Creative Writing MA

Our MA in Creative Writing offers a distinctive and flexible pattern of study which will meet the needs of a wide range of students wishing to extend or develop their interests in Creative Writing.

York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 20 Full-time Home & EU students: £5,000, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
Full-time & Part-time options available
Start date
September 2019
Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

Course overview

Our MA courses emphasise the importance of creative practitioners and are enhanced by regular visits from contemporary writers. Visiting writers have included York-born award-winning novelist Kate Atkinson; poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan; novelist and poet Michèle Roberts; novelist Joe Dunthorne; graphic novelist and illustrator Graham Rawle; and award-winning poets Simon Armitage and Daljit Nagra. York St John University maintains links with the regional literary community through events such as York Literature Festival. Modules are supplemented by visiting industry professionals, agents and publishers.

Discover some of our student success stories, read Beyond the Walls – our Creative Writing blog , and check out the York Centre for Writing for information and opportunities related to the course.

We offer a range of fascinating and stimulating courses in which to develop and extend your creative practice, including exciting modules in Critical Introduction to Creative Writing; Writing & the Environment; Writing the Voice; Genre; Innovation & Experimentation; Facilitation, Collaboration & Community; and Publication & Dissemination. You can engage with a number of employability skills, work on a publication, and develop your own final project where you work on a longer portfolio in-depth, supervised by a member of our specialist team. We have a dedicated Creative Writing staff of published, award-winning writers working in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and scriptwriting all here to support you.

As a student of the course you will gain:

  • Enhanced and developed strategies for creative practice
  • An introduction to a number of contemporary creative texts in a range of forms (prose/script/poetry) with the tools to analyse and discuss those texts.
  • Critical skills in relation to both the reading and generation of new creative texts
  • Critical awareness of the contexts for the production of creative texts (political, psychological, environmental)
  • A sense of belonging to a writing community through the York Centre for Writing
  • Opportunity to meet agents, publishers, editors and published authors
  • Opportunity to engage in writing retreats in regional settings

Course structure

The MA in Creative Writing offers the opportunity to develop your skills as a writer and to explore the theory and practice of writing in the contemporary world. This programme provides you with the opportunity to gain a higher degree through a combination of taught modules, independent study, writing and research.

You can take the course part-time or full-time. Part-timers work over two years and Full-timers over one. Sessions are typically taught 6-8pm on Tuesdays or Wednesday evenings, one course per term for Part-timers and two courses per term for Full-timers. The year is organised over three terms, Autumn, Spring and Summer, with the MA starting the final week of September each year. The final Portfolio Project is an opportunity for independent and in-depth development of a writing project, supervised by a writer on the team, and supported by three workshops. There will also be an opportunity to attend a residential writing retreat and meet with an industry professional such as an agent, editor or publisher.

How will I study?

Part-time students  -  1 taught session per week from 6-8pm on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. 3 terms of study (Autumn, Spring, Summer). Opportunity for one to one sessions with tutor. In the final three terms, you will work on your Portfolio Project independently with one to one supervision (5 hours over 2 terms) and 3 group workshops. A chance to meet an agent/publisher/editor in Year 2 for a one to one on your project.

Full-time students – 2 taught sessions per week in Term 1 from 6-8pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, moving to one taught session per term from the Spring Term. Opportunity for one to one sessions with tutor. In the final three terms, you will work on your Portfolio Project independently with one to one supervision (5 hours over 2 terms) and 3 group workshops. A chance to meet an agent/publisher/editor in March for a one to one on your project.

Modules include:

Compulsory modules:

  • Critical Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Part 1 Dissertation/Project
  • Part 2 Dissertation/Project

Optional modules:

  • Writing & the Environment OR Writing the Voice
  • Genre OR Innovation & Experimentation
  • Facilitation, Collaboration & Community OR Publication & Dissemination.

Please note that if optional modules are under-subscribed in a given year, there is a possibility that some may not run. There may also be a variance in offered modules, subject to validation.

Teaching and Learning

Sessions are taught in small groups (typically 10-12) during the evening and facilitated by an expert member of the writing team. The atmosphere is intended to support and nurture your writing practice. You will be introduced to a range of inspiring contemporary texts in a variety of forms and genres, from poetry to fiction and scripts. You will share work in progress with your group and take part in writing prompts and exercises intended to inspire you. You will also learn how to edit and perfect your work and prepare for submission or dissemination.

Modules offer a thematic approach and you may write in any form on any given course (you are not asked to pin down whether you are a ‘poet’ or a ‘novelist’.) There are also modules that develop your employability skills if you have an interest in either facilitating writing groups yourself, or learning how the publishing industry operates. All students start with Critical Approaches to Creative Writing, which builds a foundation in understanding creative writing within an academic environment and introduces you to key concepts. You will have the opportunity for one to one sessions with your tutors every term. The final project is independent and supported by a member of the teaching team, and is a chance to get into depth with a project of your choice.

The course is also enhanced by a range of further opportunities including a Writing Retreat, an opportunity to meet with an agent/publisher/editor, and a wealth of brilliant events through the York Literature Festival.

Assessment and Feedback

Modules are assessed via portfolios of your original creative writing, presentations on some modules, and critical commentaries (which introduce and reflect on the process of your writing). There are no exams.

All modules are assessed slightly differently, but all have the emphasis placed on the creative portfolio which forms the larger percentage of the overall mark.

Work is uploaded to the Virtual Learning Environment – Moodle – by a given deadline. Assessment is due approximately four weeks after each teaching term has ended.

Feedback is delivered within three weeks of the deadline.

Research Opportunities

Students are encouraged to attend all York Centre for Writing events and extra workshops and author readings that occur throughout the year. You will receive information about these on your university email.

You may also have the opportunity to be involved in editing publications such as the York Literary review.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Entry requirements

UK/EU Students

  • A minimum of 2:1 UG Hons degree in a related subject area such as Creative Writing, English Literature, Literature Studies, History, Media or Film Studies. (Though other subjects, such as sciences, will be considered – an interview might be required to ensure the applicant’s suitability for the course).
  • A portfolio sample of Creative Writing (prose, poetry, script or a combination) of 1,000-2,000 words.

NB: In exceptional cases where an applicant has a relevant professional background but does not meet the degree requirements, we may consider the APEL route if the sample of writing is also very strong. In this instance we may also require an interview to ensure the applicant’s suitability for the course.

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above). If their first language is not English they must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

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.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £5,000 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For part-time options, see the Fees & Funding webpages for more information

Postgraduate Loan: A Postgraduate Loan is available to help you pay for your Master’s course. Find out more about the postgraduate loan.

A 10% discount is applicable to all YSJU Alumni (subject to a minimum of 120 credits and achievement of a recognised award) undertaking PG level study (excludes PGCE).

Overseas 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2018 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration webpages.

International Fees & Funding

How to Apply

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: Full time

Apply now: Part time


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Do you have a question about this course? Fill out our form to send a question to our Admissions team. Alternatively, you can call us on 01904 876598.

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