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Creative Writing

Application options include:

Course Overview

The MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck is taught by one of the most diverse and vibrant departments in London. For nearly 20 years we have been enabling dynamic groups of students to improve their creative work and develop as writers. We have a growing list of published and prizewinning authors whose work started life in our seminars.

If you have been writing creatively for a while and feel the need for professional support and feedback and the guidance of published authors and a cohort of like-minded people, then this course is for you.

The course is taught through small seminars and one-to-one tuition. We offer modules in fiction writing - both short story and novel - and work with writers across many prose genres - both fiction and non-fiction. We also offer options in playwriting, poetry, screenwriting and creative non-fiction, and practical opportunities to learn about publishing, producing and editing creative work. 

Entry to the course is based on the submission of a portfolio of creative work, and candidates whose work shows promise will be invited for interview.

Read our blog to keep up to date with our research activities.

Discover the career opportunities available by taking Creative Writing (MA).

Key information and modules

Creative writing ma: 1 year full-time, on campus, starting october 2024.

Central London

Creative Writing MA: 2 years part-time, on campus, starting October 2024

Creative writing: january start ma: 2 years part-time, on campus, starting january 2025, pathways for creative writing (ma).

From 2023-24, we are changing the way we offer our programmes. You can now select the course route that is most suited to your skill set and interests. Apply for this course or select one of our pathways below.

  • Creative Writing and Contemporary Studies (MA)

Find another course:

  • Birkbeck was ranked 2nd in the UK for its English Language and Literature research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
  • In particular, this environment is fostered by close links between the MA and the Centre for Conte mporary Literature at Birkbeck, which runs a wide variety of talks and conferences in this field. In addition to working with the established and award-winning writers who teach the degree, you will have contact with industry professionals, such as publishers and literary agents, who offer a series of platform discussions in the summer term.
  • The Mechanics' Institute Review, MIROnline , is a forum for the most exciting new writing in short fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction selected from students on this course and beyond.
  • Birkbeck is located in the heart of literary London, in Bloomsbury, WC1. You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery , the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space .
  • We have a range of scholarships available to enable talented students on low incomes to study with us, such as the Sophie Warne Fellowship . Once you have secured a place on the course you will be invited to apply for these awards. We offer a number of bursaries for postgraduate students .

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

Entry Requirements

A second-class honours degree (2:2 or above, though this requirement may be waived if you can demonstrate exceptional talent), a personal statement (to be submitted with your application form) and a portfolio of prose writing of no more than 3000 words.

Your portfolio should be a section of a novel with a synopsis, a couple of short stories or a combination of the two. Please note that poetry, children’s fiction, journalism, screen- or playwriting are not appropriate submissions for this MA. Students are selected on the basis of their portfolio and statement, an interview (selected candidates only) and their degree.

Portfolio guidelines:

  • Submit application.
  • Wait up to 48 hours.
  • Submit writing portfolio (Word or PDF) by logging into your MyBirkbeck profile, then going to the ‘Manage my application’ link and attaching the document.

Applications are reviewed on their individual merits, and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

Apply now  to secure your place. The earlier you apply, the sooner your application can be considered and you can enrol. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement,  we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes  to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our  English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country .

Visa and funding requirements

If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

  • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
  • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

For full information, read our visa information for international students page .

Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant visa and funding requirements by country .

Please note students receiving US Federal Aid are only able to apply for in-person, on-campus programmes which will have no elements of online study.

Credits and accredited prior learning (APL)

If you have studied at university, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution.

Creative Writing MA: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2024-25

Academic year 2024–25, starting october 2024.

Part-time home students: £5,400 per year Full-time home students: £10,800 per year Part-time international students : £9,915 per year Full-time international students: £19,830 per year

Creative Writing: January start MA: 2 years part-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2024-25

Academic year 2024–25, starting january 2025.

Part-time home students: £5,400 per year Part-time international students : £9,915 per year

Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their course. Tuition fees for students continuing on their course in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy .

If you’ve studied at Birkbeck before and successfully completed an award with us, take advantage of our Lifelong Learning Guarantee to gain a discount on the tuition fee of this course.

Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

International scholarships

We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship .

At Birkbeck, most of our courses are taught in the evening and all of our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience.

Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

Methods of teaching on this course

Teaching is seminar-based. Each session is generally two hours, and there are further regular one-to-one tutorials throughout the year.

Key teaching staff on this course

Staff who may teach on this MA include successful, published authors and practitioners such as:

  • David Eldridge
  • Richard Hamblyn
  • Jonathan Kemp
  • Luke Williams

Teaching hours

Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.

Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

Indicative class size

Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

Independent learning

On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

Study skills and additional support

Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

  • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
  • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
  • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

Methods of assessment on this course

Four short creative pieces with critical essays (67%). A dissertation (15,000 words) in one of the following genres: a novella, novel or collection of short stories, with a preface of 3000 words (33%).

Careers and employability

Graduates can pursue career paths in editing, teaching and writing professionally. Possible professions include:

  • creative writer
  • magazine or newspaper journalist
  • editorial assistant
  • academic librarian
  • English as a second language (ESOL) teacher
  • information officer.

Birkbeck Creative Writing graduates include:

  • Niki Aguirre
  • Sarah Alexander
  • Laura Allsop
  • Iphgenia Baal
  • Phoebe Blatton
  • Mary Lynn Bracht
  • Nicole Burstein
  • Tray Butler
  • Melissa De Villiers
  • Liz Fremantle
  • AJ Grainger
  • Jules Grant
  • Emma Henderson
  • Sally Hinchcliffe
  • Heidi James
  • Keith Jarrett
  • Olya Knezevic
  • Matthew Loukes
  • Fiona Melrose
  • Suzanne O'Sullivan
  • Victoria Richards
  • Nadim Safdar
  • Karin Salvalaggio
  • David Savill
  • Stefanie Seddon
  • Luke Tredget.

We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification .

When to apply

You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

Help and advice with your application

Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.

Apply for your course

Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section .

Course structure

Course structure listing, course structure and modules for creative writing ma: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time, on campus, starting october 2024.

You must complete modules worth a total of 180 credits, consisting of:

  • two compulsory modules (30 credits each)
  • two option modules (30 credits each)
  • a 15,000-word dissertation (60 credits).

Compulsory modules

  • Creative Non-Fiction
  • Writing and Reading Seminar

Option modules

  • Contemporary Writing 2: Genre
  • Introduction to Playwriting
  • Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Poetry Workshop
  • Writing The Self
  • Writing Workshop

MA Creative Writing Dissertation

  • Dissertation MA Creative Writing

Course structure and modules for Creative Writing: January start MA: 2 years part-time, on campus, starting January 2025

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COMMENTS

  1. Creative Writing

    The MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck is taught by one of the most diverse and vibrant departments in London. For nearly 20 years we have been enabling dynamic groups of students to improve their creative work and develop as writers. We have a growing list of published and prizewinning authors whose work started life in our seminars.