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Creative Writing MA

UCAS code
Year of entry
Course length
1 year full time
2 years part time
English »
Location of study
Central London »

This MA allows you to develop your work as a creative writer, going beyond the merely personal and writing with an engaged sense of society and an understanding of the location of your work in relation to contemporary practices.  You will take one of three distinct pathways: Fiction Writing, Poetry Writing, and Poetic Practice.  In addition, all students take modules in Supplementary Discourses and Reading as a Writer, and all students undertake a Practical Project and a Dissertation.


This course encourages you to develop and reflect on your work as a creative writer. While you learn to stretch your imagination, you'll be motivated to develop your technical and analytic skills, and in the process, sharpen your self-criticism.


If you choose the poetry strand, you'll benefit from the strong focus on individual creative pactice fostered in weeklly workshops, critical classes and tutorials. As with all the Creative Writing pathways, poetry is taught by writers practising at the highest level and the emphasis is on your own needs as a developing poetry student.

Poetic practice:

Poetic Practice is a unique, practice-based pathway that draws upon the Department of English's expertise in contemporary experimental poetry and writing within an expanded field of creative practice.

All three courses are designed to help you develop your work as a creative writer, against the backdrop of literature through history. Choosing the Fiction or the Poetry strand, you'll make the most of your existing experience, stretch your imagination, develop analytic skills, and in the process sharpen how you think about your own work. The Poetic practice pathway draws upon our expertise in contemporary experimental poetry across a wide range of ideas and practices.  You will learn how to develop your practice and how to situate your practice in relation to recent and contemporary trends in experimental poetry, including visual poetics, sound and conceptual writing.

  • We teach all three Creative Writing pathways in Bedford Square, our creative campus in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury, close to the University of London's facilities. We've been running the Fiction and Poetry pathways for nearly a decade, while Poetic Practice has been running since 2003.  We have built a strong reputation in all three areas.
  • Join the ranks of our creative writers who go on to recognition and profile including novelists Sarah Perry, Jenni Fagan, Barney Norris, Liza Klaussmann, Saskia Sarginson, Diriye Osman, Anna Whitwham, Cecilia Ekback and poets Declan Ryan, Liz Berry, Sarah Westcott, Marianne Burton, Sam Riviera, Lydia McPherson, Sophie Robinson, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Prue Chamberlain, Nish Ramayya and many more.
  • Work with practicing authors and poets. Jo Shapcott won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry; Lavinia Greenlaw is a winner of  T.S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes, and the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger, Susanna Jones won the John Lewellyn Rhys and Betty Trask awards, Nikita Lalwani won the Desmond Elliot award, was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker prize, Karen Woolf won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2015); Robert Hampson was long-listed for the Forward Prize in 2013; and Redell Olsen was Judith E. Wilson Fellow in Poetry at Cambridge (2013-14)
  • Recent guest speakers and visiting professors have included Marlon James, Charlotte Mendelson, Dalijit Nagra, Helen Dunmore, Adam Foulds and a range of literary agents and editors

Core modules

Supplementary Discourses

This is a weekly one-and-a-half hour seminar involving critical and theoretical reading designed to supply you with appropriate critical and theoretical discourse for discussing your own work with others.

Reading as a Writer

The principle aim of the course is to enable you to read as a writer in order to inform your literary composition. You will read a selection of contemporary fiction and poetry from the persepctice of the writer.

Creative Writing Project

You will undertake a major extended fiction, non-fiction, poetry or poetic practice project under supervision.


The principle aim of the Dissertation on Practice is to enable you to demonstrate your ability to reflect critically and theoretically on your own practice and to locate your practice in relation to contemporary writing practices.


Fiction Workshop

This module is designed to develop your understanding of, and ability in, fiction writing beyond first-degree level. You will attend a weekly three-hour workshop, in which work you produce will be discussed.

Poetry Workshop

You will develop your understanding of, and ability in, contemporary poetry beyond first-degree level. You will be expected to embark on an advanced programme of writing and critical thinking through creative exploration and dialogue with the tutor and other members of the group.

Poetic Practice

You will develop, and reflect on, your own practice in the context of an understanding of contemporary experimental practice in poetry from the UK and North America, and consider how contemporary poetry and poetics intersect with such fields as conceptual art writing, sound art, live art, digital poetics, book arts, installed texts and writing in relation to site.

At the beginning of the Spring term fiction writers will submit a 5,000-word piece of work and poets on both the Poetry and the Poetic Practice pathways a portfolio of 12 pages. In addition, they will submit a 3,000-4,000 word essay arising from their work in Supplementary Discourses. They will be given feedback and then, at the beginning of the Summer term, resubmit improved versions together with a second piece of creative work of the same length, and a second essay in relation to Reading as a Writer. Part-time students hand in their work for Supplementary Discourses and Reading as a Writer at the end of the Spring and Summer terms respectively; they will submit their portfolios for the pathway at the start of September.

At the end of the course fiction students will submit a 15,000 word piece of work and poets a portfolio of 24 pages. In addition, students will write a dissertation of 10-12,000 words, relating to their creative work and to their wider literary interests, to be submitted with the portfolio.  Part-time students will make these final submissions at the end of their second year.

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1); or equivalent in single or combined honours English.  Applicants with degrees in other subjects or with relevant publications are also encouraged to apply.  Past students have come from a range of first-degree backgrounds.

You will be required to submit an example(s) of your writing; either a piece of fiction or non-fiction prose of up to 5,000 words in length or at least 12 pages of poetry; You will also be required to submit 1,000 words of critical writing in support of your application.  Undergraduate essays and reviews are acceptable;
Suitable applicants will be invited for an interview

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 7.0 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5, for non-native English speaking applicants.

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor your study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

A significant number of our Creative Writing students have become published authors or found work in publishing and allied professions. Along with this, we have has an impressive record for placing graduates in academic jobs; recently they've secured positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Leeds, Sussex and UEA, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the National University of Ireland.

This course can also give you an distinctive, creative edge in careers such as publishing, teaching, writing and journalism, administration and marketing.  Recent graduates have taken up jobs at the BBC and in art therapy.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £8,500

International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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