M.Sc. English Literature: Creative Writing

The University of Edinburgh

Tuition fee: Not specified
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Full-time

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The MSc in Creative Writing develops both creative and reflective understanding of the chosen genre of writing, through courses both creative and literary-critical. Working with established authors, and discussing each other´s work, students will hone both their own vision and skills as authors, and their capacity for imaginative, sympathetic analysis of writing.

Learning Outcomes

Students taking the course will expand and refine their skills in poetry, fiction or drama. They will develop critical skills as readers of their own and others´ work, and will gain experience in the processes of presenting and publishing literary writing.

In each of two teaching semesters, students take a core creative practice seminar, supported by workshops, in fiction, poetry or drama, and a subsidiary literary critical course in a relevant area of literary study. This is followed by a substantial independent summer project with an individual supervisor.


Students elect to study either poetry or fiction. They spend two semesters in a programme of seminars, workshops and readings, during which time they also study one literature option course per semester. In May, the group spends a few days in rural Perthshire (at the University´s `outward bound´ centre on the shores of Loch Tay) to mark the end of the first phase of the course, and the beginning of solo supervision. Students then work with their individual supervisor until September and submission of their dissertation.

During the two semesters, the aim is to create an environment where students can hone their skills by means of:

* practice, through weekly stimulus sessions and/or set assignments to raise awareness of technical issues (SET EXERCISES)
* criticism, through weekly workshops, where listening skills, close reading and coherent expression of ideas develop (WORKSHOPS)
* theory, through weekly seminars, where the group examines specific ideas about literature and its context, often as creative writers have expressed them, and how they relate to the practice of writing (CORE COURSES)

Through the two teaching semesters (weeks 3, 6 and 9) we host a series of readings by established writers. We also organise an end of semester reading for students to present their work at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar. In the final part of the second semester, we host a series of seminars focusing on the business of publishing, with visiting speakers drawn from the field.

Throughout the year, tutors will provide information on writing-related events - readings, lectures and performances - taking place elsewhere in the city, competitions and opportunities for publication.


Applicants require a good honours degree in an appropriate subject.

You must also supply a portfolio of writing:

* For poetry this should be around 10 poems (somewhere between 200 and 400 lines in total;
* For fiction either 2 or 3 short stories, or an equivalent amount from a novel (between 3000-5000 words).

If you are undecided about whether to apply for fiction or poetry you should send a sample of both. However, if offered a place it will be for either fiction or poetry.

Applicants should make a selection from their writing rather than sending everything. If you have written a draft of a novel, or a volume of poetry or short stories, you can add a note to this effect.

Work in other forms (eg journalism, life writing or advertising) will not be considered a valid sample.

Your personal statement should outline your particular writing interests.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7
CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IELTS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

200 (Grade A)
TOEFL iBT® test: 100

IMPORTANT NOTE: Per 6 April 2015 only the English language tests from IELTS and Trinity College London are accepted for Tier 4 Visa applications to the United Kingdom. Other tests (including TOEFL, TOEIC, Pearson, City & Guilds) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. Since the Trinity College London language tests must be taken in one of their exam centres in the UK, IELTS is now the only language test accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK that can be taken worldwide.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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