Creative Writing MA

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January 2019, September 2018

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).


Develop your writing in a supportive and creative environment, with tips from our team of professional writers on how to improve your technique and get published.

Full description


Our MA Creative Writing will help you prepare 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.

Many of our past students have taken up careers as published authors, including Kaddy Benyon, Penny Hancock, and Kate Swindlehurst.

You might also decide to continue on to a research degree, such as our PhD Creative Writing.

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 module will present science fiction and fantasy via a particular topic or subgenre, which will change from year to year, taught by a practising writer with current or recent work in this area. The texts will include those written for adults and children or young adults that share the focus. You might study a particular subgenre such as historical fantasy or weird fiction, or a particular topic such as the apocalypse or time travel. The module will include close reading of the texts, instruction and discussion on how to write in the particular genre, and workshopping of your writing. You will 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. Please note all students wishing to enrol in this module must submit a short writing sample to get approval from the module leader.

Or change one of the above options to:

  • Shakespeare and Society
    On this module, you will focus on a detailed study of Shakespeare's works and their later performance, history and creative reception in the context of the social changes at work both in his era and in the centuries which followed. You will study a wide-ranging selection of Shakespeare’s works, including examples from all major genres. You will explore key cultural contexts, such as gender, race, politics and power, in relation to both the early modern stage and to later adaptations and performances. From the seventeenth century to the present day, Shakespeare's works have been re-appropriated within a range of different cultural, geographical and political contexts. This module will require you to examine an indicative selection of these: global performances, film versions, poetic and visual responses, prequels and sequels in fiction and drama. You will also be required to engage with relevant critical and theoretical debates. Your two assessment elements for this module consist of a 1000-word critical review and a 5000-word essay.
  • Revolution and Reform in the Long Nineteenth Century
    On this module, you will examine writing produced during the ‘long’ 19th century that relates to or engages with the revolutions and major reforms between 1789 and 1914. The controversies and revolutions of the period are political, religious, social, cultural, and scientific: for example, the political ferment in Britain following the French Revolution and after the Napoleonic Wars, and the continuing pressures for a widening of the franchise throughout the Victorian period and beyond; 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. You will consider the imaginative use of contemporary debate in the work of, for example, Wordsworth, Shelley, Dickens, Tennyson, Gaskell, Eliot and E.B. Browning alongside the strategies in a wide range of other writing and graphic art, paying close attention to the changing historical and political context. Your assessment will consist of two elements: a 10-minute oral presentation using PowerPoint or Prezi in which you will analyse a critical essay or article and assess its usefulness in relation to a literary text or texts, and a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with the module leader.
  • Twentieth and Twenty First Century Fiction and Social Change
    This module provides a survey of literature from the 20th and 21st centuries. You will analyse fiction within a framework of social and political change. Centring on a number of key developments – the first and second world wars, gendered and sexual change, migration and multiculturalism, the rise of neo-liberalism and 9/11 – you will explore a range of literary and theoretical texts. Your assessment will include two elements, the first a 1000-word literature review discussing one key area of social change and its relationship to developments in fiction, the second comprises a 5000-word essay on a topic of your choice, devised in consultation with 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 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.


You will show your progress on the course through a mix of essays, your own writing samples, and critical reflections on your work.

The major project at the end of the course will allow you to submit up to 15,000 words of your own 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?

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

Additional Study Information

Events and societies

As well as creative writing and publishing events, we organise many extra-curricular activities such as our annual trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, poetry and writing evenings, and research symposia and conferences.

You can also get involved with more activities through our student societies, including the Creative Writing Society, the Poetry Society, and the Harry Potter Society.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


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

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

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting a postgraduate degree with us can access a £600 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

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.

International students

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

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.

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)


September 2018

English Literature

Full-time, part-time postgraduate ()


January 2019, September 2018


Full-time, part-time postgraduate ()


January 2019, September 2018

Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online