This course will help and encourage you to bring a novel, book of poems, book of short stories or work of non-fiction as near to publishable quality as possible. Bath Spa University pioneered the teaching of creative writing in Britain and the MA in Creative Writing has an excellent record of helping students to achieve publication of novels, poetry, short stories and literary non-fiction. In 2012 we marked our success with the appointment of ten new Professors: Naomi Alderman, David Almond, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Tessa Hadley, David Harsent, Philip Hensher, Nicholas Jose, Kate Pullinger, and Fay Weldon. With specialisms in novel writing, digital writing, poetry, children’s writing, games writing, and the short story, the professors will be involved in teaching, masterclasses, and research.
Why study Creative Writing?
Working with tutors and with other writers on the course, you will have the space to 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, every year, form an exciting and mutually supportive community of writers.
The course is modular and is currently offered for full-time study only.
The MA in Creative Writing is concerned with imaginative writing, which includes novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction. The emphasis is upon encouragement, to help you to find and pursue a direction in your writing, and to understand the process of offering a manuscript for publication.
Because of the reputation of the MA in Creative Writing, we are able to recruit excellent students who, every year, form an exciting and mutually supportive community of writers. Frequent visits by other writers, literary agents, publishers, broadcasters and other professionals connected with writing ensure that students are given plentiful advice about how to place work and make decisions about their careers as writers.
The course is not for the writer whose only interest is in their own work, but rather for the writer who can benefit from working closely with fellow students and with tutors, many of whom are practising and published writers. It is implicit in the course philosophy that critical reading aids the development of writers. Workshops, in which you look constructively at each other's writing, and context modules, to study the ways in which writers meet certain challenges, are integral parts of the course.
The full MA programme consists of two writing workshops, two context modules and the Manuscript (a double module):
You can either start with a general writing workshop in which you experiment with a range of forms, or a specialist workshop in prose fiction or poetry.
This is a specialist workshop in prose fiction or poetry.
These modules examine genres and look at ways in which writers meet challenges from the public world. At least five of the following are offered each term:
- Writing and the Environmental Crisis
- Suspense Fiction
- Contemporary American Writing
- The Writer and Place
- Modernism and Postmodernism
- Writing and Gender
- The Short Story
- Writing and Politics
- Reviewing and Journalism
- Narrative Non-Fiction
- The Love Story
For this module each student brings a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. You are assigned a specialist tutor.
Assessment is by coursework only. Each writing workshop is assessed on the basis of a folder of creative writing and an early draft of part of the Manuscript. Each context module is assessed on the basis of an essay and a folder of creative responses. The Manuscript is 35,000–40,000 words (or the equivalent for poetry and scriptwriting).
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. Over the past 20 years the course has established itself over as one of the most successful in the UK.
The course is taught by means of workshops, seminars, one-to-one tutorials, guest presentations and a residential weekend.
Each week, students take one three-hour seminar for the Workshop and one for the Context Module. The Manuscript is completed between June and September. Students meet tutors regularly during this period. A residential writing weekend is an essential part of the course.
Workshop modules meet in groups of no more than eight students. Students bring work regularly for in-depth discussion to help identify strengths and weaknesses in a supportive environment. In Context Modules, the seminar is divided between discussing the set texts and workshopping the students' creative responses. Set texts are examined from the viewpoint of the practising writer looking for new techniques and models to imitate or avoid. The third term is devoted to one-to-one tutorials looking closely at the developing manuscript.
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.
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 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.
Please contact course leader, Richard Kerridge:
Telephone: (01225) 875573.
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.
In recent years, several current or former students have been awarded excellent contracts for novels; Two were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, three for the Orange Prize, one for the Costa Prize and one for the Guardian First Book Award. One received the Betty Trask Prize; another the Manchester Book Award; another a W.H. Smith New Talent Award. One 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.