Creative Writing

2017 entry

Features and benefits of the course

• The most successful programme of its kind in the UK today with more than 75 students and graduates publishing first books in the past ten years.
• Regular events, podcasts, and question and answer sessions with guest writers at Manchester Met and Manchester arts venues.
• Strong links to the publishing industry with regular visits from major agents, editors and publishers.
• All MA students will complete an extended piece of writing from a proposed full-length book.
• Students who successfully complete the MA can continue their studies with an additional year, completing an additional 120 credits (which includes writing a full-length book) and gaining
an MFA.
• Flexible learning for busy people: teaching on core units takes place in the evenings (one, two or three hour classes between 6 and 9pm UK time), with electives delivered on an intensive three-day model or studied independently with one-to-one tutorial supervision.
•Live online teaching: core teaching for distance learning students is via weekly text-based chat room sessions in the evening teaching slots.

Taught by high-profile writers and critics including: Andrew Biswell, N. M. Browne, Eleanor Byrne, David Cooper, Carol Ann Duffy DBE, Nikolai Duffy, Paul Evans, Catherine Fox, Rachel Genn, Andrew Michael Hurley, Anjum Malik, Andrew McMillan, Wyl Menmuir, Livi Michael, Helen Mort, Gregory Norminton, Adam O’Riordan, Michael Symmons Roberts, Monique Roffey, Nicholas Royle, Jean Sprackland and Joe Stretch.

With input from our Visiting Fellows: Sherry Ashworth, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Mandy Coe, Amanda Dalton, Paul Dowswell, Patrick McGrath, Stephen Raw, Hugh Stoddart, and Barry Wood.

Placement options

The Manchester Writing School is one the UK’s leading schools of creative writing. It is also home to ground-breaking outreach activities, international writing competitions, series of city-wide literary events, innovative publishing projects, and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. These activities provide our students with many opportunities to get involved and develop their experience in a number of exciting directions.

About the course

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

Year one of our MFA blends writing workshops, where you produce and develop your own work-in-progress with regular feedback from tutors and colleagues, with reading courses, which look at the techniques, forms and styles used by a range of writers in modern and contemporary literature, poetry or non-fiction. All students also take an elective unit from a suite of options which may include: Crime Fiction, From Historical fact to Contemporary Fiction, Media Skills for Creative Writers, Teaching Creative Writing, Writing about Relationships, or an Independent Creative Project. These electives can also be taken separately as discrete short courses. Year one is completed with the submission of a Dissertation – an extended piece of creative writing from a proposed full-length book. This single year of units is spread across two years for part-time and online students.

Core Units
Dissertation (60 credits)

This unit will build on and progress material produced during the MA Workshop units. You will compile and edit your creative writing into a substantial, continuous extract from a proposed longer work-in-progress and provide a “Genesis Document”: an account of the origins of and inspirations for your writing.

Reading Units (2 x 30 credits)

You will take two genre-specific Reading units, which look at the forms, themes, styles and techniques used by a range of writers in modern and contemporary literature. Outstanding writing is considered in terms of composition, process and presentation, and its relevance to your own work-in-progress.

The Workshop (2 x 15 credits)

Workshops are led by established practitioners in the specialist literary field (Novel, Poetry, Writing for Children/Young Adults or Place Writing), giving student writers a committed ‘editorial’ readership of professionals and peers, and generating and developing material for a proposed full-length book. It is expected that the creative work generated will eventually contribute to your Dissertation and Manuscript.

Likely Optional Units
Creative Project (30 credits)

On this unit, you devise, scope, plan, conduct, report and reflect on a creative project of your own choosing. The project should involve a significant stretch from your core work on the programme and explore a new practice, either by working in a writing discipline different to your main route through the Masters, or by applying your work in a new context. You will be tested on your project management and reporting skills, particularly your ability to represent your activity and findings within a Project Report.

Crime Fiction (30 credits)

This unit offers you an opportunity to look closely at crime fiction, to study its core elements, and develop your own practice in the genre through creative writing exercises and the completion of a complete, short crime story. The unit combines critical study of crime fiction with creative work within the genre. Through practical exercises, close reading and discussion, students will discover how storytelling techniques that are essential elements of the crime genre – suspense, misdirection, conflict and interrogation – can be usefully applied in all forms and modes of fiction writing. 

From Historical Fact to Contemporary Fiction (30 credits)

This course introduces you to the findings of historical experts and the outputs of writers of historical fiction, and considers the possibilities offered by historical records and artefacts to creative writers of historical fiction. The course will combine reading, writing and discussion about historical fiction in a workshop format, and include sessions on reading source material, writing from source material, and the application of forensic science to historical reconstruction. 

Media Skills for Creative Writers (30 credits)

This course unit will enhance your understanding of the media and its potential links to your creative work, as well as how to promote your writing successfully. It introduces the skills of features journalism, exploring how these can be applied to creative writing practice, using interviews and real-life stories for inspiration. You will learn about research techniques useful to both creative writers and to journalists. The course will explore how journalistic practice can have a positive impact upon creative writing across a range of mediums and genres. Students will also develop an understanding of how journalism works in terms of gaining commissions and self-promotion.

Teaching Creative Writing (30 credits)

This course introduces you to techniques for developing and delivering creative writing workshops in schools and/or community settings, and is designed to encourage participants to produce original writing in a variety of styles and genres. Consideration of key pedagogic theories and analyses of demonstrations will offer background context and enable critical reflection on workshop practice.

Writing About Relationships (30 credits)

This course unit explores writing about love and partnership and is designed to help you gain confidence, avoid cliché and improve the quality of your prose style as you write about human relationships and intimacy. Attention will be paid to dialogue, characterisation, setting and narrative strategy and you will have the opportunity to develop your own writing in creative workshops. The traditional romance genre will be interrogated and its appeal explored.

Year 2

Year two of our MFA includes the completion of a manuscript for a full-length book within your specialist route, and a series of seminars and Q&A sessions with experts from the publishing industry. This would take place in year three for those studying the MFA part-time.

Core Units
Manuscript (90 credits)

On this practice-driven unit, you will complete a full-length manuscript for a book within your chosen MFA route: Novel (or Short Fiction), Poetry, Writing for Children/Young Adults, or Place Writing. The unit will involve ongoing independent writing and editorial work with occasional tutorial support. The final submission will consolidate your learning, research and writing to-date into a fully-realised and complete body of work.

The Industry (30 credits)

You will learn and acquire practical information about various aspects of the publishing and related industries through seminars and Q&A sessions with guest speakers. These may include agents, editors, publishers, publicists, booksellers, broadcasters, filmmakers, freelancers, performers, artists and illustrators. Students from all MFA routes take this course together and it is designed to give you a broad overview of the state of the publishing industry as well as some specialist knowledge about opportunities available for those working in your specialist genre, as you complete your manuscript.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Assessment details

Year 1:

Reading units are assessed through 3,000-word essays, and can compare books studied on the course with your own work-in-progress. Workshop units are assessed by a 1,500-word critique of a piece of creative work submitted by a fellow student. Assessment for elective units varies, but will include submission of 3,000 words of creative and/or critical writing. The Dissertation is a continuous extract from a proposed full-length novel, poetry collection, children’s/young adult book, or place writing book (prose routes: 15,000 words; poetry route: 300 lines) including a “Genesis Document” – an account of the origins of and inspirations for your writing (1,500 words).

Year 2: 

The Industry unit is assessed through a 3,000-word essay exploring one aspect of publishing in-depth. The Manuscript unit is assessed through the submission of a completed book: 40,000-80,000 words (prose routes); 1,000-1,500 lines (poetry route). 

Additional Information About this Course

All information given is based on a student enrolled onto the full time, two year Master of Fine Arts course. The cost of the first year would be spread over two years for part time students, and the final year (year two FT, year three PT) would not apply

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at:

Typical entry requirements

In order to apply, you will need to submit a completed application form, a sample of creative writing, a book review and one reference. You can download an application form here:

On the application form, you will be asked to give a personal statement and should use this to tell us a bit about yourself and give a good sense of what you have been reading and writing, and what has led you to apply for our course. For the creative sample, applicants to the prose writing routes (Novel, Children’s/YA, Place) should submit a 2,000-word extract from a novel or short story; poetry applicants should submit up to 15 poems. The book review should be up to 500 words long, focus on contemporary literature, and show evidence of close reading, explaining what it is about the book you find useful as a writer. Both the creative and critical samples should be relevant to the specialist route to which you are applying to (Novel OR Poetry OR Writing for Children/YA OR Place). Your reference can be from anyone of professional standing (e.g. a current or former employer or tutor) who can vouch for your suitability for study at postgraduate level or the quality of your writing, or – if you are unable to obtain a reference from someone who is familiar with your written work – simply verify your identity.

Please collate and submit the application form, writing sample, review and reference, where possible. It will not speed up the processing of your application if you send some elements now with others to follow. We would encourage you to submit electronically to our Direct Admissions team at, although understand that this may not be possible in all cases and can accept postal submissions. You do not need to include copies of certificates from previous qualifications, unless we specifically request them – our admissions tutors will review you application on the strength and quality of the writing in the portfolio submitted.

We have intakes into the programme in September and January each year. While there is no set deadline for the receipt of applications, we would recommend applying before the end of August for September entry, and by mid-December for January entry. We normally aim to respond to applications within four weeks of receipt of all four elements: application form, writing sample, review and reference – although it may take a little longer outside of term time.

Each application is allocated to a specialist tutor in the candidate’s chosen discipline, who reads and assesses it, looking for evidence of:

  • A very high standard of written English;
  • Creative talent and potential;
  • Control of form, style and technique;
  • Commitment to the craft of writing and the development of writing skills through workshops and supervision;
  • Substantial reading within the relevant field.

If your application meets these criteria, the tutor will contact you directly to arrange a telephone or face-to-face interview at a mutually convenient time.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How do I apply for this course?

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for full- and part-time taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

Career options after the course

The Manchester Writing School is one the UK’s leading schools of creative writing. It is also home to ground-breaking outreach activities, international writing competitions, series of city-wide literary events, innovative publishing projects, and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. These activities provide our students with many opportunities to get involved and develop their experience in a number of exciting directions. On completion of this course you may decide to pursue PhD study, or to develop a career in bookselling, agenting, publishing, editing, the media, or teaching creative writing. An unrivalled number of our graduates have become published writers.

Students have access to the Careers and Employability Hub located in the business school, offering a host of information resources, one-to-one careers support and employability events throughout the year. This service is also available for up to three years after you graduate. 

Read a graduate profile

Liz Kessler, MA Creative Writing  

Liz is now a published writer and author of novels, including Poppy the Pirate Dog and Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?

Course Enquiries

For general enquiries, entry requirements, fees, accommodation and more, please contact the course enquiries team.

Questions about the course content can be directed to,

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.