Postgraduate study
Led by published authors and poets, you'll explore the writing process within the contexts of publication and professional writing.
MA Creative Writing
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,290 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
University Park



The School of English, renowned for its excellence in research and teaching, offers a masters in creative writing led by published authors and poets.

MA Creative Writing brings together creative and critical practices, exploring the writing process within the contexts of publication and professional writing.

Submission of written work

Applicants for MA Creative Writing will be asked to submit an example of their written work. The first stage of the application process is to submit your application online.

Applicants who are asked to provide written work will then 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

Key facts

  • Students are part of a rich and diverse postgraduate research community
  • There is a lively writing culture in Nottingham, and students are strongly encouraged to attend and take part in the many events on offer
  • Masters students join in a range of activities and events associated with write, create, perform at Nottingham
  • Students have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the high-profile literary journal based in the School of English: The Letters Page
  • Ranked 6th for creative writing and 11th for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019
  • Ranked 8th for creative writing and 13th for English and in The Complete University Guide 2020
  • Ranked 45th for English language and literature in the QS World University Rankings 2018
  • 9th in the UK for research power in the Research Excellence Framework, 2014
  • The programme offers an excellent route towards pursuing a PhD
  • Hear from current students in our School of English masters student videos

Read our School of English graduate student profiles, and hear from our alumna Clare Harvey who won the Exeter Novel Prize for her debut novel The Gunner Girl.


You will be taught using the latest advances in teaching methods and electronic resources.

Principle features of the masters programme include:

  • workshops in poetry and fiction led by prizewinning writers Professor Jon McGregorMatthew WeltonThomas LegendreDr Lila Matsumoto and Dr Spencer Jordan
  • guest sessions with Honorary Lecturers (the school’s current honorary appointments include novelist Alison Moore and poet Ruth Fainlight), and other visiting writers and publishers
  • seminar group teaching
  • group and one-to-one tuition with academic members of staff
  • teaching informed by active researchers
  • access to a variety of online resources
  • flexible course content
  • innovative and engaging teaching methods

Full course details

There is a definite emphasis on the realities of the published writer, and guest sessions throughout the year allow you to meet writers and writing-industry professionals.

The defining feature of MA Creative Writing is the particular close attention it gives to the details of the writing process. You are encouraged to take a strategic approach to producing successful work.

This involves examining your writing in the contexts of:

  • how your writing is informed by reading
  • what you see as your long and short-term aims for their writing
  • how the publishing industry works
  • your relations with other writers, particularly your peers on the course.

As the course progresses, tutors encourage you to take more of a lead in the teaching sessions, drawing on your increased confidence and experience. Modules feature group discussion of a range of texts and require you to produce original work informed by the techniques required in class.

You take modules in both fiction and poetry – and choose from a selection of optional modules offered by the school – and then complete the course with a creative dissertation (this can be a work of fiction, or poetry).

Special Guest Lectures

Every year we invite special guests from the field of Creative Writing to give lectures on their specialist knowledge.  This year (18/19) we are hosting:

Nottingham Poetry Exchange

Students can also attend readings hosted by the Nottingham Poetry Exchange. Founded by Dr Lila Matsumoto, the Exchange is a monthly programme of seminars, performance evenings, and reading group sessions.



This course can be taken over one year, full-time (September to September) and part-time over two to three years.

All taught modules are assessed by written work. Tutors provide feedback on practice exercises as preparation, and detailed comments on assignments.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a supervised dissertation. The MA dissertation is your chance to push yourself that little bit further. By now you’ll have read a lot and written a lot of and you’ll have some sense of the writer you want to be. The dissertation is where you bundle together your skills and experience, add in the influence of your favourite writers, and let your ambition drive things forward. You will work independently and will meet your supervisor in person for four individual sessions. You could write a pamphlet-length set of poems, or an extended story or group of stories. Or you could try something experimental that stretches the conventions of literary genre.

Course structure

You take the following typical creative writing modules:

Creative Writing Conventions and Techniques

You are encouraged to develop your own creative practice through an examination of a range of ideas and techniques. You will develop your creative writing skills through activities, including group discussions, exercises and workshops. Matters such as reviews, publication, public readings, and the teaching of creative writing may be included as ways of examining the context of creative practice. You will learn how to incorporate the responses of others into their revisions, develop a more productive writing process, and become better editors of their own work. The assessment consists of either a portfolio of prose or poetry, or a combination of the two, as well as a critical essay.

Writing Workshop: Fiction

This module looks at the skills and techniques of contemporary short story writing. Through an exploration of structure, technique, and methodology, students examine a range of international fiction from a writer's perspective, with an emphasis on craft. Each week you will respond creatively to set tasks and critical readings, building up both their confidence and ability in terms of short story writing. The assessment consists of a portfolio of short stories and a critical essay.

Learning to Read: criticism for creative writers

In this module, students will develop skills in reading and writing critically as a creative writer. The aim of the module is to enable students to reflect and analyse the technique and craft being employed in their own and others’ creative writing, as well as how those texts may be articulated through literary, theoretical, personal, and cultural contexts. We will explore a wide range of texts, including hybrid forms such as the creative-critical essay, the poem-essay, and art-writing. The assessment will consist of a creative exercise and a critical essay.

Writing Workshop: Poetry

This module is designed to make students familiar both with the craft and practice of using some common poetic conventions, and with the contexts in which poetry is published and read. You will benefit from lecture-style input, group discussion, and a workshop during which they will share and discuss their draft poems. You will be supported in your craft and encouraged to work towards submitting your work for publication. The assessment consists of a portfolio of poems and a critical essay.

Practice and Practitioners

This module investigates the relationship between the writer and creative industries. It aims to expand students’ awareness of the professional and practical contexts of their own writing, as well as between the published text and potential audience. We will focus on a range of activities in the field of publication and production of creative writing. Students will have the opportunity to explore the role of institutions and practitioners by engaging with emerging and established writers, publishers, booksellers, editors, producers, and literary event organisers. The assessment will consist of a either a portfolio of prose or poetry, or a combination of the two, as well as a critical essay. 


You then choose modules offered by the School of English from the following representative list: 

Drama and Creative Writing

Learning to Publish: Contemporary Forms and Practices

 This module is designed to introduce students to the broad publishing landscape, including: journals, small presses, online writing and social media. Students will explore the landscape of contemporary literary journals 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 will be structured around practical work in support of The Letters Page literary journal, and will be a mixture of lecture-style content on relevant topics and practical writing workshops.

Shakespeare: Text, Stage, Screen

This module offers students the opportunity to explore the fluidity and interpretive possibilities of the Shakespeare work and text across multiple genres. Built around three theatre trips, this module will go into depth on three plays, looking at their literary interest (from book history and sources to thematic concerns and characterisation) and their performative possibilities, including in at least one stage and one screen adaptation of those plays. By approaching the plays from multiple angles, students will be able to consider the varied potential for reinterpretation and recreation that each text offers.

Students will build on seminar explorations (taught by a rotating team of tutors) to develop their own project question about the interpretive possibilities opened up by each take, and the choices made by specific interpreters of the text. Projects will be developed in consultation with tutors to take into account the interplay of performance and text.

Riotous Performance: Drama and Disruption

This module allows you to engage with a range of modern drama, all themed around the idea of riot.

This module explores the phenomenon of the riot, examining both how such a notion is defined and how it might relate to other kinds of western performance event.  In particular, the module asks students to analyse the way that riots have both been triggered by, and represented in, an assortment of other performances, and students will be encouraged to compare and contrast material from a range of different chronological periods and across a range of different genres.

Although the module is largely focused upon dramatic texts, it will allow students the opportunity to consider an assortment of other performance events, as we analyse the drama of Synge and O’Casey, the ballet of Stravinsky and Nijinsky, and the performance poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Literary Linguistics

Cognition and Literature

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.

Consciousness in Fiction

The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. You will 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. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.

Dramatic Discourse

This module explores the relationship between language and drama. Taking a multi-faceted approach, drawing on facets of linguistic analysis from stylistics, discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, the module considers 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 and the 'management' of performance through stage directions. Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, the module investigates the role of language in shaping character, dialogue, interaction, and staging.

Research in Literary Linguistics

This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, you will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods. The module will invite you to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.


English Literature

Literary Histories

It has often been suggested that the very idea of literary history – of a narrative that understands, classifies, and explains, the English literary past – is an inherent impossibility. The relationship between literature and the history of the time of its creation is an equally vexed and productive question. This module will look at the various ways in which literature in the last few centuries has combined with the study of history, with significant changes in the ways in which works of the past are viewed, and also how histories of literature began to be constructed (a history of literary histories, so to speak) paying attention to such questions as the development of the literary canon, periodicity, inclusions and exclusions, rediscoveries, and lack of representation. It will also look at the ways in which literary biography, autobiography and life-writing relate to the creation of literary histories. This will be a team-taught module, introducing key topics in the area and apply them to a variety of types of literature from different historical periods, and the myriad critical ways in which such literature has been viewed, retrospectively.

Modernism and the Avant-Garde in Literature & Drama

This module will investigate radical strategies of aesthetic presentation and the challenge they offered to prevailing limits of personal, gender and national identity between 1870 and 1960. Through a selection of key literary, dramatic, cultural, and critical texts, the module will examine ways that modernist and avant-garde writings draw their formal, generic and political borders, how they reconfigure ideas of the self, and what the political consequences of that reconfiguration are. The module will also consider the multiple meanings of 'radicalism' in an aesthetic and literary context, relating those meanings to questions of taste, community, and the market. This will be a team-taught module which examines a wide spectrum of literature and drama, including the era's cultural criticism and more recent critical and theoretical studies.

Textualities: Defining, Making and Using Text

This module investigates the ways issues in modern editorial theory—the nature of authorship, what constitutes an ‘authoritative’ text, and the inevitably embodied nature of textuality—illuminates our understanding of literary creativity. You will explore how modern editors describe and theorise the textual transmission of a range of works, drawn from a variety of periods, places and forms. They will examine different concepts of textuality—including copy-texts, plural or ‘mobile’ texts, and digital texts—and different theories of text-editing, such as ‘first’ and ‘final’ intention editing, ‘social’ and ‘eclectic’ texts, and genetic editing. You will explore how theories of literary creativity are embedded in editorial practices, and so, therefore, how editorial treatment determines the ways we ascribe identity and value to texts. Students of all literary periods will gain a detailed understanding of how literary texts are produced, and why some versions of well-known literary works take precedence over others. Creative writers will appreciate how the editorial process—which may include the choice of illustrations, type-faces, cover designs, and the imposition of a house-style, be that paper-based or digital, as well as changes to the text itself—affects how readers engage with a work, and ultimately how they value it.

You will be expected to reflect on editorial practice as they have encountered it, and also to undertake practice themselves.


Medieval Studies

History of the Book 1200-1600

This module introduces the study of the book as artefact. You will learn about 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.

Middle English Romance

This module considers 21st century historicized readings of a major English literary genre, and demonstrates that medieval English romance texts can be set in complex and profound critical relationship to each other and to other artistic media. Such an approach is possible largely because of the vibrant and privileged international socio-literary milieu in which many romance tracts were first written and received. You will be 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, the representations of public and private identities, and the 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.


Students take the dissertation in creative writing which is a major piece of advanced independent work alongside a critical essay, under the supervision of a specialist in their chosen genre.


The above is a sample of the typical modules that 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, however, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities.

Please visit the school's website for the latest information about funding opportunities.

The Graduate School website at the University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.

Students should check the eligibility requirements with their funding body before enrolling on a part-time course.


Careers and professional development

Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the school.

Conducting postgraduate work in the School of English fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way. A postgraduate degree from the School of English at the University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Our applicants are among the best in the country, and employers expect the best from our graduates.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

In 2016, 94.1% of postgraduates from the School of English who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,333 with the highest being £22,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research
** Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice from the dedicated Faculty of Arts careers team as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Liz Dennis
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School of English
The University of Nottingham
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