MA Creative Writing

Postgraduate, Part-time

Creative Writing MA



"A radical departure in creative writing"

The Times

Overview

If you want to make a career in writing, this course is for you. You already have talent and ideas, we'll add the expertise you need to approach your chosen market with confidence, originality and skill. No ambitions are out of bounds: we love commercial genre fiction and literary experiments equally.

We aim to ensure our graduates are equipped to succeed - and to change the culture they choose to enter. We will add expertise to your talent and ideas, while you learn in the company of industry experts on this innovative, inspiring course for emerging writers.

Our unique combination of genres and specialisms encourages and enables you to professionalise your practice as a writer. We put genres like science fiction, fantasy, crime and horror at the heart of our learning journey. Writing for young adult readers and graphic novels are just some of the options available to you as a student on our programme.

We take an innovative approach to the training and support of aspiring writers, driven by intellectual ambition and practical industry experience.

There are four strands to the programme:

  • pre-writing skills, concepts and technique for full-length narratives
  • writing practice for first person stories and a range of options
  • experimental, theoretical and personal development work
  • regular one-to-one editorial mentoring

We encourage you to submit your application for September 2018 entry by 31 July 2018.

Students from the MA Creative Writing course with lecturer Laura Lam

Mode of Study:

Part-time (available as Full-time)

Duration:

2 years

Start date:

Sep


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Course details

Uniquely, the course offers a dynamic range of cross-disciplinary options. Writing for graphic fiction, young adult audiences, screenwriting and interactive media are all available as specialisms, while our pioneering module in genre fiction covers crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction.

We host an exciting array of guest speakers every year, ranging from award-winning authors to high-profile industry experts. Recent visiting speakers have included authors Victoria (V.E.) Schwab, Dhonielle Clayton and James Oswald, comics creators Emma Beeby and Will Morris, Nasty Women anthology editors Laura Jones and Heather McDaid from 404 Ink, agent Jenny Brown, and editor Simon Spanton.

Our approach to full-length narrative development trains you to deploy a range of unique and dynamic pre-writing techniques invented by our programme. This energetic combination of conceptual development and critical self-reflection aims to transform you into a technically adept, purposeful writer ready to make your mark.

Professional development

The MA is a professionalising course that emphasises the publishing industry as a business, and includes sessions on approaching agents, marketing yourself and your work, and understanding publishing contracts. We also offer professional development strands in teaching and learning, community engagement, and publishing on digital platforms.

For students eager to continue working on their major project in a supportive academic environment, we have an articulation agreement with the low residency MFA in Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. This enables graduates of our programme to join the Seton Hill cohort in year two, attain a MFA qualification and complete a market-ready commercial novel.

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    This is a two year part-time course starting in September, taught over six trimesters. Part-timers can extend this learning journey an extra trimester at no added cost while completing their Major Project.

    The course is taught by a team of industry professionals: David Bishop, a successful working writer and former editor; acclaimed science fiction and fantasy author Laura Lam; award-winning literary thriller author Daniel Shand

    David Bishop, MA, FHEA, is the author of twenty published novels, an award-winning screenwriter, and a comics creator of nearly 30 years standing. He is programme leader for Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier and co-created the unique MA.

    Laura Lam, MA, is the author of five published novels, including the award-winning Micah Grey YA fantasy trilogy and the Pacifica series of near future thrillers.

    Daniel Shand, PhD, is the author of acclaimed literary thriller Fallow, and winner of the prestigious 2017 Betty Trask Award (past winners include Zadie Smith, Jon McGregor and Alex Garland).

  • note and pen Assessments

    Assessments focus on practical creative challenges and achieving professional levels of critical reflection, enabling students to become more self-sufficient as writers and collaborative practitioners.

    Tasks includes crafting original short stories; creating pre-writing materials for full-length narratives; critical self-reflection on your work; keeping a learning journal of progress through one-to-one mentoring; plus developing strategies and content for teaching, public engagement events, and digital self-publishing.

  • library Facilities

    Our students have access to the Writers' Room, a private workspace with wi-fi, available evenings and weekends. It houses an exclusive library of 2,000 hand-picked books, DVDs and graphic novels, and is the venue for reading groups and social events.

Modules

Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Beyond Narrative ( CLP11112 )

This module builds upon the lessons learned in Creating Narrative, taking you on the next stage of the writer's journey. The first few weeks tackle the rewriting process, exploring how to self-edit, when to stop writing and what lessons can be learned from each draft. Next you will explore abridgement and adaptation, two crucial areas of creative writing where you'll be making decisions about other peoples' stories. The module focus then moves back to your original work, examining the different paths to a commission - and the dead ends that can impede your progress. Guest speakers from the publishing industry (including agents and editors) will tell you what they look for. In the final weeks you'll learn about putting yourself and your work out there, coping with rejection and surviving publication.

Further information

Creating Narrative - Writer's Toolkit ( CLP11119 )

This module focuses on concepts, skills and techniques for the pre-writing development of a full-length narrative project. Each session examines a particular element of pre-writing, building into a complete process you can use to hone and shape a potential novel, graphic novel, screenplay or interactive project. The first few weeks interrogate the initial stages of your creative process, such as defining the purpose of your work, examining ways to develop ideas into stories, and using contextual reading and research to enhance the authenticity and originality of your project. Next you will explore thematic architecture and linguistic development to enrich your world-building and create a purposeful network of themes and ideas underpinning your narrative. The following weeks are devoted to characterisation and structure, helping you build unique characters and define the most appropriate choice of tone and narrative position(s) for your project. Plot and synopsis writing bring your learning journey to its conclusion, giving you the tools to shape a compelling journey for your project and its characters while embracing the challenges of perfect pacing and elegant exposition.

Further information

Creating Narratives ( CLP11113 )

This module delves into the nuts and bolts of creating narratives, with each session examining a particular element of the process. The first few weeks delve into the initial stages of the creative process, such as how to generate ideas and develop them into stories, and using research to give your work authenticity and originality. Next you will explore structure, plotting and planning - discovering the methods that work best for you as a writer. The middle of this module is devoted to character, learning about the importance of narrative viewpoint and empathy. Mastering theme and tone occupies the following sessions, as you engage with these powerful writing tools. You will consider genre - what it means for you as a writer, and its importance for your intended audience. The penultimate session considers dialogue, lies and narrators before the grand finale: assembling a trouble-shooting toolkit to help you overcome the temptations of procrastination and the tyranny of perfectionism. Throughout the module you'll also be reading and discussing short, recent works by leading authors in different genres, exposing you to current trends in your chosen field.

Further information

Dissertation ( JAC11106 )

The module comprises a taught programme in trimester 2, which covers advanced literature reviewing, framing and generating research questions, methodological issues (including reflexivity), qualitative research methods, critical analysis, scholarly writing and presentation. Students undertake independent study under supervision to produce a 15 000-word dissertation on a topic appropriate to the student's programme of study (Trimester 2).


Further information

Major Project ( CLP11110 )

Major Project is the culmination of all your learning on the MA. Depending on your chosen specialism it’s an opportunity to begin your novel in earnest and plan its path to publication, or to produce a high quality showcase of work in another medium, which can be used to approach agents, publishers, producers or developers. The module begins with a detailed induction session, to help you focus on the challenges ahead. After which, you’ll embark on intensive individual work, supported by three one-to-one supervision sessions of one hour and 20 minutes. A week before each session you’ll send up to 5,000 words of work-in-progress to your supervisor for feedback, problem-solving and discussion. You can also use supervision sessions to discuss your reading, research, critical reflection and personal development planning. Following Major Project marking, you’ll have a final one-to-one tutorial to discuss your Professional Development Plan, where the programme’s tutors will offer detailed advice on the next steps in your career.

Further information

Narrative Practice Vocational Skillset ( CLP11118 )

This module shifts the focus from your own writing to work with other creators’ stories and characters. The first few weeks tackle abridgement, learning how to cut stories sympathetically and efficiently. Next you will explore fiction editing, a key vocational skill that can also improve your own practice as a writer. The module looks at working with pre-created characters, and investigates ghost-writing. An entire session is devoted to collaborative working, a crucial ability that does not come naturally to all writers. In the final weeks you’ll learn best practice for introducing yourself and your work to a wider audience, tackling the challenges and professional skills necessary to build a portfolio career as a freelance writer in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Further information

Writing Practice First Person Narrative ( CLP11117 )

In this module you’ll focus on the practical application of a range of professional techniques, and on building the vital skills of pre-writing decision making, critical self-reflection and editorial dialogue. The module is a development journey, beginning with the foundational principles of first person writing: condition of narration, device and register. You’ll then begin to practise more complex techniques, such as subtext and counter narrative, the unreliable narrator and positioning an active reader.

Through weekly writing challenges and masterclass discussions, you’ll learn how to make fast, purposeful decisions about a story before writing, how to craft short pieces to briefs and deadlines, and how to critically analyse and improve upon early drafts. As well as gaining a detailed understanding of the demands of first person prose, you will develop the core professional practices you’ll need for the Trimester 2 Writing Practice options, Major Project, and the rest of your writing career.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for this course are an Honours Degree at a 2:2 or above in any discipline with relevant writing experience.

Once your application is received, you may be contacted by the Programme Leader with an invitation to submit a sample of writing: this is the second stage in selection. Please do not send writing samples with your initial application, as a detailed brief and deadline will be provided. The final stage in the selection process is an interview: for international applicants, this is conducted by telephone.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test. The English Language requirements for this programme are IELTS (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 with no individual component score of less than 7.0. For guidance on the acceptability of other English Language tests please contact pgadmissions@napier.ac.uk

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2018/19 2019/20
Home/EU Stage 1 £2,660 tba
Home/EU Stage 2 £3,190 tba
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Home EU - Total Fee £5,850 tba
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Stage 1 £5,850 tba
Stage 2 £7,150 tba
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Overseas - Total Fee £13,000 tba
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Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Careers

  • Book deals
  • Representation by literary agents
  • International and national competition wins
  • Collaborations with comic artists
  • Publication in magazines and anthologies
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival appearances
  • Paid editing and writing commissions
  • Performances and teaching
  • Working for national literary organisations
The Writers Room at Merchiston.