. You’ll study brilliant writing from the past, as well as learning from contemporary creative practitioners. You’ll learn to read and analyse texts to develop a deeper understanding and you’ll have the chance to get involved in events, performances and publications.
We place a strong emphasis on giving you transferable skills, so that whether you pursue a career in writing, the arts or another profession, you’ll have the empathy, insight, independent thinking and experiences to help you succeed. You will develop both intellectual skills and the practical skills necessary for employability, as well as gaining a wealth of experience relevant to the publishing industry and beyond.
Forms of Narrative (20 credits)
Good writers are good readers first and foremost. This module aims to introduce you to theories, debates, and practices in narrative, in order to enhance your understanding of narrative as it functions within literature and culture generally. You’ll explore films, novels, poetry and plays, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to Hitchcock’s Vertigo. There is a choice of creative or critical assessments.
Introduction to Creative Writing (20 credits)
This course introduces you to core skills in creative writing including creating setting, poetic form, working with dialogue and characterisation. You will also develop skills in workshopping and collaborating on creative work.
Introduction to Lierary Studies 1 (20 credits)
In this module you will have the chance to build your confidence in working with literature at degree level. You will engage with a range of texts written prior to the nineteenth century that includes prose, drama, poetry, speeches, letters and articles. Together, we will start to think about some of the ways that literature and history can be brought together and why the study of English Literature remains a popular and important discipline.
Writing to Order (20 credits)
This course introduces a range of genres and professional writing skills. We'll teach you the elements of different forms of writing – from memoir to scripts, graphic novels to blogs. You will meet a variety of inspiring visiting writers. You are encouraged to work to deadlines and will gain an understanding of the skill set of the professional writer.
Creative Research for Creative Writing (20 credits)
This module introduces you to important approaches for researching and inspiring your creative work. You’ll explore different research methods, from using archives to working with real-life experiences and collaborating with experts and artists in different media.
Introduction to Literary Studies 2 (20 credits)
On this module we’ll examine some well-known classics alongside more unusual selections that help us to question the social, political, cultural and historical values by which we approach literature. This includes an exciting range of texts across different media and forms, from nineteenth century poetry to early cinema and 1930s nonfiction. Along the way we’ll be thinking about gender, class, war, empire, form, genre, and much more besides.
Working with words (20 credits)
The aim of this work-related module is to develop your understanding of the relationship between creative writing practices and employability in the creative industries, by offering you the opportunity to explore and engage with methods and means of literary publishing, production, and performance.
Writing Fiction (20 credits)
An opportunity to read and produce a range of fictional forms, from flash-fictions to novellas, short stories to novels. You will develop an understanding of characterisation, voice, plot, narration, dialogue and point of view. By the end of the course, you’ll have written your own fiction portfolio.
Writing Reality: Creative Non-fiction (20 credits)
You will have the opportunity to explore a range of non-fiction texts including journalism, creative non-fiction, fictocriticism, manifestos, blogs, online journals, travel writing, documentary and life writing. By viewing, reading and watching a range of non-fictional texts you will be asked to make the links between creative and critical writing, and to produce your own non-fictional texts.
Writing Poetry (20 credits)
From the sonnet to the prose poem, learn about the formal qualities of poetry, how to produce dazzling imagery and perfect rhythm; manipulate voice and pace. You will study a range of contemporary poets, supplemented by visits and readings from some of them. You will produce your own portfolio of pieces by the end of the course.
Scriptwriting (20 credits)
This module addresses the essential elements of scriptwriting including writing convincing dialogue, creating interesting characters, and constructing coherent stories. You will develop your expressive and technical skills in writing scripts for one or more of the following disciplines: radio, television, stage and film, culminating in the creation of your own original script.
Adaptations (20 credits)
We look at the different ways books and films tell stories, and what happens to literature and literary characters when they get ‘translated’ onto the screen. In addition to examining specific examples of film adaptation, students can choose to experiment creatively on a project of their own.
Science Fiction for Survival (20 credits)
Drawing on a range of theoretical and critical concepts around utopianism, the module will consider landmarks in the history of Science Fiction in order to develop students’ understanding of key concerns relevant to the genre. The title ‘Science Fiction for Survival’ aims to highlight the way in which science fiction, through its attention to both technology and ideology, encourages readers/viewers to consider the way in which humanity’s post-industrial choices have impacted directly on the well-being of the planet and its diverse human and non-human inhabitants.
Creative Writing Dissertation Project (60 credits)
You will be encouraged to consider the historical, theoretical, cultural and political dimensions of genre, alongside developing knowledge of the conventions of specific genres. You will also be given the opportunity to critically explore differentiations between “high” and “low” culture. You will develop your understanding of the emergence of genres such as tragedy, satire and gothic, and the conventions of contemporary genres such as romance, horror, and noir.
Contemporary Writing 1: Innovation and Experimentation
This module provides the opportunity to study and develop creative work at the cutting-edge. You’ll look at writing that challenges the traditional boundaries of literature and is fresh, exciting and innovative. You’ll consider a broad range of materials and techniques that will help you to develop your own innovative creative practices.
Contemporary Writing 2: Literary and Publishing Culture Now
This module introduces a range of very contemporary publishing and literary cultures, with a view to helping you position your own work in the contemporary literary landscape. It also has a practical focus, and will help you to develop a professional portfolio that can be sued as a springboard after your degree course.
There will also be the opportunity to select from modules across the Literature degree programme.
These may include:
- Literary Theory (20 credits)
- Mapping America (20 credits)
- Civil War to Civil Society: British Literature, 1640-1740 (20 credits)
- Revolution and Response: British Literature, 1740-1840 (20 credits)
- Conflicting Words (20 credits)
- Sick Novels: Literature and Disease (20 credits)
- From Harlem to Hip-Hop: African-American Literature and Culture (20 credits)
- Shakespeare: Perspectives (20 credits)
- Politically Engaged Practice (20 credits)
- The Victorian Novel: Realism, Sensation, Naturalism (20 credits)
- Gothic Origins (20 credits)
- The Making of Modern Drama (20 credits)
- American Radicals: Outside the Canon (20 credits)
- Writing the Caribbean (20 credits)
- Gender and Sexualities (20 credits)
Teaching & Assessment
We don’t believe that exams are the best way to develop creative skills, so you won’t find any of these on your Creative Writing degree. You will mainly be assessed through coursework, and will often be required to develop a portfolio of original writing accompanied by a critical or reflective commentary. You may be asked to write some essays, in order to develop your critical skills of literary analysis. But as well as developing creative work and critical analyses, there are other assessment opportunities designed to help you develop new skills and prepare for graduate employment. You will encounter a wide range of assessment opportunities, including project work, organising events and publications, giving presentations, and developing reflective writing.
The aim of our teaching is to help you to become a better writer. We do this by helping you to understand how literary texts work, which means reading and analysing texts as well as practising writing your own original creative work. We use a combination of different methods of delivery to help achieve this: you’ll find that you are supported to share your work-in-progress in regular workshop settings, so that you get used to developing and re-working your writing with feedback. You’ll also benefit from lectures, seminars, masterclasses, and other opportunities for group learning. There will be a host of additional events and projects that you can get involved in each year to supplement your learning.
Creative Writing is a highly interactive discipline: discussions, debates, peer-feedback, and writing activities are a crucial part of the learning process. We do not want students to be passive learners, but instead expect you to be actively engaged and involved with your degree subject.
In your first year, you will typically study three modules each semester. Each module will normally have three hours of contact time each week, so you’ll have a minimum of 9 hours each week in University. This is just the starting point for your learning, as we also expect that you’ll be engaging each week in independent study: you’ll be undertaking reading and writing activities outside the classroom as directed by your module tutor. Creative Writing is an interactive subject, but also requires you to develop the skills of self-directed writing and time-management that are crucial to being a professional writer. There’ll be additional guest events and individual tutorials with your academic tutor to attend throughout the year.
The minimum entry requirements for this course are:
96 UCAS Tariff points
3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language
This course is available with a foundation year. This option is ideal if you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto a degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education. A foundation year prepares you for degree level study, giving you the confidence and skills needed to make the most of your course. Passing it guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.
As well as a strong standard of written English, we look for a demonstration of knowledge and commitment to the subject. This can be shown in a variety of ways – for example, through previous study (including English language, theatre, film studies, media, history), wider reading and creative writing. Tell us why you want to study Creative Writing, and how you think you would benefit from the course.
Candidates can demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. You might mention any of the following:
- Your writing experience in a range of different genres and forms.
- The impact of reading on your writing.
- Transferrable skills (e.g. research and planning skills, collaboration, having an open mind, being pro-active).
- Lectures, readings, or performances you’ve attended.
- Societies you belong to (e.g. writers groups, book clubs).
- Literary journals and magazines you read.
- Further study you’ve taken (e.g. in modern languages).
- Future career plans and ambitions for your writing.
Terms and conditions
Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.
Creative Writing BA (Hons)
Getting accepted into university was huge for me as I’d achieved low grades and my applications had been rejected. There’s the cliché of, ‘it changed my life’, and it’s certainly done that, but it’s also changed my outlook on life, my confidence and my self-value. There’s the potential of who you can be as a person, it gives you the opportunity to realise that and I’m excited to soon be starting my MA in Creative Writing here at York St John.