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Creative Writing (MA)

Taught by professional writers, this programme is designed for creative writers seeking to develop their talents.

Designed for experienced writers, this one-year full-time course will extend your knowledge and understanding of the practice of creative writing.

Developing your creative writing abilities and ideas beyond your first degree, you will attend workshops, produce a portfolio of creative writing, attend classes in various topics in creative writing and gain experience in teaching creative writing.

A series of complementary courses stress an integrated experience of literary development and pedagogy of creative writing. 

You will master the ability to independently produce literary works of refinement and skill, and to conduct writers’ workshops. You will also develop your knowledge and skills in the writing of one or more literary genre(s), the teaching of creative writing and the processes of editing and revision.

You will be assessed on two portfolios of creative writing and two essays or projects. There are no formal examinations.

Distinctive features

  • Dedicated teaching staff of professional writers;
  • Opportunities for hands-on experience in teaching Creative Writing;
  • Workshops and readings by eminent authors, along with Open Mic nights at a city centre venue, enabling you to share your writing with an audience to enhance your skills and confidence in public presentations;
  • Small Group workshops;

You will have the opportunity to attend a residential writing retreat at Gregynog Hall, a country mansion with a distinguished artistic heritage in mid-Wales.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration1 year

Admissions criteria

1st or 2:1 UK Honours degree, or equivalent.

Applicants are not required to have a degree in a particular subject area; emphasis is placed on the quality of the portfolio of creative writing submitted with the application.

Applicants whose first language is not English

You must obtain a British Council IELTS score of at least 7.0 (with a minimum subscore of 6.5 in each component), or an equivalent English language qualification. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with a minimum subscore of 6.0 in each component) will be considered where you successfully complete the University’s ten-week pre-sessional English course. The extra element may be waived where you can provide sufficient evidence of suitable proficiency in the use of English.

Decisions are made on a continuous basis throughout the year, on the basis of written application and references received.

In addition to the application form and supporting documents you should also provide:

  • Copies of recent creative work (undergraduate work is welcome).
  • Around 3000 words of prose or 10 to 15 poems.  Obviously, the number of pages will vary according to the genre or work you are submitting.  Something you have previously submitted as part of your BA degree is acceptable.

We strongly advise that you have your application finalised by the end of July prior to starting in September.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

The degree programme consists of four modules which are assessed at separate stages of the academic year. Overall, the degree is worth 180 credits. This is split by a portfolio of writing (60 credits),  two essays (60 credits) and a second portfolio (60 credits).

From May to September, you will devote your time to completing your second portfolio of writing, produced exclusively during the course.

You must successfully complete the second portfolio to gain your Master’s degree.

Throughout both semesters you will attend a writer’s workshop, which leads to the first portfolio of written work (approximately 6,000 words, with a critical commentary of 1,000 words). One-to-one sessions with portfolio tutors also run in your second semester.

The Research and Process in Creative Writing module explores the creative process from a range of perspectives: including as a theoretical construct, in the work of established writers, and in relation to the student writer. Assessment is in the form of a critical essay.

On the Teaching Creative Writing module, you will have the chance to sit in on undergraduate classes and to teach a session and to visit local schools and colleges. To complete the module you will successfully pass an essay on teaching creative writing.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Semester one

  • Research and Process in Creative Writing (submitted in January)
  • Portfolio One (to be completed in late March/early April)

Semester two

  • Teaching Creative Writing (submitted in May)
  • Portfolio Two (to be completed by mid-September at the end of the MA programme)
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

Teaching is by a combination of small-group seminars, workshops, tutor led one-to-ones, placements in undergraduate classes and visits to outside schools and colleges and a three-day residential at Gregynog Hall.

You will be expected to read and analyse a range of critical and literary texts, read and assess peer work and develop self-reflective skills.

The learning activities will vary from module to module, but may include writing exercises, critical reading, analysis of craft, the presentation of critical and creative work to others, micro-teaching, etc. You are expected to give focused and constructive feedback in our supportive group workshops.

Additional information

Attending the portfolio one workshop is required. These workshops take place every Monday throughout each semester, between 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

The Visiting Writer programme and Open Mic sessions also take place on Mondays. A schedule of visiting writers is supplied at induction.

The Writers’ Retreat at Gregynog usually takes place for four days in the first two weeks of December.

Run by alumni, Cardiff Review, a literary magazine of contemporary graduate writing, publishing fiction, nonfiction and poetry accepts monthly submissions from current Cardiff University students and alumni. 

How will I be supported?

You will be assigned a personal tutor for the course of your studies. You are encouraged to regularly meet with your tutors to discuss your creative and critical (essay) projects.

In addition, you will have one-to-one supervision sessions with your allocated supervisor for portfolio two in the spring semester at times arranged directly with your supervisor.


Written formative feedback is given weekly in the writer’s workshop, and in portfolio one-to-ones. 

Detailed summative feedback for the autumn and spring semester modules is provided in a collated and detailed review from the module leader and an assigned second marker. Formative feedback for portfolio two will be given via a supervision log, following each one-to-one supervision meeting. 

Detailed summative feedback for Portfolio 2 will include two detailed reports from both markers.

You will have one-to-one supervision sessions with your allocated supervisor for Portfolio 2 in the spring semester.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through submission of two portfolios and two essays over the course of your degree.

The second portfolio, completed between May-September in your second semester, must be successfully completed and passed for you to gain your Master’s degree.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Many of the skills you will gain through studying this course are transferable, especially in the spheres of teaching and the Creative Industry (e.g. editing, publishing and Arts Administration).

Through engagement with your programme of study, you will have the opportunity to practise and develop a number of skills. You will:

  • Develop oral and presentation skills, and the ability to address an audience
  • Become practised at working to weekly deadlines
  • Hone editing skills and think more analytically
  • Learn to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing
  • Take responsibility for your own learning programme and professional development
  • Network informally and formally with writers, publishers and teaching organisations

You will demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Awareness of the writing practice and creative process of published writers, past and present
  • Awareness of the subtleties and craft of specific genres
  • Increased awareness of, and skill in handling, voice, narrative point of view, character, setting and plot
  • Understanding of, and ability to discuss, the key components of creative writing pedagogy and practice

Intellectual (analytic and cognitive) skills

  • Ability to select and organise material purposefully
  • Ability to handle complex ideas with clarity in both essay and creative work
  • Ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of peer work
  • Ability to reflect on own writing and redraft effectively

Subject specific skills

  • Ability to apply high level critical skills of close analysis to published creative and critical work
  • Ability to apply the same analysis to the student’s own creative text
  • For the essays, ability to sustain a critical argument and use a critical vocabulary and terminology
  • For the essay, awareness of the bibliographic conventions of the discipline and their role in communicating information
  • In all work – especially the creative: responsive to the workings of language, and especially to the nuances and subtleties of meaning

Postgraduate study is a gateway to many careers within and beyond academia. Many overseas postgraduates return to lectureships with much enhanced career prospects. Example employers in the UK include Cardiff University, HMRC, Mencap, Poetry Wales Magazine, Teach First, and the Welsh Government, with jobs that include Creative Writing Lecturer, Librarian, Poet, Recruitment Consultant, Teacher, and Writer.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Fees for entry 2020/21 are not yet available.