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Professional Doctorate in MA Creative Writing

About This Professional Doctorate

Course Description

This course will help you to bring a novel, book of poems, book of short stories or work of non-fiction as near to publishable quality as possible. Working with tutors and other writers on the course, you’ll develop your writing and build up a substantial body of work. Weekly workshops are taught by a strong team of published writers, and there are regular visits by literary agents, publishers, magazine editors and broadcasters, as well as other writers.

Due to the reputation of the MA in Creative Writing, we are able to recruit excellent students who form an exciting and mutually supportive community of writers every year.


The course is modular and is currently offered for full-time study only.

You’ll learn:

• To plan a manuscript (a novel, collection of short stories, collection of poems or book of literary non-fiction) and complete it, or a substantial part of it, brought to publishable quality or as near as possible.

• To understand literary form, style and genre, as relevant to your chosen form of writing

• To acquire a variety of relevant writing techniques, and research techniques to support writing, and adapt them to your particular creative project.

• To understand and respond creatively to questions arising from the subject-matter, themes, genres, traditions and other literary contexts with which your chosen manuscript is engaged.

• To receive and give precise and sensitive critical feedback in workshop groups and one-to-one tutorials.

• To respond creatively to feedback provided by tutors and other students, adapting that feedback to your particular vision of your book.

• To understand choices and opportunities relevant to your chosen manuscript, including questions of how to place your work, and the role of agents, publishers and editors.


Each student will take two workshop modules, two context modules and a double module entitled 'The Manuscript':

In the first trimester ‘Professional Skills’ provides intensive group discussion and some plenary lectures. You’ll bring short pieces of writing to workshop groups consisting of a tutor and not more than seven other students. There are separate groups for prose and poetry. You’ll submit a manuscript proposal halfway through the module.

In trimester two, you’ll take a second workshop module in either prose or poetry.

Each context module explores connections between your creative writing and the wider world as represented by a theme or genre. Seminars are divided between considering set texts and workshopping your creative writing. You’ll take a context module in trimester one and another in trimester two.

In trimester three, ‘The Manuscript’ will be taught by means of one-to-one tutorials. This is the culmination of the course – the book, or substantial part of a book.

For more information on course structure and modules please go to: https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/courses/pg-creative-writing/


You’ll be taught in group workshops and seminars, one-to-one tutorials, plenary lectures and a residential weekend.


The teaching team in 2015-16 included the novelists Ian Breckon, Nathan Filer, Maggie Gee, Tessa Hadley, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Beatrice Hitchman,Tricia Wastvedt, Fay Weldon and Gerard Woodward, the poets Tim Liardet, Lucy English, Neil Rollinson and Sean Borodale, the historical novelists Celia Brayfield and Kylie Fitzpatrick, the nature writer and memoirist Richard Kerridge, the nature writer Stephen Moss, the travel writer Joe Roberts and the literary memoirist Gavin Cologne-Brookes.


You’ll be assessed entirely by coursework: mainly creative writing, plus two short essays, a manuscript proposal and a short commentary on the manuscript in progress.

For more information on assessment please see the course handbook: https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/media/bathspaacuk/course-handbooks/course-handbooks/PG-Creative-Writing-Handbook-2016-17.pdf


Current or former students have been awarded excellent contracts for novels; been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Orange Prize, Costa Prize and the Guardian First Book Award; received the Betty Trask Prize, Manchester Book Award and a W.H. Smith New Talent Award, and reached the best-seller lists.


In recent years, several current or former students have been awarded excellent contracts for novels; Two were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, three for the Orange Prize, one for the Costa Prize and one for the Guardian First Book Award. One received the Betty Trask Prize; another the Manchester Book Award; another a W.H. Smith New Talent Award. One reached the best-seller lists. Student poets have had their poetry accepted for publication in numerous literary journals, including Ambit, Magma, London Magazine, Poetry Wales, PN Review and The Reader, among others, and have been placed in such competitions as the Bridport, the Frogmore, Mslexia, and Writers Inc. Janklow and Nesbit Ltd, a leading literary agency, awards an annual prize for the best novel or novel in progress by a student on the course.

Visit the MA Creative Writing page on the Bath Spa University website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Alison Powell

Since I left Bath Spa I have continued to work on my novel When the Mountain Swallowed the Morning. Thanks to the MA anthology, a collection of writing from graduates of the course, I was introduced to several agents and have accepted an offer of representation from the firm Rogers, Coleridge and White. My book won runner-up prize in the 2015 Bridport First Novel award, was long-listed for the Mslexia New Novel competition and short-listed for the Janklow & Nesbit Bath Spa award. Since completing the MA I have had a short story published in Mxlexia magazine and recently won the local prize for the Bath Short Story Award.

The MA helped me to develop discipline with my writing and gave me the confidence to put my work out there.

My advice for current students is to make the most of all the university has to offer. The staff are there to support you and genuinely want the best for you. It might be obvious or clichéd, but you really do get out what you put in from your time at university.

The best thing about studying at Bath Spa University is the support available. The tutors, lecturers, library staff, grounds staff…everyone in fact that I came into contact with on campus was helpful and positive. I recommend Bath Spa University because of its excellent staff and well-stocked libraries. Plus, if you do the MA in Creative Writing, you get to study in the ridiculously beautiful surroundings of Corsham Court.

(Student Profile)

Emily Koch

Since I left Bath Spa, I spent a few months working on re-drafting my manuscript for the novel I was working on during the MA, then after about the ninth draft I sent it off to three literary agents, all of whom I met during events at the university. One event organised by the department was to honour a visiting Australian author. The meeting I had there was chance. I was sitting next to an empty seat, and halfway through the first talk of the day, a man came in and sat next to me. I had no idea who he was, but we got chatting afterwards and he asked about the book I was working on. I told him all about it - still unaware as to his identity. He then revealed he was the visiting author's agent! I looked him up afterwards and found that he represented some really huge author's (Kate Atkinson, Kazuo Ishiguro... the list goes on).

So, I think my advice for handling these events would be - make careful notes in case you do want to contact them in the future. Approach any that you think you have a strong chance with, or would really like to work with. Don't waste the time of someone who might not, for example, be interested in your type of work. I was lucky enough to be offered representation by all three agents– and I turned to some of my former tutors at Bath Spa for advice on how to choose.

My advice for students would be to not take your time at university for granted – get everything you can out of it. Take every opportunity, learn as much as you can, develop as many skills as you can. Go to as many of the talks that the university puts on as you can. If I hadn't been to the talks about the Australian author, I would never have met my agent. Speak to as many tutors as you can. Getting to know my tutors made me feel confident in contacting them for advice even after the course. Speak to as many of your coursemates as you can. Are there people you could do more work with - like Alison and I have done?

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Entry Requirements

Applicants are offered places on the course based on their portfolio of creative writing and an interview, for overseas applicants this may be by telephone or skype. We are looking for writers of prose fiction, poetry or literary non-fiction who we consider to have shown the potential to publish their work in the near future. Normally, but not invariably, applicants will have a first degree.

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