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Creative writing master’s degree guide

A creative writing course will enable you to hone your craft. If you're keen to publish your work, use our guide to see if a creative writing master's or another postgraduate degree could set you on the right track.


What is a creative writing master’s degree?

A master’s degree in creative writing will help you take your imaginative writing skills to the next level. Whether you want to write novels, poetry, TV scripts or plays, you have a lot of freedom in this subject to pursue what interests you most.

Courses are designed to support writers who have experience and would like to publish their work. Students on creative writing courses come from all different backgrounds – they either choose:

  • Taught programmes to learn how to perfect their skills, or
  • Research options that combine writing with an in-depth project in a particular area


Why do a master’s degree in creative writing?

Courses will provide you with training for producing written works of art. Depending on where you study, you could be part of a tight-knit group that’s supported by prolific writers and writing experts.

Many courses offer retreats, workshops, showcases, competitions and one-on-one support from professionals. They usually have a focus on industry, meaning you’ll be set up for a career in the field after you graduate.

Alongside developing your creative storytelling ability, you’ll build on your transferable skills such as:

  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Presentation
  • Research
  • Self-reflection
  • Time management
  • Writing and editing


What qualifications can you get?

Qualification options include masters, doctorates, certificates and diplomas in creative writing. Each will have a slightly different focus and style of teaching.

Taught master’s in creative writing

Most creative writing masters are usually Master of Arts (MA). These are taught courses where you improve your technique through teaching, collaboration and experimentation.

Research in art therapy

Research and doctorate degrees are usually Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). They let you undertake extensive research while completing a publication of creative work. You have more independence than on an MA but receive close support from a supervisor.

Certificates and diplomas in creative writing

Postgraduate certificates (PGCert) and postgraduate diplomas (PGDip) are segments of a master’s course, where your studies are similar but shorter. They can be useful if you're looking to develop your skills but not commit to a full MA.


What jobs can you do with a master’s degree in creative writing?

Graduates go into many roles that require storytelling skills, such as:

  • Editor
  • Marketing officer
  • Novelist
  • Playwright
  • Poet
  • Proofreader
  • Publisher
  • Screenwriter
  • Social media executive
  • Teacher
  • Workshop facilitator 

Many students continue their studies to earn a doctorate (PhD) degree and pursue research work.


What are the creative writing master’s degree requirements?

To qualify for a master’s course, you’ll usually need:

  • MA – bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with upper second-class honours (2:1) in any subject, along with strong examples of your creative writing

You may be admitted based on the quality of your writing examples alone.

For other postgraduate courses, you’ll usually need:

  • PGCert/PGDip – same as for a masters
  • MPhil/PHD – same as for a masters, along with a master’s degree (or equivalent) usually in creative writing


What creative writing courses are there?

Examples of creative writing postgraduate degrees available in the UK:

  • Creative Writing MA/PGCert/PGDip
  • Creative Writing MPhil/PhD
  • Creative Writing Poetry MA
  • Creative Writing and Publishing MA
  • Scriptwriting (Stage, Screen and Audio) MA

What do you learn in a creative writing master’s degree?

Areas you could be taught in or choose to focus your research on include:

  • Narrative non-fiction
  • Novel writing
  • Poetry
  • Radio drama
  • Screenwriting
  • Short fiction
  • Stage drama
  • TV drama


How will you be taught and assessed?

On a taught course (MA/PGCert/PGDip), you'll learn through methods like lectures, seminars, guest talks, workshops, one-on-one tutor sessions. Assessment could be through coursework, peer assessments, reflective essays, critical commentaries, blogs, presentations and journals.

If you pursue a research degree (MPhil/PhD), you’ll be guided by a supervisor but receive less support than on a taught course. You’ll be assessed on a large piece of creative writing work as well as an independent research project and oral exam.


How long is a master’s degree in creative writing?

It depends on the course, but usually full-time courses last:

  • MA – one to two years
  • MPhil – one to two years
  • PhD – three to four years
  • PGDip – around 30 weeks or two terms

Part-time courses can be twice as long.


Similar subjects to creative writing

  • Communication
  • Drama
  • English literature
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Philosophy

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