Creative Writing

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How to Apply

A MA designed to help you write a novel, collection of poems, collection of stories or work of non-fiction.

  • Excellent record of helping students achieve publication
  • Widely regarded as one of the best courses of its kind
  • Taught by an extremely strong team of publishing writers

“Other courses aren't as demanding or rewarding or adamant about you doing what it takes to finish something you can be proud of.”
– Samantha Harvey, MA Creative Writing graduate and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

Why study Creative Writing?

This course will help you to bring a novel, book of poems, book of short stories or work of non-fiction as near to publishable quality as possible.

Working with tutors and other writers on the course, you’ll develop your writing and build up a substantial body of work. Weekly workshops are taught by a strong team of published writers, and there are regular visits by literary agents, publishers, magazine editors and broadcasters, as well as other writers.

Due to the reputation of the MA in Creative Writing, we are able to recruit excellent students who form an exciting and mutually supportive community of writers every year.

Course structure

You’ll learn:

  • To plan a manuscript (a novel, collection of short stories, collection of poems or book of literary non-fiction) and complete it, or a substantial part of it, brought to publishable quality or as near as possible.
  • To understand literary form, style and genre, as relevant to your chosen form of writing
  • To acquire a variety of relevant writing techniques, and research techniques to support writing, and adapt them to your particular creative project.
  • To understand and respond creatively to questions arising from the subject-matter, themes, genres, traditions and other literary contexts with which your chosen manuscript is engaged.
  • To receive and give precise and sensitive critical feedback in workshop groups and one-to-one tutorials.
  • To respond creatively to feedback provided by tutors and other students, adapting that feedback to your particular vision of your book.
  • To understand choices and opportunities relevant to your chosen manuscript, including questions of how to place your work, and the role of agents, publishers and editors.

Modules

Each student takes two workshop modules, two context modules and a double module entitled ‘The Manuscript’.

  • Workshops
    The first workshop module, ‘Professional Skills’, taken in trimester one, provides intensive group discussion and some plenary lectures. You’ll bring short pieces of writing to workshop groups consisting of a tutor and not more than seven other students. There are separate groups for prose and poetry. You’ll submit a manuscript proposal halfway through the module. In trimester two, you’ll take a second workshop module in either prose or poetry.
  • Context
    Each context module explores connections between your creative writing and the wider world as represented by a theme or genre. Seminars are divided between considering set texts and workshopping your creative writing. The set texts are examined from the point of view of practical lessons that the writer can learn. You’ll take a context module in trimester one and another in trimester two.
  • Manuscript
    In trimester three, you’ll take ‘The Manuscript’, taught by means of one-to-one tutorials. This is the culmination of the course – the book, or substantial part of a book.

Course assessment

You’ll be assessed entirely by coursework: mainly creative writing, plus two short essays, a manuscript proposal and a short commentary on the manuscript in progress.

Field trips

Part of the induction process is a residential weekend designed to help you get to know each other and understand the workshop process. There is an additional charge for this trip.

Industry links

Throughout the year there are visits by writers, literary agents, publishers, editors, broadcasters and other professionals concerned with creative writing, who will give presentations and answer questions at evening events and in plenary lectures.

Teaching methods

You’ll be taught in group workshops and seminars, one-to-one tutorials, plenary lectures and a residential weekend.

Tutors

 Tutors include prestigious, best selling and award winning writers, such as Gerard Woodward (novelist and poet); Tim Liardet (poet); Tessa Hadley (novelist); Carrie Etter (poet); Samantha Harvey (novelist); Steve May (radio dramatist, playwright and novelist); Richard Kerridge (nature writer); Paul Evans (nature writer); Lucy English (novelist and poet); Mimi Thebo (novelist); Jonathan Neale (novelist, dramatist and non-fiction writer); Tricia Wastvedt (novelist); Celia Brayfield (novelist); Jenni Mills (novelist); Greta Stoddart (poet). In addition you will have the opportunity to meet a wide range of writers, publishers and literary agents.

Visiting Writers

Readings and seminars conducted by writers are built into the programme. Visiting writers have included Moniza Alvi, John Burnside, Helen Dunmore, Roy Fisher, Peter Flannery, Nick Hornby, Emyr Humphreys, Kathleen Jamie, Mimi Khalvati, Toby Litt, Tony Lopez, Benjamin Markovits, Les A. Murray, Ashley Pharoah, D.B.C. Pierre, Jem Poster, Philip Pullman, Fiona Sampson, Michael Schmidt, Matthew Sweeney and Fay Weldon. There will also be visits from publishers, literary agents and broadcasters. Every year there are opportunities to show work to agents and editors who visit.

In an Institutional Audit the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education commented that:

In the case of the MA Creative Writing, the QAA believed that the curriculum content and design, and the development of the programme over time, represented leading-edge practice in the field.

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

Please contact course leader, Richard Kerridge:

Telephone: (01225) 875573.

Entry requirements

Admission to the course is based on a portfolio of creative writing, and our estimate of the student's commitment and potential as a writer and ability to benefit from the course. Most students have an undergraduate degree, but this is not essential if you can demonstrate your ability in the portfolio.

The portfolio should consist of one or more short pieces of creative writing submitted with the application form, such as two chapters of a novel, two short stories, six poems, or the equivalent.


More information

Career opportunities

Alumni success

Current or former students have:

  • been awarded excellent contracts for novels;
  • been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Orange Prize, Costa Prize and the Guardian First Book Award;
  • received the Betty Trask Prize, Manchester Book Award and a W.H. Smith New Talent Award; and
  • reached the best-seller lists.

Student poets have had their poetry accepted for publication in numerous literary journals, including Ambit, Magma, London Magazine, Poetry Wales, PN Review and The Reader, among others, and have been placed in such competitions as the Bridport, the Frogmore, Mslexia, and Writers Inc. Janklow and Nesbit Ltd, a leading literary agency, awards an annual prize for the best novel or novel in progress by a student on the course.

What students say...

Nikita Lalwani, MA Creative Writing

Being at Bath Spa was something invaluable and indefinable for me. I was worried that going on a creative writing course might be a bit like being in a slightly sick, 'show us your underwear' form of group therapy. I was very wrong. Instead I was thrust into the company of some of the most interesting writers around - the current spread of tutors in the department - who have managed to create a space where ideas really are exchanged rather than reduced to templates. I wrote more than half of my novel there and am indebted for the way in which being on the course made writing the centre of my life.

Nikita's debut novel, Gifted, was included in the longlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, the shortlist of the Costa first novel award, and won the 2008 Desmond Elliott prize for sparkling new fiction. Nikita's novel was conceived on the MA course, and a first draft was her manuscript submission.