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Creative writing for language learners (and teachers)

Creative writing normally refers to the production of texts which have an aesthetic rather than a purely informative, instrumental or pragmatic purpose.

Creative writing for language learners (and teachers) - writing article - guest writers

Most often, such texts take the form of poems or stories, though they are not confined to these genres. (Letters, journal entries, blogs, essays, travelogues, etc. can also be more or less creative.) In fact, the line between creative writing (CW) and expository writing (ER) is not carved in stone. In general, however CW texts draw more heavily on intuition, close observation, imagination, and personal memories than ER texts.  

One of the chief distinguishing characteristics of CW texts is a playful engagement with language, stretching and testing its rules to the limit in a guilt-free atmosphere, where risk is encouraged. Such writing combines cognitive with affective modes of thinking. As the poet, R.S. Thomas once wrote, ‘Poetry is that which arrives at the intellect by way of the heart.’ The playful element in CW should not, however be confused with a lax and unregulated use of language. On the contrary, CW requires a willing submission on the part of the writer to the ‘rules’ of the sub-genre being undertaken. If you want to write a Limerick, then you have to follow the rules governing limericks. If not, what you produce will be something other than a limerick: obvious, perhaps, but important too. The interesting thing is that the very constraints which the rules impose seem to foster rather than restrict the creativity of the writer. This apparent paradox is explained partly by the deeper processing of thought and language which the rules require.

What are the benefits of CW for learners?

  • CW aids language development at all levels: grammar, vocabulary, phonology and discourse. It requires learners to manipulate the language in interesting and demanding ways in attempting to express uniquely personal meanings. In doing so, they necessarily engage with the language at a deeper level of processing than with most expository texts. (Craik and Lockhart 1972) The gains in grammatical accuracy and range, in the appropriacy and originality of lexical choice, in sensitivity to rhyme, rhythm, stress and intonation, and in the way texts hang together are significant.
  • As mentioned above, a key characteristic of CW is a willingness to play with the language. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the role of play in language acquisition. (Carter 2004, Cook 2000, Crystal 1998) In some ways, the tsunami of the Communicative Approach has done a disservice to language teaching  by its insistence on the purely communicative functions of language. Proponents of ‘play’ point out, rightly, that in L1 acquisition, much of the language encountered by and used by children is in the form of rhythmical chants and rhymes, word games, jokes and the like. Furthermore, such playfulness survives into adulthood, so that many social encounters are characterized by language play (punning, spontaneous jokes, ‘funny voices’, metathesis, and a discourse which is shaped by quasi-poetic repetition (Tannen 1989)). These are precisely the kinds of things L2 learners are encouraged to do in CW activities. This playful element encourages them to play creatively with the language, and in so doing, to take the risks without which learning cannot take place in any profound sense.  As Crystal (1998) states, ‘Reading and writing do not have to be a prison house. Release is possible. And maybe language play can provide the key.’
  • Much of the teaching we do tends to focus on the left side of the brain, where our logical faculties are said to reside. CW puts the emphasis on the right side of the brain, with a focus on feelings, physical sensations, intuition and musicality. This is a healthy restoration of the balance between logical and intuitive faculties. It also affords scope for learners whose hemisphere dominance or learning-style preferences may not be intellectual or left brain dominant, and who, in the normal process of teaching are therefore at a disadvantage.
  • Perhaps most notable is the dramatic increase in self-confidence and self-esteem which CW tends to develop among learners. Learners also tend to discover things for themselves about the language… and about themselves too, thus promoting personal as well as linguistic growth. Inevitably, these gains are reflected in a corresponding growth in positive motivation. Among the conditions for promoting motivation, Dornyei (2001: 138-144) cites:  
  • “5. Create a pleasant and supportive atmosphere.
  •  6. Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
  • 13. Increase the students’ expectation of success in particular tasks and in learning in general.
  • 17. Make learning more stimulating and enjoyable by breaking the monotony of classroom events.
  • 18. Make learning stimulating and enjoyable by increasing the attractiveness of tasks.
  • 19. Make learning stimulating and enjoyable for learners by enlisting them as active task participants.
  • 20. Present and administer tasks in a motivating way.
  • 23. Provide students with regular experiences of success.
  • 24. Build your learners’ confidence by providing regular encouragement.
  • 28. Increase student motivation by promoting cooperation among the learners.
  • 29. Increase student motivation by actively promoting learner autonomy.
  • 33. Increase learner satisfaction.
  • 34. Offer rewards in a motivational manner.”   
  • All these conditions are met in a well-run CW class. The exponential increase in motivation is certainly supported by my own experience in teaching CW. Learners suddenly realize that they can write something in a foreign language that has never been written by anyone else before, and which others find interesting to read. (Hence the importance of ‘publishing’ students’ work in some form.)  And they experience not only a pride in their own products but also a joy in the ‘flow’ of the process. (Czsikszentmihaly 1997).  
  • Finally, CW feeds into more creative reading. It is as if, by getting inside the process of creating the texts, learners come to understand intuitively how such texts function, and this makes similar texts easier to read.  Likewise, the development of aesthetic reading skills ( Kramsch  1993, Rosenblatt 1978), provides the learner with a better understanding of textual construction, and this feeds into their writing.

And teachers? I argued in the first article that teachers, as well as learners, should engage with extensive reading.  In the same spirit, I would argue that there are significant benefits to teachers if they participate in CW.

  • There is little point in exhorting learners to engage in CW unless we do so too.  The power of the teacher as model, and as co-writer is inestimable.
  • CW is one way of keeping teachers’ English fresh and vibrant.  For much of our professional lives we are in thrall to the controlled language of textbook English and the repeated low level error-laden English of our students.  As teachers of language, we surely have a responsibility to keep our primary resource alive and well.
  • CW seems to have an effect on the writer’s level of energy in general.  This tends to make teachers who use CW more interesting to be around, and this inevitably impacts on their relationships with students.
  • The experimental stance with regard to writing in general appears to fee back into the teaching of writing.  Teachers of CW tend also to be better teachers of writing in general                

My evidence for these assertions is largely anecdotal, backed by a survey of writing teachers I conducted in 2006.  One of the interesting facts to emerge was a widespread belief among teachers of writing that CW had a positive effect on students’ writing of Expository texts and helped them develop that much- desired but rarely-delivered ‘authentic voice’. Space does not allow me to expand on these findings, nor on some of the possible activities teachers might try.  I will attempt to make good these omissions in some of my blogs during the month of December. I will also make reference there to ways in which CW intersects with some of our major current concerns. Meantime, anyone interested could sample some of the books from the list below: Fry (2007), Koch (1990), Matthews (1994), Spiro (2004, 2007), Whitworth (2001) and Wright and Hill (2009)

  • Carter, Ronald.  (2004)  Language and creativity: the art of common talk.  London: Routledge.
  • Cszikszentmihalyi. M. ( 1997) Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.  New York: Harper Perennial
  • Cook, Guy (2000)  Language Play: Language Learning.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Craik, F.I.M  and R.S Lockhart   (1972)  ‘Levels of processing: a framework for memory research’  Journal of  Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour.  11.  671-685
  • Crystal, David (1998) Language Play. London: Penguin
  • Dornyei, Zoltan (2001)  Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fry, Stephen (2007)  The Ode Less Travelled.  London: Arrow Books.
  • Koch, Kenneth. (1990)  Rose, where did you get that red?  New York: Vintage Books.
  • Kramsch, Claire (1993)  Context and Culture in Language Teaching.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Matthews, Paul (1994)  Sing Me the Creation.  Stroud: Hawthorne Press.
  • Rosenblatt, Louise  (1978)  The Reader, the Text, the Poem. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • Spiro, Jane (2004)  Creative Poetry Writing.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Spiro, Jane (2007)  Storybuilding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Tannen, Deborah. (1989)  Talking Voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Whitworth, John.  (2001)  Writing Poetry.  London: A and C Black.
  • Wright, Andrew and David S.Hill.  (2009) Writing Stories.  Innsbruck: Helbling

By Alan Maley

Please note Alan's now finished writing on the site and will not be able to reply personally to your comments.

CW- not an easy task

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Creative writing for Learners and Teachers

Hello Alan Sir,

I am a PGT English serving in Andaman &Nicobar Islands,India.Ur article very educative &informative.I regrett why i didnot read this article previously.Its really a boon for my teaching profession.One point from ur article which will never erase from my memory is-'Teaching tends to focus on left side of the brain & creative writing puts emphasis on the right side of the brain'.

Thank for Article

Excellent post

What a brilliant article both for teachers & learners!!! It's quite useful and informative(I've never heard of logical & intuitive faculties of the brain)

I totally agree with you:CW provides development at all levels:grammar,vocabulary,etc.And it really increases self-confidence in language learning.

Ilike the idea of  'motivating students in CW'.You have given 13 useful steps,and undoubtedly, if teachers follow you they will have a well-run CW class.

And reading your article I've found the states which I partly disagree with. To my mind creative writing refers to the production of texts which have an informative,pragmatic as well as aesthetic purpose.For example, blogs, essays can also be informative(as your blog is).

But you've done a good job.Your clear examples from your own experience and suggested literature for readers are quite remarkable. You have  perfectly described the benefits of CW.But don't you think paying more attention to the CW can make students GET BORED? And how can we know if CW is motivating for them?

With kind regards

Yours sincerely

Gulnora Abdullaeva


music and words

Thank you for directing me to the IATEFL Cardiff site.

By the way, I work in Trivandrum, Kerala at a local language school. I also teach Business Communication in two B- schools under Kerala University and freelance as a teacher-trainer for the British Council.

I have been very fortunate to have good bosses who are open to 'creativity' in the classroom as long as the results are good and the syllabus is completed!

Dear ? Batook?

Just to let you know that we are still hoping to run a workshop on CW somewhere in India in 2010 (Maybe CIEFL)  Do stay in touch and I'll,let you know.

I have happy memories of Trivandrum...the old British Council Library, and the Uni. where at the time, Prof. Ayyappa Pannikar was head of Dept.

it's good if you have open and understanding bosses.  Long may that last.

Best wishes for 2010.

Happy New Year from Malaysia

Many thanks for your kind message.  I am sure you too will have a fulfilling and creative year!.

As you know, my mandsate as Guest Writer exopired on 1 Jan. so I will not be fronting up here very much after this.

All the best

Thank you very very  much

Creative writing for language learners and teachers

Thank you for  raising such important issues.   I feel the necessity  of creative writing   and think it is  so  important  as  I  experienced  the  negative trends of Soviet methodology where no creativity was encouraged and   ELT writing was understood   mainly as dictation - translation.   I hated writing because of this  and when I started teaching , my students hated it as well . I felt the necessity of   changing and inventing something .In those days   such  books were not available.

I wholly agree with you that..

  • ‘Reading and writing do not have to be a prison house. Release is possible. And maybe language play can provide the key.’  I think if we take into consideration not only our students' heads but also their hearts or feelings , we will be able" to release "them.
  • I would like to add to your conditions   for providing  motivation    one more which is improvisation  because trodden paths are demotivating.
  • I try to vary writing tasks , make them more creative and  my students love writing because of interesting tasks . As you say we both benefit : students  because learning  to write   is enjoyable  for them , I benefit because   I feel the need to improvise , to make writing more attractive to my students and   think of  and look for  more creative task                        

With best wishes                    

Neli Kukhaleishvili 

Thanks for reminding usa that improvisation is a key - not only in CW but in everything we do.  Improvisation should not be mistaken for lack of preparedness.  Only those who are wewll-prepared can have the confidence to depart from the script.

Very best wishes for 2010.

Thank you for ideas and great talk !

    Dear Alan,

   1. Thanks a lot for your great talk and ideas that  evoked in me more ideas   on how to make my teaching more appealing and creative.

   2. Your description of creative writing     workshop  made me feel envious of the partipants . But I know the experience accumulated in one part of the world  will be transferered to another. I hope such things will be done for the teachers of Caucasian  countries  such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Amenia.

                          With best wishes, Neli

Thanks for your kind comments.

Let's hope that you are right, and that the ideas spread more widely among our professional community.

Best wishes,

Creative Writing: a Practical Example

Dear bloggers,

I felt I should add some more information about a small Creative Writing project which my Malaysian colleague, Dr Jayakaran Mukundan, and I have been involved in for the past 7 years.   If   nothing else, this shows how something practical can be achieved in the area of CW.   The ‘Asia Teacher-Writers Project’ is, we believe, interesting for a number of reasons.   It is a grassroots / bottom-up initiative. Participation is entirely voluntary and the project is independent of institutions.   It is also predicated on the principle of ‘small is beautiful’ (Schumacher 1974).   There is no ambition to effect sweeping, large-scale changes, such as the many failed government initiatives which litter the educational landscape. It has a local focus with no global ambitions. It works, if it works at all, through persuasion at the personal level, and through the commitment of a small number of individuals.   Small phenomena can nonetheless have large effects, as Chaos Theory teaches us. (Gleick 1988)

However, it is also significant because it intersects in important ways with some currents of contemporary professional concern. The role of the NNS continues to preoccupy scholars of the spread of English, as does the development of English as an International Language, no longer the sole property of the metropolitan countries ( Rubdy and Saraceni 2006).   This project is intimately linked with such concerns. It promotes the notion of NNS teachers able to find their own place and their own idiom in this rapidly-changing global movement.   The project also reasserts the importance of the place of affect (Arnold 1999), of visualisation (Tomlinson   1998, 2001) , noticing (Schmidt 1990), personalisation, Multiple Intelligences (Gardner 1985), motivation (Dornyei 2001), authenticity, extensive   reading (Day and Bamford 1998), the teaching of expository writing in a second language, and creativity in general (Boden 1998, Carter 2004)

The project started in 2003 with a small workshop in Bangkok.   Teacher/writers from a number of Asian countries gathered to discuss the desirability of writing creative materials in English for students in their countries.   A collection of papers was the outcome (Tan 2004), together with some stories which were also eventually published by Pearson Malaysia (Maley and Mukundan 2005).

This first event was followed by workshops for roughly the same (but ever expanding pool) group in Melaka (2004), Fuzhou (2005) and Hanoi (2006), Salatiga (2007), Kathmandu (2008), Ho Chi Minh City (2009) and Jakarta (2009).   Each workshop produced poems and stories which were published by Pearson Malaysia (Maley (ed) 2005, 2006, 2008), as well as another volume of papers (Mukundan 2006)

As already noted above, the group is noteworthy for being independent of any institutional support, and is entirely voluntary.   Financial sponsorship was obtained from Assumption University, Bangkok in 2003, from Pearson Malaysia in 2004, from UBCHEA and Hwa Nan Womens’ College Fuzhou in 2005, from The Open University Hanoi in 2006, from local sponsors in Salatiga and Kathmandu, from :Pearson and the Open University in Ho Chi Minh City, and from SEAMEO in Jakarta.. Each year, a volunteer takes on the responsibility for organising the workshop in a different venue in Asia.   Plans are already afoot for another workshop, in Nepal in 2010.

The rationale and objectives of the group can be summarized as follows.   The group operates in the belief that NNS teachers are not only capable of but are also uniquely well-placed to write literary materials for use by their own and other students in the Asia region.   By virtue of the fact that they share their students’ background and contexts, they have an intuitive understanding of what will be culturally and topically relevant and attractive for them.   What they all too often lack is the confidence in their own ability to write interesting material.   The group operates to dispel this misconception.

The following rationale underpins the activities of the group:

  • A belief in the value of creative writing in English for teachers as well as for students.
  • A belief in the ability of teachers in the region to produce their own English teaching materials.
  • A belief that these materials will provide useful input for promoting reading (and other activities) in English.
  • A belief in the value for professional and personal development of forming a closely-knit, Asia-wide, mutually-supportive learning community of teacher/writers.

The objectives are:

  • To produce poetry and stories appropriate in level and content for use by Asian students of English at secondary level.
  • To publish and promote these as widely as possible, thus creating a wider awareness of the value of CW.
  • To develop materials and activities for the teaching of creative writing.
  • To run creative writing conferences and workshops for the wider teaching community wherever possible.
  • In this way, to boost the self-esteem and confidence of teachers of English in Asia.

The intended outcomes are:

  • A set of stories for extensive reading and related language work.
  • A set of poems intended for language work, and to stimulate creative writing by students.
  • A set of teacher-generated creative writing activities.
  • Publications, website and conferences for teachers in the region to raise awareness of the value of creative writing activities.

In other words, the project aims at three main audiences:

   ~   a small group of writers who produce the materials, and in so doing develop

       professionally and personally. (The group hovers around the 30 mark at present, which is ample.)

   ~   English teachers in the region at large who will use the materials and hopefully go on

       to develop their own in due course.

   ~   students of English in the region who will use the materials, and will themselves  

       produce texts which   can be fed back as input to other students.

So what, then, actually happens during the workshops?   The procedure which has evolved organically is as follows:

  ~   a few months before the workshop, participants are asked to submit a draft of one or more short stories and poems, and to prepare at least one teaching activity involving creative writing.   These are submitted to the organising group.

  ~    at the workshop, participants peer-edit these texts. They are then passed to the editor before being forwarded to the publisher.

  ~    there are also input sessions when new ideas for activities are shared.   There are now a number of published sources for such ideas (Koch 1990 , Matthews 1994, Rinvolucri and Frank 2007, Spiro 2004, 2007). These ideas are then refined and collated for diffusion via the website.   Two handbooks of resources, for writing stories, and writing poems, are also in preparation.

  ~ one day is set aside for a writing field-trip to an atmospheric place.   This may be a scenic beauty-spot, a place of pilgrimage, or an outstandingly interesting site. Participants write all day long, recording through poems their observations, sensations and reflections.   These are then also passed to the editor.

  ~ it is customary for participants to present a workshop or paper at the conference held for local teachers, either just before or just after the main workshop.

The group remains small (which is one of its declared intentions).   One of the strengths of the group is the close bonding which can happen only in a relatively small community. Contributors have come from some 10 Asian countries to date.

The following are the tangible outcomes so far:

  • Publications to date include 9 volumes of stories and /or poems published by Pearson Malaysia, and two books of papers.
  • There are plans to publish the ideas for teaching activities and other relevant material on the website and in two free-standing resource books.
  • Conferences for local teachers have been run in Melaka, Fuzhou, Hanoi ,Salatiga, Kathmandu, Ho Chi Ming City and Jakarta promoting an awareness of the value of CW activities among the local community of teachers.

We would certainly not claim, as Candide might have done, that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.   The project is a modest one, and even its modest aims are not always fulfilled.   Problems are of three main kinds:

1. Funding.  

We have so far been fortunate in finding generous sponsors willing to underwrite a large portion of the costs.   These include accommodation, workshop space and equipment, and administration.   However, participants themselves have had to make very real sacrifices to attend the workshops, for example by paying their own airfares.   The continuing success of the workshops depends on finding sponsorship, which makes the whole project somewhat precarious.

2. Outreach.

Although some interesting materials have been produced, they are not sufficiently well-known, even in the region.   The publisher can do only so much to ensure that the materials come into the hands of those for whom they were intended.   So far, the group has not been especially successful in popularising and publicising the materials, and this is a weakness.   The possibility of setting up local groups of creative writer/teachers are being explored (in Malaysia in particular).   This is a welcome initiative but others need to be taken to involve larger numbers of teachers in the CW movement.

3. Quality.

This is a sensitive issue.   Writers are almost always in love with what they have written, and tend to resent it if their materials are radically edited or even excluded from publication.   Fortunately, the group members have been mature enough to consent to their work being subjected to critical scrutiny.   Even so, it has to be admitted that not all the work we publish is of the highest standard. The project is in the nature of an experiment, so that we sometimes need to leave some latitude for work which is interesting but not always as polished as we might wish.    Long-term this is a problem we shall have to address however.

The project I have been   describing here is small-scale, modest in its aims, and relatively insignificant.   Its importance resides in the high degree of commitment by young, energetic professionals to its aims.   Ultimately, change in our teaching practices will not come from top-down ministerial decrees, or from academic articles castigating the iniquities visited upon the NNS teacher,   but from the commitment of individuals with a belief in the practical value of their actions.   A journey of 1000 li begins with the first step.

Arnold, Jane.   1999.    Affect in Language Learning .   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boden, Margaret.   1998.   The Creative Mind .   London: Abacus.

Carter, Ronald.   2004.   Language and Creativity: the art of common talk .   London: Routledge.

Cook, Guy.   2000.   Language Play: Language Learning.   Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Day, Richard and Julian Bamford.   1998.   Extensive reading in the Second Language Classroom.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Dornyei ,Zoltan   2001. Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardner,    Howard. 1985.   Frames of Mind .   London: Paladin Books  

Gleick, James. 1988.   Chaos.   London:Sphere Books

Koch, Kenneth. 1990. Rose, where did you get that red?   New York: Vintage Books.

Krashen, Stephen   2004 second edition. The Power of Reading.   Portsmouth NH: Heinemann

Maley, Alan (ed) 2006 Asian Short Stories for Young Readers.   Vol. 4 . Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman Malaysia

Maley, Alan (ed)   2006   Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol.5. Petaling Jaya:Pearson/Longman Malaysia.

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan.   (eds) 2005   Asian Stories for Young Readers, Vols 1 and 2.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman Malaysia.  

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) 2005 Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol. 3.    Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman .

Matthews, Paul. 1994 . Sing Me the Creation .   Stroud:Hawthorn Press.

Matthews, Paul.   2007. Words in Place.   Stroud: Hawthorne Press.

Mukundan, Jayakaran.   (ed) 2006 Creative Writing in EFL/ESL Classrooms II .   Petaling Jaya: Pearson Longman Malaysia

Rubdy, Rani and Mario Saraceni (eds) 2006. English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles.   London/New York: Continuum.

Schmidt, Richard 1990.   The Role of   Consciousness in Second Language Learning.   Applied Linguistics. Vol. 11, No. 2 129-158 .   Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schumacher, E.F.   1974.   Small is Beautiful .   London: Abacus/Sphere Books

Spiro, Jane 2004.   Creative Poetry Writing.   Oxford: Oxford university Press.

Spiro, Jane.   2007. Creative Story-building .   Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tan, Bee Tin (ed) 2004. Creative writing in EFL/ESL Classrooms I .   Serdang: UPM Press.

Tomlinson, Brian   1998. Seeing what they mean: helping L2 learners to visualise.   In B.Tomlinson (ed). Materials Development in Language Teaching .   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   265-78

Tomlinson, Brian (2001) The inner voice: a critical factor in language learning.   Journal of the Imagination in L2 learning.   VI, 123-154.

Enjoyed Alan's CW article;  short and comprehensive.  I use creative writing projects all the time in my ESL classes and the recent addition of a croaky antique tape recorder has been a valuable addition indeed.  I grinned wide and deep when I read the phrases "guilt free atmosphere", and the suggestion to encourage risk.  I teach robust and hormone-driven teenagers and my early and naive injunctions to "be free" brought instant reminders that I would have to do some of that smooth and subtle back-tracking that us teachers are so good at.

A big thumbs-up for the comment about teacher participation in these activities.  I have written short novels, stories and poems with my students.  During peer editing and feedback sessions they enjoy pronouncing my efforts Yucky and Weird, often with sound reason.  This helps create the democratic atmosphere which is such a big part of language motivation in the classroom.

keep smiling

Sorry for the delay in acknowledging your posting.

I can see why 'guilt-free' might raise a smile, if not quite a grin!  But as we both know, 'guilt-free' doesn't mean they can do what they like!

As you say, teacher participation is a must.  it puts us all on the same level, and opens up the atmosphere in the most amazing way.

All the best for 2010.

Creative writing & music

"Perhaps most notable is the dramatic increase in self-confidence and self-esteem ... "

"... which CW tends to develop among learners. Learners also tend to discover things for themselves about the language … and about themselves too, thus promoting personal as well as linguistic growth."

I absolutely agree. Once they discover things for themselves, they are more memorable to them.

"And they experience not only a pride in their own products but also a joy in the ‘flow’ of the process."

I could not agree more. And when you 'publish' or display their own 'products' in any form (i.e. show them to other students, to other people), the students indulge in the attention their 'products' get and then even ask for more of such activities.

I am a big advocate of CW because i think that in today's predominantly logical-mathematical world, creativity (i.e. divergent thinking) is not given enough of attention and, therefore, should be encouraged in our students.

In line with the comment that mentioned music playing a big part in creative writing, here's an example of what i did with one of my students:

ESL imaginative writing - A Rom. Fr. Ks

All about Creative writing

                         Thank you very much for your extremely useful and highly productive article On creative writing for learners and teachers. In fact I am looking for a great person of your stature who will guide me in my poetic and writing pursuits. I have already requested you to have a look at my poems and you have read them but not offered me suggestions or compliments. I hope you will read my other 2 poems The street children and the typical Indian railway journey and send your comments either to my e-mail or express them in your comments as response.

You have given a detailed information about creative writings and expository writings,how they are useful to the students and teachers,which books they should refer to and which activities they should attempt very clearly and lucidly. I hope you will talk more about in your ensuing blogs.

I believe in constructivism and so your articles appeal to my art. Language acquisition is the need of the hour in non native english speaking countries like India. Since I am text book writer for Andhrapradesh, I would like to interact with you further. I hope you will help me improve my poetic and creative writing skills.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,


Vocabulary and grammar?

Though the 'communicative' method is pre-dominant where I work, I do include a lot of simple creative writing exercises - diamond poems, shape poems, rhymes, English words (lyrics) to be set to a given popular tune etc. and these activities are well received by the adult learners who I work with.

At the intermediate level, the participants do activities like listening to a piece of music and writing their thoughts or a script involving cartoons or two mythological characters etc. With these learners there is a scope of improvement in grammar but in the case the pre-intermediate learners, it has more to do with vocabulary.

This said, I am glad you wrote this article as it once again emphasizes playfulness in language acquisition!

Dear Shefali,

Thanks again for your supportive comments.  By the way, could you tell me which country you work in and what kind of institution?  It sounds to me as if you have found ways of circumventing, to some degree, the kinds of institutional constraints that many teachers work under.

And the idea of using music as a stimulus for writing is brilliant.  At the last IATEFL conference in Cardiff, I ran a symposium on The art and Artistry of ELT.  One of my co-presenters was Ben Russell, who gave us some highly creative ideas on how music can be used to develop creative writing.  (The write-up is in the Cardiff Conference selections.)

With best wishes

A haibun experience

Dear Alan and all

I think you might find this blog entry by Nina Mustafa worth a read. In two parts, Nina describes her introduction to and first experience of working with haibun in her creative writing class. She decided to take her class out for a walk:

My 19 CW students are undergraduates at a very impressionable age of 20-22.  They are very colourful, a mixed of ability and attitude. But one thing in common is that they all love writing.  When I first mentioned to them that we were going out of the class for a short walk around the faculty - something unconventional for a language class here in my country - it was received with a mixed reaction.  The more easy-going and adventurous ones were really elated to the ceiling and received it with a "Yesss!!  Alllrightt!!"; the follow-the book ones were a little hesitant and worrisome, receiving it with a "Walk? Outside?  Is it legal?"; the vanity fair ones who are not too keen to expose themselves to the bad 5 pm rays without sf sunblock went "You mean now, as in now?".

I then discussed with my students on what haibun is, citing Alan's brilliant piece.  And since in haibuns, narratives are intertwined with short poems, so I went on to touch a bit on writing poems.  The students were a little more worried on the poem part.  I tried not to intimidate them, so I assured them that in writing the poem bit of the haibun ,anything is acceptable, that there is no right or wrong.  If their poems are not understood, treat it as an abstract - abstracts are not meant to be understood anyway. That made them feel a whole lot better.

You can read the conclusion and an example of one of Nina's students' work in her second blog entry .

Have you ever tried anything similar? (Alan, I'm imagining you have!)


first of all thanks a lot for ur wonderful article basically i hails from india and working as a english teacher here i completed my MA in english. But sir i don't know sir still i have problems in my grammar areas because of this I am not able to deliver even a speech please give me

Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

See our publications, research and insight


Here you can find activities to practise your writing skills. You can improve your writing by understanding model texts and how they're structured.

The self-study lessons in this section are written and organised by English level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). There are different types of model texts, with writing tips and interactive exercises that practise the writing skills you need to do well in your studies, to get ahead at work and to communicate in English in your free time.

Take our free online English test to find out which level to choose. Select your level, from A1 English level (elementary) to C1 English level (advanced), and improve your writing skills at your own speed, whenever it's convenient for you.

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Learn to write in English with confidence

Our online English classes feature lots of useful writing materials and activities to help you develop your writing skills with confidence in a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Practise writing with your classmates in live group classes, get writing support from a personal tutor in one-to-one lessons or practise writing by yourself at your own pace with a self-study course.

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Creative Writing at King’s

As part of the BA English, students can take introductory courses in poetry, prose fiction , and creative non-fiction in the second year, and progress to advanced modules in fiction or poetry in the third year.  

At doctoral level, we run an innovative, practice-led PhD in Creative Writing programme, designed for talented and committed writers in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction who wish to complete a book-length project for publication and prepare for a long-term career in the literary world. 

Wild Court is an international online poetry journal based in the Department, named after a nineteenth century Irish slum or ‘rookery’ opposite what is now the Virginia Woolf Building. Wild Court draws on an international community of professional poets, writers and critics, but also includes a section of work from King’s creative writing students. It also supports  Poetry And , a series of free public readings at King’s, which highlights poetry’s power to connect with other thought-worlds, disciplines, and areas of life.

Creative Writing Staff

The English department is home to award-winning novelists, poets, essayists, biographers, non-fiction authors, and literary critics, who teach undergraduate modules in a range of disciplines. They also supervise creative projects at doctoral level within their specialisms.

Works by our staff have won or been shortlisted for a number of literary accolades, including: the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year, the Costa First Novel Award, the Costa Poetry Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Biographers’ Club / Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize, the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award, the CWA Gold Dagger Award, the European Union Prize for Literature, the RSL Encore Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Letters, le Prix du Roman Fnac, le Prix du Roman Etranger, and the Kiriyama Prize. Many of the creative writing staff are Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature. 

Their most recent publications are:

  • Beethoven Variations: Poems on a Life (Chatto & Windus, 2020) Ruth Padel – Professor of Poetry
  • A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (Scribner, 2018) Benjamin Wood – Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing
  • The Invention of Angela Carter (Chatto & Windus, 2016) Edmund Gordon – Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing
  • Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015) Sarah Howe – Lecturer in Poetry
  • Homing: On Pigeons, Dwellings, and Why We Return (John Murray Press, 2019) Jon Day – Lecturer in English 
  • The Group (John Murray Press, 2020) Lara Feigel – Professor of Modern Literature and Culture
  • Mayflies (Faber, 2020) Andrew O’Hagan – Visiting Professor in Creative Writing

The list of King’s College London alumni not only features many acclaimed contemporary authors—Michael Morpurgo, Alain de Botton, Hanif Kureishi, Marina Lewycka, Susan Hill, Lawrence Norfolk, Ross Raisin, Alexander Masters, Maureen Duffy, Anita Brookner, and Helen Cresswell—it also includes major figures in literature, such as Thomas Hardy, Arthur C Clarke, Christopher Isherwood, BS Johnson, John Keats, W. Somerset Maugham, and Virginia Woolf.

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British Council India

Creative writing for adults - module i.

Creative Writing adults

Whether you are a scribbler, a secret diarist, or a would-be journalist, come find your unique writing style with British Council’s Creative Writing course - Module I . Two batches have been scheduled. Batch 1 is starting from  Saturday, 22 July 2023 and batch 2 is starting from  Saturday, 29 July 2023.

This course will help you:

  • Develop your unique writer’s voice and perspective
  • Help your creativity find expression
  • Enhance your knowledge of literature
  • Help you structure your thoughts
  • Develop a critical appreciation of different writing styles

Required English language level:  Above upper-intermediate level (Level B2).

Course duration: 36 hours I 9 weeks I weekend online classes | all the participants will receive a digital certificate upon completion of the course.

Course fee:  INR 10,000 per participant Click here to register

Special offer to British Council library members - 10% discount on the course fee Click here to register

About the Course

Our Creative Writing- Module I course offers the opportunity to learn a variety of techniques to improve your writing process and enhance creativity.

The course content covers plot, characters, dialogue and setting when writing fiction. You will also learn how to travel write and blog, learn to differentiate between news reports and feature articles, be introduced to screenwriting and writing memoirs. You will explore the tools of a poet and learn to write poetry. In addition, you will be introduced to experimental writing and children’s fiction. The syllabus is specifically designed to guide those who wish to write creatively and explore their writing talent to realise their dreams of becoming a writer.

Our experienced teachers will help you find your unique writer’s voice through this enjoyable writing course. You will receive feedback on your writing to help you know your prospects as a future writer. Once you join our Creative Writing course, you will realize that lively and interactive sessions are exactly what you need to begin your journey as a writer.  The course is, however, not aimed at those wishing to improve their academic or technical writing skills.

Schedule for July 2023

Course delivery.

36 hours of learning will happen through online classes and 14 hours of interaction and peer-learning will be facilitated through our online interactive learning platform.

There will be assessments by the teacher during the mid and end of the course

Participants should use laptop/desktop to attend the session. 

  • Recording/taking screenshot/photos of the course is strictly prohibited.

Course Fee: INR 10,000 per participant.

Special offer: British Council library members can avail a special discount of 10% on the course fee.

How to ascertain your English language level and register?

Step 1: Ascertain your language level (required English Language level)

The course is open for all. However, English Language level suitable for the course is above upper-intermediate level (B2) and advanced level (C1 and C2).

  • You are at Elementary level(A1) if you can say simple things about your day. For example:  I wake up at 7 am every day.
  • You are at Pre-intermediate level(A2) if you can communicate in simple and routine tasks on familiar topics and activities. For example: I like exercising early in the morning if I sleep on time. 
  • You are an Intermediate level(B1) if you can share your thoughts, opinions, and views. For example:  She must be really tired. She’s worked late every night this week.
  • You are at Upper intermediate level(B2) if you can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to your field of interest. For example: Unfortunately for him, the situation turned out to be opposite to what he thought it was.
  • You are at Advanced level (C1 & C2) if you can present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects. For example: Being born and raised in India, I believe her to be the country’s best ambassador in the world.

Step 2 : Once you have ascertained your English language level, please proceed for the course registration.

Course fee: INR 10,000 per participant. Click here   to register.

Special offer to British Council library members - 10% discount on the course fee. Click here  to register.

Terms and Conditions

  • Participants must be over 18 years of age.
  • Non-refundable fee is payable in full prior to the commencement of course.
  • If obliged to cancel the course, the British Council reserves the right to do so without further liability, subject to the return of any fee already paid. 
  • The course schedule is subject to change. Participants will be notified the changes, if any.

For any query, please email us at [email protected] .

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Undergraduate BA (Hons)

English and Creative Writing

Let your imagination take flight and develop your own creative voice. You’ll produce short stories, autobiographical writing, poetry and script.

Course Overview

Institution code

Main location

As part of this course, you’ll:

  • Examine literatures past and present, and from around the world
  • Be taught by award-winning writers
  • Have the chance to work on an extended creative writing project as you collaborate with your peers to produce an anthology and plan a related launch event
  • Explore a range of literary and writing contexts to develop the ability to respond creatively to the world around you
  • Join a vibrant creative community of students and lecturers with connections to literary festivals and events in the region
  • Get the chance to work with our range of industry professionals in the city and beyond   

We’ll nurture your passion by developing your creative and critical thinking. You’ll benefit from:

  • Inspired teaching and intellectual debate
  • Interaction with award-winning authors and playwrights
  • A rolling programme of media industry professionals, published lecturers and world-renowned researchers

Leeds is the Northern heart of culture and the arts. Your campus sits in the very centre of the city, surrounded by museums, art galleries, theatres, film production companies and recording studios. We work directly with Leeds museums and galleries and many regional events, including Leeds Lit Fest, poetry performance events and the Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Our location has enabled us to develop relationships with employers and cultural industries in the city and across the region. Former students have completed placements in the editorial team at Hallmark Studios, with the Yorkshire Food Guide and with Peepal Tree Press, an internationally renowned publisher based in the city.

Why study BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing at Leeds Beckett University... 

  • 93% of students were positive about the teaching on BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing*
  • Develop your creative practice
  • Applied Humanities practical module option
  • Work with award-winning practising writers and active researchers
  • Guest lectures delivered by industry professionals
  • Strong and meaningful partnerships with industry and community organisations

*National Student Survey 2023

Explore videos and blogs

BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing - student view BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing students Maisie and Briony share their course experiences and opportunities.

Dark Futures: Exploring the Allure of Dystopian Fiction From analysing classic works to examining contemporary shows like Squid Game and Black Mirror, discover why dystopia resonates with us

Student View BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing student Richard Barton shares his passion for creating and crafting content on his course. (Course now BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing).

Students connect with employers at Humanities Careers Day At our annual careers day, students were able to meet and network with employers, attend interactive workshops from industry professionals and get bespoke feedback on their CV.

Keep up to date with the latest from our school

Blog | School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Everything you need to know.

Discover all there is to know about the course, from entry requirements and fees to exploring the school you’ll be joining - we’ve got it covered.

Entry requirements

points required

We have now welcomed students from over 140 countries across the globe. If you are interested in studying with us you can find your country and get all the information you'll need about entry requirements and how to apply.

UCAS Tariff Points: 88 points required.

(Minimum 56 from two A Levels or equivalent, excluding General Studies.).

IELTS 6.0 with no skills below 5.5, or an equivalent qualification. The University provides excellent support for any applicant who may be required to undertake additional English language courses.

Selection Criteria

We may use selection criteria based on your personal attributes; experience and/or commitment to the area of study. This information will be derived from your personal statement and reference and will only be used if you have met the general entry requirements.

Additional entry requirements:

Teaching & learning.

Independent study is a crucial part of learning at university and you will be required to undertake many hours of self-directed research and reading, and preparation and writing of assessments. Your course is delivered through a number of modules, which will help you to plan your time and establish a study routine. Outside of your lectures, workshops and tutorials, a range of support is available to assist with your independent study. Our subject-specific librarians will be on hand to direct you to the specialist learning and study-skill resources. You’ll also be assigned an academic advisor to give you tailored feedback and support.

Our silver status in the latest Teaching Excellence Framework, reflects our commitment to deliver high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.

What you'll learn

Option modules may include, fees & funding hellooo.

The tuition fee for the year for students entering in 2023/24 is £9250. The amount you will pay may increase each year to take into account the effects of inflation.

International 2023

The tuition fee for the year for students entering in 2023/24 is £14000. The amount you will pay is fixed at this level for each year of your course.

Fees & Funding

For students entering in 2023

Additional course costs

Tuition fees.

Your tuition fees cover the cost of registration, tuition, academic supervision, assessments and examinations.

The following are also included in the cost of your course:

  • 24/7 Library and student IT support
  • Free wifi via eduroam
  • Skills workshops and resources
  • Library membership, giving access to more than 500,000 printed, multimedia and digital resources
  • Access to software, including five free copies of Microsoft Office 365 to install on your PC,laptop and MAC, and access to free high-end software via the Leeds Beckett remote app
  • Loan of high-end media equipment to support your studies

In many cases, costs associated with your course will be included in your course fee. However, in some cases there are ‘essential’ additional costs (those that you will be required to meet in addition to your course fee), and/or ‘optional’ additional costs (costs that are not required, but that you might choose to pay). We have included those essential or optional additional costs that relate to your course, below.

Optional Costs

  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence for optional educational visits. The nature and cost of these visits will vary from year to year

Other study-related expenses to consider:  materials that you will need to complete your course such as books (whilst the library provides access to readings recommended for your modules, you may wish to purchase your own copies of some books); you can also make suggestions for books to be added to Library stock; placement costs (these may include travel expenses and living costs); student visas (international students only); printing, photocopying and stationery (you may need to pay for multiple copies of your dissertation or final project to be printed and bound); events associated with your course such as field trips; study abroad opportunities (travel costs and accommodation, visas and immunisations). Other costs could include academic conferences (travel costs) and professional-body membership (where applicable). The costs you will need to cover for graduation will include gown hire and guest tickets, and optional extras such as professional photography.

As well as your mobile phone, you will also need access to a desktop computer and/or laptop to complete assignments and access university online services such as MyBeckett, your virtual learning environment. You can book and borrow AV equipment through the media equipment service accessed online via the student hub and located in the library at each campus. Equipment includes: 360 Cameras, iPads, GoPros, MacBooks, portable data projectors, portable projection screens, flipchart stands, remote presenters, digital cameras and camcorders, SLR cameras, speakers, microphones, headphones, headsets, tripods, digital audio recorders and PC/laptops (a laptop loans service is provided on campus in the library on both campuses). Student laptops are also available from the laptop lockers located in the libraries.

This list is not exhaustive, costs are approximate and will vary depending on the choices you make during your course. Any rental, travel or living costs are also in addition to your course fees. If you choose to study via distance learning, you may not be able to access all of the facilities listed if you are not able to visit us on campus.

of students were positive about the teaching on BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing

National Student Survey 2023

Facilities | Broadcasting Place

Voted one of the best tall buildings in the world (CTBUH, 2010), Broadcasting Place is packed with the latest technology and will provide you with a creative and contemporary learning environment.

Facilities | Sheila Silver library

Leslie Silver is home to three lecture theatres and eight high-spec computer training rooms. It's also where you'll find our Sheila Silver Library, providing students and staff an effective and inspiring learning environment, as well as a range of support and resources to support your studies.

Facilities | City campus gym

Our Woodhouse Gym is located directly above The Hive within the Students' Union. The gym offers a range of cardio equipment, free weights, machines and squat racks.

Moving on up

Leeds Beckett climbs 40 places in the Complete University Guide 2024

Your future in our hands

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a course. Take a look at the team you’ll be working with, employability statistics and career prospects to help make up your mind.

Career Prospects

You’ll develop sought-after transferable skills across a wide range of areas including:

  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Creative communication
  • Written and verbal presentation
  • Reading and critical analysis
  • Teamworking
  • Creative thinking 
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Flexibility

You’ll have the skills employers seek in a wide range of sectors including editing and publishing, public relations and marketing, copywriting and journalism, and education. Your writing and organisation skills will equip you for a freelance career as a professional writer.  

Dr Alison Taft

Alison Taft is a crime writer and the author of The Disappeared and The Runaway which are published under her pen name Ali Harper. She is Course Director for Creative Writing with a particular interest in the domestic thriller.

Scholarships and bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that the opportunity to experience an education here at Leeds Beckett University is open to all. If you're thinking of joining us to study for your undergraduate degree, you may be eligible for a scholarship or bursary.

Bursaries are usually awarded depending on household income, whilst scholarships are available for a number of areas, and are based on sporting or academic excellence. For more information visit our scholarships and bursaries page .

Our Graduate Promise

We have a dedicated team of people who will support you with all aspects of your career planning, from day one until 18 months after you graduate.

Getting you career ready is an integral part of your university life and this is embedded throughout your lectures and seminars. Outside of your course there is a wide range of support available to help you achieve your career goals, including:

  • Getting ready to apply for jobs
  • Working on your CV
  • Interview skills and assessment centres
  • Connecting with employers and organisations

Your Beckett experience

At Leeds Beckett your experience is important to us, find out more about what to expect from your time on this course and life at uni.

Experience Leeds Beckett

Our state-of-the-art facilities and learning environments give you everything you need to succeed.

With over 4000 rooms, in a wide range of accommodation types, we know you’ll find the right place for you.

At Leeds Beckett our student support teams will work together to give you the help you need, whenever you need it.

Student Support

Leeds is an exciting and vibrant student city, find out what it has to offer!

Have a question about a course, accommodation or student life at Leeds Beckett University?

Chat to one of our student ambassadors

Many of our courses offer you the opportunity to travel abroad to study or volunteer, you can even do this virtually!

Find out more about our global mobility opportunities

Still thinking about your uni choices? Discover Uni has official information to help you decide. They provide statistics for courses taken from national surveys and data collected from universities about their students. 

Kick-start your career

  • Come to an Open Day
  • Order a prospectus

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british english creative writing

Study Undergraduate

English literature and creative writing ba (ucas qw38).

A English Literature and Creative Writing student reading in the library at the University of Warwick

23 September 2024

3 years full-time


Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Warwick Writing Programme

University of Warwick

Learn more about our English Literature and Creative Writing degree at Warwick

Studying English Literature and Creative Writing (BA) at Warwick will transform your understanding of literature, of yourself, and of the world. It will also fully prepare you to thrive in any profession that values intellectual rigour, creativity, and the ability to communicate a message that matters.

General entry requirements

A level typical offer.

AAA or A*AB to include grade A in English Literature or English Language and Literature (combined).

A level contextual offer

We welcome applications from candidates who meet the contextual eligibility criteria and whose predicted grades are close to, or slightly below, the contextual offer level. The typical contextual offer is ABB, including A in English Literature or English Language and Literature (combined). See if you’re eligible.

General GCSE requirements

Unless specified differently above, you will also need a minimum of GCSE grade 4 or C (or an equivalent qualification) in English Language and either Mathematics or a Science subject. Find out more about our entry requirements and the qualifications we accept. We advise that you also check the English Language requirements for your course which may specify a higher GCSE English requirement. Please find the information about this below.

IB typical offer

36 to include 6 at Higher Level in English Literature or combined English Language and Literature.

IB contextual offer

We welcome applications from candidates who meet the contextual eligibility criteria and whose predicted grades are close to, or slightly below, the contextual offer level. The typical contextual offer is 32 including grade 6 in Higher Level English Literature or English Language and Literature (combined). See if you’re eligible.

Other UK qualifications

We welcome applications from students taking BTECs alongside A level English Literature or English Language and Literature (combined).

Scotland Advanced Highers

AA in two Advanced Highers including English, and AAB in three additional Highers subjects.

Welsh Baccalaureate

AAB in three subjects at A level including A in English Literature or English Language and Literature (combined) plus grade C in the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate.

Access to Higher Education Diplomas

We will consider applicants returning to study who are presenting a QAA-recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma on a case-by-case basis.

Typically, we require 45 Credits at Level 3, including Distinction in 33 Level 3 credits and Merit in 12 Level 3 Credits. We may also require subject specific credits or an A level to be studied alongside the Access to Higher Education Diploma to fulfil essential subject requirements.

International qualifications

  • English Language requirements

All applicants have to meet our English Language requirements. If you cannot demonstrate that you meet these, you may be invited to take part in our Pre-sessional English course at Warwick Link opens in a new window .

This course requires: Band B

Learn more about our English Language requirements Link opens in a new window

Frequently asked questions

Contextual data and differential offers.

Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in a Widening Participation programme or who meet the contextual data criteria .

Differential offers will usually be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer.

Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP)

All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only).

Find out more about standard offers and conditions for the IFP .

  • Taking a gap year

We welcome applications for deferred entry.

We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.

Course overview

Creative work can happen anywhere, but you can learn the craft of writing and enjoy working with other emerging writers in a place of energy and ideas in our School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures.

If you intend to pursue a career as an author, or to work in the creative industries or teaching, this practical course will teach you about the creative writing process and help you become a better reader, with a deeper understanding of literary history, literary theory and the past and future of publishing. You will be taught by practising and award-winning writers, bridging the gap between academic and creative approaches to literature. Our course is number one for creative writing in the UK ( The Times Good University Guide 2023 ) and has 91.7% overall student satisfaction in National Student Survey.

You will undertake real-world writing tasks and will regularly meet, engage with, and learn from industry professionals, including publishers, editors, literary agents, poets, and authors. Our graduates enter the world with advanced communicative, imaginative, and critical abilities, plus practical and vocational literary writing skills including composition, interpretation, and evaluation. In addition, you will develop argument, analysis and speaking skills, and a capacity for independent thought. Many of our graduates have become professional writers, poets, dramatists, filmmakers, and performers.

Study abroad

As a student on our English degrees, you will have the opportunity to spend your third year at one of our partner institutions in Europe, China, or North America. You will then return to Warwick to complete your fourth and final year of your degree.

You will be able to apply to transfer to the four-year course when you are in your second year at Warwick, subject to availability of places from the University's International Office.

Core modules

In your first year you will gain the foundation you need to become a better reader and writer. In Modes of Writing, we explore writing in different forms, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and writing for performance and new media. Through studying Medieval and Early Modern Literature, you will appreciate the context of contemporary beliefs and social developments. Epic into Novel will give you an understanding of some of the great texts of classical and modern times. The Written World will introduce you to some of the ideas and themes in literary theory, with a particular focus on texts that are important to writers.

As a second year you will progress to Composition and Creative Writing, in which you explore and deepen your practice of fiction and non-fiction. You will take an English Literature module focusing on texts from before 1900 , as well as any module from English Literature, Creative Writing, or another University department.

In your final year you will progress to the Personal Writing Project, your opportunity to work one-to-one with a tutor on an extensive piece of writing in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, screenwriting, or a genre of your choice. In addition, you will select a global literature module, as well as any module from English Literature, Creative Writing, or another University department.

Modes of Writing

This is a core module for first-year undergraduates reading for the degree QW38 English Literature and Creative Writing. The module is 100% fully assessed. The module complements The Written World and prepares you for the more specialist writing modules in years two and three such as Composition and Creative Writing, The Practice of Poetry, The Practice of Fiction and The Personal Writing Project. The module also complements other academic optional modules in which writing, imitation, rhetoric or translation may be practised or studied.

Read more about the Modes of Writing module Link opens in a new window , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Taking you from the mythical court of King Arthur to the real world of ambition, intrigue, and danger in the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, this module introduces you to early literature in a global context. You will study texts like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales , Thomas More’s Utopia , Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene , and Shakespeare’s sonnets to explore some of the period’s highest ideals—‘trawthe’ or integrity—as well as some of humanity’s darkest impulses: greed, deception, revenge, and desire.

Read more about the Medieval and Early Modern Literature module Link opens in a new window , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

Epic into Novel

Tracking the transition from the epics of the ancient world to their incarnation as texts of modernity, this module introduces you to some of the most influential and formative works of world literature. You will study central texts of the classical world, such as Gilgamesh , Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Catullus; ancient epics from India and Africa; Milton’s Paradise Lost ; as well as responses to ancient epic by Tennyson, Margaret Atwood, Seamus Heaney, and Maria Dahvana Headley. Reading across history and cultures, between languages and genres, you will develop the skills to analyse narrative, character, and style.

Read more about the Epic into Novel module Link opens in a new window , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

The Written World

This module will introduce students on the BA in English Literature and Creative Writing to ideas and theories from literary studies, linguistics, critical theory, translation studies and cultural studies that will underpin more specialised scholarly and creative study in the second and third years.

Read more about the The Written World module Link opens in a new window , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

Composition and Creative Writing

You will develop your fiction and non-fiction writing through practice of the processes involved, from inception, through drafting and revision, to considerations of audience. You will gain insights into narrative form, including traditional and experimental methods.

Read more about the Composition and Creative Writing module Link opens in a new window , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

Personal Writing Project

The Personal Writing Project will see you working closely with a practitioner to advance your technical and critical skills in the development of a portfolio of work focused on a specific genre. You will gain an appreciation of the research and methodology needed for large-scale creative works and in so doing, gain the maturity and confidence to advance your career as a professional writer.

Read more about the Personal Writing Project module , including the methods of teaching and assessment (content applies to 2022/23 year of study).

Optional modules

Optional modules can vary from year to year. Example optional modules may include:

  • The Practice of Poetry
  • The Practice of Fiction
  • Screenwriting
  • Advanced Screenwriting
  • US Writing and Culture 1780-1920
  • Romantic and Victorian Poetry
  • The Seventeenth Century
  • Game Theory: Interactive and Video Game Narratives

Assessment is a combination of creative projects, portfolios, essays, and performance. For example, in our Shakespeare and Selected Dramatists of his Time module, student creative work recently included film and radio adaptations, musical compositions, painting, sculpture and photography inspired by Shakespeare's texts.

Practising writers deliver teaching through workshops and seminars. Also, writers and publishers visit and work with you in our Creative Writing Studio. Most core modules in your first year are taught through lectures and seminars. In your second and third years, optional modules are normally taught in seminars and workshops.

Working together, we seek to improve our students’ skills and confidence through writing workshops, peer review and live performances. You will be encouraged to attend and participate at spoken word events in the local area.

Class sizes

Targeted teaching with class sizes of 10 - 15 students (on average).

Typical contact hours

Guided learning of typically eight contact hours per week. Seminars are usually 1.5 hours each.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees cover the majority of the costs of your study, including teaching and assessment. Fees are charged at the start of each academic year. If you pay your fees directly to the University, you can choose to pay in instalments.

Home students

Undergraduate fees.

If you are a home student enrolling in 2023, your annual tuition fees will be £9,250 . In the future, these fees might change for new and continuing students.

2+2 course fees

If you are a home student enrolling in 2022 for a 2+2 course through the Centre for Lifelong Learning, your annual tuition fees will be £6,750 . In the future, these fees might change for new and continuing students.

How are fees set?

The British Government sets tuition fee rates.

Learn more about fees from UCAS Link opens in a new window .

Overseas students

If you are an overseas or EU student enrolling in 2023, your annual tuition fees will be as follows:

  • Band 1 – £23,390 per year (classroom-based courses, including Humanities and most Social Science courses)
  • Band 2 – £29,830 per year (laboratory-based courses, plus Theatre and Performance Studies, Economics, and courses provided by Warwick Business School, with exceptions)

Fees for 2024 entry have not been set. We will publish updated information here as soon as it becomes available, so please check back for updates about 2024 fee rates before you apply.

Fee status guidance

We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Students will be classified as Home or Overseas fee status. Your fee status determines tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available. If you receive an offer, your fee status will be clearly stated alongside the tuition fee information.

Do you need your fee classification to be reviewed?

If you believe that your fee status has been classified incorrectly, you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire. Please follow the instructions in your offer information and provide the documents needed to reassess your status.

Find out more about how universities assess fee status. Link opens in a new window

Additional course costs

As well as tuition fees and living expenses, some courses may require you to cover the cost of field trips or costs associated with travel abroad.

For departmental specific costs, please see the Modules tab on this web page for the list of core and optional core modules with hyperlinks to our Module Catalogue Link opens in a new window (please visit the Department’s website if the Module Catalogue hyperlinks are not provided).

Associated costs can be found on the Study tab for each module listed in the Module Catalogue (please note most of the module content applies to 2023/24 year of study). Information about module specific costs should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below:

  • Core text books
  • Printer credits
  • Dissertation binding
  • Robe hire for your degree ceremony

Further information

Find out more about tuition fees from our Student Finance team .

Scholarships and bursaries

Learn about scholarships and bursaries available to undergraduate students.

We offer a number of undergraduate scholarships and bursaries to full-time undergraduate students. These include sporting and musical bursaries, and scholarships offered by commercial organisations.

Find out more about funding opportunities for full-time students. Link opens in a new window

International scholarships

If you are an international student, a limited number of scholarships may be available.

Find out more information on our international scholarship pages. Link opens in a new window

You may be eligible for financial help from your own government, from the British Council or from other funding agencies. You can usually request information on scholarships from the Ministry of Education in your home country, or from the local British Council office.

Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2023

We believe there should be no barrier to talent. That's why we are committed to offering a scholarship that makes it easier for gifted, ambitious international learners to pursue their academic interests at one of the UK's most prestigious universities. This new scheme will offer international fee-paying students 250 tuition fee discounts ranging from full fees to awards of £13,000 to £2,000 for the full duration of your Undergraduate degree course.

Find out more about the Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2023. Link opens in a new window

Part-time fee waiver

Find out more about the Warwick scholarship for part-time students. Link opens in a new window

Warwick Bursary for low income students

We provide extra financial support for qualifying students from lower income families. The Warwick Undergraduate Bursary is an annual award of up to £3,000 per annum. It is intended to help with course-related costs and you do not have to pay it back.

Find out more about your eligibility for the Warwick Undergraduate Bursary. Link opens in a new window

Sanctuary scholarships for asylum seekers

As part of the 'City of Sanctuary' movement, we are committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. We provide a range of scholarships to enable people seeking sanctuary or asylum to progress to access university education.

Find out more about the Warwick Undergraduate Sanctuary Scholarships for asylum seekers. Link opens in a new window

Find out more about Warwick undergraduate bursaries and scholarships.

Eligibility for student loans

Your eligibility for student finance will depend on certain criteria, such as your nationality and residency status, your course, and previous study at higher education level.

Check if you're eligible for student finance .

Home students residing in England

Tuition fee loan.

You can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your tuition fees. It is non-means tested, which means the amount you can receive is not based on your household income. The Loan is paid directly to the University so, if you choose to take the full Tuition Fee Loan, you won’t have to set up any payments.

Maintenance Loan for living costs

You can apply for a Maintenance Loan towards your living costs such as accommodation, food and bills. This loan is means-tested, so the amount you receive is partially based on your household income and whether you choose to live at home or in student accommodation.

Find out more about government student loans for home students residing in England. Link opens in a new window

Home students residing outside of England

Find out more about student funding for home students residing outside of England. Link opens in a new window

EU students

If you’re starting a course on or after 1 August 2021, you usually must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme Link opens in a new window to get student finance.

If you are an EU student and eligible for student finance you may be able to get a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your fees. It is non-means tested, which means the amount you may receive is not based on your household income. The Loan is paid directly to the University so, if you choose to take the full Tuition Fee Loan, you won't have to set up any payments.

Help with living costs

For the 2023 academic year, you may be eligible for help with your living costs if both of the following apply:

  • You have lived in the UK for more than 3 years before the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • You have Settled Status ( see further details on Settled Status) Link opens in a new window

If you are coming to the UK from 1st January 2021, you may need to apply for a visa Link opens in a new window to study here.

Please note: Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Find out more about government student loans for EU students Link opens in a new window

Repaying your loans

You will repay your loan or loans gradually once you are working and earning above a certain amount (for students starting their course after 1 August 2023 the repayment threshold is £25,000). Repayments will be taken directly from your salary if you are an employee. If your income falls below the earnings threshold, your repayments will stop until your income goes back up above this figure.

Find out more about repaying your student loan. Link opens in a new window

Your career

Graduates from our course have gone on to work for employers including:

  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • British Council
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Civil Service
  • The Forward Poetry Foundation
  • Pan Macmillan
  • The Poetry Society
  • Penguin/Random House
  • Royal Opera House
  • The Society of Authors
  • The Sunday Times
  • Teach First

They have pursued roles such as:

  • Authors, writers, dramatists, poets, and translators
  • Journalists, newspaper, and periodical editors
  • Creative directors
  • Arts officers, producers, and directors
  • Musicians and composers
  • Marketing associate professionals
  • Academics and researchers
  • Higher Education administrators

Helping you find the right career

Our staff have excellent links not only with other writers but also with publishing houses, literary journals and agencies, with national and regional organisations such as the Arts Council, PEN, and with other creative writing programmes both in Britain and in the USA. We also run the Young Writer of the Year Award jointly with The Sunday Times and host the prestigious Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

Our School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures also has a dedicated professionally qualified Senior Careers Consultant to support you. They offer impartial advice and guidance, together with workshops and events throughout the year. Examples of workshops and events include:

  • Discovering Careers in the Creative Industries
  • Careers in Publishing and Journalism
  • Freelancing
  • Careers in the Public Sector
  • Warwick careers fairs throughout the year

Find out more about careers support at Warwick. Link opens in a new window

Welcome to the Warwick Writing Programme, an internationally acclaimed writing programme that attracts writers and literary translators from across the globe. If you join us you will immerse yourself in contemporary and experimental narratives, including screenwriting, literary translation, gaming, spoken word and fieldwork.

We foster and maintain excellent creative industry links and networks to enable our students to achieve their career ambitions. We are title partner for The Sunday Times and University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award, whose recent winners have included Raymond Antrobus, Adam Weymouth and Sally Rooney. We are also the home of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

Our teaching staff of novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, screenwriters and literary translators includes Lucy Brydon, A.L. Kennedy, Tim Leach, Nell Stevens, Maureen Freely, Gonzalo C. Garcia, David Morley, Dragan Todorovic and Jodie Kim.

Find out more about us on our website Link opens in a new window

Explore our new Faculty of Arts building

The department recently moved into the brand new £57.5 million Faculty of Arts building.

This means, as an Arts student at Warwick, you’ll find your home amongst brand new teaching, learning and social spaces, including specialist facilities, all designed to support collaborative working and to enable your creativity and innovation to flourish.

The sustainably built, eight-storey building is located next to the newly refurbished Warwick Arts Centre in the heart of the University’s creative and cultural arts quarter.

Explore our new Faculty of Arts building further.

british english creative writing

Life at Warwick

Within a close-knit community of staff and students from all over the world, discover a campus alive with possibilities. A place where all the elements of your student experience come together in one place. Our supportive, energising, welcoming space creates the ideal environment for forging new connections, having fun and finding inspiration.


  • Arts, Culture and Events
  • Clubs and societies
  • Food and drink
  • Sports and Fitness
  • Wellbeing support

Keep exploring life at Warwick

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Find out how to apply to us, ask your questions, and find out more.

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Warwick Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is key to helping you settle in quickly.

We have 12 self-catering undergraduate halls of residence on campus.

Our student property management and lettings agency manages more than 8,000 rooms both on and off campus, and provides advice to all full-time undergraduates.

Explore Warwick Accommodation

british english creative writing

You won't be short of ways to spend your time on campus - whether it's visiting Warwick Arts Centre, using our incredible new sports facilities, socialising in our bars, nightclub and cafés, or enjoying an open-air event. Or if you need some peace and quiet, you can explore lakes, woodland and green spaces just a few minutes’ walk from central campus.

Explore our campus

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We have lots of cafés, restaurants and shops on campus. You can enjoy great quality food and drink, with plenty of choice for all tastes and budgets. There is a convenience store on central campus, as well as two supermarkets and a small shopping centre in the nearby Cannon Park Retail Park. Several of them offer delivery services to help you stay stocked up.

And don't miss our regular food market day on the Piazza with tempting, fresh and delicious street food. Soak up the atmosphere and try something new, with mouth-watering food for all tastes.

Explore food and shops

Explore Students' Union venues

british english creative writing

We currently have more than 300 student-run societies.

So whether you’re into films, martial arts, astronomy, gaming or musical theatre, you can instantly connect with people with similar interests.

Or you could try something new, or even form your own society.

Explore our societies

british english creative writing

Sports and fitness

Staying active at Warwick is no sweat, thanks to our amazing new Sports and Wellness Hub, indoor and outdoor tennis centre, 60 acres of sports pitches, and more than 60 sports clubs.

Whether you want to compete, relax or just have fun, you can achieve your fitness goals.

Explore sports at Warwick

Studying on campus

Our campus is designed to cater for all of your learning needs.

You will benefit from a variety of flexible, well-equipped study spaces and teaching facilities across the University.

  • The Oculus, our outstanding learning hub, houses state-of-the-art lecture theatres and innovative social learning and network areas.
  • The University Library provides access to over one million printed works and tens of thousands of electronic journals
  • Three Learning Grids offering you flexible individual and group study spaces.

Studying at Warwick

british english creative writing

Travel and local area

Our campus is in Coventry, a modern city with high street shops, restaurants, nightclubs and bars sitting alongside medieval monuments. The Warwickshire towns of Leamington Spa and Kenilworth are also nearby.

The University is close to major road, rail and air links. London is just an hour by direct train from Coventry, with Birmingham a 20-minute trip. Birmingham International Airport is nearby (a 20-minute drive).

Travelling from campus

british english creative writing

Wellbeing support and faith provision

Our continuous support network is here to help you adjust to student life and to ensure you can easily access advice on many different issues. These may include managing your finances and workload, and settling into shared accommodation. We also have specialist disability and mental health support teams.

Our Chaplaincy is home to Chaplains from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. We provide regular services for all Christian denominations and a Shabbat meal every Friday for our Jewish students. There is also an Islamic prayer hall, halal kitchen and ablution facilities.

Student support

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How to apply

Learn more about our application process.

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Key dates for your application to Warwick.

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Writing your personal statement

Make an impression and demonstrate your passion for your course.

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After you've applied

Find out how we process your application.

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Our Admission Statement

Read Warwick's Admission Statement

Useful links

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3 ways to connect

Join us at a live event. You can ask about courses, applying to Warwick, life at Warwick, visas and immigration, and more.

See event calendar

Warwick Experience

Take a virtual, student-led campus tour. Then join an interactive panel session, where you can hear from and chat to our current students and staff.

Book a tour

Student blogs

Explore our student blogs in OurWarwick. You can read about campus life from students themselves, and register to post questions directly to students.

Ask a student

Explore campus with our virtual tour

Our 360 tour lets you:

  • Watch student videos
  • View 360 photography and drone footage
  • Learn about facilities and landmarks

Explore our campus virtually through our 360 campus tour now

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Come to an Open Day

Don’t just take it from us, come and see for yourself what Warwick is all about. Whether it's a virtual visit or in-person, our University Open Days give you the chance to meet staff and students, visit academic departments, tour the campus and get a real feel for life at Warwick.

Open Days at Warwick

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Page updates

We have revised the information on this page since publication. See the edits we have made and content history .

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About the information on this page

This information is applicable for 2024 entry. Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.

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English and Creative Writing

Site search

Thank you for considering an application.

Here's what you need in order to apply:

  • Royal Holloway's institution code: R72

Make a note of the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for:

  • English and Creative Writing BA - QW38
  • Click on the link below to apply via the UCAS website:

Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: QW38

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

English and Creative Writing (BA)

By combining the study of creative writing with English, you'll become an informed and critical reader as well as a confident and expressive writer - whether specialising as a poet, playwright, or author of fiction.

Studying at one of the UK's most dynamic English departments will challenge you to develop your own critical faculties. Learning to write creatively and critically analyse in tandem, you'll be exposed to a huge variety of literature while you develop your own writing practice. Studying English will allow you to place your writing within a wider cultural context of literature throughout history, considering key texts and acquiring a sound understanding of significant periods, genres, authors and ideas.

Modules are taught by nationally and internationally known scholars, authors, playwrights and poets who are specialists in their fields who write ground-breaking books, talk or write in the national media and appear at literary festivals around the world.  This means the course you take covers the most up-to-date ideas, whether in Creative Writing, Victorian Literature, Shakespearean studies or contemporary literature.

Find your voice as a writer and develop writing techniques, learn how to create, criticise and shape an artistic work: a valuable life skill with uses beyond writing poetry, plays or novels. From journalism and website creation to advertising and academic publishing – you'll be able to use the skills you pick up in character, voice, ambiguity, style and cultural context.

  • Writing practice at the heart of your learning experience.
  • Taught by high-profile, award-winning writers.
  • Create and shape artistic work – ideal skills for a career in media or publishing.
  • Choose one of three distinct pathways: fiction, poetry, or playwriting.
  • Access to a thriving culture of creative writing.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Course structure

Core modules.

In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of literary and cultural writing forms through reading, discussion and practice. You will look at poetry, drama and prose fiction alongside stand-up comedy, adaptation, translation, songwriting, and other forms of creative expression and articulation. You will learn how to offer clear, constructive, sensitive critical appraisals, and how to accept and appropriately value criticism of your own work.

In this module you will develop an understanding of a range historical perspectives on the function, forms, and value of creative writing. You will look at the genesis of particular genres, such as the short story, the novel and the manifesto, and consider relationships between historical genres and the contemporary writer. You will interrogate your own assumptions about creative writing and critically examine the relationship between creative writing and society.

In this module you will develop an understanding of the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form. You will look at a range of contemporary, eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels and learn to use concepts in narrative theory and criticism. You will consider literary history and make formal and thematic connections between texts and their varying socio-cultural contexts. You will examine novels such as 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe and 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, analysing their cultural and intellectual contexts.

In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of major poems in English. You will look at key poems from the Renaissance to the present day. You will engage with historical issues surrounding the poems and make critical judgements, considering stylistic elements such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, diction and imagery. You will examine poems from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath and analyse topics such as sound, the stanza and the use of poetic language.

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to think, read and write as a critic. You will look at the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to the ‘disciplinary consciousness’ of English Literature, considering periodisation, form, genre, canon, intention, narrative, framing and identity.

You will choose two from the following:

  • Playwriting

This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

You will choose one of the following modules. Each of these modules consists of a year-long independent project, working closely with a staff supervisor from the appropriate field.

  • Playwriting 2

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

  • All modules are core

Develop your skills in the close reading and critical analysis of Middle English poetry, focusing on set passages from three important fourteenth century texts: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The module invites you to think about how poets understood the status of Middle English as a literary language, in comparison with Latin and French.

The Lord of the Rings regularly shows up in lists of 'The Best Books of All Time', and Tolkien continues to inspire interest and imitation for all kinds of reasons. You will examine Tolkien’s work from the perspective of his engagement with Old English poetry, a subject which constituted an important part of his scholarly activity. You will look at his three main Old English poems (in the original and in translation) and Tolkien’s two most popular works of fiction, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

In this module you will explore a major literary genre which attracted all the great poets of late medieval England: the dream vision. It considers the use of the genre in the works of Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain-poet, as well as examining the visions in mystical writing. These authors’ treatments of the genre repeatedly ask us to reflect on the relationship of literature to experience, poetic authority and identity, and the development of English as a literary language.

Romance was one of the most popular genres of secular literature in late medieval England. You will begin by looking at the Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes, before going on to consider works by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Sir Thomas Malory. You will examine romances set in the mythical British past, in the classical cities of Troy, Thebes and Athens, and in the more recognisable landscapes of medieval England and France. Attention will be paid throughout this module to the often inventive and unpredictable ways in which medieval romance works to articulate specific historical and cultural anxieties.

In this module you will develop an understanding of the Anglo-Saxon riddling tradition. You will look at a wide range of Exeter Book Riddles, learning to translate Old English Poetry into modern English. You will consider techniques of textual analysis and personal judgement to form clearly expressed critical examinations of texts. You will consider various perspectives on Anglo-Saxon culture and literature and analyse riddles on topics such as animals, religion, heroic life and runes.

This module explores in-depth three supreme examples of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and historical drama: Richard III (1592-3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-6), and Macbeth (1606).

The texts covered in this module span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares. Non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study, including news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, and popular ballads.

Charting a progression from Galenic humoral theory to Cartesian dualism, you will consider the representation and significance of corporeality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Reading Renaissance plays and poetry alongside anatomical textbooks, manuals of health, erotica, and philosophical essays, the module seeks to contextualise the period's literary treatment of the body.

This module offers the opportunity to study one very important and characteristic aspect of Milton’s Paradise Lost: his depiction of Eden, the paradise that was lost at the fall. Throughout his account of Paradise, Milton works to make the loss of Paradise poignant by lavishing on it all his evocative powers as a poet. You will spend at least three sessions looking at Milton's epic, covering aspects such as Edenic sex and marriage, Eden’s fauna and flora, and work in Eden. Throughout the module images of Paradise will be given attention, starting with Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delight'. Alongside artworks, you will look at some of the Bible scholarship which tried to locate the site of Paradise, and deduce its fate.

An introduction to English literature from the Norman Conquest to the birth of Chaucer. This period has been described both as a period of political crisis and also as a period of cultural renaissance. It saw the conquest and colonization of England, the rise of new forms of scholarship and spirituality, and, according to some accounts, the development of new ways of thinking about national and individual identity

Explore the Victorian concept of the 'sensational' across a range of novels dating from the height of the sensation period in the 1850s and 60s. Together, we will examine some of the magazines in which these novels were originally serialized. Issues such as the role of public spectacle, the first detectives, advertising, domestic crime and the demonic woman will be explored in relation to the cultural and social context of this novelistic genre.

This module, which is designed to enable non-creative writing students to try a creative writing module, will give you the opportunity to work through some issues associated with short-story and/or novel writing. Classes will alternate seminar discussions of aspects of the craft of writing with workshops in which you will interact critically and creatively with others' work.

Examine a range of novels by gay and lesbian writers in Britain and Ireland which have emerged in the wake of the AIDS catastrophe and queer theory. You will focus on interesting though rather peculiar trends in the post-queer novel: queer historical and biographical fictions, and explore the reasons behind the dominance of these approaches in recent gay and lesbian literature.

With the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as the first woman Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom in 2009, poetry by women became publicly validated as never before. Setting fresh horizons for women’s poetry, Duffy joined Gillian Clarke who has served as National Poet of Wales since 2008; Liz Lochhead was appointed Scots Makar in 2011, and Paula Meehan was appointed in 2013 to the Ireland Chair of Poetry. By careful reading of two collections by each poet, you will assess how each poet has moved from a position of rebellion, liminality or minority into the very heart of the cultural institution.

Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.

An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.

This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.

An introduction to the literature of the English Renaissance, beginning in the 1590s with erotic narrative poems by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and concluding with John Milton's drama, Samson Agonistes, first published in 1671. Marlowe and Thomas Middleton represent the extraordinarily rich drama of the period, while John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the most famous of the so-called metaphysical poets. A feature of the module is the attention given to situating these works in their historical and cultural contexts.

Between the English Revolution and the French Revolution, British literature was pulled by opposing cultural forces and experienced an extraordinary degree of experimentation. The eighteenth century is sometimes called The Age of Reason, but it is also called The Age of Sensibility. It was dominated by male writers, but also facilitated the rise of the woman novelist and the emergence of coteries of intellectual women. It continued to be an essentially rural nation, but London grew to be the biggest city in the world and industrialisation was beginning to herd workers into towns. This module explores some of the tensions and oppositions which were played out in the literature of this period.

This module is framed by the personal: it begins with Queen Victoria’s private diaries of her happiest days in Scotland, and ends just beyond the Victorian period, with one troubled man’s intensely-felt account of his Victorian childhood. You will look at examples of the novelistic form, including sensation, Romantic, domestic realist and sentimental novels. Some of the works you will study are well-known and truly canonical, while others will be excitingly unfamiliar; all, however, will contribute to a sense of the variety and contradictions inherent in being Victorian.

This module will introduce you to a broad range of literatures from the period 1780 to 1830. The module aims to problematise and scrutinise the idea of Romanticism as a homogenous literary movement and to raise awareness of the range of competing literary identities present in the period.

Providing an introduction to the study of literary modernism, a period of intense experimentation in diverse sets of cultural forms.  This module deals with issues such as modernist aesthetics; genre; gender and sexuality; the fragment; time and narration; stream-of-consciousness; history, politics and colonialism; technology, and the status of language and the real.

The principal aim of this course is to immerse second-year literature students in the world of digital tools for exploring literature. Through extensive hands-on use of online parsing tools, algorithmic methods for assessing aspects such as word co-association, various types of visualization packages and a great deal more besides, students will realise the remarkable affordances of digital tools in reading and interpreting texts.

Explore British drama staged during the first half of the twentieth century against a backdrop of two world wars. The plays studied place the values of their age under scrutiny, to raise questions about social justice, spiritual choices, class and gender inequalities. Theatrical genres were under just as much pressure as the cultural values they sought to convey; the ten plays studies during the course reflect a range of evolving genres, from the well-made play, the play of ideas, social comedy, to poetic drama.

This module aims to develop your advanced writing skills for academic attainment and employability. You will be introduced to key forms of writing from a variety of professional contexts. An initial focus on the academic essay will enable you to develop writing from more familiar experience.

A project involving designing and promoting a virtual exhibition will introduce you to the writing skills needed in heritage professions and group work. Real life writing and editing tasks introduced by industry professionals from the world of publishing will provide you with practical experience to share with potential employers. You will also be introduced to the requirements of pitches, policy briefs, and the work of writing in the legal professions.

A comprehensive study of three of Shakespeare's most difficult and most disturbing plays, collectively known as the ‘problem plays’: Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. You will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the plays, both as individual works of dramatic art and as a group of texts sharing distinctive concerns and techniques.

In this module you will develop an understanding of representations of the body in Renaissance Literature. You will look at a broad range of canonical and non-canonical literature including medical, philosophical and theological texts. You will learn to use diverse critical and theoretical approaches and consider topics including bodily metamorphosis, foreign bodies and gendered bodies. You will examine poetry from writers such as John Donne and Philip Sidney and plays from writers such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and John Webster.

An advanced introduction to debates about the philosophy of literature. This module is structured around three key questions: the ethics of literature, what literature is presumed to reveal and the relationship between literature and its interpretation.

This module will introduces you to a number of theorists of tragedy, and a number of significant tragic texts (in dramatic and other idioms) from Classical Greece to the present day. All works not written in English are studied in translation. You will explore a variety of theories of tragedy with specific attention to a range of tragic works in various modes: plays, novels, poetry and film.

Focusing primarily on Joyce’s major work Ulysses while putting it into context with Joyce’s other work, you will have the opportunity of getting to know and getting to enjoy what has been described as ‘the greatest novel of the 20th century’. You will examine it in various contexts, including Joyce’s other writings and the various critical approaches that have found inspiration from Joyce, whether new critical, humanist, post-structuralist, politicizing, feminist, historicizing or textualist responses to his work.

This module explores aspects of nineteenth-century literature, science and culture in some depth and brings well-known works like Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Eliot's Middlemarch and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend into conversation with the evolutionary thought of Charles Darwin, the social investigations of Henry Mayhew and nineteenth-century writings on psychology. You will look at a number of genres, including novels, poetry, journalism, science writing, autobiography, history, art criticism and examine elements of contemporary visual culture.

The objective of this course is to prepare literature students for work in the creative industries by developing their use of digital technologies in responding to literature. In using digital technology to respond to literature both critically and aesthetically, literature students can become adept at various practices that are of immediate, valuable use in the creative industry workplace. This course will cultivate these practices, show how they grow organically out of a love for reading and writing, and demonstrate how they are skills that are in great demand in a wide range of creative workplaces.

In this module you will consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing and consider writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and criticism. You will look at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers becoming familiar with a range of methodologies for making your own poetic practice.

In this module you will address the relationship between literature and the visual arts from c.1760 to the 1890s. You will look at theoretical issues of how the visual and the verbal arts are defined and consider their compatibility through a number of case studies of visual-verbal interactions from the period studied. You will also address the rise of the visual as the dominant cultural form of the Victorian period, tracing the development of illustrated media and new visual technologies including photography and early cinema, and the concomitant rise of the new phenomenon of the art critic - the professional interpreter of images - in the 1890s.

This module focuses on a key moment in mid-20th century art and culture: the period when the New York Schools of poetry, painting and composition emerged in parallel. In the postwar period, the city took over from Paris as the centre of contemporary art. Abstract Expressionism quickly achieved global popularity, establishing the Museum of Modern Art as the world’s leading contemporary art museum. However, other cultural currents also made a great impact on their respective disciplines. The witty, fast-moving work of the New York School Poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler) challenged the authority of High Modernism in the field of poetry. The radical music of John Cage and Morton Feldman posed a similar challenge to established European composers. The leading proponents of these tendencies did not work in isolation from other disciplines. The poets, for example, wrote about art and Cage and Feldman were both inspired, in different ways, by painters such as Rauschenberg and Guston. This module examines all three fields and the relations between them.

The 1930s was a decade of extremes: extreme financial instability (after the Wall Street Crash of 1929) and extreme politics, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. British colonialism was showing fractures; there was a war in mainland Europe (in Spain), and the increasing threat of another World War, which eventually came to pass. Could it be that it closely - all too closely - resembles the decade that we’re living in now – with the rise of nationalisms, extreme ideologies, unstable international relations, following on from a colossal crash in the financial markets? What can we learn about our world by reading fiction from the 1930s?

Examine fictional representations of the girl across a range of texts, from Charlotte Brontë's eponymous Jane Eyre through to Antonia White's Catholic schoolgirl, Nanda and Ian McEwan's remorseful Briony Tallis. As well as enabling an exploration of female development and subjectivity, you will also engage with a range of questions relating to sexuality and desire, place and belonging, knowledge and resistance, art and creativity.

In this module you will study a broad range of writing for children from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century.

The end of the various colonial empires in the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of literatures from the newly emergent postcolonial societies. Rather than provide a survey of the field of postcolonial studies, this module aims at engaging the recent debates in postcolonial writing, theory and criticism. You will critically examine a range of postcolonial novels from Britain’s erstwhile empire, paying attention to issues such as the boons and contradictions of writing in the language of the colonial powers, the postcolonial reclamation of the Western canon etc. and focussing on genres such as postcolonial realism, modernism, magic realism, and science fiction. You will pay close attention to novels and their historical legacies of colonialism and resistance.

In this module you will consider two immediate, present-day concerns. The first is currently very much in circulation in English political culture and the media: what is and should be the relationship between England and continental Europe? How involved is and should the first be with the second? How close are they, how distant should they be? The second sounds rather more academic or theoretical, but is also at issue in the wider culture and involves us all. Over the past two decades, many thinkers and writers have announced that we have arrived at 'the end of modernity', and many more have declared that we are'post-modern', that we inhabit a 'postmodern condition'. Yet round about us, all the time, we hear of one kind of enthusiastic 'modernization' or another. What sense can we make of this?

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the middle Ages. Chaucer describes a group of pilgrims, drawn from all parts of late medieval English society, who enter into a tale-telling competition on their way to Canterbury. Their stories include romances, fabliaux, saints’ lives and beast fables, and address themes of love and sorrow, trickery and deception, fate and free will, satire, tragedy and magic, as well as raising questions about the nature and purposes of storytelling itself. In this module you will read The Canterbury Tales in detail in the original Middle English. You will examine how the tales relate to their literary and cultural contexts, and read them in the light of different schools of modern criticism. You will also have the opportunity to read a range of earlier writers who influenced Chaucer, including Ovid, Boethius, Dante and Boccaccio, and later writers who responded to him, including Lydgate, Hoccleve and Dryden.

In this module you will study the complete career of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), looking at eight novels in their historical and cultural contexts. You will examine Dickens's life and times, and the cultural discourses that shaped his fiction; the serialisation and illustration of his work, and the themes, forms and structures of his writing. You will also consider the richness and specificity of Dickens' actual work.

In this module you will have the opportunity to read in detail and in chronological order the full range of works by Oscar Wilde, from his early poetry to his last letters. Wilde’s work has captured the widest possible public attention since his death in 1900, and his readers and audiences are spread across the globe. His work is intensely literary and profoundly political yet it is popular and fleet-of-foot. And just as his output is exceptionally varied, so too the questions which arise from its study will take students in many directions. Aesthetic poetry, the role of the critic, the construction and betrayal of national and sexual identities, symbolist drama, platonic dialogue, fairy tale, farce, satire, wit: these are some of the topics you will examine.

Often described as the most difficult and influential poems of the twentieth-century, T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" is undoubtedly one of the key Modernist texts. You will you look at Eliot's 1922 poem, along with a selection of his critical writings, engaging in an intensive reading experience in which you will examine ideas about composition, structure, voice, time, myth and intertextuality.

The dissertation is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and so to deepen your understanding of literature, culture and critical theory.

Teaching & assessment

You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, and participate in study groups, essay consultations and guided independent study, plus you will produce a portfolio of creative work.

You will be assigned a Personal Tutor and have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle.

In your first year, you will work in small groups of just four or five students focusing on study skills such as close reading, essay writing and presentation and self-editing. As you progress through your degree, these tutorials focus on your own personal development, for instance preparing your CV.

You will also take a study skills course, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

All undergraduate degree courses at Royal Holloway are based on the course unit system. This system provides an effective and flexible approach to study while ensuring that our degrees have a coherent and developmental structure.

Entry requirements

A levels: aaa-abb.

Required subjects:

  • A in an essay-based Arts and Humanities subject at A-Level
  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our  contextual offers.

We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start of your course.

The scores we require

  • IELTS: 7.0 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 69 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here .

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Taking a degree in English sets you up with great prospects for future employability. On the course itself we place a strong emphasis on your future employability, meaning the skills that you gain won’t just be applicable to the study of English.

Although many of our students go on to further study in literature and other fields, skills such as research, presentation, teamwork, negotiation and communication will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities.  

Fees, funding & scholarships

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,800

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about  funding options , including  loans , scholarships and bursaries . UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should  check their eligibility  for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, the fee is £9,250 for that year.

**This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2024 but will advertised here once confirmed.  For further information see  fees and funding  and our  terms and conditions .

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

English Undergraduate Admissions

Admissions office: +44 (0)1784 414944

british english creative writing

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2023

Source: Complete University Guide, 2023

Source: National Student Survey, 2022 (Creative Writing)

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  • Staff & students

BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing

Course information, entry requirements.

A-level: BBB BTEC: DDM IB: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655

3 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time

English and Creative Writing

Course overview

Combine the study of literature with the practice of creative writing. You’ll graduate with the ability to be informed and curious about literature, and with the imagination to turn that curiosity into creativity.

This flexible BA English with Creative Writing degree allows you to choose topics related to American literature and culture, comparisons of literature across different cultures and art forms (also known as comparative literature), and study diverse aspects of language use in linguistics modules. Your literary and creative studies will be supported by lectures and seminars that will give you practical advice to help you improve your essay writing and refine your research strategies.

Why study BA English with Creative Writing at Goldsmiths

Goldsmiths' Department of English and Creative Writing is one of the most established and long-running creative writing centres in UK Higher Education, and many of our graduates are now leading writers and editors in their field.

Our location on the doorstep of central London means that you will have easy access to one of the most diverse, historic, and dynamic literary centres in the world. We’re regularly visited by literary guest speakers, and our students have recently enjoyed events with Ali Smith, George Saunders, Bernadine Evaristo, Nikesh Shukla, Michael Rosen, Eimear McBride and Howard Jacobson. Our forward-thinking approach to the fields of creative writing and literary studies is supported by our hosting and running of the Goldsmiths Prize, awarded annually to work that pushes the boundaries of the novel.

Who studies English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths

Since 2010, twelve of our alumni have gone on to win the prestigious Eric Gregory Award, awarded annually by the Society of Authors for a collection by British poets under the age of 30. Other recent alumni have gone on to win the Ted Hughes Award for poetry, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Rathbones Folio Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, The Guardian & 4th Estate Short Story Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the White Review Poetry Prize, with other graduates being shortlisted for the Forward Prize and the TS Eliot Prize.

Many of our students go on to study on leading international MA and MFA and PhD programmes, including on our own leading MA in Creative and Life Writing programme.

Why Goldsmiths

While our graduates are the best advocates of our teaching of English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, our teaching staff of celebrated writers and scholars are ready to support you and your work as a Goldsmiths student. If you want to chat about life and learning here, be it our literature modules, our assessments, what your week might look like as an undergraduate in the Department of English and Creative Writing, or what goes on in our creative writing workshops, we are happy to hear from you.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr. Jack Underwood .

What you'll study

Each level of the degree includes a single year-long creative writing module taught by creative writing practitioners and active researchers. Each of these modules must be passed in order to progress to the next level and (in the case of the final module) for you to be awarded the degree. 

In your first year, you'll take the following compulsory modules:

You will also choose one of the following option modules:

In your second year, you'll take the following compulsory modules:

You'll then take 75 credits of modules from an approved list. This list is published annually by the Department of English and Creative Writing , and includes the Goldsmiths Elective. This elective allows you to choose a module from a related subject in another department.

A minimum of 30 credits must be a module based on pre-1800 literature.

Examples of recent modules include:

In your final year, you'll take a compulsory Project Development module for 30 credits. With your remaining credits you'll choose from a list of optional modules produce annually by the Department, including at least 30 credits from pre-1800 literature.

Recent modules have included:

You also choose modules (worth a total of 90 credits) from a list published annually by the  Department of English and Creative Writing

Teaching style

This programme is mainly taught through scheduled learning - a mixture of lectures, seminars and workshops. You’ll also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study. This includes carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, and producing essays or project work.

The following information gives an indication of the typical proportions of learning and teaching for each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 13% scheduled learning, 87% independent learning
  • Year 2 - 12% scheduled learning, 86% independent learning, 2% placement
  • Year 3 - 12% scheduled learning, 86% independent learning, 2% placement

How you’ll be assessed

You’ll be assessed by a variety of methods, depending on your module choices. These include portfolios of original creative writing and critical commentaries on your work for each of the workshops, coursework portfolios, long essays and examinations (various timescales and formats).

The following information gives an indication of how you can typically expect to be assessed on each year of this programme*:

  • Year 1 - 63% coursework, 38% written exam
  • Year 2 - 85% coursework, 15% written exam
  • Year 3 - 100% coursework

*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2022/23. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices. Find out more about how this information is calculated .

Credits and levels of learning

An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.

Download the programme specification .

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Between 2020 and 2022 we needed to make some changes to how programmes were delivered due to Covid-19 restrictions. For more information about past programme changes please visit our programme changes information page .

We accept the following qualifications:

A-level: BBB BTEC: DDM International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655 Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher) European Baccalaureate: 75%, preferably including English. Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2

Additional requirements

Grade B in A-level English Literature/A-Level English Language and Literature/A-level English Language is required if you have studied A-Levels. Alternatively, an equivalent English subject will be accepted e.g. Grade 5 in IB Higher Level English.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world .

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification ) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study .

Fees & funding

Annual tuition fees.

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2023/2024 academic year.

From August 2021 EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for 'Home' fee status. EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will be classified as 'International' for fee purposes, more information can be found on our fees page .

  • Home - full-time: £9250
  • Home - part-time: £4625
  • International - full-time: £18440

If your fees are not listed here, please check our undergraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office , who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment .

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page .

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

We offer a wide range of scholarships and bursaries, and our careers service can also offer advice on finding work during your studies. Find out more about funding your studies with us .

We are a centre of excellence for poetry. Recent BA graduates include Rachael Allen, whose debut poetry collection Kindgomland was published by Faber in 2019 to great acclaim, and who now works as Poetry Editor for Granta; Poet and non-fiction writer Sophie Collins, is author of the ground-breaking non-fiction work, Small White Monkeys: On Self-expression, Self-help and Shame published by Bookworks in 2018, and a collection of poems, Who Is Mary Sue? Published by Faber in 2018, and selected as a Poetry Book Society Choice. Sophie was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Society of Literature as part of its inaugural 40 Under 40 scheme in 2018, and is now a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Glasgow; Ella Frears is author of Shine, Darling, her debut collection published by Offord Road Books in 2020, which was shortlisted for both the Forward and TS Eliot Prizes, as well as being selected as a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; Cecilia Knapp was named Young Person’s Poet Laureate for London in 2020 and has been widely commissioned and held residences internationally. Her theatre pieces Finding Home and Losing the Night both opened to sell out London runs at The Roundhouse before touring the UK. Her debut novel Little Boxes is forthcoming from The Borough Press (Harper Collins.) while her debut poetry collection Peach Pig will be published by Corsair in 2022. She curated the anthology Everything is Going to be alright: Poems for When you Really Need Them, published by Trapeze in 2021; Aria Aber is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Hard Damage, published by University of Nebraska Press in 2019. After graduating from Goldsmiths, Aria left to study an MFA in Creative Writing at New York University,  before winning a 2020 Whiting Award in Poetry and continuing her practice as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University; other recent poetry publications by former undergraduates include Glass by Emily Cooper, published by Makina Books, Platinum Blonde by Phoebe Stuckes, published by Bloodaxe, Earth Sign and HYPERLOVE by Naomi Morris, published by Partus Press and Makina Books, with an exciting debut pamphlet by Eve Esfandiari Denney, expected in 2022 with Bad Betty. Our poets’ successes have been matched in recent years by our prose writers. Four novels which began as creative writing dissertations and portfolios have since been published or acquired for publication: Sara Jafari’s debut novel The Mismatch was published by Penguin in 2021, started life on the Creating the Text module, while Marlowe Granados’ best-selling debut, Happy Hour, also published this year by Verso, formed part of Marlowe’s third year creative writing dissertation. Similarly, Abi Andrews debut, The Word for Woman is Wilderness, published by Serpent’s Tail in 2018, was first aired in a workshop taken during her third year on the BA Hons English Creative Writing programme, as did Paddy Crewe’s debut novel, Yip, which will be published in hardback in spring 2022 by Doubleday. Kandace Siobhan Walker’s short story Deep Heart, was winner of the 2019 4th Estate and Guardian short story prize (Kandace was also winner of the 2020 White Review Poetry Prize) and she is also working on her debut novel and collection of poetry; Goldsmiths Creative Writing BA and MA graduate, Dizz Tate’s debut novel Brutes is scheduled for publication by Faber in February 2023. Aside from literary forms, Goldsmiths undergraduate creative writing alumni also include a number of exciting non-fiction writers and journalists: Daisy Jones, who is Associate Editor of VICE UK and author of ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID: Everything I Know About Modern Lesbian and Bi Culture, published by Hachette in 2021; Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff is Award-winning journalist, book editor, columnist and podcast host. She is currently a Senior Staff Editor at the New York Times having enjoyed a celebrated tenure as Editor-in-Chief at gal-dem magazine. She has also written for the  Guardian, Observer, ipaper and Metro, and has worked as weekend editor and writer at Dazed. Excitingly, her debut collection of non-fiction, Black Joy will be published under the Penguin imprint in hardback on 2nd September 2021; Felix Petty, now executive editor at i-D Magazine, following on from his time as music editor for TANK.

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Creative Writing and English

Pathway of English

Course Overview

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Have you got a story to tell but you don't know how to unlock it? Do you want to know more about the craft of writing? Do you want to learn how to read both as a critic and as a writer?

If so, Birkbeck’s BA Creative Writing and English is the ideal degree for you. In the heart of literary London, in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, you will study with leading academics and celebrated published authors across the fields of fiction, poetry and drama, including playwright David Eldridge ( Beginning ), screenwriter Daragh Carville ( The Bay ) and writer and critic Katherine Angel ( Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again ).

You will also develop your knowledge and understanding of a wide range of literary writing in English, from earliest times to the present day. This creative writing and English degree culminates in the opportunity to develop both extended creative and critical pieces under the guidance of award-winning writers.

If you opt for the Foundation Year route, this will fully prepare you for undergraduate study. It is ideal if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied the relevant subjects, or if you didn't achieve the grades you need for a place on your chosen undergraduate degree. 

Discover the career opportunities available by taking Creative Writing and English (BA (Hons)).

Key information and modules

Creative writing and english ba (hons): 3 years full-time, on campus, starting october 2023.

Central London

View course structure and modules

Creative Writing and English BA (Hons): 4 years part-time, on campus, starting October 2023

Creative writing and english with foundation year ba (hons): 4 years full-time, on campus, starting october 2023, creative writing and english with foundation year ba (hons): 6 years part-time, on campus, starting october 2023, creative writing and english ba (hons): 3 years full-time, on campus, starting october 2024, creative writing and english ba (hons): 4 years part-time, on campus, starting october 2024, creative writing and english with foundation year ba (hons): 4 years full-time, on campus, starting october 2024, creative writing and english with foundation year ba (hons): 6 years part-time, on campus, starting october 2024, other pathways for english ba (hons).

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.

  • English and Language (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)

Find another course:

  • Birkbeck was ranked 2nd in the UK for its English Language and Literature research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
  • 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 .
  • You will be eligible to submit work to the annual Birkbeck creative writing journal, The Mechanics’ Institute Review . Read an account of how our students created the most recent issue of The Mechanics' Institute Review .

Course Structure

You must complete modules worth a total of 360 credits.

  • Year 1: five compulsory modules
  • Year 2: two compulsory modules, one option module in scriptwriting or poetry and one option module in English literature
  • Year 3: one compulsory module, one option module in scriptwriting or poetry, one or two English literature option modules and a dissertation

Year 1 compulsory modules

  • Doing English
  • Introduction to Playwriting and Poetry
  • Storytelling: Narrative Archetypes, Forms and Techniques
  • Writing London

Year 2 compulsory modules

  • Narrative Methods
  • The Novel: Writing the Modern World

Year 2 option modules

  • Poetry Workshop 1
  • Scriptwriting Workshop 1: The Essentials of Stage and Screen (The 30 Minute Script)

Year 3 compulsory module

  • The Creative Critical Seam

Year 3 option modules

  • Poetry Workshop 2: The Open Page
  • Scriptwriting Workshop 2: Writing for the Contemporary Stage

English literature option modules

  • Benjamin / Barthes
  • Contemporary British Fiction
  • Fin-De-Siecle
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Medieval and Renaissance Body, Mind, and Soul
  • Reading Joyce's Ulysses
  • Shakespeare and Performance
  • Telling the self
  • Transcultural Encounters: Literature, Empire, Ethnicity

BA Creative Writing and English dissertation

  • BA Dissertation in Creative Writing and English
  • Year 1: four compulsory modules
  • Year 2: three compulsory modules
  • Year 3: one compulsory module, one option module in scriptwriting or poetry and one option module in English literature
  • Year 4: one option module in scriptwriting or poetry, one or two English literature option modules and a dissertation

Year 4 option modules

English literature option modules.

For the Foundation Year, you undertake three core modules and choose one option module: either The Arts: Questioning the Contemporary World or a language module.

If you successfully complete these modules, you will automatically advance on to our three-year, full-time, evening study BA Creative Writing and English .

Foundation Year core modules

  • Breaking Boundaries of Knowledge
  • Fundamentals of Study
  • The Arts: Perspectives and Possibilities

Foundation Year option modules

  • French 3 (Level 4)
  • French 4 (Level 4)
  • German 3 (Level 4)
  • German 4 (Level 4)
  • Italian 3 (Level 4)
  • Italian 4 (Level 4)
  • Japanese 3 (Level 4)
  • Japanese 4 (Level 4)
  • Spanish 3 (Level 4)
  • Spanish 4 (Level 4)
  • The Arts: Questioning the Contemporary World

Our part-time Foundation Year degrees allow you to spread out your Foundation Year studies over two years. As the 'Foundation Year' is made up of 120 credits, as a part-time student you can take 60 credits in each of your first and second years before starting the main four-year BA Creative Writing and English. This means that you can take six years to complete the part-time degree with Foundation Year.

In Foundation Year 1 you take two core modules and in Foundation Year 2 you take one core module and choose one option module.

If you successfully complete these modules, you will automatically advance on to our four-year, part-time, evening study BA Creative Writing and English .

Foundation Year 1 core modules

Foundation year 2 core module, foundation year 2 option modules.

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

We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

All applicants, whatever their academic background, must submit a sample of 1000 words of creative writing (fiction, poetry, drama, or screenwriting).

For part-time courses, standard requirements are a minimum of two A-levels or equivalent.

UCAS tariff points

  • 3 years full-time: 96-128 points (e.g. A-levels CCC-ABB)
  • 4 years full-time with Foundation Year: 48 points

The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence. UCAS provides a tariff calculator for you to work out what your qualification is worth within the UCAS tariff.

Foundation year degrees

Our 'with Foundation Year' route is designed to give you extra support as it provides you with an additional year (full-time) or two years (part-time) of supported study. This is an ideal route if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied this subject, or if you did not achieve the grades you need for a place on this degree. 

Once you successfully complete your Foundation Year studies, you will automatically advance onto the main degree. 

Alternative entry routes

3 years full-time and 4 years part-time: Access to Higher Education Diploma with a minimum of 15 credits achieved at Merit or Distinction in the subject area, although we may waive these formal entry requirements and make our own assessment based on the creative writing sample.

English Language Requirements

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement 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.  We also accept other English language tests .

If you don’t meet the minimum English language requirements,  please contact us  or see our  international study skills page  for more details of how we can help.

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

Visa 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 requirements by country .

Credits and accredited prior learning (APL)

If you have studied at university (or have an HND or Foundation Degree), 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 and English BA (Hons): 3 years full-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023–24 or 2024–25

Academic year 2023–24, starting october 2023.

Full-time home students: £9,250 per year Full-time international students: £16,020 per year

Academic year 2024–25, starting October 2024

Full-time home students: £9,250 per year Full-time international students: £17,620 per year

Creative Writing and English BA (Hons): 4 years part-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023–24 or 2024–25

Part-time home students: £6,935 per year Part-time international students : £12,015 per year

Part-time home students: £6,935 per year Part-time international students : £13,215 per year

Creative Writing and English with Foundation Year BA (Hons): 4 years full-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023–24 or 2024–25

Creative writing and english with foundation year ba (hons): 6 years part-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023–24 or 2024–25.

Part-time home students, Year 1&2: £4,625 per year Part-time international students , Year 1&2: £8,010 per year Part-time home students, Year 3+: £6,935 per year Part-time international students , Year 3+: £12,015 per year

Part-time home students, Year 1&2: £4,625 per year Part-time international students , Year 1&2: £8,810 per year Part-time home students, Year 3+: £6,935 per year Part-time international students , Year 3+: £12,615 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.

Tuition fee and maintenance loans

Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

Funding for EU students is changing from August 2021: find out about details of these changes.

Find out more about tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time and part-time students at Birkbeck.

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, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government's system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

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 varied and interactive and takes the form of lecturer-led sessions on elements of craft, workshopping of students' creative work, class and home exercises, student readings, and individual and group work.

The Foundation Year is composed mainly of interactive lectures for large groups and tutorial-style classes that support the development of knowledge, skills, confidence and self-awareness.

You will taught by successful, published authors and practitioners, including:

  • David Eldridge
  • Richard Hamblyn
  • Steve Willey
  • 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

Creative writing modules are assessed by 100% coursework. This includes short creative projects, essays, presentations, a writer’s notebook, web publishing and an extended creative work in a specific genre.

English literature modules are assessed by essays, examinations and a range of other exercises.

An extended project forms part of the course in the final year.

Careers and employability

Graduates can pursue career paths in creative writing, journalism, education or media production. Possible professions include:

  • higher education lecturer
  • screenwriter.

Birkbeck creative writing graduates include:

  • Niki Aguirre
  • Sarah Alexander
  • Laura Allsop
  • Iphgenia Baal
  • Phoebe Blatton
  • Nicole Burstein
  • Tray Butler
  • Melissa De Villiers
  • Liz Fremantle
  • A. J. Grainger
  • Emma Henderson
  • Sally Hinchcliffe
  • Heidi James
  • Olya Knezevic
  • Matthew Loukes
  • Nadim Safdar
  • Karin Salvalaggio
  • David Savill.

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 via UCAS for our full-time undergraduate courses or directly to Birkbeck for our part-time undergraduate courses.

Full-time (UCAS entry)

If you are applying for a full-time undergraduate course at Birkbeck, you have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To apply, go to the UCAS website and click on ‘Sign in’. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you can start working on your application.

15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

Read more about key dates for UCAS applicants .

If you are applying for a part-time undergraduate course (4 or 6 year), you apply directly to Birkbeck by using the Apply now button. You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification .

You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure that 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.

You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link. Please note that online application will open in September.

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 .

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English Literature and Creative Writing

Start your application today

  • Approved Year Abroad

Key information

  • UCAS code UCAS Q326
  • Study mode Full-time or part-time
  • Duration 3 years full-time (4 with a year abroad/in industry), 6 years part-time (7 with a year abroad/in industry)
  • Location Canterbury
  • earth Approved Year Abroad

Course overview

Explore the rich traditions of literature while developing your talents as a writer, editor and publisher in our unique project-based programme. Covering British, Irish, American, Indigenous, Postcolonial and World literatures, English Literature and Creative Writing at Kent is truly global, cutting edge, creative, interactive, and vibrant.

Creativity is at the heart of everything we do within this course. You have the opportunity to shape your degree according to your interests; you might make a documentary film, script a video game, assemble a journal, compose a collection of poetry, write a novella or plan and pitch an exhibition.

Our course covers a variety of genres, so you can study something you already love or develop a new passion for a different genre. Whether you love Jane Austen or William Shakespeare, dystopian fiction, the gothic or modern and contemporary poetry, we specialise in the literature you are passionate about.

You can also take this course as single honours BA (Hons) English Literature. Find out more about the course here: English Literature at Kent .

Why study English Literature and Creative Writing at Kent?

Grow your confidence.

Daisy already lived near Kent, so decided to add a Year Abroad to experience time away from home and gain some independence.

Student satisfaction.

88% of final-year English students were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their course in The Guardian University Guide 2023 . 

Student success

English Literature and Creative Writing student Hyla Etame, recently had her poem, published by the online literary journal Blue Marble Review.

Did you know?

Our graduates include authors David Mitchell and Sarah Waters, Nobel-Prize winners, Kazuo Ishiguro and Abdulrazak Gurnah.

Career success

English Literature alumna Sian explains what it's like to work as a Production Controller in Penguin Random House UK.  

Everything you need to know about our English Literature and Creative Writing course

Entry requirements, course structure, how you'll study.

Our typical offer levels are listed below and include indicative contextual offers. If you hold alternative qualifications just get in touch and we'll be glad to discuss these with you. 

Entry requirements during Clearing 2023

Typical entry requirements for 2023 entry courses remain published on the UCAS course search website. These provide a rough guide to our likely entry requirements for Clearing and Adjustment applicants.                    

During Clearing (after 5 July), our entry requirements change in real time to reflect the supply and demand of remaining course vacancies and so may be higher or lower than those published on UCAS as typical entry grades.                             

Our   Clearing vacancy list  will be updated regularly as courses move in and out of Clearing, so please check regularly to see if we have any places available. See our   Clearing website  for more details on how Clearing works at Kent.

If you are an international student, visit our  International Student  website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the  International Foundation Programmes . Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a  part-time  programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

English Language Requirements

Please see our  English language entry requirements  web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in  English for Academic Purposes . You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

What you'll study

The following modules are offered to our current students. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation:

Year in industry

Changing literatures: from chaucer to the contemporary.

Changing Literatures: From Chaucer to the Contemporary aims to introduce students to the major forms of literature: poetry, prose and drama, with a core emphasis on innovation. Students will examine the formal structures and generic features of these major forms and, through studying specific examples, observe how these forms change over time and in response to changes in authorship, literary production, and audience/readership. Students will also be exposed to contemporary literary forms, such as literature written via social media (Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram), literature created by Artificial Intelligence, experimental literature, and asked to critically assess them in relation to traditional forms of literature. Embedded in this module will also be the development of writing and research skills that will equip students to manage successfully the transition.

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Adventures in Criticism

Adventures in Criticism introduces students to literary criticism, leading them through some of the best and most influential examples from its history, and guiding them on their journey to becoming literary critics themselves. On the module they will read and discuss a wide range of literary-critical texts addressing different genres, periods and theoretical frames. Through these readings, they will make connections between critical approaches and think about how they might inform their reading practices on this and other modules. The module will help students understand the significance and usefulness of criticism and will develop a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic relationship between literature and criticism. The module also includes a series of writing workshops aimed at supporting and developing key writing skills in relation to literary criticism.

Creative Writing Foundations

This module will introduce students to essential Creative Writing techniques, practices and strategies, such as journaling, workshopping, and editing and redrafting. Students will be asked to consider the range of approaches, concerns, and sources of material that writers draw upon, and to understand how that material is shaped into creative output. A range of sample texts will be presented to students as models for their own creative practice — they will be encouraged to work across genres, in a variety of short prose and poetic forms. Thematic blocks will focus on, for example, 'form, freedom and constraint'; ‘time, tense and memory’; ‘writing and place’; ‘manifestoes’. The importance of critical responses, and the role of the creative writer as critic, will be emphasised.

Narratives of Exclusion: Class, Capitalism & Belonging

How does class feature in contemporary literature today? How do writers and poets tell their class stories? This module considers working-class writing in the context of global economic crisis, insecurity, and austerity. It examines how questions of class belonging, community, and identity shape contemporary culture, and how class interacts with other forms of non-class social exclusions. The main objective of the module is to develop a critical language to talk about class that speaks to the new realities of global contemporary society. The module also considers other modes of social exclusion, such as race and gender, and how those connect to capitalism. The module introduces a variety of modern working-class writings.

Creative Writing: Connections, Conversations, Collaborations

How do creative writers emerge from, work within, speak to and challenge their cultural and creative contexts? How do those contexts shape our creative identity and practice? What are the varied professional practices and communities that form part of a creative writer's work? How do writers engage with a range of media, from broadsheets to podcasts to social platforms? This module will introduce you to a range of creative and critical methodologies and approaches to your own writing that take exchange and conversation, broadly understood, as a starting point, including using interdisciplinary research; intertextual practices such as collage and translation; collaborative and editorial exercises; and reviewing. You will reflect upon and analyse the current literary and publishing landscape, and how your work might respond to it. Your final portfolio of texts may include a range of forms, such as book reviews, manifestoes, and articles, alongside your own poetry, fiction and/or creative non-fiction, and you will be invited to reflect upon the relation between these forms. You will learn professional skills that are essential to the work of a creative writer, and begin to situate your own writing in a 'creative commons’ of shared intellectual resource and exchange.

Other Worlds: Dystopias and Futures

There is another world, which is this world. This module is founded on the understanding that through engaging with narratives of dystopias, futures, and other speculative realities, we can gain some clarity of the pressing issues we face in the world today. Through examining five thematically structured units over the course of the term, our studies will consider how the study of narratives that exist in 'other worlds' can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of complex questions involving environmental, political, historical and/or societal concerns. We will also consider how these broader contexts and concerns can be utilized to further interrogate the literary texts that we will study. Throughout the module, generic terms such as 'dystopian fiction' or ‘science fiction’ will be understood both broadly and generatively, and our studies will cover both literary and so-called paraliterary examples, alongside occasional screenings of films. Through these multiple forms, we will also have the opportunity to consider questions regarding high and low culture, the seductiveness of certain narrative forms, and the possible tensions between literary and social history.

'Black Girl Magic': Contemporary Feminisms

The hashtag #BlackGirlMagic first appeared in 2013 as a response to the erasure of the contributions of black and minority ethnic women on the world stage. This module will focus on the literary, theoretical and cultural contributions of women of colour to the Feminist movement, taking an intersectional and inclusive approach. Engaging with Feminist thought from the Second-Wave to the present moment, the module steers a course through a range of literary, political and philosophical texts and encourages students to develop their own critical understanding of gender and equalities issues. Students are invited to explore the intersections of Feminism in relation to race, sexuality, class and disability. Utilising a Black Feminist theoretical framework, this module takes an inclusive approach to gender identity, including work by trans and non-binary thinkers.

Alongside literary and theoretical texts, the curriculum will include a diverse array of cultural and political Feminist materials, including blogs, videos, music and forms of activism. The Feminist issues examined on this module will be wide ranging, from domestic labour to reproductive rights, sexual violence to mental health. Students will also have the opportunity to explore their own forms of Feminist practice through writing academic blogs and alternative assessment methods.

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Reading Victorian Literature

This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature. It will equip students with critical ideas that will help them become more skilful and confident readers of texts in and beyond this period. Students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts: environmental (for example, considering the effects of urbanisation and the Industrial Revolution); imaginative (examining a variety of genres: for example fable, dream-vision, novel); political (class conflicts, changing gender roles, ideas of nation and empire); and psychological (representations of growing up, courtship, sibling and parent-child relationships, dreams and madness). Students will be made aware of such critical concepts as realism and allegory and will be encouraged to think about various developments of literary form in the period. Students will also be asked to reflect critically on the legacies and afterlives of the Victorian period and its literature in contemporary Britain.

Declaring Independence: 19th Century US Literature

When the Long-Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the "United States" were history's "greatest poem" he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson's dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.

In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such “Old World” traditions as racialised slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.

The Contemporary

This module will introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers’ responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, austerity, and crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. Throughout, we will explore both thematic and formal concerns.

Novelty, Enlightenment and Emancipation: 18th Century Literature

Before 1660 there was no English novel, and by the end of the eighteenth century there was Jane Austen. This module asks how such a literary revolution was possible. It investigates the rise of professional authorship in an increasingly open marketplace for books. With commercial expansion came experiment and novelty. Genres unheard of in the Renaissance emerged for the first time: they include the periodical essay, autobiography, the oriental tale, amatory fiction, slave narratives and, most remarkably, the modern novel. Ancient modes such as satire, pastoral and romance underwent surprising transformations. Many eighteenth-century men and women felt that they lived in an age of reason and emancipation – although others warned of enlightenment's darker aspect. Seminar reading reflects the fact that an increasing number of women, members of the labouring classes, and African slaves wrote for publication; that readers themselves became more socially varied; and that Britain was growing to understand itself as an imperial nation within a shifting global context. It asks students to reflect, as eighteenth-century writers did, upon the literary, cultural and political implications of these developments. There will be weekly lectures and seminars.

Elements of Fiction

This module will concentrate on, as it says, The Elements of Fiction. The elements that will be covered are: point-of-view; characterisation; dialogue; plot; structure and planning; voice and tone; description and imagery; location and place; editing and re-editing; theme. Each week, there will be a different technical theme, exemplified by prior reading. Students will discuss the set texts, as exemplars of writerly craft. These discussions will be supported and illustrated by writing exercises. As the term progresses, the focus will shift more on to the students' own work; and writing workshops will be an integral part of the seminars.

This module looks at some of the most innovative early twentieth century writers. As well as famous authors, such as the novelists Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and the poet T. S. Eliot, the module examines a wide range of figures, such as Gertrude Stein, who pioneered the 'stream-of-consciousness' technique; the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis, who imitated the bombastic stance of the Italian Futurists; and the African American poet Langston Hughes, who saw the modernist moment as an opportunity to create a new ‘Negro art’. This period is characterised as much by its lively and often strident artistic manifestos as it is by its sometimes monumental literary works, and we take a close look at this climate of literary debate. We will analyse these writers against the background of changing social and sexual attitudes, examine the connections with literary and artistic developments in France and Italy, and unearth some of the less well-known writers of the period who are increasingly viewed as central to modernist literary history.

Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama

The drama of early modern England broke new literary and dramatic ground. This module will focus on key plays across the period. It will explore the development of dramatic writing, the status of playing companies within the London theatres, drama's links to court entertainment and its relationship to the provinces. Dramatic and literary form will be a central preoccupation alongside issues of characterisation, culture, politics, and gender. Shakespeare’s work will be put into context in relation to the plays of his contemporary dramatists as well as the various cultural, historical and material circumstances that influenced the composition, performance and publication of drama in early modern England.

Empire, New Nations and Migration

This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.

Chaucer and Late Medieval English Literature

This module will introduce students to a range of writing from the late-medieval period. It focuses on a number of central genres in English literature that emerged between the late-fourteenth and early-sixteenth-centuries (romance, tragedy and fabliaux, miracle plays and devotional prose), and will explore some key topics and themes in medieval literature. In previous years, we have explored, for example: authority and the idea of the 'author', politics and social change, gender, sexuality, piety, personal identity, chivalry, free will, legend, historicism, reading technologies and practices, iconography, and medievalism. The themes and theories covered by the course will vary from year to year in response to the lecture programme, and to the emphases made by individual teachers.

Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales will offer an accessible introduction to many of these core genres and themes, and initiate students in issues that are pertinent to less familiar writers and texts from the period, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's Le Morte Darthur, and The Book of Margery Kempe. During the course of the module you will also learn about the historical and cultural contexts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, how such contexts influenced the literature of the period, and how modern medievalisms (the versions of ‘the medieval’ presented in, for instance, film, TV , art and historical novels) have shaped twenty-first-century ideas about medieval life and literature.

American Modernities: US Literature in the 20th Century

This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.

Perceptions, Pathologies, Disorders: Reading and Writing Mental Health

As discussions about mental health and the challenging of stigmas surrounding mental illness, make their way into the mainstream more and more, there has never been a better time to explore the ways in which literary and cultural texts frame and represent mental wellbeing. In this module, students will have the opportunity to examine, respond to, and reflect upon, a range of representations of mental health and mental illness, and the broader social and historical ideas which they reveal.

Drawing on critical texts from the fields of Mad Studies, alongside prose memoir texts, lyric essays, poetry collections, and film and image, the module will explore, critically examine, and creatively respond to some of the various thematic lenses through which mental health and mental illness have been represented. These themes include, for instance, mental health in relation to idleness and work; shame and secrecy; spectacle and morality; sin and punishment; animality and dehumanization; order and disorder; contagion and pathology; leisure and decadence; surveillance and authority; transgression, borderlands and margins; social uniformity and 'family values'; feminisation and silence; and rebellion and protest.

The module will furnish students with the necessary tools required to discuss issues of mental health and mental illness critically and with understanding; as well as providing the opportunity to explore and reflect on these issues creatively in a range of forms. Students are invited to take either a critical or a creative approach to their final projects - or a hybrid of the two – and both approaches will be fully supported throughout the module.

Poetic Entanglements: Approaching Lyrical Writing Procedures

Feminist poet and critic Adrienne Rich suggested that poetry could be a space that allows 'the structures of power to be described and dismantled'. Romantic poet P. B. Shelley called poets ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. Can poetry help us reimagine and restructure our world? What forms might those imaginings and restructures take? What are you, and your poetry, invested in? And what kinds of writing could your poetry be?

This module approaches these questions from different angles. You will have the opportunity to discuss and learn how to write texts for sound performance, visual texts, traditional poetic forms, prose poems, and lyric essays. We will explore what poetry can be and where it meets prose, art, and music, looking at a range of writers: from more traditional poetic texts to contemporary and experimental writing that defies traditional form and easy categorization as a ‘poem’, and investigating how language can be played with through writing experiments and exercises.

This module allows you to think through the relationships between identity, intention, effect, and subject matter through a variety of different writing methods, techniques, procedures and approaches and forms. You will learn how to apply this thinking to your own writing: how, for example, might you want to write back against something that’s made you angry? Could a poetic procedure help you to take back or examine its power over you? Could you erase it, collage it, reduce it to it sound? You will be given the tools to learn how to identify how what is important to you could make an interesting writing project, and discover what forms of articulation can enable you to write this most effectively.

All our undergraduate degrees are also available with a Placement Year. For more information about this option please see Placement Year .

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability. 

All students within the Faculty of Humanities can apply to spend a Term or Year Abroad as part of their degree at one of our partner universities in North America, Asia or Europe. You are expected to adhere to any progression requirements in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to proceed to the Term or Year Abroad. 

The Term or Year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see  Go Abroad .

The Project (English)

This module presents students with an opportunity to formulate and deliver a research project of their own making, whether it be a dissertation, a portfolio of texts, a publication, a podcast, a documentary, a short film, a performance, an app, or another form of public interaction derived from literary research. Supported by appropriate instruction, this module develops independent research skills and creative practices, provides a chance to engage with material of personal and/or professional interest, and offers the possibility of laying claim to a specific area of study. This is a student's opportunity to devote a sustained period of time to an area for which they feel enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion.

LGBTQ Narratives: Queer Writing from Britain and Ireland

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer narratives often hold a revelatory place in the personal identity formation of many British and Irish people in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Indeed, queer literature offers a powerful site for identity critique and formation. In the nascent genre of the 'coming out' story, in narratives of both personal and systemic oppressions, as well as in tales of outward resistance, queer writers in Britain and Ireland have used (and continue to use) literary modes to speak back to the very cultural homophobia and transphobia, which marginalises them and their communities. This module invites students to explore the unique place that literature and art maintains in the formation of LGBTQ political identities, cultures, pasts, and futures; students will also be prompted to consider how queerness—specifically in Britain and Ireland—intersects with categories such as class, race, nationality and others. The module will consider a broad range of British and Irish LGBTQ writing from the late twentieth century to the present: sampling significant texts in poetry, drama, prose, and television drama.

#ShakeRace: Shakespeare and Racial Politics

This module explores the ways in which Shakespeare's plays and Shakespeare as a cultural icon function within historic and contemporary racial politics. It examines intercultural appropriations of Shakespeare on stage and film, and their racial and cultural meanings. In doing so, students are encouraged to address the role that Shakespeare and his plays have in historic racial politics, global, colonial and postcolonial histories, as well as contemporary discussions (often seen in Twitter hashtags such as #ShakeRace, #RaceB4Race and #BLM). It will focus on five texts and productions, such as Titus Andronicus, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, Othello and The Tempest.

Centres and Edges: Modernist and Postcolonial Quest Literature

Challenging the common centre-margin paradigm at the heart of postcolonial discourse, this broad-ranging and comparative module traces interconnections between modernist and postcolonial 'literature of the quest' from different cultural locations and conjunctions. The modernist and postcolonial subject embarks on odysseys in quest of origin, language and identity. Whilst the modernists’ experimentation with form, reflecting the ever-changing data of modern consciousness, evidences the ‘sickness’ of modernity, postcolonial quest literature dismantles the binaries and power hierarchies within language as a counteraction to imperialist discourse. Early examples of how the imperialist divide and centre-margin dialectic are handled, will mark the beginning of our exploration of modernist grail quests for an effective medium of communication, existentialist quests in a modern world in crisis, experimental quests into the unknown and poetic quests crossing thresholds of meaning. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work from a variety of mythological, philosophical, anthropological and theoretical perspectives.

Nabokov and the Literary Imagination

This module gives students an opportunity to focus in depth on the work of one of the twentieth century's great writers, Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977). Nabokov is famous for his scandalous novel Lolita, but this module will offer a broader, more comprehensive view of the author, tracking the development of his extraordinary literary oeuvre across five decades, three languages and multiple genres, reading his novels alongside a range of other forms, and studying film adaptations of his work. We will grasp Nabokov’s oeuvre in its transnational literary, biographical and historical contexts, from the Russian Revolution to Fascist Europe and Cold War America. Our guide in this journey will be Nabokov’s evolving idea of the creative imagination and its transformative power.

The Unknown: Reading and Writing Creative Non-Fiction and Autofiction

The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically about creative non-fiction and autofiction. This module asks how these forms explore and value alternative modes to epistemology, including embracing those things which are difficult to put into language or 'unknown'. You will explore the techniques writers use when writing about their own lives, analyse the success of these techniques, and discuss the ethics of various forms of ‘life writing’. You will then attempt your own writing in one of these genres or a critical commentary on a topic from the module. Many of the texts we read will be contemporary, but there will also be important literary and critical works from the last 200 years, including on topics such as psychoanalysis, desire, ecocriticism, and the non-human. The Unknown asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write and invites you to explore these questions creatively and critically.

Reading and Writing The Innovative Contemporary Novel

This module will investigate the theory and practice of innovation in the contemporary novel. Students will be exposed to a variety of stimulating contemporary novels, encouraged to make connections between them and assess the ways in which they incorporate innovative devices, prompting students to think about the boundaries and limits of fiction and the novel.

Students will respond to the studied texts through their own writing, and, as the module progresses, will begin work on introductory chapters to their own novels. Writing workshops provide the opportunity for students to share ideas and works-in-progress; technical exercises will encourage experimentation and the development of the writers' unique voice.

The Brontes in Context

While the so-called 'Brontë myth' remains potent in popular culture today, the lives-and-works model associated with it continues to encourage readers to seek partially concealed Brontë sisters in their fictions. Beginning and ending with the problematic of mythmaking – its origins in Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë and its subsequent perpetuation in film and other rewritings - this module will restore attention to the rich literary contribution made by the sisters through an intensive focus on their novels and some poetry in the context of Victorian debates about gender and the woman question. Situating the Brontë myth in relation to other forms of mythmaking in the period (for example, ideologies of class, gender and empire), it will consider a small selection of film adaptations and go on to examine the Brontës’s experiments with narrative voice and form, their variations upon the novel of education, the tensions between romance and realism in their writing and their engagement with the political, economic and social conditions of women in mid-Victorian culture.

Harlem to Hogan's Alley: Black Writing in North America

Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s and ending in Vancouver at the turn of the 21st century the module will follow a chronological and geographical route from South to North and East to West, exploring a diverse range of literary fiction and poetry that fuses urban black experience and a history of migration. Drawing on material from the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, we will spend time analysing the representation of black identity and experience, aesthetics, and the ethics/politics of literary production. Considering both the material conditions and intellectual challenges faced by different communities, we will examine a rich cultural matrix, from soulful rural folk culture to hard-edged urban cynicism, from the collage and blues aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance, to the hip-hop vernacular of Vancouver's southwest side.

Virginia Woolf

This module examines the development of Virginia Woolf's writing across the span of her life. It explores Woolf’s most important modernist texts alongside some of her lesser-known writings, and considers a range of literary genres she wrote in (novels, essays, short stories, auto/biography). As well as paying close attention to the distinct style of modernist literature, there will be consideration of various historical, cultural, philosophical, political and artistic contexts that influenced, and were influenced by, Woolf’s writing. Students will be introduced to the key critical debates on Woolf, featuring discussion of topics as diverse as feminism, visual art, the everyday, war, sexuality, gender, class, empire, science, nature and animality. With Woolf as its central focus, this module therefore seeks to understand the lasting significance of modernist literature.

Animals, Humans, Writing

What is the relationship between 'animal' and ‘human’, and how is this explored through writing? This module seeks to examine creaturely relations by focusing on literature from the eighteenth century up to the present, alongside key theoretical and contextual material that engages with questions concerning animality and humanity. We will focus on how writers imagine distinct animal worlds as well as how they understand the role of animals in human cultures. A range of novels, short stories and poems will raise questions about how we look at, think with, and try to give voice to animals, and topics covered will include ‘Becoming Animal’, ‘Animal Autobiography’, ‘Observing Animals’, ‘Colonial Creatures’, ‘Animal Experiments’, ‘Taming and Training’, and ‘Questions for Animals’. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the diverse critical field known as ‘animal studies’, whilst also considering the broader cultural, philosophical and ethical implications of how we think about the relationship between humans and animals.

The New Woman: 1880-1920

The New Woman, a controversial figure who became prominent in British literature in the late nineteenth century, challenged traditional views of femininity and represented a more radical understanding of women's nature and role in society. She was associated with a range of unconventional behaviour – from smoking and bicycle-riding to sexuality outside marriage and political activism. This module will examine some of the key literary texts identified with the New Woman phenomenon including women’s journalism in the period. The module’s reading will be organised around central thematic concerns such as: sexuality and motherhood; suffrage and politics; career and creativity. We will consider to what extent the New Woman was a media construction or whether the term reflected the lives of progressive women in the period. This module will also examine how the New Woman became a global phenomenon, beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, before spreading to literature, journalism, and political essays produced around the world by writers from Britain (Mathilde Blind, Mona Caird, Margaret Harkness, George Gissing, Amy Levy, Evelyn Sharp, and Augusta Webster), America (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), Australia (George Egerton), India (Sarojini Naidu), New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield), and South Africa (Olive Schreiner). The module will also consider the legacy of the New Woman in a neo-Victorian novel, Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet (1998).

The Gothic: Origins and Exhumations, 1800 to the Present

This module explores the Gothic from its eighteenth-century origins to its present-day incarnations, examining in particular the conventions that have allowed this diverse and evolving genre to remain at once relevant and recognisable. The course focuses on the elements of terror, hauntings and transgressions and how these conventions are deployed and reworked by writers in key literary and historical moments in the genre's development, such as at the end of the end of the eighteenth century, the fin de siècle, post-war America and the millennium. It asks students to consider the Gothic within the social, political and cultural contexts that inform the novel’s various concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class and the law. There will be a strong emphasis on examining and exploring the theoretical discourses underpinning the shifts and developments in the major critical debates and trends. Students will be encouraged to relate textual and critical analysis to topics such as aesthetics, popular culture and literature, religion, social and political history as well as contemporary concerns such as marginalization, queer identity, the body and immigration. The module will demonstrate the ongoing significance of the Gothic as an experimental and evolving form that functions as a vehicle for political and social critiques and, as such, relates to concerns central to the study of undergraduate English and American literature.

The "End of Empire": Post-Imperial Writing in Britain

British colonialism changed the world, but it also changed Britain. Since the period known as the 'end of empire' in the 1950s and 60s, Britain has grappled with its loss of imperial power, a loss that has informed contemporary debates about immigration, multiculturalism, and nationalism. This module explores how writers have represented the consequences of imperial decline for British society and culture. Beginning in the midst of the 'end of empire' and ending in the world in which we find ourselves today, we'll explore how some of the core concerns of contemporary Britain are best understood in terms of post-imperiality. These concerns include racism towards migrants and refugees, nostalgia for a romanticised imperial past, and the re-emergence of colonial discourse in debates about the ‘War on Terror’. Alongside these, we'll discover how literature can enable an investment in new forms of community and identity. Many of the writers on this module bring the category of ‘British’ into crisis, and in doing so, enunciate new forms of commonality that actively reject the harmful and exclusionary imperial myths about racial and cultural difference

A Knight's Tale: Chivalric Literature and Courtly Love in Premodern England

This module will explore arguably the most popular of secular literary forms from late medieval and early modern Europe. The course will explore a range of chivalric romances alongside a variety of other literary, textual and material productions that testify to a cultural fascination with the ideals of knighthood and with courtly values more generally. The module will pay particular attention to the rise of romance literature in the late medieval period, with narratives that were repeatedly translated into English for socially diverse audiences. The module will explore particular tropes within romance literature and courtly lyric poetry, particularly in respect of the portrayal of women. It has long been recognised that romance literature was often read by mixed gender audiences and the module will explore how the genre functioned to guide female behaviour against patriarchal and social norms.

The module will also study how supposedly courtly literatures consistently appealed to 'middling' socially aspirant consumers and not only to society’s elite who were so often the protagonists portrayed in such texts. Actual readers, manuscript case studies and England’s first generations of printers will be examined to explore the contexts for the middling classes’ fascination with chivalric literature.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and assessment can vary between modules. All modules are taught by weekly seminars. In addition to seminars, the majority of literature modules also include a weekly lecture. The majority of Stage 2 and Stage 3 Creative Writing modules also include a weekly workshop.

Assessment across all Stages is by a varied and exciting range of coursework only. There are no exams in modules from the School of English. Some modules may include an optional practical element. Assessment at Stage 3 may also include an optional Dissertation or final project.

Assessment at Stage 3 is by coursework only and may include an optional English Dissertation/Creative Writing project.

Attendance at seminars is required, and for the majority of modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance. 

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programme specification .

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Whether you have a specific career in mind or haven’t thought beyond university, we can help you plan for success. At Kent, we prepare you for your creative and professional life. We offer you rigorous academic training in all aspects of literary history, critical theory and creative writing.

You’ll develop the creative competence you need to succeed in any field you’d like to explore. By offering you a varied range of assessments, we’ll help you to hone the digital skills, critical thinking, communication and information-processing skills that are essential in the 21st-century job market.

Our courses embed employability at every turn with modules that focus on careers in growing and emerging sectors; we’ll demonstrate how your degree can give you options in the creative industries and beyond.

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I liked the range of the literature we studied at Kent – the fact that we looked at all sorts of genres, from all sorts of periods.

The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • UK £9,250
  • EU £13,500
  • International £18,000
  • UK £4,625
  • EU £6,750
  • International £9,000

General information

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide .

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

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The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from  UKCISA  before applying.

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Fees for undergraduate students are £1,385.

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Students  studying abroad for less than one academic year  will pay full fees according to their fee status.

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Find out more about  accommodation and living costs , plus  general additional costs  that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page  for more details. 

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Key information about this course.

british english creative writing

BA Hons English and Creative Writing & History

  • UCAS Code: Q3V1

Study abroad:  available

Applicant visit day:  March each year

Ranked: 3rd for English / 9th for History (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023) & 2nd for Creative Writing (Complete University Guide 2023)

Study with us

Our BA (Hons) Humanities & Social Sciences degree, explained.

Download video transcript

Why this course?

Our approach to the English & Creative writing course is innovative, modern and friendly, giving you a comprehensive understanding of English literature as a core basis for your creative work.

The emphasis is on helping you develop a range of skills to grow your future career, including textual analysis and interpretation. With us, you can study everything from poetry, the novel and drama (stage, screen, and radio) as you would expect on an English and Creative Writing degree, but in addition, at Strathclyde, we offer the opportunity to use creative writing skills as part of your approach to literary criticism.

Hear more from course leader Elspeth Jajdelska .

Studying history – the story of humanity through the ages – develops your knowledge of the past and gives you a better understanding of the present.

Throughout your studies, you'll receive excellent training in areas such as problem-solving, communication, research methods and interpretation.

Our classes cover some of the most important and interesting historical periods at home and abroad, including Scotland’s ‘Highland Problem’ in the 16 th  century, Slavery in World History and Cold War Europe, 1945-1991.

Our BA degrees in Humanities & Social Sciences are broad-based to start with. In Year 1 you will study three subjects, including your chosen subject(s).

british english creative writing
  • the long slow march of women's rights
  • the impact of immigration, to show the ways in which British society was changing fundamentally
  • the collapse of the traditional industrial economy in the 1980s and changes in Scottish family life, to show how social norms were being overturned
  • the advent and effects of devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Just as in the first semester History class, we will use carefully selected documents in tutorials to help us analyse each topic.

    Writing Through Time 1&2

    These will situate texts in context, from genre to historical period and theory. The texts include poetry, drama, novels,  short stories, life writing, and screenplays and you'll have the chance to choose between critical and creative writing responses for one assessment on each class.

    The Construction of Scotland

    This class looks at a range of literary texts and how they interpret and create the idea of ‘human’ at different points in history.

    Making the Modern Human

    This class explores how Scottish fiction and drama of the 20th and 21st centuries creates the idea of Scotland.

    Scotland: Renaissance and Reformation

    This course will focus on the period from the final establishment of the territorial boundaries of the Scottish kingdom in James III’s reign through to the Union of Crowns in 1603. In covering the era of the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland, as well as the regnal union of 1603, it will focus on the reigns of successive Stewart monarchs and their subsequent accession to the English and Irish thrones, thereby creating a British imperial monarchy.

    Scotland’s contact with Europe and its strained relations with England form core themes but political history will be studied in the light of the social, religious, economic and cultural developments that lend early-modern Scotland its distinct identity, thereby examining issues such as trade and economic development, the impact of the Renaissance in Scotland, literacy and the spread of reforming ideas, the arts, education and issues of identity.

    Disease & Society

    This class provides a broad introduction to the historical relationship between diseases and human societies in the early modern and modern periods.

    It examines the core thesis that diseases and other health conditions have had dramatic impacts on history, shaping economic relations, political and social structures and cultural and religious beliefs.  However, it also explores the reverse of this, the thesis that human activities, ideas and behaviours have radically altered the diseases and conditions that afflict our societies over the last five hundred years.

    The course is grouped around three themes:

    • infectious disease
    • chronic disease
    • society's responses to disease

    Lectures in the first two sections focus on exploring the origins of key diseases/debilities, the ways in which social structures/behaviours have caused or abetted these conditions, and their impacts on society, economics, politics and culture.

    In the final section, lectures focus more on the ways in which societies have sought to conceptualise, control and cure diseases. The key questions that students should be able to answer by the end is how have diseases and debilities shaped human societies, and how have human societies shaped diseases and debilities?

    History of Scotland 1700-1832

    This course will explore Scotland’s political, economic, religious, intellectual and social development in the aftermath of the Union of 1707 through to 1832.  The benefits, disadvantages and tensions that arose from the process of becoming part of the British state will be explored through such issues as:

    • causes and impact of union
    • the significance of Jacobitism
    • the nature and consequence of agricultural and industrial change
    • the role of the Scottish Enlightenment.

    Modern Europe

    This class examines some of the principal developments in international history of twentieth century Europe. It pays particular attention to:

    • the causes of the First World War
    • the impact of the war upon the international system
    • the rise of new powers within the international community after 1919
    • the causes of the Second World War
    • the Cold War and the forces driving European integration since 1945
    • the role of the USA and USSR in recent European history

    Writing Short Fiction & Poetry

    Writing Short Fiction and Poetry is a module studying contemporary short stories and lyric poetry. Generally speaking, the aim of this class is to get you writing as soon as possible – each week is aimed at teaching some of the basics of Creative Writing alongside a case study of a writer and their particular approach to elements of the craft.

    Dramatic Writing

    We'll be reading screenplays, talking about them, and writing our own. What is the difference between writing for the page and writing for the screen? Screenplays are, in practice, a series of instructions: for actors, for crew members, for potential financiers. A screenplay is a dual-purpose document. It exists as proof of concept (i.e., proof of narrative); and it is there to communicate the spirit and tone of the finished film. More than anything, our first job as writers for the screen is to make the reader hear and see. Primarily it is to make the reader see. There are many ways in to a life in writing for the screen. But, as with any good work of fiction, it begins with engaging characters. Do they appear to us fully formed? Or does it take development? How can we get them onto the page? What are the decisions we make at the start of a project? What is visible and the invisible writing? This class encourages you to consider the shape of your story in order to point yourself—and your narrative—in the right direction.

    The American Novel

    This class aims to introduce you to some of the major forms and themes in the 20th century American novel with some more contemporary content. The module investigates how major social and historical issues have shaped some of the most important American novels and how the novel, as a form, has developed and adapted to describe new and different realities. Some of the historical and social issues covered in the class include:

    • the suburbs and the city
    • the legacy of slavery
    • queer life in the US
    • stories of migration and travel

    This module is designed to equip students who wish to pursue studies in American literature or culture in more depth with an overview of the period. It's also designed to expand the knowledge of students with a general interest in the novel.

    The Glasgow Novel

    This class will trace the development of fictional representations of Glasgow from the beginnings of industrialism to the present age. In doing so, it will consider a wide variety of historical and literary approaches to depicting the city. Beginning with a brief history of the pre-C20th Glasgow novel, the course goes on to consider some of the most famous literary depictions of Glasgow, including McArthur and Long’s No Mean City , Archie Hind’s The Dear Green Place and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark .

    Victorian Literature

    This class will study the literature of the Victorian period (1837-1901) and will focus on fiction, poetry, drama and non-fictional prose. It aims to situate this writing both in its contemporary political, social and cultural contexts and in the light of recent critical and theoretical debates. Themes to be covered may include:

    • the 'crisis of faith'
    • science and evolutionary theory
    • realism and the Victorian novel
    • medievalism and Victorianism
    • literature and the visual arts
    • key peotic genres, including elegy and dramatic monologue
    • popular fiction
    • the 'Woman Question'
    • Empire and travel writing
    • the new journalism and Victorian reading publics
    • representations of the city and technology
    • issues of canon and periodisation

    Twentieth Century Literature

    This class explores twentieth-century English literature with a focus on fiction, poetry, and drama. The survey examines major literary figures from the first half of the century, such as Woolf and Stein, along with their contemporaries and successors. Particular attention will be paid to the literary culture of Modernism before exploring the texts, culture and politics of the later 20th century through writers such as Spark, McGrath and Smith. Emphasis will be placed on understanding a diverse range of literature in historical, critical and theoretical contexts as a means of engaging with the rich literary heritage of the twentieth century, and what the twenty-first century might bring.

    Sex, Revenge & Corruption in Renaissance Drama

    This module will focus on drama, a key genre in the period from the 1580s to the closure of the playhouses in 1642. Reading work by major dramatists, we'll engage with a form that addressed a highly literate audience as well as a popular one, and is thus a particularly interesting place to trace ways of thinking in the period. The common thread that ties this selection of plays together is their interest in transgression: what happens when humans cross the limits set by tradition, religion and the state?

    In the process of this theatrical interrogation, the plays pose questions about violence, identity, gender, desire, citizenship and the role of the theatre itself. We'll read tragedies and comedies; alongside these, you'll also be asked to think about the moral and theological debates that were taking place at the time these works were produced and consumed. Thus, for example, we'll read plays by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton alongside writing by Robert Burton, Sir Francis Bacon and Niccolo Machiavelli. This will enable us to explore how ideas about sex, revenge and corruption in the period are developed and contested between the stage and the work of some of the most influential thinkers at the time; it will also allow us to consider how some of these early modern limit cases still ask questions of us today.

    Lectures will provide context for tutorials, which will be organised around worksheets that will be circulated in advance, and so will give you the chance to prepare for each class, and will allow everyone the chance to contribute to discussions.

    Language in Business & Organisations

    This class explores the ways in which language is used in businesses and other organisations. The class assumes no prior knowledge of linguistics, and teaches technical skills in discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and the analysis of other types of verbal interaction, in speech, writing and electronic communications. The analytical skills learned in this class, and the theoretical ideas, will be useful also in the analysis of literature or any other aspect of language in use. Seminars give you practice in the analytical skills. The class assumes that you have no prior knowledge or experience in discourse analysis, conversation analysis, pragmatics, etc.

    The Body: Theories & Representations

    What does it mean to ‘write the body’? How has the world of sensory experience been rendered in theory, literature, and film? What metaphors do we summon to understand physical experiences of joy, sickness, health, desire, exhaustion, and intoxication?

    This class will approach these questions (and more) by studying literary, visual, and theoretical engagements with the body in late 20th and 21st -century culture. Over the course of the semester, you'll encounter some key debates about the body and its representation in literature and film. You'll engage with the fields of gender theory, queer theory, critical race theory, and disability theory. You'll also learn some strategies for analysing contemporary culture through the ‘lens’ of theory, developing skills you can take into other areas of your study.

    Textlab is one of several  Vertically Integrated Projects  (ViPs) running across the University. Each ViP brings together a team of undergraduates, postgraduates, and staff to work on a research-based project.

    TextLab brings together students and staff from English/Humanities and Computer and Information Science. We work on research projects in the field of Digital Humanities (the application of computer-based technologies to the study of texts) – specifically using computers to analyse Shakespeare’s language, and building a  website aimed at schools .

    English & Creative Writing Work Placement

    This placement module offers you the opportunity to gain practical, work-based experience (minimum 60 hours) in an area that is professionally related to or relevant to your BA. For your degree this might be working with a publisher, or literary agency, or in an office environment where you are using your skills in reading, interpretation and writing. Or you might use this as an opportunity to look towards a future career: so, if you plan to go into teaching, for example, you could look to get a placement working in a subject-related environment with young people.

    Oral History: Theory and Practice

    Please note that this is compulsory for students who wish to use oral history in their dissertation.

    Oral history is a way of engaging with the past via the experiences and memories of those who were there. ‘Oral history’ is a multifaceted term that refers to the sources (interviews), the methodology (interviewing), theory (analysis), and products (of which there are many).

    This new class aims to alert students to the possibilities of using oral history as a way of understanding the past. It will examine key concepts and methodologies in oral history and explore how oral history has helped to shape historical understanding.

    This class also has an important practice-based focus – students taking the class will gain an opportunity to develop practical skills in oral history interviewing and analysis as well as to reflect critically on theory in relation to practice. They will also get an opportunity to explore the application and use of history in the public arena through engaging with work on oral history and public history.

    Because of the practical nature of this class and the limited supply of equipment, numbers are capped at 25.

    Religion Behind the Iron Curtain

    This class will explore Church-State relations, together with the dilemmas faced by ordinary Christians and Communists, in a number of ‘satellite’ countries of East-Central Europe during half a century of Cold War.  Seminar topics will include:

    • the show trial of so-called ‘Vatican agents’ in Prague and Bratislava
    • a ‘miracle’ faked by the Secret Police
    • the case of a cardinal who took refuge in the US Embassy in Budapest
    • the election of a Polish Pope and the spirituality of the Polish Solidarity movement

    Disability in Modern Britain

    The aim of this class is to gain an understanding of the key role that disability plays in the study of the historical past.

    The class will explore the ways in which disability has been defined, treated and experienced. It will place developments in disability policy within wider social, cultural and political contexts. Students will engage with, and think critically about, primary sources ranging from official papers, newspaper articles, and oral testimonies, in addition to relevant secondary source material.

    The use of oral testimonies in particular will help you to consider the lived experiences of disabled people and the ways in which society sought to define and treat disability. 

    Medicine & Warfare

    This class explores the role that health and medicine has played in the major wars of the twentieth century. In particular, it considers the vital contribution that medicine has made to manpower economy, discipline and morale.

    Focusing predominantly on Britain, the USA and Europe, the class analyses the ways that different countries have responded to the medical issues posed by modern warfare in both military and civilian contexts. As such, it considers issues such as wartime disability, welfare provision, occupational health and psychiatry, and explores the role that military doctors, women and humanitarian organisations have played in shaping medical responses to war.

    The key objective of this class is to place military-medical developments within their wider social, cultural and political contexts and to examine the impact of military health and medicine on the lived experience of war.

    France at War

    The class begins with the traumatic episodes of the Franco-Prussian War and the Communes of 1871. By analysing the often problematic political and cultural consolidation of the Third Republic, this class will explore the ‘culture wars’ and the internal divisions that culminated in the Dreyfus Affair. After the humiliation of losing its status as Europe’s dominant power, France sought greatness in colonial expansion in Africa and Indochina, while seeking to consolidate national identity by transforming ‘peasants into Frenchmen’.

    You'll explore the experiences of the First World War, assessing the strength of French unity in the face of the German enemy. The interwar clashes between fascism and the Popular Front will then be examined and how the First World War impacted upon French foreign policy and attitudes towards future war.

    You'll spend three weeks exploring the enduring controversies of the Second World War, focusing upon the collapse, resistance, collaboration, and French involvement in the persecution of the Jews, as France faced its ‘hereditary enemy’ once again.

    The class concludes with an analysis of the French withdrawal from Indochina and Algeria and an assessment of France’s position in the post-war global order.

    A variety of sources will be explored throughout the class, including paintings, monuments, films, literary sources, newspaper reports, memoirs and archival documents. 

    Propaganda & War in the Twentieth Century

    This class examines means by which states conduct informal activities to promote their domestic and foreign objectives during wartime. In particular, it analyses the role of propaganda throughout the twentieth century, focusing on the use of modern mass communication and technology by states involved in conflicts.

    The class is structured around a number of historical themes, which help shed light on the emergence of propaganda as an important means of modern warfare. Key themes analysed throughout the course include:

    • the First World War as the first ‘total war’
    • the growth of international radio broadcasting
    • the creation of centralised propaganda machines in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union
    • home-front propaganda during the Second World War
    • propaganda, disinformation and the Cold War
    • the United States and the experience of Vietnam
    • information, media coverage and the Gulf War
    • 9/11 and the war on terrorism


    This class is compulsory for students who want to study history at Honours level.

    This class will introduce students to the methods used by historians to reconstruct the past, exploring and analysing the techniques used by historians in doing primary research. The class is designed to demonstrate how students can use these techniques in their own work, particularly their 4th year/Honours dissertation.

    Among the topics that will be covered are:

    • constructing bibliographies
    • using evidence
    • using academic conventions
    • constructing research plans
    • writing historical prose

    Communism in Practice: the Case of Czechoslovakia

    Czechoslovakia, the last post-war European country to fall behind the Iron Curtain, was exceptional in allying itself to the Soviet Union voluntarily and in bringing its own Communists to power more or less democratically. Confident at first that it would be able to pursue its own path to socialism, the Czechoslovak Communist Party soon became one of the most rigidly Stalinist of all the Soviet satellites. The same Party which, in the 1950s, held some of the most notorious show-trials and put up the largest statue of Stalin to be found anywhere in the world, became, in the 1960s, the author of 'Socialism with a Human Face', a package of attempted economic and political reforms explosive enough to end in the country’s invasion by most of its Warsaw Pact allies.

    This class will seek to move beyond the stereotypes and oversimplifications of Communism passed down by Cold War rhetoric to explore the shifting nature of Communist thought, power politics and international relations in this most perplexing of times in the history of Central Europe.

    Genocide in the 20th Century

    The objectives of this class include introducing students to recent examples of genocide and related mass atrocities, and writing and thinking about these cases in a critical and engaged manner through analysis of primary and secondary materials.

    Students will be introduced to historical, sociological, anthropological, and legal perspectives related to the occurrence of genocide and related atrocity crimes. Using case studies from the 20th century, we'll discuss:

    • contemporary issues related to the labelling of cases
    • the evolution of international legal, diplomatic, economic and military measures to prevent, interdict and punish atrocity crimes
    • the phenomenon of genocide denial
    • the politics of commemoration
    • the lingering legacies of violence on individuals and communities in the post-genocide period

    Case studies will include clear-cut (recognized in international humanitarian law) examples of genocide, including:

    • the Armenian genocide
    • the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe
    • the 1994 Rwandan genocide

    Less clear-cut examples will also be looked at, such as:

    • Canada’s Residential School System
    • Stalinist crimes in Soviet Russia
    • Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia
    • the scorched earth policies in Guatemala
    • ethnic cleansing surrounding the Bosnian War.

    Society and Politics in Colonial India: 1880s-1947

    This class will cover the political developments and social groups from the late-nineteenth century till the decolonisation of South Asia in 1947.

    This is a key period in the social and political history of modern South Asia as it witnessed the growth of a mass-based anti-colonial struggle.  Simultaneously, the involvement of different social groups in this process led to the emergence of community and caste based identity politics.  Under pressure from demands for independence, the colonial state initiated a process of phased devolution of power, and decolonisation after the Second World War.  The class will compare these developments to raise questions about the 'modernity' of colonial society and polity.  The class will analyse how different social groups - such as the peasantry, the working class and tribal groups - participated in and shaped political movements in South Asia.

    Students will also be encouraged to use the regional perspective of South Asian history to understand the different expressions of class, gender and ethnicity in non-Western societies.

    Cold War Europe

    Scotland’s Highland Problem

    Historiography had tended to isolate Highland history from Scottish political development during the late medieval and early modern periods.  This class will re-address this trend, emphasising the Highlands as an integral part of Scottish society, at the same time exploring the division within Scotland between the ‘barbaric’ Highlands and the ‘civil’ Lowlands.

    Students will study the nature and structure of clan society and place Highland events within the wider context of national and British politics during the sixteenth century.  While relations between the Scottish crown and its Highland subjects is the key theme of this class, students will analyse the extent to which such relations changed through time, and why.

    The class will also highlight divergent policies within clan society itself, a factor which warns against treating the Highlands as a homogenous whole, instead taking into consideration regional, local and personal biases.  

    Scottish Society Since 1914

    The class provides a broad survey of Scottish social history since 1914. The aim of this class is to explore the nature and development of Scottish society in the twentieth century by assessing the impact of industrialisation and the problems associated with de-industrialisation, as well as the development of an urban society.

    By the end, the successful student should have expanded their knowledge of contemporary Scottish history and have a good idea of the diversity of issues, techniques and arguments which historians have deployed in the study of twentieth-century Scotland. Among the themes to be covered are:

    • the extent to which Scotland had a recognisable culture and identity
    • the myths and realities of 'Red Clydeside'
    • the notion that Scotland was a more intensely patriarchal society than the rest of Britain
    • the idea that Scotland was an anti-immigrant, racist and religiously intolerant society

    Year abroad

    This is the year abroad, spent either studying at a foreign university or working as a language assistant or on a work placement. This year is compulsory to gain entry into Honours.

    The Dissertation is compulsory for single honours students and optional for joint-honours students.

    This individual project involves original academic research under one-on-one supervision with a member of staff. In addition, you will choose from a range of research and practice led options.

    Writing Gender in Contemporary Literature

    This class examines how contemporary authors make sense of gendered experience. We'll investigate cultural practices of writing (and rewriting) gender in the twenty-first century, paying particular attention to the relationships between gender and literary genre, from transgender memoirs to autofictional masculinities, twenty-first-century romance novels, and the queer graphic novel. We'll also investigate the impact of feminist political activism on the publishing industry, from the indie press to the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The class will introduce you to key theories of gender and equip you with strategies for reading literature through the lens of feminist theory. Over the course of the semester, you'll encounter some of our most exciting contemporary writers and deepen your understanding of literary gender politics in the present day.

    21st Century Science Fiction

    This class introduces you to twenty-first-century science fiction from across the globe. Contemporary science fiction creates alternative technological bodies and worlds, allowing us to address questions around what it means to be human, what our relationship is to technology and how we might build worlds that are less destructive. With these major themes in mind, this class will focus on four key critical lenses:

    • colonialism
    • sexuality and gender

    Questions to be explored include:

    • how are worlds reconfigured through queer sexualities and genders
    • what futures are brought into being for previously marginalised peoples
    • what is science fiction’s relation to the past
    • how does contemporary science fiction challenge tropes of colonialism
    • what bodies emerge in these future worlds and why?

    Each week you'll read, watch or listen to a contemporary, global science fiction text exploring how histories, worlds, bodies and relations are represented and reimagined.

    New Narratives

    The publishing world is changing rapidly with the advent of digital publishing and the ebook. This class will enable students to explore new possibilities and write for new markets and platforms. It will also look at skills that students need for a career in both traditional and digital publication such as editing, submitting work and performing/reading work in front of an audience.

    This class aims to hone the skills students have acquired in previous years to produce new work for print, performance and for a range of digital platforms. It will also provide an up-to-date examination of the publishing world and will include reflective element.

    Present Day Victorians

    Neo-Victorian cultural products have been recognised as a crucial site for the critical rediscovery and reinterpretation of Victorian literature and culture (in particular the themes of class, race, gender and sexuality). Evoking the genres of crime and mystery fiction, themes of science, technology and alternative futures, the figure of the Victorian author and the voices of marginal characters from Mrs Rochester to the ghosts of the séance circle, neo-Victorian writing seeks to understand the continuing impact of the nineteenth century on the present day. This class will consider how and why these texts have problematised Victorian discourses (e.g. imperialism, madness, sexual deviance, technology, the cultural roles of reading and writing). We'll draw on a range of interpretative strategies from post-colonial, feminist, queer, adaptation, appropriation, heritage and film studies.

    The Power of Underlying Material: Adaptation, book to film & beyond

    This class is an elective option in fourth year English that encourages students to look at the layering process involved in adapting a piece of underlying material either for literature or for the screen. We will examine a comprehensive range of source texts that inform many literary works and much of the screen drama available in the late 20th century and, in particular, in the current marketplace.

    The class will complement the third year core class in Creative Writing, and will also be useful to those undertaking honours dissertations in Creative Writing. As well as exercises in close reading, and theoretical analysis, the class will emphasise the commercial realities of basing work on underlying material.

    Songs: music & literature

    This class looks at the relation between language and music in songs, treating songs as literature adapted to music. We'll look at the ways in which the forms and meanings of songs can be studied, in ways similar to the study of poetry, but also in ways specific to song. The class considers technical aspects, including technical aspects of music, but you're not expected to have prior knowledge of music. We look at ways in which songs relate to identity and how they produce emotion. We consider the ways in which songs tell stories, or relate to stories.

    Victorian Gothic

    This class traces the development of the Gothic across the nineteenth century, from its origins in the Romantic period to its heights in works like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The class is organized around key concepts of the Gothic genre, including the sublime, the unseen, textual hybridity, un narrative unreliability.

    We'll also look at subgenres like the Female Gothic and Eco-Gothic, examining how the Gothic allows authors to explore cultural anxieties including women’s rights, deviant sexualities, urbanisation, migration, and environmental devastation. Iconic monsters like Frankenstein’s monster, Mr Hyde, and Dracula will thus be situated within their specific cultural milieu, helping us to understand both their origins and their continued popularity.

    Wild in the Renaissance

    The concept of 'the wild' is one that emerges in many different ways in the writings of the Renaissance; in relation to self-cultivation (holding back the wildness within), the control of one's world (taming the ever-present wilderness); and in relations with fellow humans in a changing world (in savage domination). These ideas get played out in numerous ways in the period - from poetic use of the symbolic resonance of gardens and gardening; the religious underpinnings of the 'missionary endeavour' in the New World and what that says about the concept of human nature; to the anxious self-examination of humanity's inevitable sinfulness.

    This class will thus introduce you to key canonical texts from the period – plays, poetry, and court masques – by writers including Shakespeare, Jonson, and Milton, and will also engage with a critical and theoretical debates about the relationships between humans and the natural world from the new fields of animal studies and ecocriticism.

    Contemporary Travel Writing

    This class engages with some of the key tensions in contemporary travel writing from race and sexuality, to issues of cultural stereotyping and ‘foreignness’. By working through a series of international case studies ranging from India to North America, the class will address why travel continues to be an important metaphor for thinking about our experience of the world, as well as offering a framework for how we understand it.

    Forms of Feminism in Contemporary Literature

    The class will explore how feminist concerns are represented in contemporary literature, and how literary forms shape contemporary feminism. Students will encounter some of the most important literary works of the post-1990 period, and learn to make connections between literary analysis and feminist theory. Engaging with a diverse range of literary forms—from novels, poems and plays to comics and manifestos—students will leave the course with an advanced understanding of the role literature plays in contemporary feminist politics.

    Compulsory classes

    The Scramble for the Middle East: Arab Nationalism, Zionism & European Colonial Powers, 1914-1939

    The interwar years are central to any analysis of the decline of European colonial rule in the Middle East and the formation of nation states. It was in the 1920s and 1930s that British and French mandatory authorities faced the emergence of nationalist movements throughout the Arab world as well as the increasing competition and penetration of hostile forces.

    Students will examine historical themes and events that are significant to the development of political and cultural identities in the Middle East. Through the analysis of primary sources, students will focus on:

    • the debate surrounding British and French colonial practices
    • the emergence of the Zionist movement and the creation of a Jewish home in Palestine
    • the radicalisation of Arab nationalism and its impact upon the relations between local political elites and European colonial powers
    • the increasing tension between Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine
    • the creation of the mandates in Palestine, Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon and the process that led to the independence of Egypt and Iraq
    • the challenge brought by German and Italian subversive activities to British and French strategic interests in the region

    Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia

    The class will explore major themes in twentieth-century European history:

    • the post-World War I settlement
    • the rise of fascism
    • the origins and course of the Second World War, Soviet expansion, the Cold War, the social and political revolutions of the 1960s and the waning of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s -- from the perspective of a central European country which was created in 1918, dissolved in 1993, and whose opinions were seldom taken into account by the Great Powers

    Students will obtain a solid grounding in the history of Czechoslovakia from its creation to its dissolution. The class should also offer a useful introduction to themes in twentieth-century European history more generally.

    Independent reading will concentrate heavily on source material, enabling students to taste the excitement as well as the frustrations of historical research. By being encouraged to view European affairs from a Czech perspective while at the same time having special responsibility for one other European country, students will be led to consider the problems of historical bias and subjectivity, and should develop historical empathy as well as considerable sensitivity to the complexity of international affairs.

    Rwanda: Peace, Conflict & the Politics

    The purpose of this special subject is to introduce students to the study of peace and conflict, broadly defined, and to encourage them to write and think about these subjects in a critical and engaged manner informed first and foremost by history-based discourse, but also borrowing from political science, anthropology, and related disciplines.

    The module will focus on the case study of Rwanda, with individual classes proceeding chronologically.

    The first semester will cover the pre-colonial period to the start of the second Hutu Republic in 1973, while the second semester will cover 1973 to present.

    Throughout, students will analyse relevant primary and secondary sources to explore the benefits of applying a historical lens to understanding a nation whose recent history includes both periods of peace and political stability, and several manifestations of state-sanctioned violence, including colonialism, small-scale ethnic, regional, and political conflicts, civil war, genocide, and authoritarianism.

    Students seeking careers in human rights advocacy, international law, diplomacy, and journalism will also find this course particularly relevant.

    Plantation in Ulster

    This class will explore the plantations that took place in Ulster during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

    Students will examine the emergence of the idea for plantation in Ireland, why Ulster was regarded as suitable for plantation, and the various endeavours by English and Scots to settle in the north of Ireland, whether by private enterprise or by the state. This will culminate in the official Plantation of Ulster, a 'British' project initiated by James VI and I in the early years of his reign as king of England, Ireland and Scotland.

    Students will also look at a couple of cases studies of individuals who were involved in plantation, enabling a detailed study of the political, social, economic and confessional reasons why they chose to migrate to and settle in Ireland at this time.

    Elective classes

    France at War, 1870-1962

    A variety of sources will be explored throughout the class, including paintings, monuments, films, literary sources, newspaper reports, memoirs and archival documents.

    Medicine & Warfare in the Twentieth Century

    Scottish Society

    The class provides a broad survey of Scottish social history since 1914.

    The aim of this class is to explore the nature and development of Scottish society (and place it in a wider context) and to examine dominant narratives of Scotland and Scots in the twentieth century.

    By the end, the successful student should have expanded their knowledge of contemporary Scottish history and have a good idea of the diversity of issues, methodologies and arguments which historians have deployed in the study of twentieth-century Scotland.  Among the themes to be covered are:

    • gender relations (for example, analysis of the Scottish ‘hard man’ narrative)
    • religion (including sectarianism and secularisation)
    • health and deprivation
    • the arts and culture (including festivals, theatre, cinema and television)
    • industry (and de-industrialisation and its impacts)
    • ethnic cleansing surrounding the Bosnian War

    Society & Politics in Colonial India

    Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

    Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

    british english creative writing

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    BA English Literature with Creative Writing / Overview

    Year of entry: 2023

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    AAA with A in English Literature or English Language and Literature (i.e. not English Language alone), plus a creative writing portfolio.

    AAB, including A in English Literature, or English Language and Literature (ie. not English Language alone), plus creative writing portfolio

    36 points overall. 6,6,6 in Higher Level subjects to include 6 in English Literature, or English Language & Literature (ie. not English Language alone) and a Creative Writing Portfolio.

    Full entry requirements

    Course overview

    • Study at a university ranked sixth in the UK for English language and literature (QS World University Rankings 2021).
    • Explore the rich literary history and current creative scene of Manchester, recently designated UNESCO City of Literature.
    • Study more than 1,000 years of writing in English, engaging with literary and cultural theory, studying texts in their historical contexts, and reflecting on different cultures and traditions.
    • Develop creative writing skills in fiction and poetry through workshops led by some of the most adventurous poets, novelists, and science-fiction writers currently in the UK.

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    Tuition fees for home students commencing their studies in September 2023 will be £9,250 per annum. Tuition fees for international students will be £23,000 per annum. For general information please see the undergraduate finance pages.

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    All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

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    Related courses

    • English Literature BA (3 years)
    • English Literature and Latin BA (3 years)
    • Drama and English Literature BA (3 years)
    • History and American Studies BA (3 years)
    • English Literature and American Studies BA (3 years)

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    • English Literature, American Studies and Creative Writing

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    Meaning of creative writing in English

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    • bang something out
    • bash something out
    • calligrapher
    • reformulate

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    • Radical Realism, Autofictional Narratives and the Reinvention of the Novel

    This year, Fiona Doloughan, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literature, published her third monograph, Radical Realism, Autofictional Narratives and the Reinvention of the Novel (Anthem Press). She’s about to embark on a US lecture tour, so we caught up … Continue reading →

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    Typewriter writes "stories matter"

    Do you want to study creative writing?

    Creative writing concentrators study and write poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction in workshops and literature classes that focus on the components of craft, questions of genre and intricacies of art. You will also have the opportunity to gain experience with publishing by becoming a contributing writer or staff member of Shoreline, Rhode Island College's literary magazine. In addition, all students, faculty and the Rhode Island Community are invited to celebrate new writing via student readings, faculty readings and our Visiting Writers Reading Series.  

    Interested in a creative writing?

    Rhode Island College is an exclusive member of the Common Application.

    Program Details

    Course information, program/learning goals, writing in the discipline, minor in creative writing.

    Here we provide information on course requirements, course descriptions and an Academic Rhode Map for each program, a semester-by-semester plan to help you toward graduation in four years.

    Course Requirements   

    Course Descriptions   

    Academic Rhode Map English B.A. Creative Writing

    General Education at RIC

    All degree programs require the completion of ten 4-credit General Education courses: three core courses and seven distribution courses. The goal of General Education is to engage students in deeper study in a wide range of academic disciplines and to introduce them to the habit of inquiry essential to the academic enterprise. For program and course requirements, visit General Education .

    Upon completion of this program, students will be able to: 

    • Analyze both verbal and visual texts from a number of genres and a variety of historical periods. 
    • Read texts critically and with sensitivity to the historical and cultural conditions within which they are produced. 
    • Demonstrate the ability to produce effective writing in a variety of critical modes, using the conventions of standard American English. In addition, students choosing to focus on creative writing will demonstrate appropriate ability in this area. 
    • Understand current theory and be able to employ a variety of theoretical approaches in their critical analyses. 
    • Incorporate secondary sources and/or traditional and nontraditional research material into the analysis of texts, using correct MLA style. 
    • Understand the goals of the major and assess the strengths and weaknesses of their program.​ 

    Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?  

    Writing is central to all aspects of the discipline of English. It is a means of thinking about texts and how writers create them, of reflecting on learning, of discovering and demonstrating new knowledge, of applying critical and creative ways of thinking to disciplinary issues and problems, of understanding oneself and the world, of developing intellectual agency and of working for social change. 

    Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses? 

    The concentration in creative writing has the following WID courses: 

    ENGL 220: Introduction to Creative Writing 

    ENGL 371: Intermediate Creative Writing, Fiction 

    ENGL 372: Intermediate Creative Writing, Poetry 

    ENGL 373: Intermediate Creative Writing, Nonfiction Prose 

    ENGL 461: Advanced Workshop in Creative Writing 

    These courses were chosen because they represent key moments in each program where you will learn and demonstrate writing knowledge and skills. We would add, however, that virtually all courses in English, and especially those in creative writing and professional writing, are writing-intensive, where writing is assigned, taught and evaluated. 

    What forms or genres of writing will you learn and practice in your WID courses? Why these genres? 

    The range of genres or forms of writing in which you will engage and practice is too extensive to list in its entirety and depends, to a significant extent, on your chosen concentration within the major. Having said this, we offer a few examples of the writing students do in different concentrations below. 

    Within the literature concentration, students produce literary/cultural analysis papers that require skills of close reading and knowledge of and dexterity with applying critical and analytical approaches to texts. 

    Within the creative writing concentration students practice the writing skills that inform key literary genres such as fiction, poetry and nonfiction.  

    Within the professional writing concentration, students produce reports, proposals, analysis papers, research papers and various digital and multimodal texts. 

    Students in each concentration must take courses in the other concentrations, so they will range outside the genres described above to experiment with and practice a variety of academic, creative and professional genres of writing. 

    What kinds of teaching practices will you encounter in your WID courses? 

    The English Department has long prided itself on engaging in “best practices” when it comes to the teaching of writing. We will engage you in scaffolded writing assignments that initially include low-stakes or informal writing to help you make sense of challenging readings and materials; in this way you write to learn as you learn to write. You will also practice key moves in lower stakes writing assignments that inform higher stakes writing projects for midterm papers and final projects. Small group workshops and tutorials are a regular part of our practice and provide crucial feedback for effective writing. In virtually all of your courses we provide models and exemplars of the work we ask you to produce. We often hold one-on-one conferences to guide you in individual challenges and difficulties. In sum, we engage in the full-range of practices that research in the teaching and learning of writing has shown helps students learn to write well. 

    When you have satisfied your department’s WID requirement, you should be able to:  

    • Demonstrate intellectual competency, critical thinking, close reading, the ability to break large assignments into manageable pieces and the skills to revise and edit your own work.  
    • Use writing to problem solve, to collaborate and persuade, to reason and come to a conclusion based on reliable information and to reflect on yourself, your learning and the world around you.  
    • Produce writing that is guided by purpose and engages and moves an intended audience. You will, finally, know that learning to write well is a lifelong journey and that to succeed as a writer you must be adaptable and flexible, suiting your words to the situation. You will know that writing can help change the world. 

    Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities.

    Minor in Creative Writing   

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    Karen Boren

    Dr. Karen Lee Boren


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