University of East Anglia Ma Creative Writing
University of East Anglia Ma Creative Writing
MA Creative Writing Prose Fiction
Our students’ success is unparalleled – around 38% go on to publish. While at UEA, however, our focus is very much on exploring students’ creative potential in a highly supportive, and well-resourced environment. Recent visiting professors include Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith, Tim Parks, and Ian Rankin.
Aside from the core workshops, students can choose from a wide range of optional modules, either critical or creative critical in focus, and where you can explore specific forms and genres, such as the short story, the writing of crime/thriller fiction, and the dialogue between theory and practice in fiction.
Please note that the closing date for receipt of complete applications (including all documentation and references) is 1 May 2017. However, the course may be full before the closing date and so candidates are advised to apply as early as possible.The Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) MA at UEA is the longest-running in the UK and has enjoyed unparalleled success in terms of the publications and prizes achieved by its alumni (see News, Alumni and Interview pages). Our continuing success means we are fortunate in being able to attract many writers of great talent and potential.
Our course offers an intensive immersion in the study of the writing of Prose Fiction. Students take core creative modules, but can choose from a wide range of critical courses, and benefit from our proven strengths in modernism and creative-critical studies, amongst others.
Our faculty teach our core courses. At UEA we also maintain close links with our alumni, who regularly come to UEA to give lectures, seminars and masterclasses; recently Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Andrew Miller have spoken to our students. Recent and upcoming visiting professors are Margaret Atwood, James Lasdun, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Steven Poliakoff and Tim Parks; Creative Writing Teaching Fellows also contribute to teaching; UEA alumni James Scuadmore, Richard Beard, John Boyne and Helen Cross are all associated with the programme.
Frequently asked questionsHow is the Prose Fiction MA structured? One year or two? How many terms?
The MA lasts for one year, full-time, and is organized over two semesters of 12 weeks, followed by a dissertation period of 6 weeks. The Autumn semester lasts from September to December, and the Spring semester from January to April. The dissertation period ends in June. The final piece of work is submitted in September at the start of the next academic year. The MA can be taken part-time over two years. Typically you would attend one workshop and one optional module in your first year, the same in your second year, and submit your dissertation at the end of your second year.
How many classes must a student attend?
Students enroll for two modules per semester. One of these – in both semesters – is the compulsory Prose Fiction workshop, which takes place on Tuesday afternoons and lasts for three hours. The other module in each semester is chosen from a range of options available to all Masters students in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, for instance ‘Theory and Practice of Fiction’, ‘Novel History’, The Art of Short Fiction, ‘Poetics, Writing, Language’, ‘Fiction After Modernism’ ‘Ludic Literature’, ‘The Writing of Crime/Thriller Fiction’ etc. Each of these modules requires attendance at a three-hour seminar. Typically they are timetabled for Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Do students also attend lectures?
All MA students are required to attend the Research Methodology series of lectures, which takes place in the latter half of the Spring semester. Most of our Creative Writing tutors give a lecture on their own working methods. We also encourage Creative Writing students to attend the undergraduate lecture series as these can help extend students’ awareness of the wider historical and conceptual context of their own writing.
Will I receive individual tutorials?
You should expect to attend a follow-up tutorial with your class tutor each time your work is discussed in Prose Fiction workshop. In the Summer dissertation period you will then be assigned a supervisor for a series of four individual tutorials to discuss the dissertation that you’ll write independently over the summer vacation.
How is the Prose Fiction workshop organised?
There are currently three workshop groups of approximately 10 students. Each group is assigned a tutor for the Autumn semester, and a different tutor for the Spring semester. Groups are ‘shuffled’ in December, so that students can encounter the widest range of peer responses to their work during the course of the MA. Teaching styles vary, but typically three students each week will have their work discussed by the group. The work in progress (typically 5,000 words) is circulated a week in advance, and annotated copies are returned to the student at the end of the session. The emphasis is always on constructive criticism, and the expectation is that the group will gain as much from the discussion as the individual whose work is being discussed. Students should expect their writing to be workshopped at least six times over the course of the two semesters.
Who are the tutors at UEA?
Our tutors are always published novelists of some reputation. Since the MA’s inception these have included Malcolm Bradbury, Angela Carter, Patricia Duncker, Lavinia Greenlaw, Andrew Motion, Michele Roberts, WG Sebald and Rose Tremain. The Prose Fiction MA is currently taught by Trezza Azzopardi, Amit Chaudhuri, Andrew Cowan, Jean McNeil, Henry Sutton and Giles Foden. In some years Creative Writing Teaching Fellows are invited to teach Prose Fiction workshop when faculty members of staff are on leave. These Fellows are fiction writers with substantial teaching experience and track records of publication; recent Fellows have included James Scuadmore, Richard Beard, John Boyne and Helen Cross.
Can I submit additional work to my tutors?
Including workshops, dissertation tutorials and the double-marking of assignments, a student’s work will be read and commented upon by faculty members around sixteen times over the course of the MA. Given the tutors’ other teaching commitments, it isn’t possible to read additional MA writing.
Can I submit examples of my poetry and creative non-fiction to the workshop or for assessment?
No, our concern as Prose Fiction tutors is with the development of your abilities as a writer of prose fiction, though we would encourage you to circulate such work informally among your fellow students.
Can I attend poetry and scriptwriting classes while doing my MA?
The Creative Writing MA at UEA is organised into five distinct strands – Prose Fiction, Poetry, Scriptwriting, Biography and Creative Non-Fiction, and Crime Fiction – and each strand has its own workshop, which is closed to students from other programmes. There are however a number of optional modules that are practice-based and open to students from other programmes, for instance: ‘Adaptation and Interpretation’, ‘Theory and Practice of Fiction’, ‘The Art of Short Fiction’, etc.
How often is work assessed, and how does this count towards the final degree?
Students are required to submit 5,000 words of original fiction at the end of the Autumn semester, and another 5,000 words at the end of the Spring semester. They must also submit a 5,000 word piece of creative work or an essay (requirements vary) for each of their two optional modules. The marks awarded for these four pieces of work account for 50% of the final grade. The dissertation is another 15,000 words of original fiction and is submitted in September. This accounts for the 40% of the final grade. (The remaining 10% is awarded for the Research and Methodolgy module.) All assessed work is marked and commented upon by two members of Creative Writing faculty, and the mark is agreed between them.
The MA in Creative Writing should be a significant step up from anything you will have done previously, not least because you will be in the company of so many other exceptionally promising writers. As tutors we will look to test your assumptions as well as your abilities and there should be no grounds for complacency. We would expect all our students to want to extend their knowledge and understanding and improve on anything they have written before.
I don’t have a first degree in English Literature or Creative Writing. Would I be suitable for the MA?
Our first consideration is always the quality and potential of the writing sample submitted with your application. We accept students with a wide variety of academic backgrounds – and some with none – though many do tend to have a good first degree in English Literature. Whatever your academic background, however, we would expect you to demonstrate in your personal statement, and subsequently in your interview, that you have read widely and deeply, and have begun to develop a critical vocabulary for discussing your writing (and that of others) and have the sensitivity and awareness to learn effectively and contribute to the learning of others.
Should I have a clear idea of my writing project before beginning the course?
Some students do have a definite idea of their project before joining the course, but many do not. The MA should be viewed as a time of experimentation and play, an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. Too rigid an idea of what you want to achieve might make it difficult for you to adapt your work in the light of feedback.
Who should I approach for references – a former tutor, my current employer, a lifelong friend? I know a published author who can vouch for my writing.
Academic referees are most useful to us as they can give an opinion on your suitability for graduate study. Employers can sometimes also offer useful information about your abilities and attributes. The testimony of a personal friend is rarely helpful. We will make our own assessment of your writing, but it can sometimes be helpful to read the opinion of a tutor, editor or writer who can comment on your ability to develop in response to feedback.
I want to get a general feel for the university, and of the course, before making my application. Can I meet one of the Creative Writing faculty to discuss this?
Because of our teaching and other commitments, we are usually unable to meet potential applicants individually. We do however offer guided campus tours for prospective undergraduate students which postgraduate applicants and enquirers are welcome to attend.
How many students do you accept each year?
We receive a great number of applications for the Prose Fiction MA and aim to interview approximately 90 candidates a year. From these we select around 30 students.
What is the average age of your students, and what sort of backgrounds do they have?
The average age of an MA student is 30, although some are much older, while occasionally we accept students who have progressed straight from their BA. In the past few years we have accepted several practising artists, two former air force pilots, teachers, lawyers, journalists, social workers, full-time parents, a carpenter, a fashion buyer, a police officer, a nurse… Our students arrive from all over the UK, as well as, recently, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, and elsewhere – it is an increasingly international course. A very high standard of written and spoken English is of course expected of all our students.
Will the Creative Writing MA help me find an agent and publisher?
Our commitment is primarily to your writing, and we cannot promise outcomes in terms of publishing deals. The principal aim of the Prose Fiction MA is to help you develop a deeper understanding of the craft and context of producing serious fiction, and by the end of the course we would expect you to have become more adept and more self-aware in your own practice. We do however have excellent links with agents and publishers, many of whom visit the campus to talk to students in the Spring semester. Our annual anthology of student writing is distributed widely. David Higham Associates sponsors a generous bursary, and the Curtis Brown agency awards an annual prize to the best graduating student. Following graduation we also offer the opportunity for students to be paired with a literary agent for a four month mentoring period, which includes feedback on writing and guidance on future directions.
Will I be able to teach undergraduates while completing my Masters degree?
Opportunities to teach undergraduates are limited to PhD students in the second and third years of their doctoral studies. However, opportunities do sometimes arise for MA students to participate in schools-based initiatives, both locally and further afield.
This course is also available on a part time basis.
Students must study the following modules for 140 credits:
CREATIVE WRITING AND RESEARCH SEMINARS
CREATIVE WRITING DISSERTATION
CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: PROSE 1
CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: PROSE 2
Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:
Students must select one module from Semester 1 and one module from Semester 2. Please contact the Course Director if you wish to take another Masters level module not shown below.
ADAPTATION AND INTERPRETATION
CONCEPTUALIZING THE MEDIEVAL AND THE RENAISSANCE
EAST ANGLIAN LITERATURE
FICTION ‘AFTER’ MODERNISM: RE-READING THE 20TH CENTURY
PUBLISHING – A PRACTICAL APPROACH
THE ART OF SHORT FICTION
THE NON FICTION NOVEL
THE POETICS OF PLACE
THE WRITING OF CRIME/THRILLER FICTION
THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FICTION
Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.
- Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 2:1 or equivalent preferred but not essential.
- Special Entry Requirements Sample of work – see below
Students for whom English is a Foreign language
We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:
- IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in each section and 7.0 in writing)
- PTE (Pearson): 68 (minimum 55 in each section and 68 in writing)
Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.
Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests
INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Promising candidates will be invited to one of our interview days, which are scheduled across the academic year. Typically a candidate will be interviewed by two members of the Creative Writing faculty and we aim to inform candidates of the outcome within five working days. Unsuccessful candidates are welcome to re-apply, though not within the same academic year. Successful candidates will either be offered a place for the forthcoming academic year or a place for the following academic year (if it is felt that they need more time to develop as a writer). Once the forthcoming year is ‘full’ candidates will be offered a place on our reserve list with the option of a place for the following academic year if a place does not become available. If you are living overseas, the interview may be undertaken by telephone or preferably by Skype at a mutually convenient time.
Please note that those candidates offered a place on the course will not be able to defer their offer to the next year if they are unable to take up the offer of a place, however they are welcome to reapply the next year.
Special Entry Requirements
Candidates will be expected to submit a portfolio of writing for assessment of between 3000 and 5000 words, which could be part of a novel in progress or a piece or pieces of short fiction.
The School’s annual intake is in September of each year.
If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.
Fees and Funding
Tuition fees for the academic year 2017/18 are:
- UK/EU Students: £7,300
- International Students: £14,800
If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).
We estimate living expenses at £820 per month.
Scholarships and Awards:
There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information relevant to the School of Literature and Creative Writing, please click here.
How to Apply
Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.
You can apply online.
Please note that the closing date for receipt of complete applications (including all documentation and references) is 1 May 2017. However, the course may be full before the closing date and so candidates are advised to apply as early as possible.
To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.
If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:
Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.