Triangle

Course overview

Would you love to see your name in print? Are you curious about the creative industries? Or maybe there’s a poem or novel in you that's waiting to come out?

You will be supported to develop your creative work, and learn about the process of writing and publishing from expert staff who are published poets and authors themselves.

We will explore contemporary poetry, fiction and hybrid forms of writing (which cross genres), as well as building on your own critical writing skills. This broad analysis of technique and form will put you in a strong position to pursue a career in writing and the creative arts.

We also offer placements and internships to enhance your professional experience in sectors including publishing, marketing, charity, journalism, theatre, teaching, museums and heritage, events and libraries. Placements are flexible; you choose the duration and number of hours that best fit around your studies and other commitments.

Why choose this course?

Get ‘Off The Page’

meet established and emerging writers at our creative writing event series

Explore opportunity

Practice your skills

Ranked 9th

in the UK by 'research power'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Top 20 UK university

Ranked 103 in the world and 18 in the UK 

QS World University rankings 2022

Want flexible study?

specialise in one of ten areas on our MA Applied English Distance Learning Programme

Course content

Pre-arrival reading lists will be sent out with registration information before you join your course, where available.

This course is made up of 180 credits. 

Full time students complete six modules across the year, before completing the dissertation over the summer.

Part time students complete three taught modules in the first year of study, then three in their second, before turning to the dissertation.

All classes take place during weekdays.

Modules

There are five core creative writing modules, worth 20 credits each:

Creative Writing Conventions and Techniques

Develop your fiction through exercises and analysis of point of view, narrative voice, dialogue, and plot, among other techniques.

Expand your poetic range by playing with different approaches to form, exploring a range of creative techniques and sharpening your interpretive skills.

You will be encouraged to reflect on your writing output and incorporate the critiques of others when editing and developing your work.

This module is worth 20 credits. 

Writing Workshop: Fiction

Explore in depth how to write effective and compelling fiction.

Through in-class discussion and weekly readings and exercises, this module pushes and extends your own craft and technique.

Along the way, you’ll explore how to approach short story, flash fiction and novel writing. You’ll also be introduced to a range of secondary and critical texts that will help you deepen your own understanding of form, genre and style.

You will discover:

  • key prose-writing techniques, including point of view, characterisation, dialogue and setting
  • a range of form and genre, and the techniques and approaches that are relevant to them
  • a range of critical texts that deepen and extend your understanding of prose writing technique

This module is worth 20 credits

Learning to Read: Criticism for Creative Writers

One of the key things you need to be able to do as a writer is critique and contextualise your own work.

This not only involves being able to edit and draft your work, it also includes understanding the wider influences from other literary and non-literary works.

These skills are really important when it comes to writing the critical essay – something you have to do alongside the creative work on the course. Yet, this module also explores how criticality itself offers new kinds of creative forms and approaches too, breaking down the traditional divide between prose, poetry and creative non-fiction.

You will explore:

  • How to critically examine your own creative work
  • How to write a critical essay
  • New hybridic forms of writing that cross traditional boundaries (for example, prose, poetry and non-fiction) such as autofiction and autotheory
  • New writers of creative, critical and hybridic work

This module is worth 20 credits

Writing Workshop: Poetry

Explore a range of poetic conventions, and the contexts in which poetry is produced, whilst developing your own poetic style. 

Through the ‘practitioner’ approach, you are not only supported in your craft but encouraged to work towards submitting your work for publication. 

The reading list for this module includes: 

  • poetry magazines
  • new writers’ anthologies
  • debut poetry collections
  • poetry in performance 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Practice and Practitioners

Investigate the complex relationships between writer, genre and creative industries.

In considering the production of prose and poetry, we will study the role of:

  • publishers
  • booksellers
  • editors
  • producers
  • literary events

Your assessment consists of a portfolio of either prose or poetry, or a combination of the two, as well as a critical essay.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

You will select one 20-credit optional module (chosen during enrolment). Examples include:

Riotous Performance: Drama, Disruption and Protest

Explore a range of modern drama, all themed around the idea of riot.

We will explore the phenomenon of the riot, examining how it is defined and how it might relate to other kinds of western performance event.

You will:

  • Analyse the way that riots have both been triggered by, and represented in, an assortment of other performances
  • Compare and contrast material from a range of different chronological periods and across a range of different genres

Although this module is largely focused on dramatic texts, it gives you the opportunity to consider an assortment of other performance events. For example, we will analyse the drama of Synge and O’Casey, the ballet of Stravinsky and Nijinsky, and the performance poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Consciousness in Fiction

This module studies the representation of fictional consciousness.

Character consciousness has become so fundamental to any narrative, that we hardly think about the problems involved in representing another person's mind.

On this module, you will:

  • explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts
  • learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters' thoughts and perceptions
  • examine the style of narrative texts that portray consciousness and study the theories that explain their methods
  • consider the historical development of consciousness presentation techniques

The module is worth 20 credits.

Dramatic Discourse

Explore the relationship between the ‘dramatic text’ of the written script, and the ‘theatrical text’ of the script in performance. 

Working with texts from the early modern period to the present day, we will draw on aspects of stylistics and discourse analysis. 

You will consider:

  • the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage
  • exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation)
  • the role of language in story-telling on stage
  • the 'management' of performance through stage directions 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literary Histories

It has often been suggested that the idea of literary history – a narrative that understands, classifies and explains the English literary past – is an impossibility.

The relationship between literature and the history of the time of its creation is an equally vexed and productive question. We will look at various ways in which literature has combined with the study of history and also how histories of literature have been constructed.

Topics explored include:

  • The development of the literary canon
  • Periodicity
  • Inclusions and exclusions
  • Reception
  • Rediscoveries
  • Representation

You will also look at the ways in which literary biography relates to the creation of literary histories. We will introduce key topics in the area and apply them to a variety of types of literature, and the myriad critical ways in which such literature has been viewed, both in its immediate moment and retrospectively.

This module is worth 20 credits. 

Modernism and the Avant-Garde in Literature and Drama

Explore how writers of the modernist period responded to an age of dramatic change, and new formations in society, politics and art.

This was an an age in which revolutionary developments in science, technology, philosophy and psychology prompted the formation of radically new understandings of the self and the world.

Studying a range of literary, dramatic, cultural and critical texts, we consider the individual and collective nature of the formulation of radical aesthetics. We will be discussing modernist and avant-garde approaches to such subjects as:

  • Subjectivity and consciousness
  • Community and identity: gender, race, nation
  • Experimental form and the literary marketplace

We will study these texts in relation to the many relevant contexts of the period, as well as by the light of more recent critical and theoretical approaches that continue to make new the work of the moderns.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The History of the Book: 1200-1600

The book, handwritten or printed, was as innovative and pervasive a technology in the Middle Ages as electronic technologies are in our own time.

This module introduces the study of the book as physical ‘artefact’ and world-changing technology.

We will cover:

  • methods of construction and compilation
  • handwriting and early printing techniques
  • reading marginalia as well as text

You will also be introduced to the benefits and applications, as well as the problems, of applying an understanding of the artefact to the texts contained within.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Middle English Romance

This module considers a major English literary genre and its critical heritage. It also demonstrates that medieval English romance narratives can be set in complex and profound critical relationship to each other and to other artistic media.

You are encouraged to explore how reading Middle English romance texts can:

  • equip us with vocabulary and concepts to discuss the cultural specificities of the literary representations of romance, love and chivalry in this period
  • represent public and private identities
  • ask questions regarding individuality and selfhood that arise in literature produced in a volatile period of religious and social uncertainty and dissent

These are all issues that now define the Middle Ages for modern scholars.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Learning to Publish: Contemporary Forms & Practices

Gain a practical introduction to the world of contemporary publishing, including:

  • journals
  • small presses
  • online writing
  • digital narratives
  • social media

You will explore the landscape of contemporary publishing, both offline and online, and study the practical skills needed to research, write, edit, and publish writing across a range of forms and platforms.

The module is structured around practical writing tasks, working towards a real-world publication project which will form the basis for your assessment. You will be taught through a mixture of lecture-style content on relevant topics and practice-based workshops.

Alongside the module, you also have the opportunity to take up a work placement with The Letters Page, the School of English's own literary journal.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Shakespeare: Text, Stage and Screen

Explore the changing meanings of Shakespeare’s plays across text, stage and screen.

The module examines three plays in depth, looking at their literary interest (from textual history and sources to thematic concerns and characterisation) and their performative possibilities on stage and in film. The module is redesigned each year to take advantage of what theatres are currently staging.

By approaching the plays from multiple angles, you will discover the varied potential for reinterpretation and recreation that each text offers.

You will build on seminar discussions to develop your own project question about:

  • the interpretive possibilities that the plays offer
  • the choices made by specific interpreters of the text

Your project will be developed in consultation with tutors to consider the interplay of performance and text.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Cognition and Literature

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It aims to understand the meanings, emotions and effects of literary reading based on our current best understanding of language and mind. This means drawing on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics. You will also develop skills in stylistics and critical theory.

Cognitive poetics attempts to find answers to the following questions:

  • How is it that different readers interpret the same literary work differently?
  • How can we care emotionally about fictional people in books?
  • How do some literary works make you cry, or laugh, or be fearful or joyous?
  • How do we understand the minds of other people, real and imaginary?
  • How do literary works create atmosphere, tone, and ambience?
  • Does reality and fictionality matter?
  • How does language create worlds?

You do not need to have a background in both linguistics and literary studies – either area will be perfect preparation for your exploration of cognitive poetics. You will be taught in a small-group two-hour tutorial discussion.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Textualities: Defining, making and using text

Every published document that we read, be it a novel, poetry anthology, or magazine article, has been through a complex process of evolution and editing. This module introduces you to how texts are transmitted from ‘author’ to audience.

We will consider:

  • modes of transmission, both manuscript and print
  • modes of representation, including scholarly editions and anthologies, both print and digital
  • editorial theory and practice, including ‘best text’, genetic editing and single witness

You are encouraged to apply questions of editing to your own areas of interest, and work through the practicalities of producing an edition yourselves.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Poetry: Best words, Best Order

This module looks at various authors, movements, and genres in the history of English poetry, from 1500 to the present.

You will gain an overview of certain key chronological areas, and case studies of more specific movements or ideas. Themes and areas of focus may include:

  • late medieval
  • the 'drab'
  • religious verse
  • poetry and science
  • Epicureanism
  • verse epistles
  • gender and recovery
  • 'minor' poets and failure
  • Empire and Romanticism
  • the dramatic monologue
  • modernist poetics
  • free verse
  • ecopoetics

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

You will complete a 60-credit dissertation:

Creative Writing MA - Dissertation

During the summer, you will complete a 14,000-word, 60-credit creative writing dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Group study
  • Workshops
  • Guest speakers

Teaching consists of workshops in poetry and fiction led by prize-winning writers Professor Jon McGregorMatthew WeltonThomas LegendreDr Lila Matsumoto and Dr Spencer Jordan.

Students are taught in small seminar groups, so there is plenty of opportunity for discussion of ideas and development of our students as researchers.

MA Dissertation Preparation Day

This is an opportunity for students to learn more about the challenges of a larger-scale research project, about supervision and support, and about the resources available to Masters researchers. It is also a social occasion, bringing together our postgraduate students as an academic community. 

Find out more about the Dissertation Preparation Day.

Peer mentoring

All new postgraduate taught students can opt into our peer mentoring scheme. Your peer mentor will help you settle into life at Nottingham and access support if needed. 

More about peer mentoring.

How you will be assessed

  • Creative writing
  • Essay
  • Dissertation

Most modules are assessed by written work of varying lengths, corresponding with the content and weighting of the module.

Your course tutors provide detailed comments on assignments.

For your creative writing assessment, this will consist of a portfolio. Depending on the module, this could include poetry, a short story or stories, an excerpt from a novel, or something more experimental that crosses genre or form.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a 14,000 word dissertation. This is a major piece of independent research, and you will be allocated a supervisor who is a specialist in your chosen area. You will produce an original piece of work in a medium of your choosing: you could produce a set of poems, a piece of fiction, or a series of short stories, for instance. You will also write a critical essay.

Your dissertation supervisor will provide advice and guidance to help you select your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research.

Contact time and study hours

During the autumn semester, there will be approximately six hours of workshops per week for full-time students. Part-time students can expect around half of this contact time per week.

You may also arrange one-to-one tutorials with your tutors. Outside of this time, you will be expected to conduct independent study, whether reading, researching, or writing.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent)
Portfolio

Applicants will be asked to submit an example of their written work. You will be contacted by the university with full details of how to submit this.

The School of English welcomes writers of poetry, fiction, or a combination of the two. In reading the writing samples, we are looking for work that indicates that its author would be able to succeed on the course. There is no restriction on the subject matter of the writing sample. We only require that it is your own work.

You will be asked for either:

  • no more than 3,000 words of prose fiction (this could be one story, a group of stories, or an extract from a longer piece)
  • five poems

Applying

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

All listed fees are per year of study.

Qualification MA
Home / UK 9,250 per year
International 21,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

This course is designed to develop a range of transferable professional skills, including:

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Creativity
  • Self-motivation
  • Time-management
  • Developing and presenting complex ideas

Our graduates have moved into a diverse range of careers, working as:

  • Teachers and lecturers
  • Copywriters
  • Journalists
  • Communications officers
  • Editors
  • Digital marketers
  • Proofreaders

Career progression

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" The ability to create compelling stories and poetry is one of the most wonderful and liberating skills we can possess. Across the programme you'll explore the power of image and wordplay, the subtleties of characterisation and the dramatic potential of dialogue and structure. We also encourage you to push your own boundaries as writer and critic, exploring written forms that cross genre, form and convention. "
Dr Spencer Jordan, Programme Director

Related courses

This content was last updated on Wednesday 13 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.