Creative Writing - MA

Have you got a story to tell? Our MA in Creative Writing will help you develop your creative writing practice, experiment with a variety of forms, and discover your voice. Find out how to make your way in the world as a writer, exploring your creative potential in a supportive and well-resourced environment.

Overview

“Are you ambitious? Kent is the place to nurture those dreams.” - David Ishaya Osu, MA Creative Writing graduate.

As a student of creative writing you join a lively, diverse community committed to high-quality literary fiction and exciting contemporary poetry. Our challenging, practice-based course will lift you as a writer, offering you a unique approach emphasising innovation and experimentation, and encouraging you to develop your best and most authentic work.

The Creative Writing MA can also be studied at our Paris centre or with your year shared between Canterbury and Paris.

Your course

Our MA allows you to specialise from the start. You are encouraged to try new approaches and to work across poetry, fiction, non-fiction, TV drama, or even translation. In your course you’ll read a wide variety of texts, share ideas in collaborative workshops, deepen your understanding of form and technique, experiment and develop your own ideas and those of your fellow writers.

Our students are encouraged to share their work at regular open mic nights, and many get involved in Canterbury’s lively poetry scene. You also have the opportunity to publish your work in the biannual Kent Review.

We take a rigorous and creative approach to enable you to develop your ideas, voice and craft. We understand that the most ambitious work takes time and we support you as you develop your own style. We can help you discover how to make your writing more effective, and learn how to assess your work professionally. You will graduate with the skills required for professional practice in the creative writing industry.

Our teaching is delivered by practising, award-winning writers with a wide range of experience. We publish novels, poetry, and long-form narrative non-fiction. We’re also involved in publishing reviews, organising events, journalism, and running small presses and magazines, so we bring our expertise in the industry to our teaching and research.

Our community

Attracting students from around the world, the University’s School of English counts major literary names such as David Mitchell, Sarah Waters and Kazuo Ishiguro among its alumni, and the Centre for Creative Writing has nurtured innovative new talents such as Jessica Andrews, Gonzalo Garcia Ceron, Sarah Crewe, Emmi Itäranta, and Amy Lilwall.

Many Creative Writing graduates have been awarded contracts for novels and poetry collections with a range of publishers, and have been short-listed for (and won) a range of literary prizes. Others have moved into publishing, journalism or teaching.

Entry requirements

Smiling female postgraduate student
You are more than your grades

For 2021, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) or equivalent in a relevant subject, or substantial creative writing experience. You are required to submit a sample of your creative writing, and this will be the most significant factor in admissions decisions. Applicants may be called to interview.

Writing sample

A piece or portfolio of creative work should be uploaded on the ‘Declaration’ page of the online application form. If fiction, this should be around 1,500–2,000 words; if poetry, approximately four pages. This should be written in English, and should be a recent sample where possible. We're looking for ambition and originality, and a firm grasp of the form in which you're working and its essential elements (e.g. structure, characterisation, theme, effective imagery, appropriate choice of form, clarity and originality of concept and language). We will read this sample to ensure that you have the necessary experience and grounding in writing craft to undertake MA study. 

On the ‘Course Details’ page, you should submit a description of around 300 words of your creative writing plans. Please tell us whether you intend to work in fiction, poetry, or narrative non-fiction and what experience you have working in this form. Please also give some indication of the concerns, style, ideas and/or themes that you are interested in exploring in your work.

Request for consideration on the grounds of equivalent professional status

Candidates who hold no first degree, or a first degree in a non-literary/creative subject area should include in their applications a summary of any information that might allow us to support the application on the grounds of ‘equivalent professional status’. This could include previous writing publication credits or other successes and/or relevant professional achievements.

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Form

Keep updated

Sign up here to receive all the latest news and events from Kent  

Sign up now

This field is required
This field is required
Please enter a valid email address
This field is required
This field is required
This field is required

View our Privacy Notice

Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

You are encouraged to put together an MA programme that suits you and your plans. It is a requirement of the programme that you take either Fiction 1 and Fiction 2 or Poetry 1 and Poetry 2 along with one other Creative Writing module. You may choose to take only creative modules, or to augment your study with a module from the literature programmes or from other Humanities programmes.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year:

Optional modules may include

This module helps you to situate and heighten awareness of your own work in relation to your own practice and to practitioners from other languages. You are not expected to know any other language! Instead, you will use cribs, literal translations, commentaries and transliterations, among other tools, to inspire and guide you in creating your own versions, as is common practice amongst translators. Seminars will focus on your work in creating new poems in English, using contemporary or classic poetry in a language of your choice. The work will be contextualised through the study of translation theories and practices.

Find out more about ENGL8380

On this module students will develop their skills as an independent writer, critic and thinker, understanding and building their own unique writing practice through readings of exemplary texts, open seminar discussion, writing exercises and creative workshops. Students will learn to identify and apply central concepts like plot, narrative, form and structure, theme, voice and character, in both reading and writing practice, Experimentation, ingenuity, ambition and originality in the student's approach to her/his own writing will be encouraged. Workshops will develop close reading and editorial skills and invite students to offer and receive constructive criticism of their peers’ work.

Find out more about ENGL8910

This module will prepare you for the production of your dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. You will read a wide range of exemplary, contemporary work and experiment with form and content.

Find out more about ENGL8920

In this module you will learn further techniques of writing fiction, including how to plot a full-length novel, work on deep characterisation and the construction of an intellectual framework within your fiction. You may be continuing to work on a project begun in Fiction 1, or starting something new. Rather than expecting you to try new techniques, voices and styles, your tutor will work with you to identify your strongest mode of writing and will encourage you to develop this.

Find out more about ENGL8930

The main focus of Poetry 2 is to further develop and refine your writing with the eventual aim of producing a successful dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. Poetry 2 differs from Poetry 1 in that you are encouraged to develop a sequence or series of wholly new poems.

In this module you will develop your practice of writing poetry through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and constructive feedback on your own work. Each week, you will be exposed to a wide range of exemplary, contemporary sequences. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical rather than historical; at every point priority is given to your own particular development as poets.

The reading list does not represent a curriculum as such, but indicates the range of works and traditions we will draw upon to stimulate new thought about your own work. Decisions about reading will be taken in response to individual interests. Likewise, you will be directed toward work which will be of particular benefit to you.

Find out more about ENGL8940

Students will read and respond to a selection of biographies and autobiographies in various literary forms—along with the core reading list, a module reader will contain extracts of examples of: the life, memoir, journal, chronicle, essay, testimony, case study, confession; even the Japanese 'I-novel' and participatory journalism will be considered—to inform the planning of and working on their own piece of biographical or autobiographical ‘life’ writing. Students will investigate the intersections between fiction and non-fiction (and poetry), deploying a range of literary techniques. The module will be structured thematically, working with different forms and sub-genres in turn, allowing the students to experiment with various approaches. During the first half (six sessions), specific works will be discussed (and appropriate writing exercises applied), three sessions will be filled with workshops, and one session will be spent brainstorming ideas and planning.

Find out more about ENGL9100

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Compulsory modules currently include

Since the module allows each student to pursue his or her own creative writing interests under guidance, the curriculum will vary according to students' interests and be flexible enough to accommodate their development.

Find out more about ENGL9970

Teaching and assessment

You take a total of four modules, for which you will produce approximately 7000 words each (or an equivalent number of poems or translations). In addition, you write a creative dissertation of about 12000 words (or an equivalent number of poems or translations).

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate qualification (MA) in one year, and to allow you, if required, a smooth transition to doctoral studies
  • extend and deepen your understanding of your own writing practice through coursework and research
  • enable you to develop an historical awareness of literary and creative writing traditions
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement
  • develop your independent creative thinking and practice
  • develop your understanding and critical appreciation of the expressive resources of language
  • enable you to make connections across your various modules and transfer knowledge between modules
  • provide you with teaching, workshops and other learning opportunities that are informed by current research and practice and that require you to engage with aspects of work and practice at the frontiers of knowledge.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • key texts from contemporary British, American, postcolonial and world literatures
  • the main aspects of literary techniques and theory in either fiction or poetry, including point of view, form, style, voice, characterisation, structure and theme
  • key literary traditions and movements, both contemporary and historical
  • terminology used in literary criticism
  • terminology used in creative practice
  • the cultural and historical contexts in which literature is written, published and read
  • critical theory and its applications to both reading and writing
  • the study and creation of the ‘text’ and how this is influenced by cultural factors
  • inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to the advanced practice of creative and critical writing
  • research methods.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for advanced academic study and enquiry
  • the evaluation of your research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and/or practice
  • the ability to make discriminations and selections of relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge
  • exercise of problem-solving skills
  • communication of complex ideas in prose, poetry or both

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • advanced creative writing skills in prose, poetry or both.
  • the ability to produce work with ambition, depth, intellectual structure, sophistication, scope, independence and importance
  • the ability to sustain a piece of creative work and make choices about form, content and style
  • understanding of a ‘whole’ in creative practice (whether this is a novel, a collection of poems or short stories or some other advanced project)
  • the ability to present creative writing professionally, both orally and in writing, demonstrating an awareness and understanding of current practice
  • an advanced understanding of literary themes
  • enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary and other texts
  • informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of texts and source materials
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to advanced English or cultural studies
  • well-developed linguistic skills, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
  • appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work
  • an understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • advanced skills in communication, in speech and writing
  • the ability to offer and receive constructive criticism
  • the capacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
  • enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas
  • the ability to assimilate, organise and work with substantial quantities of complex information
  • competence in the planning and execution of coursework
  • the capacity for independent thought, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
  • enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual and creative work
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical and/or creative positions and weigh the importance of alternative approaches
  • research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • IT: word-processing, the ability to access electronic data and the ability to work efficiently and effectively in an online learning environment

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £8100
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4050
  • EU part-time £6300
  • International part-time £8400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Complete University Guide Research Intensity

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of English was ranked 10th for research intensity and 15th for research power in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 95% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research

Research areas

Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely.

Eighteenth Century

The particular interests of the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century converge around gender, class, nation, travel and empire, and the relationship between print and material culture. Staff in the Centre pursue cutting-edge approaches to the field and share a commitment to interdisciplinary methodologies.
The Centre regularly hosts visiting speakers as part of the School of English research seminar programme, and hosts day symposia, workshops and international conferences.

Nineteenth Century

The recently established Centre for Victorian Literature and Culture provides a stimulating and distinctive research environment for staff and students through seminars, conferences and collaborative research projects. The Centre places a particular emphasis on Victorian literature and culture associated with Kent and the south-east.

American Literature

Research in north American literature is conducted partly through the Faculty-based Centre for American Studies, which also facilitates co-operation with modern US historians. Staff research interests include 20th-century American literature, especially poetry, Native American writing, modernism, and cultural history.

Creative Writing

The Centre for Creative Writing is the focus for most practice-based research in the School. Staff organise a thriving series of events and run a research seminar for postgraduate students and staff to share ideas about fiction-writing. Established writers regularly come to read and discuss their work.

Medieval and Early Modern

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies has a distinctive brand of interdisciplinarity, strong links with local archives and archaeological trusts, and provides a vibrant forum for investigating the relationships between literary and non-literary modes of writing in its weekly research seminar.

Modern Poetry

The Centre for Modern Poetry is a leading centre for research and publication in its field, and participates in both critical and creative research. Staff regularly host visiting speakers and writers, participate in national and international research networks, and organise graduate research seminars and public poetry readings.

Postcolonial

Established in 1994, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research has acquired an international reputation for excellence in research. It has an outstanding track record in publication, organises frequent international conferences, and regularly hosts leading postcolonial writers and critics. It also hosts a visiting writer from India every year in association with the Charles Wallace Trust.

Careers

Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Study support

Specialist resources

The Templeman Library has excellent research resources, as do the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. There are a number of special collections: the John Crow Collection of Elizabethan and other early printed texts; the Reading/Raynor Collection of theatre history (over 7,000 texts or manuscripts); ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online); the Melville manuscripts relating to popular culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Pettingell Collection (over 7,500 items) of 19th-century drama; the Eliot Collection; children’s literature; and popular literature. A gift from Mrs Valerie Eliot has increased the Library’s already extensive holdings in modern poetry. The British Library in London is also within easy reach.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops.

School of English postgraduate students are encouraged to organise and participate in a conference which takes place in the summer term. This provides students with the invaluable experience of presenting their work to their peers.

The School runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and graduates in the School. Speakers range from our own postgraduate students, to members of staff, to distinguished lecturers who are at the forefront of contemporary research nationally and internationally.

The Centre for Creative Writing hosts a very popular and successful weekly reading series. Recent guests have included: poets Cole Swensen, Lee Ann Brown, Peter Gizzi, Sarah Crewe and Stephen Collis, fiction writers Avni Doshi, May-Lan Tan, Taymour Soomro, Niven Govinden and Megan Hunter, memoirist Crystal Rasmussen, and journalists Bidisha and Alex Peake-Tomkinson. Find out more on our YouTube channel.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, newspapers and magazines including Granta, The Guardian, The Literary Review, Lit Hub, New Statesman, Poetry Review, PN Review, and Poetry London. They also edit poetry periodicals including Free Verse, Litmus, and Datableed.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us

bubble-text

United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MA at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 823054

E: englishpg@kent.ac.uk

earth

International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

network

School website

School of English