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Creative Writing

MA / PGDip / PGCert

Department of English and Modern Languages

The Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes is all about growing your writing in a workshop environment. Our simple aim is to get you writing, then to provide insightful, perhaps challenging, but always supportive feedback. The entire programme revolves around this process. All your teachers here are genuine, commercially-published, practising writers; in every session you’ll actually write and get reactions. We believe that this makes our course unique.

From the opening evening of your course – where previous speakers have included international bestseller Philip Pullman (pictured above), Booker winner Howard Jacobson and Pulitzer/Orange winner Marilynne Robinson – through to the showcase for agents and publishers following your graduation, our aim is to make your time at Brookes a decisive stage in the development of your writing.

The university is internationally recognised as a leader in Creative Writing

Hilary Mantel

Getting you published

Our graduates’ recent achievements mean that agents and publishers really listen when they hear you’re with us. Among many other stand-out successes, in 2018 Anne Youngson's Meet Me at the Museum has met with international success, and Linni Ingemundsen launched the first novel of her two-book deal with Usborne’s young adult list. In 2016 Kit de Waal (pictured with Philip Pullman at our 2013 showcase) published My Name is Leon, which was immediately taken up for adaptation by BBC radio, TV and film; and in 2015 Catherine Chanter’s The Well appeared to international acclaim and was chosen by the Richard & Judy/WH Smith Book Club.

All Major Projects gaining a Distinction are looked at by top agents Felicity Bryan Associates (who visit us each year), with a view to representation, and by legendary London publisher Philip Gwyn Jones, who has commissioned some of the biggest names in fiction. People like this are the gatekeepers of literary success; our aim is to get them to open those gates for you.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: PGCert: 4 months, PGDip: 8 months, MA: 12 months
  • Part time: PGCert: 2 semesters, PGDip: 3 semesters, MA: 24 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Our uniquely hands-on approach, led by our core staff of practicing and publishing creative writers, is supported by a fantastic group of distinguished Creative Writing Fellows and guest speakers, including: Philip Pullman (author of internationally best selling trilogy, His Dark Materials), Sarah Dunant (internationally bestselling author of Sacred Hearts), Patience Agbabi (star performance poet and author of Bloodshot Monochrome and Telling Tales), Nick Cohen (top Observer journalist and bestselling author), John L Williams (novelist, boss of the Laugharne Festival and literary talent spotter extraordinaire) and Steven Hall (author of the internationally-acclaimed The Raw Shark Texts).
  • Unlike at some institutions, these Creative Writing Fellows don’t merely pop in for a chat. Between them, they lead a major, 2.5 hour workshop session every other week of each semester, on average. You will actually be taught by them all apart from Philip Pullman, whose Q&A session gives you the unique chance to question him up close and personal.
  • Oxford is the world’s most literary city. You can spend days writing in the very place used as Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films, sit in the very garden where His Dark Materials ends so heartbreakingly, or discover the haunts of Evelyn Waugh, C.S Lewis , and J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Oxford has a vibrant literary community. There are almost countless competitions, literary open-mike sessions and suchlike, never mind the annual Oxford Literary Festival, one of the biggest in the calendar.
  • All students attaining a Distinction for their MA are guaranteed to have their work read by a top London publisher and a great London agency, both of whom will visit during the course.
  • Former students include Kit de Waal 'My Name is Leon'  Catherine Chanter 'The Well' and Anne Youngson whose book 'Meet me at the Museum' has been shortlisted for 2018 Costa First Novel Award.
The MA in Creative Writing involves taking the core compulsory module ‘Creativity, Writing and Textuality: Concepts and Practice’, two elective modules from those available (see module descriptions below), and completing a major project of writing in any genre.

For the PGDip, three modules are taken (‘Creativity, Writing and Textuality, Concepts and Practice’) and two electives from those available).

For the PGCert, two modules are taken (‘Creativity, Writing and Textuality, Concepts and Practice’) and one elective from those available.

The MA / PGDip / PGCert in Creative Writing will enable you to:
  • develop existing creative writing skills, in a range of genres, towards publishable standard
  • undertake a substantial creative writing project
  • practice creative writing and reading skills with a range of writing practitioners, including peers and published writers
  • acquire a practical understanding of the techniques of writing, editing and working within the parameters of the writing and publishing industry
  • engage with theoretical approaches to creativity and creative practice
  • demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of literary conventions, and historical and contemporary contexts for writing
  • explore your own position as a writer within a specific locale and history.
We offer the following modules: 

Creativity, Writing and Textuality: Concepts and Practice

This is the core module taken by all students at the beginning of the MA. Through workshops led by our staff and our Creative Writing Fellows, it is designed to take you out of your comfort zone and get you writing in ways you may never have considered before.  

This module is all about the techniques – the “tricks of the trade”, in a completely positive sense - which highly successful authors use in order to achieve what they set out to do. Our work will be driven by the desire to locate these writerly techniques, to describe them and - most importantly of all – to enact them in your own writing.

This course will consider contemporary poetry in terms of its form and functions. While the emphasis of the sessions will be on your own writing, we will also study the poetry of both contemporary and traditional writers from Britain and further afield, who work or have worked in a variety of forms and using a range of techniques, as a basis for your own exploration.

Writing Lives
This module is for anyone who has ever considered writing about their own life, or about the lives of others. We will look at autobiography, biography, hagiography, diaries, fictional recreations of real lives, and fictions taking in individual or family lives. Using the set texts as a basis, each session will consist of a short, tutor-led discussion, focusing on the technical issues, followed by intensive attempts to apply these techniques to your own writing.

Writing Voice
This module explores methods for and modes of writing creatively in relation to voice.  Topics will include the ways writers create distinctive voices to control and modulate tone and register in a text, the interplay of multiple voices (author, narrators, characters), and inter-related notions of identity, authenticity, social construction, style and aesthetics.  We will discuss and analyse works by mainly contemporary authors in a range of forms (poems, novels, short stories) to inspire exploration of different voices in our own writing.

Independent Study
This module offers students the opportunity to design a course of study to suit their own research interests and concerns. They organise and carry out a work schedule set by themselves and determine a set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria in collaboration with the module leader and a supervisor.

Creativity, Writing and Textuality: Major Project
This module enables students to complete an extended piece of their own creative writing in any genre or genres, accompanied by a self-reflective critical commentary. The ‘major project’ and critical commentary together form the equivalent of a master’s-level dissertation. The development and writing of these elements will be conducted through sessions led by staff and Creative Writing Fellows; students will be enabled to choose a CWF from whom to get feedback. 

Please note: as all our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of modules may vary from those shown here.

Teaching and learning

A variety of teaching and learning methods are used across the course and all modules use more than one method. Methods include seminars, oral presentations and readings, workshops, visiting speakers, individual supervision, autonomous research and writing.

All modules are assessed by coursework (portfolios or pieces of work with a critical commentary) of about 6,000 words.

The Major Project of writing in any genre (with critical commentary) would normally be within the range of 15,000 to 20,000 words.

Specialist facilities

Our virtual learning portals provide core materials relating to learning and assessment online. These include lecture schedules, module guides, supporting materials, guidelines and criteria for coursework along with notes on essay writing and report presentation.

Feedback from External Examiner

For student submissions on module P67106 Writing Voice.

'The high quality of these submissions seems to me to be not simply 'good luck' in recruitment, but , as the particular strengths were directly related to the key technical skills that the module appears to be reinforcing week by week (as highlighted in the module guide). Even the weaker pieces showed a clear sense of structure, for example, and indeed, strong voices. The module teaching team is clearly doing something very right here.

I was seriously impressed by the extremely precise feedback given to the student work by both markers. The comments made clear, accurate contsructive and very specific suggestions on how to improve the submission and how to strengthen their writing more generally. The feedback, that is, not only emphasised what was weak or strong in their submissions but also why they are so. I am pleased to see such high standards being required of students coupled with clear guidance on how they can get there.'

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £5,670 (Masters) £5,100 (Diploma) £2,835 (Certificate) 2020/21: £6,950 (Masters) £5,950 (Diploma) £3,475 (Certificate)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £2,890 2020/21: £3,475

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,730 2020/21: £14,200

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a good honours degree (2.1 or above), or equivalent, in an appropriate discipline and must be able to demonstrate ability in creative writing. 

A portfolio of recent creative work must be submitted consisting of 2000 words prose, or 5 poems, or a proportionate mixture of the two. Applicants may also be interviewed. If it is some time since you completed your undergraduate education and you do not meet the standard requirement, it may be possible to consider your application based on evidence of other relevant personal and professional experience, the support of your referees and your portfolio of written work.

English language requirements

 Applicants whose first language is not English should hold one of the following qualifications:

  • British Council (IELTS) Test: band 7 overall with at least 6 in each band
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency: grade C or above
  • NEAB University Test in English for Speakers of Other Languages: Pass
  • JMB Test in English for Overseas Students: grade 1, 2 or 3.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

All applications for the MA in Creative Writing must be accompanied by a portfolio of recent creative work must be submitted consisting of 2000 words prose, or 5 poems, or a proportionate mixture of the two. Applicants may also be interviewed. 

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

During the course we help students foster links with publishers through a number of workshops run by publishing houses.

The Annual Creative Writing Showcase is a key event in the calendar where students are selected to present their work to publishers and agents. In 2012, Helen Eve was offered a two-book deal by Macmillan as a result of the event.

See our other publishing successes


Many of our alumni have gone on to win literary prizes and have their own writing published. 

A significant number of successful MA students continue into further research and careers in academia, either at Oxford Brookes or at other institutions.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Throughout your time at Oxford Brookes you will receive support from our faculty staff, both academically and personally. Our student support coordinators are there to support you in all aspects of your academic career, from module choices to any personal issues you may experience.

Your academic adviser will be allocated when you start, and will provide support throughout your studies. We have a dedicated English and Creative Writing librarian who will help you access relevant materials and guide you through the huge range of information available. 

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

Commitment to research-led teaching means that all our teaching staff are recognised experts in their field. Research underpins our teaching and learning so that  you will be introduced to the very latest academic thinking. 

Our teaching staff contribute to the canon of published work in their specialist fields influencing debate and discussion, and value the opportunity to share their ideas with students through their teaching.

The department has particular strengths in:

  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Ecology and Ecocriticism
  • Medicine, Science, Technology and Literature
  • Comparative Literature
  • Communities
  • Postcolonialism
  • Modernism
  • Early Modern Drama
  • The Contemporary Novel
  • Textual Scholarship and Editorial Practice
  • Theatre practice and Performance-as-Research
  • Creative Writing
  • Cognitive Poetics
  • Witchcraft and the Supernatural
  • Life Writing
  • Utopia and Utopianism

We are home to the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, which creates a space for discussion and research, as well as promoting connections between poets, academics, and readers of poetry in the local community. It also sponsors readings by poets, such as Simon Armitage, and a regular seminar series.  

The department also has particular strengths in 20th-century fiction, modernist culture, gender studies, Romanticism and the environment, Renaissance writing including drama and performance history, 19th-century fiction, Irish and American writing and culture, and post-colonial writing.

Some recent research highlights include:

Dr Eric White was recently awarded a Vacation Visiting Fellowship at the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) in the University of Oxford. The focus of his research programme at the RAI was The Transatlantic Avant-Garde: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism, 1912-1932 which culminated in the production of his first monograph. Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2013. Eric  also focused on ways to develop American and transatlantic modernist studies across institutions in Oxford.

Dr James Hawes, Reader in Creative Writing, is the author of six novels with Jonathan Cape including a Sunday Times bestseller and two novels adapted to the screen starring Joseph Fiennes and Michael Sheen respectively. He is currently working closely with the king of UK adaptation, Andrew Davies, on a screen version of Speak for England. His latest publication entitled  'Englanders and Huns: How Five Decades of Enmity LED to the First World War' came out in 2014.

Research areas and clusters

Research supervision is offered in the following areas:

  • English 20th-century poetry – particularly Eliot and Heaney
  • Irish writing
  • Modernist drama
  • Witchcraft in the 19th century
  • John Clare and eco-criticism
  • Sir Walter Scott
  • Ben Jonson
  • Shakespeare
  • Theatre and science
  • Utopia
  • Contemporary literature
  • Thomas More
  • Modernist poetry
  • Stylistics
  • Creativity
  • Franz Kafka
  • Victorian religion
  • Literature and war.

Course downloads

  • MA Creative Writing
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