Creative Writing and Study of Religions

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Creative Writing at Bath Spa is celebrating twenty-three years of excellence in 2015. Here you will join a thriving community of world-class writers and experiment with a wide variety of forms, and, with time, focus on the kind of writing you have come to enjoy most – poetry, fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting, journalism – even copywriting and writing for new media.

Why study Creative Writing?

As part of one of the largest and most successful writing departments in the UK and indeed the world, this course is challenging, exciting, and versatile. At Bath Spa University you can expect a professional level of tuition – and we expect a professional level of commitment and achievement from you in return.

Employability is central to the writing programme. Both individually and in groups you will prepare for the writing / creative-industry career of your choice.

To learn more, please write directly to the Subject Leader of Creative Writing Dr Paul Meyer at p.meyer@bathspa.ac.uk. 

Alternatively, please click on the tabs above.

Course structure

Our Creative Writing course has three main components:

  • Your own development as a writer
  • Your awareness of other writing and how your work relates to it
  • Your critical awareness of the markets for creative writing and how you can get your work published or produced

Throughout the course you will be expected to:

  • Write and rewrite your work to become a sensitive and efficient editor of your own work
  • Read extensively, learning how writers do things, so that you can do them yourself
  • Find out how books get published, how films get made, so that your own work is informed and enriched by an awareness of past and current practice

As you move through the programme you push yourself and your work as far as you can, engaging with the world outside the University. Final-year students have (among many other things) promoted a European Fussball championship; run poetry readings; edited and produced student publications and worked on live projects for the Bath Literature Festival.

Modules

Sample modules:

Writers’ Workshop I and II; Poetry; Short Stories; Planning and Making a Film; Feature Journalism; Writing for Theatre; Writing for Young People; Life writing; Fiction Project; Writing for New Media; Digital Publishing.

Course assessment

Assessment is by coursework only. At all three levels, great importance is attached to the process of drafting, redrafting and improving work, in response to workshop discussion and public performance.

As a student you will join a community of practicing writers across the University including Professor Tim Liardet (poet), Ms Lucy English (poet and novelist; Reader in Creative Writing), Dr Steve May (scriptwriter and novelist, Dean of the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries), Professor Gerard Woodward (poet and novelist), Dr Carrie Etter (poet and critic), Ms Julia Green (writer for young people), Ms Celia Brayfield (novelist and journalist), Dr Mimi Thebo (novelist), Ms Katharine Reeve (editor, author and Subject Leader: Publishing), Dr Paul Meyer (novelist and advertising creative director; Subject Leader of Creative Writing) and Mr Steve Voake (writer for young people).

Students will also benefit from the experience of ten Professors of Creative Writing: Naomi Alderman, David Almond, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Tessa Hadley, Philip Hensher, Kate Pullinger and Fay Weldon.

We also host a lively programme of visiting agents, publishers, writers and representatives of the broadcasting industries which are open to and often organised by undergraduate students.

Creative Writing at Bath Spa University will help you develop a number of skills valued highly by employers such as clear communication, language skills, sensitivity to different audiences, the ability to organise your own time and ideas, and project management.

Resources:

The state-of-the-art equipment in our Artswork Broadcast and Publishing labs is at your disposal to help you make your dreams a reality. For those with a technical bent there is also the opportunity to work in our Artswork Media facility at the Paintworks development in Bristol.

 

Teaching methods

Creative Writing is taught through a mixture of workshops, lectures, presentations and tutorials. Workshops offer you the opportunity to read and discuss each other's work in a supportive, informal and informative atmosphere. Lectures are used to introduce techniques and themes in detail. Tutorials provide you with the opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor on a one-to-one basis. Advanced students may also get the chance to work with industry mentors on project work.

We believe that for you to achieve your maximum potential you have to take yourself and your writing seriously, and that the best way to do this is to develop a professional approach. Therefore, wherever appropriate, our modules run to industry standards and adopt industry practices.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Please write to Dr Paul Meyer, Subject Leader of Creative Writing, at p.meyer@bathspa.ac.uk, or the Admissions team listed above.

Entry requirements

280–320 UCAS Tariff points. including A- level English Literature, English Language, Theatre Studies or a related subject at grade B.

Candidates are sometimes asked to send samples of creative writing.

 

Career opportunities

Our graduates are communicators. They can talk, they can listen, and they can persuade. They are confident. They can manage projects through from initial idea to successful completion. They can work alone or as part of a team. That’s why recent graduates have found jobs with the BBC, Random House, and other media giants; they’ve gone into  journalism, teaching, social work, marketing: just about any career that requires a good Humanities degree.

External examiner:

“This is where the modules at Bath Spa are exceptional. The programme and module design is geared to the many facets of the industry. From journalism modules to enterprise projects, and modules involving scriptwriting and film making – all of which address industry standards and encourage external networking – the programme seems fully equipped to point students towards employment. Indeed, I saw evidence that student career choices found expression and sometimes advancement in project and course work. The quality and outcomes of the student work emphatically demonstrates that the programme is working well in this respect.” 

Since 2011, employers such as BMW/Mini, Wiltshire Police, Random House, Hot Press Magazine and Clarks have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including English Language Teacher, Music Journalism Intern, Retail Communications Coordinator Associate and Scriptwriter.

 

What students say...

Ivan Matsumoto (2012):

“Bath Spa recognizes the importance of work placements and will do their best to provide support and guidance. Now I feel even more confident that I have the education and relevant work experience to back up my degree.”

Victoria Knowles (2012):

“The lecturers were really encouraging, and regularly informed me of new writing competitions and other opportunities to get my work published.”

Ieva Lakute (2012):

"The class workshops helped me assess my own writing from a more professional angle. I learnt how to give and accept criticism, both positive and negative. The lecturers were really encouraging, and regularly informed me of new writing competitions and other opportunities to get my work published."

Rosie Mercer (2010):

“Since graduating I’ve set up my own review site. I now review books, television and audiobooks.”

This course explores a wide range of religious traditions, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living traditions. The approach taken is open and exploratory, with an emphasis on direct first-hand experience of religious communities.

The religious traditions studied are diverse, including major traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, and the less well known such as newer religious movements. Included in the programme are contemporary developments such as Paganism and Goddess spirituality. We range from the local, such as religions in Bath and Glastonbury, to the global, such as Japanese Religions. Crucial to the study of religions is direct encounter and experiential learning, and the course includes visits and a one-week placement in a religious community. There are opportunities to follow up your own interests or career plans in a variety of special projects, employment related placements and a dissertation.

Study of Religions is offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined degree. If you want to combine it with Philosophy and Ethics you should take the Religions, Philosophies and Ethics specialised award.

Why study Study of Religions?

‘My stay at the Buddhist monastery was challenging, yet very rewarding. I learnt a lot about Theravada Buddhism, but about myself too’

Diverse range of traditions

We try to explore as many different traditions as possible, from Buddhism to Christianity to Paganism, with a focus on living religions followed by people you can meet today.

Open and exploratory

We stress that we are studying religions, trying to understand, rather than trying to convert, and we are equally welcoming of those who belong to a religious tradition and those who don’t.

First hand experience and community placement

‘There is no substitute for seeing the architecture, rituals and colours first hand as well as the account of the religion from a believer’

We think it is important to meet people from religious traditions, and the programme includes visit to religious communities, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and churches. You may visit the Goddess temple in Glastonbury, meet a Druid or have an opportunity to interview a Buddhist monk. In the third year all students have the opportunity to spend a week living with a religious or belief community: such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas, the British Humanist Association or the Salvation Army. For further details see www.livingreligion.co.uk

Excellent teaching 

Our external examiners praised us last year for the excellent quality of our feedback to students on their work. Tutors think it is important to make time for individual students.

Appropriate for teaching RE

A popular career destination for our students is teaching RE in primary or secondary schools, or sixth-form colleges. Every year the numbers of pupils taking GCSE and A level Religious Studies is going up.

Chance to study abroad

One semester can be spent abroad, for example, at the University of Helsinki in Finland or the University of Sibiu in Romania.

Course structure

In Year 1 we offer a core module which explores the meaning of religion and spirituality, examines a variety of methods of studying religions and spiritualities, and illustrates these from a variety of contemporary traditions, from Druidry to the Bahá’í faith. There is also a field visit to Glastonbury. An optional module in global religions and philosophies looks at major traditions and movements, and key thinkers. 

The core module in Year 2 focuses on philosophies and religious or non-religious world views in Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules include philosophy, religions and the environment; and in depth study of major religious traditions including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

There is also a Special Project in which you can explore topics of your choice, engage in a placement or project relevant to employment, or take part in a summer school in another country such as Korea.

In the third year, as part of a core module on religion in the contemporary world, you will undertake a fieldwork placement with a religious community such as a Buddhist monastery, a Christian convent, the Hare Krishnas or the Salvation Army. For further details see our website www.livingreligion.co.uk. Optional modules include religion, philosophy and gender; advanced study of pagan, new and alternative religions; and modules studying the Bhagavad Gita, Muslim migration and Islam in Europe, culture and counter-culture, religion and education internationally, Buddhism, and religion, culture and society in Japan. There is also a special Research Project (past students have helped to run a conference for year 12 students or to digitise an archive on contemporary religions), a Dissertation which allows for in-depth concentration on a topic of your choice, or an employment related project.

NOTE: You will need to study another subject to study with Study of Religions.

 

 

Modules

Year 1

  • Beyond Belief: Introduction to the Study of Religions and Spiritualities (core module);

  • Truth and Value: Introduction to Philosophical and Ethical Enquiry (core module);
  • Global Religions and Philosophies;
  • Spirituality, Culture and Civilisation: An Introduction to faith and Belief in Global Perspective
  • Philosophy and Thinking in Schools;
  • Medieval and Renaissance Worlds.

Year 2

  • Darshana, Dharma and Dao: Philosophy in the Indian and Chinese Traditions (core module);Exploring Global Christianity;

  • Exploring Global Christianity
  • Power, Duty and Desire: Life and Liberation in the Hindu Tradition;
  • Special Project;
  • Buddhism: Historical and Doctrinal Developments;
  • Saints and Soldiers: Mysticism, Militancy and Modernity in the Sikh Tradition;
  • Philosophy, Religions and the Environment.

Year 3

  • Studying Religions in the Contemporary World (core module);
  • Dissertation;
  • Employment related placement (alternative to Dissertation);
  • Buddhism in Practice;
  • Religion, Philosophy and Gender;
  • Life and Meaning;
  • Advanced Special Project;
  • The Song of the Lord: Hinduism, Religion, Scripture and the Bhagavad-Gita;
  • Spiritual Revolution: Pagan, New and Alternative Religions in the 21st Century;
  • Religion, Culture and Society in Japan;
  • Muslim Migration and Islam in Europe
  • Without Fear or Favour: National and International Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Education;
  • Culture and Counterculture: from Orientalism to the ‘Hippy Trail’.

Course assessment

Assessment is mainly by coursework such as essays, reports, projects, presentations, on-line discussion board participation, or even the production of a short film, and there are also some timed elements such as critical analyses or examinations.

Learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and fieldtrips.

We teach with attention to individuals. We welcome non-traditional entrants and mature students.

Resources include a well-stocked library, on-line materials in our virtual learning platform and our many contacts with faith communities (and ethical associations) locally and nationally.

BACRA (the Bath Archive of Contemporary Religious Affairs) is an archive of ephemera devoted mainly to New Religious Movements and concentrated on the 1980s and 1990s before most movements had their own websites.

 

Teaching methods

Our lectures set out the broad themes and issues, often include visual materials and enable you to participate and raise questions.

Seminars are in smaller groups where you have more opportunities to participate and interact with each other. These might involve you giving short presentations, working in groups, debates and discussions. They help you clarify issues that you find in your readings and raised in lectures; some seminars may include viewing of brief documentaries.

One-to-one tutorials are an important part of our teaching, especially in giving individual feedback on your work.

To give you an experiential understanding of the subjects that you study, we organise educational visits and fieldtrips to religious and pilgrimage centres in Bath, Glastonbury, Bristol, London, etc. We also enable you to take part in a one-week placement in a religious or ethical community to see how religions and philosophies impact on people's daily lives. For examples see www.livingreligion.co.uk.

We encourage you to take part in the study abroad programmes by, for example, participating in the existing Erasmus exchanges in Europe (e.g., University of Helsinki and University of Sibiu).

Application method

Full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A popular career for our students is teaching Religious Education and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. The combination of studying religions and philosophy is particularly good preparation for this, and one module is specially designed as preparation for a career in education. Others have gone on to further academic study and university teaching.

It is increasingly important for people in a wide range of careers to be able to mix with people from different religious and cultural backgrounds, for example past students have had careers in the police, hospital administration, social work, and journalism. Study of Religions comes in useful when working overseas whether in tourism or other businesses.

Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser,  Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.

What students say...

Student Profile: Alex Hyde, Year 3 Study of Religions

I chose my course because I have always been interested in the world and in people.  I am fascinated by the thoughts, needs, beliefs and knowledge of others who have been brought up outside of Christianity.

I really like the structure of the course because the first year enables you to study in breadth and then in the second year focus more deeply on some of the religions studied in the first year. I was enthralled by the prospect of going on a placement for a week in a religious community as part of the course in second year.  I am soon to find out whether I will be going to live with The Community of the Many Names of God or the Hare Krishnas.

The Department has a friendly ethos, with lecturers who are genuinely willing their students to do well and continually supporting them along the way. It is with thanks to this course that my understanding of people in the world is ever expanding and even when the pressure is on with assignments due, I continue to brim with enthusiasm for the knowledge I gain.