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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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:
EN891 - Fiction 1 (30 credits)
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.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
EN892 - Poetry 1 (30 credits)
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.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
EN893 - Fiction 2 (30 credits)
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.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
EN894 - Poetry 2 (30 credits)
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.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
EN997 - Dissertation: Creative Writing (60 credits)
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.
Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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. Applicants may be called to interview.
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.
General entry requirements
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: Reader in Creative Writing
Creative writing (prose poetry, short fiction); auto/biography; translation and adaptation; collaborative/interdisciplinary work; feminist theory; psychoanalytic theory.Profile
David Flusfeder: Senior 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.Profile
Dr 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.Profile
Dr Alex Preston: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing
The modern novel; the ways that literature has responded to the violence of the 20th century; short stories.Profile
Amy Sackville: Senior 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.Profile
Dr Simon Smith: Reader in Creative Writing
Creative writing; poetry in translation, Latin and French; poetry reviewing; experimental fiction; critical theory; theory of creative writing.Profile
Professor Scarlett Thomas: Professor of Creative Writing and Contemporary Fiction
Creative writing; writing and science; mathematics and fiction; the contemporary novel.Profile
Dragan Todorovic: Lecturer in Creative Writing
Creative non-fiction; liminal areas of fiction; writing in/for visual, aural and multimedia arts; faction writing.Profile
Dorothy Lehane: Lecturer in Creative Writing
Dorothy Lehane is a poet and a Lecturer in Creative Writing. Her PhD research examines questions concerning cultural encounters and embodied phenomenological responses in the practice of disability poetry.Profile
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We hold regular Open Events at our Canterbury and Medway campuses. You will be able to talk to specialist academics and admissions staff, find out about our competitive fees, discuss funding opportunities and tour the campuses.
You can also discuss the programmes we run at our specialist centres in Brussels, Athens, Rome and Paris at the Canterbury Open Events. If you can't attend but would like to find out more you can come for an informal visit, contact our information team or find out more on our website.
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