Creative Writing

Creative Writing - MA

2017

The MA in Creative Writing at Kent offers you the opportunity to study fiction and poetry (exclusively or together) along with optional modules in translation, and writing and the environment.

2017

Overview

Designed with serious, ambitious writers in mind, our programme uses seminars, tutorials, workshops, and precise editing to enable you to take control of your own work and write exciting, contemporary material.

You are taught exclusively by members of the permanent creative writing team, all of whom are practising, award-winning writers: Patricia Debney, David Flusfeder, David Herd, Nancy Gaffield, Dragan Todorovic, Alex Preston, Amy Sackville, Simon Smith and Scarlett Thomas. (See staff research interests for further details.)

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

About the School of English

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 74% of our work graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, the School is ranked 10th out of 89 English departments in terms of Research Intensity (Times Higher Education). The School also received an outstanding assessment of the quality of its research environment and public impact work.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

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:

Modules may include Credits

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. Your final project will be 5-7 finished versions of poems by a single author, along with a commentary outlining your approach.

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This module will give students the opportunity to explore and create writing about travel and nature, and (re)construct complex landscapes in prose. After beginning with formulations of ‘home’, whether this be a house, a city, a prison, a lighthouse or anything else, students will be encouraged to begin to travel, both literally and conceptually, first into gardens, then into the countryside and then the ‘wild’ before attempting to write about the suburb, the city, the sea, foreign lands and the unknown. Emphasis will be on contemporary approaches to narrative non-fiction, where buildings, shops and other elements of material culture must often be considered as part of ‘the environment’, and where almost every journey can become a psychogeographical adventure. Landscapes can be beautiful, but they are also always sites of nature-culture encounters, which are themselves always political. How does one begin to address this in prose? What happens when landscapes, buildings and other environmental sites become the foreground in narrative, rather than the background?

Students will be encouraged to experiment with different techniques of narrative non-fiction, for example putting themselves at the centre of their narrative, or at its periphery; recording conversations and working with complex themes. They will learn about techniques of reportage, psychogeography, travel writing and nature-writing. Additional workshops will give students the tools they need to independently learn about relevant techniques needed to understand their landscapes fully, for example basic botany, architecture, geography and local history. Each week students will produce a 500-word informal assignment, which they will share on Moodle. Students will eventually choose one location, environment or encounter to write about and by the end of the module they will produce a 4000-word piece of narrative non-fiction exploring this. They will be encouraged to examine their location thoroughly, both in person and through archival and other forms of research. As well as this, they will hand in eight 500-word descriptions of other locations, which may or may not be related to the main location (they could form the journey, for example).

There may well be spontaneous or planned field trips!

Structure of the Module

Week 1: Homes

Week 2: Gardens

Week 3: The countryside/agriculture

Week 4: The concept of the near ‘wild’

Week 5: The train

Week 6: READING WEEK

Week 7: The suburbs

Week 8: The city

Week 9: The seaside and beyond

Week 10: Foreign lands

Week 11: The unknown

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The main focus of this module is for you to work independently with supervision to write 7000 words of original fiction or an equivalent number of poems.

Having a clear idea of what you will produce would help you greatly. You will be expected to have a synopsis of about 300 words, plus at least a 1000 words (or two poems) ready for the second week. After some initial work in a group, you will continue developing your piece separately, working one-to-one with the tutor. Towards the end of term, the group sessions will continue.

On the MA, we encourage you to think of your year's writing as one piece of work (one novel, collection of short stories, collection of poems) and so it is perfectly acceptable for you to use this module to develop this project, perhaps working on chapters 3 and 4 of a novel you have begun in another module, or writing poems from the middle or end of your collection.

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'The Magazine in Creative Writing' contributes to the poetry and prose strands of the MA in Creative Writing. The objective of ‘The Magazine in Creative Writing’ is to give students as close an experience as possible of what it might be like to publish a magazine of creative writing, and to produce a magazine, which is open to all postgraduate and undergraduate students at the University of Kent to contribute to each academic year. Students taking the module will be grouped into editorial teams of 6 and assigned production tasks as seem appropriate. And assessment will be based on their creative work; an essay about magazine publishing; reflective work on My Folio; and their contribution to an assigned role for magazine production. We will look at little magazine and literary magazine publication through the Twentieth Century to the present day. Students will be encouraged to work to a standard of professional publishing. This module aims to enable students to develop their practice of writing through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and practices, and constructive feedback on their own work. Each week, students will be exposed to a wide range of instances of exemplary, contemporary work (as suggested by the indicative reading list). They will be encouraged to read as writers and think like magazine editors, to apply appropriate writing and production techniques to their own practice and to experiment with voice, form and content. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical and historical. At every point in the module, priority will be given to students’ own development as writers. It is an assumption of the module that students will already have a basic competence in the writing of poetry and prose, including a grasp of essential craft and techniques. The purpose of this module will be to stimulate students towards further development of, and to hone their already emerging voices and styles through engaging with various literary texts, raising an awareness of publishing practice historically, and contemporary new technologies.

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This module is an introduction to writing fiction at a postgraduate level. The course content will vary depending on your tutor. You will have a weekly seminar in which you will discuss recently published novels and short fiction (alongside some modern classics) as well as techniques for writing your own fiction. You will also have the opportunity to present and work on your writing in class. You will hand in 7000 words of original fiction at the end of the module. This can be the beginning of a novel, or one or more short stories.

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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. A portfolio for the module of 12 – 15 poems is submitted.

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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.

Your tutor will supply you with a reading list before the start of the module.

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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.

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.

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Austen makes a particularly interesting subject for advanced study because her work is both widely enjoyed and the focus of much specialist academic work. The Austen of the (feminist) academy is often initially unrecognisable to the general (´feminine´) reader, and part of the project of this module is to explore the gap between these kinds of reading through the medium of material culture. ´Material Culture Studies´, focussing on the function and significance of physical objects in literary texts, has been increasingly important to scholars of the long eighteenth century in the last decade, and this approach raises questions that are especially pertinent to readings of Austen´s fiction. Is domesticity a trap or a refuge? Does the female body require liberation or control? Is material wealth the realisation of every woman´s dream or the basis of moral corruption? Is the 'improvement' of landscapes and estates a sign of culture or of arrogance? Approaching Austen´s writing through the objects which populate her fiction, we will situate these questions in relation to modern literary criticism and the unfamiliarity of early nineteenth-century artefacts.

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This module is designed to extend and develop skill, enjoyment and confidence in reading critical, literary and theoretical texts. We reflect on the pleasures and challenges of the reading process, moving slowly through a single major text. We will pause over exciting, complex or important passages, taking time to follow up references and footnotes, identify important themes and ideas, consult works of art and writings that share those themes, explore how the texts touch us and how they think. The module is designed to help you come away with an in-depth knowledge of the main text and of texts and ideas surrounding it, as well as gaining deeper understanding of how you read.

Our ten weekly seminars will usually function as a two-hour guided reading-group. Seminars will incorporate student presentations introducing a particular passage, focusing on issues raised by the text or on relations between these issues, the text and other module reading. Total study hours: 20 per week. Students will be assessed on a piece of written work of 5,000 words presented at the conclusion of the module on a topic agreed with the teacher.

In 2016-17 the central text is Philippines by Hélène Cixous.

Philippines was published in 2009 and Laurent Milesi's English translation came out in 2010. It concerns telepathy, and we will be looking at texts on telepathy by Freud, Derrida and Nicholas Royle, as well as George Du Maurier's very popular novel Peter Ibbetson (1891), and the film version of Peter Ibbetson from 1935 starring Gary Cooper and mentioned in Cixous' book. We will also think about love, dreaming, literature and childhood as they emerge out of these texts.

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This course investigates the development of American modernism in art and literature in the fifty year period between 1890 and 1940; a time bookended by official closing of the American frontier (which effectively concluded the period of the nineteenth century associated with "manifest destiny") and the outbreak of World War Two. The course will explore key texts of the period within their artistic and social contexts, including the development of new scientific and social-scientific modes of inquiry, the growth of the city and the increasing importance of the USA on the world stage.

The course is organized into blocks comprised of texts associated with various cities and movements within American modernism. We will begin by looking at the importance of New York and the American expatriate scene, before considering modernism in the mid-West and US South. A reading pack will be provided in the first week as an aid to student research.

Students will be expected to develop their own research interests within the topic and will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay. Essays that investigate topics not directly covered by the set reading are encouraged and can be developed in consultation with the tutor.

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This module explores the construction and contestation of authorship between the publication of Alexander Pope's brilliant Grub Street satire, The Dunciad (1728) and of James Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1791). In this period, notions of authorship underwent significant change as the image of the author as craftsman (or less flatteringly as tradesman) gave way to the image of the author as original creator or genius – an image that still informs our understanding of authorship to this day. Through an exploration of a wide variety of novels, satires, periodicals, and biographies, as well as visual images we will explore how the modern author’s fortunes were shaped by such factors as the decline of the patronage system, the growth and democratisation of the literary marketplace, the emergence of the woman writer and the labouring-class or unlettered genius.

Topics for discussion will include the myth and reality of Grub-Street; the gendering of authorship; the relationship between authorship and nation; the economics of authorship; the birth of the literary critic; canon-formation; literary celebrity and scandal.

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'Reading the Contemporary' is a cross-disciplinary module the aim of which is to find out what it means to read the contemporary period through its aesthetic practices. The module will be co-taught by staff from the School of English, the School of Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with seminars alternating between the Canterbury campus and the ICA (London).

The module has three main objectives. First, it will consider what it means, in a theoretical sense, to think about our contemporary moment. Second, it will address key themes and issues in contemporary culture and will consider how they bear on and are shaped by recent aesthetic forms. Third, through the seminars delivered at the ICA, which will arise directly out of the ICA's programme, students will be introduced to examples of current aesthetic practice.

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This module introduces you to a wide range of colonial and postcolonial theoretical discourses. It focuses on the construction of the historical narrative of imperialism, psychology and culture of colonialism, nationalism and liberation struggles, and postcolonial theories of complicity and resistance. The module explores the benefits and problems derived from reading literature and culture by means of a postcolonial and postimperial lens. Through the study of crucial texts and events, both historical and current, the module analyses the birth of imperialist narratives and their complex consequences for the world today.

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This module is designed to introduce postgraduates to high level research in the field of post-45 American literature and culture, spanning the period from the end of World War Two to the late twentieth century. Proceeding in chronological fashion, it will address key issues such as the cultural Cold War, Black Power, feminism and cosmopolitanism through the close analysis of cultural items in their historical moment. These will include texts such as novels by Ralph Ellison and, Thomas Pynchon; essays by Susan Sontag and Joan Didion; cultural criticism by Clement Greenberg and Lionel Trilling; and sociological analysis by C. Wright Mills. In addition, painting and film will be discussed where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to approach and understand aesthetic texts and objects both on their own terms and in relation to broader historical phenomena such as shifting geopolitical configurations, changing race and gender relations, and the rise of neoliberalism. Ultimately they will be in a position to address fundamental questions about the nature and function of "culture" itself in the period. Throughout the module, students will also explore the latest research in the field, reading influential contemporary scholarship and acquainting themselves with salient critical debates concerning methodology, including those over the sociology of culture, the demise of postmodernism as a critical paradigm, and periodization.

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This module explores the affinities, disjunctions, and dialogue between American, British, and Irish literary traditions from 1880 to 1920. The turn of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth gave writers on both sides of the Atlantic an acute sense of epochal drama and self-consciousness: they brooded over ideas of decadence, apocalypse, progress, revolution, and the nature of the zeitgeist; heralded endings, transitions, repetitions, reversals, and beginnings; and explored the ambivalences and confusions provoked by the idea of the 'modern'. We will pay particular attention to how writers conceptualise and represent history and time, and seek to anatomise the varieties of pessimism, nostalgia, and utopian thinking that the turn of the century inspired.

This module focuses on texts by both canonical and non-canonical writers that often fall through the cracks of conventional literary history because they were published in the 'awkward age' and are often considered neither solidly Victorian nor yet programmatically modernist. We will interrogate standard national narratives of literary history (in the case of Britain, the compartmentalisations of the fin de siècle and the Edwardian, and in the case of America, those of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era), as well as the assumption that national literary traditions were distinct and coherent in the period. We will consider how American, British, and Irish writers reckoned with the forces shaping transatlantic intellectual and cultural life, especially post-Darwinian science, imperialism, socialism, feminism, and cosmopolitan ideals of culture. We will also consider how writers made the awkwardness of the age not simply a thematic preoccupation but a complex aesthetic challenge, prompting innovations as well as efforts to sustain the ideal of a literary tradition.

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This module introduces the challenges and pleasures of postmodern poetry and poetics. We will consider a range of poetic texts, and essays on poetry, that between them raise profound questions of nation, agency, language, politics and gender in the post-war period. Starting with Charles Olson’s groundbreaking inquiries into ‘open field poetics’, we will investigate a range of American and British poets for whom the poem has been a way of generating new modes of thought and life. In particular we will explore the ways in which poetry of the period enables us to think through the implications of globalization. We will consider how poetry can escape the constraints of place, and how it can imagine new forms of collective identity.

Among the poets we will consider are: Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Denise Riley, Lyn Hejinian, J. H. Prynne, and Tony Lopez. The work of these writers will be read alongside contemporary philosophy and political theory, and will be considered in relation to other art forms, especially painting. Students on the module will benefit from the activities of the Centre for Modern Poetry, including regular readings, research seminars and the reading groups.

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The module will be based on a study of the following works by Dickens:

Bleak House

Hard Times

Little Dorrit

Charles Dickens: Selected Journalism

A Christmas Carol

These will be studied in relation to:

Specific social, cultural and political issues in early and mid-Victorian England: e.g. class division; privilege and meritocracy; the experience of the metropolis; sanitary reform; industrialisation and work; domestic ideology;

The call by Carlyle and others to writers to engage with the Condition-of-England Question; and the reception of the politicised novel;

The narrative and structural strategies developed by Dickens to address Condition-of-England issues;

The formal and substantive relationships between Dickens’s fiction and his journalism.

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On this module we conduct a broad survey of modern literary and critical theory, but in a revisionist spirit, asking what were the moments that generated certain critical turns, and examining the broad historical impetus of change, such as the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and the revolts of 1968. In the first part of the module we look at developments in the early twentieth century which gave shape to modern literary studies; in the second part of the module we look at developments from the second half of the century to the present day. As well as reading the texts of theory, we aim to understand its historical and institutional contexts, and our overall objective is to understand and analyse some of the recent turns in critical discourse, such as transnationalism, and the turn away from theory to the archive.

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This course will focus on a number of inter-related themes which will be studied through differing types of evidence from written and printed texts to objects and standing buildings. Consequently, certain seminars will take place outside the seminar room, looking at the evidence in situ. Topics will include the medieval topography, civic governance, urban defence, house and household, commercial practices and premises, parish church development, the place of religious houses, pilgrimage and city-crown relations, as a way of examining issues such as space, power, patronage and responses to changing social, political and economic conditions. Students will be encouraged to think comparatively, both nationally and internationally, to assess Canterbury’s place within medieval European society.

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Having arrived from the East in late 1347, a deadly and mysterious epidemic, whose nature is still uncertain, ravaged Europe for four years, killing about 50 per cent of its already weak population. But apart from killing the population, the Black Death left its profound marks on European economy, society, mentality and art. The course aims at studying the causes, spread, impact and consequences of the plague. Since no historical event, or phenomenon, can be studied separately from its context, the Black Death will be examined in a larger context of the fourteenth-century crisis, comprising population pressure, the Great Famine (1315-21), Cattle Plague (1319-21), anti-Jewish violence, violent warfare and social unrest.

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This module explores the supposed renaissance in English devotional writings after the pastoral initiatives of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. Students will consider the validity of historiographical models of religious change in this period, examining the emergence of pastoralia, 'affective piety' and of the so-called ‘vernacular theologies’ of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Among the texts to be explored will be extracts from a number of early fourteenth-century pastoral texts (such as Handlyng Synne and The Northern Homily Cycle), from the late fourteenth century – the Showings of Julian of Norwich, and, moving into the fifteenth century, Nicholas Love’s Mirror, The Boke of Margery Kempe and a range of Wycliffite and other ‘suspect’ writings. The literature of religious belief will in turn be situated against a range of manuscript case studies, critical readings, and theoretical studies.

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This module helps students to develop a familiarity with the discourse of Critical Race Theory, with its origins in the combining of Legal Studies with Critical Theory, and with its application to a range of texts and contexts in North America and the UK.

Students will examine particular instances in recent history in which race has been unsystematically and systemically defined and/or challenged in social and institutional terms. They will analyse particular trends in institutional racial and racialised discourse. And they will apply the concepts and terms of analysis that they learn to the examination of literary and cultural texts that reflect, refract, and challenge such discourse. Embedded in the course will be a running discussion of institutionalised discourses around race, which will be focused on analysis of equality of opportunity in the academy through the work of Ahmed and Kuokkanen.

In the course of this module, then, students will be introduced to a range of writing, art, and performance from several ethnic groups in North America, including African American, Native American, and Chicano/a, and they will be asked to examine the ways in which prevailing ideas of race and the ways those ideas are manifested in and through legal, political, and cultural rhetorics, form and inform, inflect and are inflected by such paradigms as white privilege, intersectionality, biopolitics, equality, borders and border-crossing, resistance/activism, and racism.

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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.

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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.

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

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

Postgraduate resources

The Templeman Library is well stocked with excellent research resources, as are 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.

Besides the Templeman Library, School resources include photocopying, fax and telephone access, support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space equipped with computer terminals and a printer.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. The School also plays a pivotal role in the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, of which all graduates are associate members. The Institute hosts interdisciplinary conferences, colloquia, and other events, and establishes international links for all Kent graduates through its network with other advanced institutes worldwide.

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; guests have included poets Katherine Pierpoint, Tony Lopez, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes, and novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ali Smith, Marina Warner and Will Self.

The University of Kent is now in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Benefits from this affiliation include free membership for incoming students; embedded seminar opportunities at the ICA and a small number of internships for our students. The School of English also runs an interdisciplinary MA programme in the Contemporary which offers students an internship at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. They also edit several periodicals including: Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities; The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 600-1500; The Dickensian; Literature Compass; Oxford Literary Review; Theatre Notebook and Wasafiri.

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.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent), 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.

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.

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.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

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.

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 MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture is the only MA of its kind in the UK, and both the MA and 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 Faculty-based Canterbury 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.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Patricia Debney: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

Creative writing (prose poetry, short fiction); auto/biography; translation and adaptation; collaborative/interdisciplinary work; feminist theory; psychoanalytic theory.

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David Flusfeder: Lecturer in Creative Writing

Twentieth-century American and British fiction (also Borges, Cortázar and Büchner); modernism; and the literature and cinema of the 1960s and early 1970s.

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Nancy Gaffield: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

The border between language and literary studies: stylistics approaches to creative writing; contemporary poetry as practice, including the text both written and performed; the role of the reader as co-producer of meaning; the use of poetic forms. 

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Alex Preston: Lecturer in Creative Writing

The modern novel; the ways that literature has responded to the violence of the 20th century; short stories.

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Amy Sackville: Lecturer in Creative Writing

An interest in the novel as a form and its development since the early 20th century from modern to postmodern, and in the interrelation of language and the world; creative writing; modernism.

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Simon Smith: Reader in Creative Writing

Creative writing; poetry in translation, Latin and French; poetry reviewing; experimental fiction; critical theory; theory of creative writing. 

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Professor Scarlett Thomas: Professor of Creative Writing and Contemporary Fiction

Creative writing; writing and science; mathematics and fiction; the contemporary novel. 

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Dragan Todorovic: Lecturer in Creative Writing

Creative non-fiction; liminal areas of fiction; writing in/for visual, aural and multimedia arts; faction writing.

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Fees

The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Creative Writing - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £14670
Part-time £3250 £7340

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.*

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.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus 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: