Creative Writing MA

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)

Cambridge

January 2017, September 2017

Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 12 months full-time or up to 3 years part-time (September starts); 15 months full-time or up to 3 years part-time (January starts).

Teaching times: Mondays and Thursdays from 6-8pm (full-time and part-time).

Overview

Hone your writing and expand your opportunities for publication. Our workshops will help you to develop your self-editing and refine your work using feedback from your peers and tutors. Get advice from our team of specialist lecturers, study classic and contemporary authors, and learn about the modern publishing industry.

Untitled Page

Full description

Careers

Untitled Page

This course will prepare you for a career as a creative writer or in related areas such as publishing and the media, but will also give you critical and analytical skills valued by many employers.

For an idea of how past students have moved from MA study to careers as published authors, read more about Kaddy Benyon, Penny Hancock and Kate Swindlehurst.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Patterns of Story: Fiction and its Forms
    This module is a literary history course for writers. You will examine the history of the novel from its formation in the 18th Century through to some of its more modern forms, exploring along the way some of the cultural and social contexts that have helped to shape these changing patterns of story. Your studies will include some narrative theory. Through reading and discussing recent and classic books on the history and structure of the novel, by writers such as Jane Smiley, Christopher Booker, John Mullen and Dorothea Brande, you will consider what it means to write novels and what it means to be a writer, and the ways in which some contemporary writers use and reuse much older forms of storytelling and patterns of story. You will be assessed through a 6000-word essay on an aspect of narrative form that will incorporate samples of your creative writing.
  • Master's Project in Creative Writing
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of your Masters Major Project in Creative Writing. This is the single most important element of your assessment for the course, comprising a 12,000-word major writing project and a 3,000-word critical commentary. You may work on any fiction writing project that the Department is able to supervise and assess. This might be either part of a longer fiction project, such as a novel or screenplay, or a collection of shorter pieces, such as short stories or poems. This module will allow you to showcase your work and consider how to present it to future agents and publishers. You will develop rigorous editorial skills and work with established writers and supervisors to edit, draft and polish your work.

Optional modules

  • Workshop: the Short Story
    On this workshop-based module you will study and practice the techniques of short story writing. To maximise the use of group feedback and feedback from the tutor you will undertake many exercises in workshop time, but also longer writing exercises to consolidate what you have done in class. You will undertake a series of structured exercises designed to develop your techniques in, for instance, characterisation, dialogue, plot structure, time frames and time sequencing with a particular emphasis placed on how these techniques differ from those used in novel writing. You will read short stories from a range of classic and contemporary short story writers such as Chekhov, Henry James and Alice Munro and the work of other writers featured on the East of the Web short story website. As the module progresses you will be expected to reflect critically both on your own writing and that of your peers. This module will also incorporate practical advice on agents, the marketplace, writing competitions and how to get writing published. You will be assessed through the portfolio of writing of up to 4,000 words and a critical commentary of up to 2,000 words.
  • Workshop: the Novel
    On this module, you will study and practice the techniques of novel writing in peer-discussion workshops. Outside of these workshops, you will complete samples of your own novel, which will be presented to your fellow students and module tutors during the workshop, allowing you to receive a range of feedback on your writing. You will undertake smaller writing exercises during workshop time, but will also receive longer writing exercises to consolidate what has been done in class. You will undertake a series of structured exercises designed to develop your techniques in, for instance, characterisation, dialogue, and the selection and effectiveness of different points of view, setting. You will also read extracts from a number of well-known novels to underpin these discussions of techniques. The module will also incorporate practical advice about agents, the marketplace and how to get your work published. You will be assessed through the portfolio of writing of up to 4,000 words that you produce during the module, and a critical commentary of 2,000 words.
  • Special Topic in Creative Writing/English Literature
    This Special Topic module will allow you to study a particular genre or topic taught by a practising writer with current or recent work in this area. You might study a particular genre such as writing for children, or creative non-fiction, or historical fiction or crime writing, or a particular topic such as adaptation. The topic will vary from-year-to-year, so you must ask your tutors which ones you can take. This will be made public in good time for you to make an informed choice. You'll be assessed by means of a final 4,500-word portfolio of creative writing appropriate to the special topic and a critical commentary of 2,000 words.

Or change one of the above options to:

  • Renaissance Drama and Cultures of Performance
    You will focus on the detailed study of plays produced during the English Renaissance. The plays will be approached through what can be known of the staging and printing conventions of their original period, together with related materials such as anti-theatrical writings and masques. You will also consider the differing contexts of the commercial theatres and the court as well as cultural contexts such as gender, politics and power. This contextual study will be complemented by a consideration of the production of Renaissance drama in twentieth and twenty-first century performance contexts. In the later part of the module you will consider some of the theories, methods and materials one might employ to undertake analyses of these performances. Possible topics for consideration will include representations of love, gender, sexuality, violence, race and the politics of casting on stage and/or screen. The module will require that you attend current production(s) and/or watch appropriate film(s) (productions will be identified and/or screenings arranged as necessary). You will be assessed through two elements, the first a 1000-word critical review and the second a 5000-word essay, in which you will devise your own topic in consultation with a member of the module team. You can choose to focus your research on Renaissance and/or contemporary cultural and/or performance contexts.
  • Re-reading Modernism, Practising Postmodernism
    This module will provide you with a survey of literature in the twentieth century and an analysis of it within a framework of critical and historical contexts. You will consider modernism and postmodernism both as cultural epochs and as aesthetic strategies, and refer to the philosophies that underpin them. You will explore issues of history, temporality, value, art, society, the city, print culture, the self, gender and sexuality in a range of literary, theoretical and performance-based texts. There will be two assessment elements for this module. The first will consist of a 1000-word analysis of a critical definition of either modernism or postmodernism that you will have selected. The second comprises a 5000-word essay in which you will devise your own topic in consultation with a member of the module team.
  • Creativity and Content in Publishing
    You will cover issues, principles and practices related to the research, commissioning, preparation and packaging of publishing products and services in a variety of formats and on various platforms. You will consider the importance of determining the strategic direction of a publisher's list, the publisher's relationship with content creators, and the need for quality control in managing editorial projects. The module will introduce you to the world of contemporary publishing and the importance of different media markets. You will also be introduced to the processes by which publishers work with authors and designers in the preparation of text and images for publication in both print and electronic formats. Workshops will cover commissioning and editorial skills and in further sessions you will address issues such as marketing and the making of effective presentations. Industry specialists will be brought in where appropriate to introduce you to case studies in order to illustrate salient contemporary content management issues. The module will conclude with student group presentations of new product proposals. For assessment you will complete an editorial plan to present a new publishing idea. You will work in a group to submit an acquisitions proposal comprising appropriate documentation and graphics, as well as an assessed presentation.
  • The Long 19th Century: Controversies and Cities
    You will examine writings produced during the 'long' nineteenth century which relate to or engage with major issues or conflicts of the period, and/or which testify to the distinctive or representative experience of life in various cities between 1789 and 1914. The controversies discussed will be political, religious, social, cultural and scientific and may include: the political ferment in Britain following the French Revolution; the socio-scientific debates about sanitation in overcrowded Victorian cities; social, political, medical and legal debates about the status of women; and the changing scientific and religious divisions prompted by evolutionary hypothesis and discovery. The dominant city under consideration will be London, but Paris, Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin also figure in important and distinctive ways. The imaginative use of contemporary debate and/or urban experience in the work of, for example, Darwin, Blake, Wollstonecraft and Joyce will be considered alongside a wide range of other writing and graphic art, and with close attention to geographic variables and the changing historical context. You will complete two assessment elements for this module: a presentation and a 5000-word essay.
  • The Business of Publishing
    You will cover issues, principles and practices related to the management of publishing organisations as well as marketing in a publishing context, finally coming to an understanding of how publishing operates across various platforms. You will focus on the need to understand the competitive media environment. You will also explore organisational and management issues, and will be introduced to marketing principles and the skill of writing business plans. You will become familiar with different publishing organisations. You will also explore the variety of strategies employed by publishers and related businesses in order to successfully market their products. Industry specialists may introduce you to case studies in order to illustrate relevant contemporary industry issues. For your assessment you will complete an analysis of marketing strategies, based on sound marketing principles (e.g. segmentation, targeting, positioning, and list building policies), and conduct an analytical study of annual publishing finance reports.
  • Independent Learning Module
    This module will support you in the preparation and submission of an independent learning project. It will allow you to study topics not provided within existing modules but within clearly defined parameters, and where appropriate supervision is available.

Assessment

Untitled Page

On each core module, you’ll show your progress through one or more pieces of writing. For the Patterns of Fiction module, this will be a single critical essay including samples of your own writing. For the other three modules you’ll submit one creative portfolio of up to 4,500 words, plus a critical reflection on your work and writing process.

You can also take several optional modules from our MA Publishing or MA English Literature courses.

The major project at the end of the course will allow you to present up to 15,000 words of your chosen writing project, including a critical commentary.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of English and Media is a community of more than 800 students, exploring subjects that further their understanding of culture and communication in the global age, from film studies to applied linguistics. We focus on skills and knowledge valued by employers, and provide our students with valuable industry insight through our links with creative partners.

Our students take part in many activities to help prepare them for the future, like work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by internationally acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences. They even have the chance to get writing advice from our Royal Literary Fund Fellow.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Untitled PageCultural activities and events

In addition to our Creative Writing and Publishing events series, the department organises many extra-curricular activities, like the annual three-day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, poetry and writing evenings, and research symposia and conferences.

You’ll also be able to join the Anglia Ruskin Literary Society, which arranges trips to local plays and poetry readings, organises workshops, and hosts guest speakers and performance evenings.

As a founding member, we also host events for CAMPUS, Cambridge’s only publishing society.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)

£6,100

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year part time)

£3,050

International students, 2016/17 (per year)

£11,200

UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year)

£7,100

UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year part time)

£3,550

International students, 2017/18 (per year)

£11,900

Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Additional costs

Various optional trips
£10-250

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
Untitled Page

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our funding guide for postgraduate students to learn more about the following:

  • The Government’s new £10k Masters loan
  • Applying for our scholarships
  • Additional funding options and support
Untitled Page
Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

Loading... Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

We'll also ask you to supply a writing portfolio, consisting of 2,000 to 5,000 words of your recent writing. This will ideally include some fiction. You may choose to submit a single short story, an extract from a larger work such as a novel, or a collection of shorter pieces, such as a few poems, a segment of a feature-length screenplay, and a piece of flash fiction.

Please also include a letter of application no longer than two pages, which answers the following questions.

  • Why have you chosen this piece of writing?
  • What are its strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why might we want to offer you a place on the course?
  • What experience of fiction writing do you have?
  • What are your hopes and expectations of the course?

While many students have studied literature and/or writing as undergraduates, we welcome applications from committed writers from any educational background. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, scientists and historians have all had great success on the course. Diverse interests and areas of expertise enhance our peer group.

If you’re an international applicant, please host your portfolio online if possible and let us know the URL, or email it to us as a PDF. We’ll also accept CDs or hardcopy sent by post to our International Admissions Office, but please note that these will not be returned to you.

Untitled Page
International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Untitled Page
English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Untitled Page
Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

Suggested courses that may interest you

English Literature

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

September 2017

English Literature

Full-time, part-time postgraduate ()

Cambridge

January 2017, September 2017

Publishing

Full-time, part-time postgraduate ()

Cambridge

January 2017, September 2017

Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online