Creative Writing MA

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Why Surrey?

Our programme will build your confidence and technical ability in composing creative prose and/or poetry, while deepening your critical awareness of the cultural, literary and theoretical history of text production.

Teaching is research-led, so you benefit from the individual expertise and passion of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published authors and academics, including our Poet in Residence and Distinguished Writer in Residence.

Programme overview

The MA Creative Writing programme will hone your research and writing skills to produce critically informed prose or poetry, and creative criticism. We will help you to locate your work in its literary and cultural context, and you will have the chance to reflect on your creative process and the finished work.

You will have access to a yearly calendar of events hosted at the University created to broaden your thinking, and develop your writing skills such as the Morag Morris Poetry Lecture, the annual Surrey New Writers’ Festival and the Surrey Poetry Festival.

The MA in Creative Writing provides a strong foundation to embark upon a career in writing, communications, publishing, marketing, advertising, journalism or teaching, or to undertake a PhD.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and an extended portfolio.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Educational aims of the programme

The MA Programme in Creative Writing will prepare graduates to undertake a PhD programme in the relevant field.

It will also provide students with the transferable skills of creative writing, critical thinking, textual analysis and communication that are attractive to a wide range of employers, from the cultural industries to marketing and advertising to tourism and leisure to the civil service and public/private partnerships.

It is designed to build confidence and technical ability in a variety of modes of imaginative writing, and to provide students with a clear-eyed grounding in contemporary and historical contexts of text production and circulation, including practical advice on the workings of the publishing industry.

Devoted to assisting students to understand and meet the challenges of producing high quality creative writing in poetry and prose, the programme also provides advanced understanding of the contexts, theoretical paradigms, methodologies and modes of interpretation that are vital in a full understanding of literary production.

The main aims are to:

  • Produce work that reflects a high level of technical ability and engages productively with its historical, cultural and literary contexts
  • Acquire sound knowledge of the major principles of literary criticism
  • Reflect on their own practice as literary critics and how this can help to improve their own creative practice

As a Master’s level programme, it also aims to instil in students the capacity for carrying out independent research.

Programme learning outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the main principles and challenges of creative writing
  • Relate developments in the field of literary studies to the social, political and historical contexts of their own creative work
  • Distinguish different approaches to literary studies and reflect upon these in their own
  • Develop a critical engagement with various theoretical approaches and methods
  • Recognize the critical language required in advanced literary studies
  • Identify and explain relevant techniques and strategies for producing high quality creative writing

Intellectual / cognitive skills

  • Able to critically appraise scholarly and creative writing
  • Able to strategically develop research skills for retrieving information crucial for understanding the context of textual production
  • Able to conduct conceptual and advanced research related to specific creative projects
  • Able to formulate and address research questions relating to creative and research projects 

Professional practical skills

  • Able to produce high-quality creative work in and analysis of a variety of literary genres
  • Able to verbally present abstract ideas and concepts in a clear and appropriate fashion
  • Able to confidently deal with reading complex texts
  • Able to acquire a sound knowledge of the key debates in literary studies
  • Able to acquire review/evaluation skills for textual analyses at M-level
  • Able to combine an understanding of text and context within and between periods

Key / transferable skills

  • Display competence in a range of skills at postgraduate level, including creative writing, advanced analysis and synthesis of arguments, presentation, the conducting of independent research, and the efficient processing of complex ideas and arguments
  • Collaborate by working in small groups to exchange ideas and engage in debates
  • Develop knowledge in a specialized subject, area or period and command of terminology
  • Organize, research and deliver a sustained piece of work to a high standard
  • Create and carry out a research project of significant complexity
  • Reflect upon the knowledge gained and incorporate this into independent learning strategies
  • Manage learning self-critically
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility

Academics and events

As a student on this Masters, you will benefit from the expertise of a vibrant, multidisciplinary group of published academics and authors.

You will have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year. These events cover a range of topics to broaden your thinking in the fields of literature, language and linguistics, cultural studies and creative writing.

Writers to have recently visited the University of Surrey include:


  • Iain Sinclair
  • Monica Ali
  • Jaspreet Singh
  • Nikita Lalwani


  • J.H. Prynne
  • Robert Fitterman
  • Allen Fisher
  • Gilbert Adair


  • Rod Mengham
  • Bernard O’Donoghue
  • Barbara Hardy

Each year’s cultural activities begin with the Morag Morris Poetry Lecture on campus by a visiting speaker and feature readings by students at the Guildford School of Acting.

The annual Surrey New Writers’ Festival and Surrey Poetry Festival – both affiliated with the Creative Writing programmes at the University of Surrey – aim to engage with writing and creativity in dynamic ways, and involve readings, book signings, performances, panel discussions and more.

This graduate program is delivered by the University's Creative Writing team, all of whom are published authors and poets:

  • Dr Paul Vlitos, Lecturer in Creative Writing
  • Dr Holly Luhning, Lecturer in Creative Writing
  • Dr Stephen Mooney, Lecturer in Creative Writing and former Poet in Residence
  • Dr Angela Szczepaniak, Lecturer in Creative Writing

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Stephen Mooney

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2017

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first or 2.1 degree (or equivalent) and will be asked as part of the application procedure to provide a portfolio of creative material (5,000 words prose or equivalent).

In exceptional cases, students with a proven commitment to creative writing but no first degree may also be admitted.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall, 7.0 in Writing, 6.0 in each other component (or equivalent)

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £6,000 £14,500
Part-time Sep 2017 £3,000 £7,300

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


The Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence

For all (with the exception of MBA) postgraduate taught courses starting in September 2017 within the Surrey Business School and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management we are offering all applicants who hold a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent the opportunity to be awarded between £2,000 and £4,000 through the Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence Scheme. Download a flyer or read more for eligibility and to apply.

For more details

Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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