Writing Genre Fiction MA

Our industry-informed teaching and one-to-one mentoring aims to help you establish or enhance a career in commercial genre writing.


This course is ideal for writers of commercial genre fiction who are looking to take their craft to the next level. 

If you already have talent and ideas, this online programme is designed to add the expertise you need to approach your chosen market with confidence, originality and skill.

During your studies you will focus on popular fiction genres enabling you to professionalise your practice as a writer; be it science fiction, fantasy, romance, crime, horror and historical fiction — you choose which to put at the heart of your learning journey.

In addition, our team of award-winning and bestselling authors will give you regular one-to-one creative and editorial mentoring sessions to support your development.

This MA is designed to be studied part-time over five trimesters. In the first, second and third trimester, you will study two modules each trimester. In the fourth and fifth trimester, you will undertake a single module: Major Project.

During the first trimester, the two modules you take (Creating Narrative, and Narrative Position) each have one live weekly online seminar, timetabled for 9:00-10:30am UK time. There is also one module with a live weekly seminar in the second trimester (Writing Genre Fiction) and third trimester (Authorship), each timetabled for 9:00-10:30am UK time. For other modules (Creative Development, Editorial Development and Major Project), you will have occasional live events (9:00-10:30am UK time), but will primarily agree in advance mutually convenient times for one-to-one meetings with your programme tutor.

Before applying for the programme please ensure you are able to attend the live online sessions at the stated time of day, allowing for relevant daylight savings hour changes at different points of the year. All other modules are taught one-to-one, with live online meetings arranged individually with your tutor at mutually convenient times within the UK business day (9:00am - 5:00pm UK time).

Mode of Study:

Online learning (Part-time)


2 years

Start date:


Meet your tutors

Introducing our Creative Writing tutors - David Bishop, Elizabeth Dearnley, Nicholas Binge and Noelle Harrison. Learn more about their backgrounds and their impressive careers in writing so far.

Course details

Lead academics

David Bishop

David is the author of more than twenty novels ranging across crime, fantasy, horror, and science fiction. An award-winning screenwriter, he has scripted TV dramas and radio plays for the BBC. He now writes historical thrillers set in Renaissance Florence. The first, City of Vengeance (Pan Macmillan), won the 2022 NZ Booklovers Prize, was shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award. The second, The Darkest Sin, was published in March 2022 with two more novels under contract. In 2009, he helped develop and launch the MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, the world's first full-time, face-to-face programme specialising in genre fiction. He became programme leader in 2017 and is completing a PhD in Creative Writing via distance learning at Lancaster University.

Dr Pete Freestone

Pete’s debut, Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom (Scholastic), was a YA fantasy novel published in the UK and US in 2019 and subsequently translated into seven other languages. An Aurealis Awards finalist, and a Scottish Book Trust and DIVA Magazine Book of the Month, it was followed by Shadowscent: Crown of Smoke in 2020. Pete is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop (University of California), and their short stories have appeared in various print and online venues including MG and YA anthologies. Before joining Edinburgh Napier in 2021, Pete taught workshops and mentored writers for Scottish Book Trust, New Writing North, ArtLink Edinburgh, SCBWI, and more. Pete holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and was a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Edinburgh. They supervise PhD candidates and publish scholarly research in the areas of writing pedagogy, practice and publishing; linguistics in commercial genre fiction; and environmental humanities.

El Lam

El Lam is a Sunday Times Bestselling author whose work includes the near-future space thriller Goldilocks (Orbit/Wildfire), feminist space opera Seven Devils and Seven Mercies (co-written with Elizabeth May) (DAW/Gollancz), BBC Radio 2 Book Club selection False Hearts, its companion novel Shattered Minds (both Tor Books/Tor UK), and the award-winning Micah Grey series: Pantomime, Shadowplay, and Masquerade (Tor UK). Forthcoming work includes the Dragon Scales epic fantasy trilogy (DAW/Hodder & Stoughton). El Lam’s short fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women (404 Ink), Solaris Rising 3 (Solaris), Cranky Ladies of History (Fablecroft), Scotland in Space (Shoreline of Infinity), and more. El Lam self-publishes F/F romance as Laura Ambrose. Since 2016, she has lectured at Edinburgh Napier University on the Creative Writing MA and English BA. Her specialisms include YA fiction, authorship and publishing, and speculative fiction.

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    How you’ll be taught

    This part-time course takes five trimesters to complete, spread across 20 months.

    It is structured to support you through your journey. You will learn by a variety of teaching methods including pre-recorded lectures accessed on demand via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), live online seminars and independent study. 
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    Throughout the course, there will be formative and summative assessments. The summative assessment for each module will be a portfolio of creative and critical written work.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Authorship ( CLP11702 )

The purpose of this module is to examine the changing role of the author over the years, as well as the realities of authorship in the 21st century. Throughout the trimester, you will develop your understanding of yourself as an author and of your place within the industry as a whole. You will do this by undertaking original research within a specific area of the publishing industry, and by defining how you might disrupt or invigorate it. You will begin by exploring the areas of professional practice that many authors pursue alongside their writing in order to build sustainable careers. These include teaching creative writing, self-publishing, digital platforms, community engagement, and live events. After selecting an area of professional practice to investigate further, you will decide upon a research question; carry out practical research; investigate relevant theory texts; and submit your findings in the form of a research essay. You will then be required to present concept documents for use within your chosen professional practice areas, describing problems you have identified and proposing potential solutions.

Further information

Creating Narrative ( CLP11704 )

This module focuses on concepts, skills and techniques for the pre-writing development of a professional quality, full-length narrative project. Each session examines a particular element of the pre-writing process, building into a complete process you can use to hone and shape a potential novel or novella. The first sessions interrogate the initial stages of your creative process, such as defining the purpose of your work and examining ways to develop ideas into stories. Next, sessions on characterisation will help you to build a unique, believable protagonist and supporting cast. In the following weeks, you will critically examine the roles of plot and structure, then explore thematic architecture and world-building to create a purposeful network of themes and ideas underpinning your narrative. The final weeks will be dedicated to troubleshooting techniques and synopsis writing sessions to give you the tools to shape a compelling journey for your project and its characters while embracing the challenges of effective pacing and elegant exposition.

Further information

Creative Development ( CLP11707 )

In this module you will work independently on a project or on projects of your own, supported by one-to-one mentoring. The focus here is on your creative development, so it's time to take risks, be ambitious, and push the boundaries of your process and practice. At the beginning of this module you'll attend a detailed induction. You'll then work with your mentor to craft a Learning Agreement that defines the purpose and goals of the work you intend to pursue. With your Learning Agreement in place, you'll embark on a journey of structured, self-directed creative development, supported by three one-to-one editorial mentoring meetings across the trimester, each lasting an hour. All the meetings will be documented and you’ll receive written feedback on your progress after each meeting. At the end, you’ll reflect on your learning and development, and decide on your future goals.

Further information

Editorial Development ( CLP11705 )

Two core skills for a successful writing career are the ability to edit your own work and to develop creative partnerships with editors. In this module, you will further hone the critical self-reflection skills built in Creative Development to work independently on editorial projects of your own, supported by one-to-one mentoring. During group induction classes, you will build your knowledge of core editing concepts and tools, including the different stages and expectations of the editorial process within the publishing industry. You will then craft a Learning Agreement that underpins how you will work individually with your mentor to: explore how editorial approaches can enhance and refine your creative practice; build your capacity to collaborate efficiently and effectively in a professional editorial relationship; and gain the confidence and discernment to make informed editorial decisions for your own work. At the end, you’ll take a seat on the other side of the editor's desk, and produce an editorial package informed by industry practice for a section of your own creative work, preparing you for the demands of Major Project and the commercial market beyond.

Further information

Major Project ( CLP11706 )

Major Project takes place across two trimesters and is the culmination of all your learning on the MA. It's an opportunity to begin your novel or novella in earnest and plan its path toward publication.

Each trimester begins with a detailed induction session to help you focus on the challenges ahead. You will then embark on intensive individual work, supported by three one-to-one supervision sessions of one hour each during both trimesters. A week before each session, you’ll send up to 2,000 words (totalling no more than 10,000 words across both trimesters) 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, project management and personal development planning.

At the end of of the first trimester, you'll assemble a short portfolio of written work in the form of a literary agent query package, as well as presenting your progress to an industry panel, and receive formative feedback on the query package and your presentation.

At the end of the second trimester, you will submit your Major Project portfolio and attend a concluding seminar in the form of a celebratory showcase. Finally, following Major Project marking, you’ll have a 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 Position ( CLP11703 )

In this module you’ll focus on the practical application of a range of professional writing techniques, and on building the vital skills of pre-writing decision making, critical self-reflection and engaging with editorial feedback. The module is a development journey, beginning with an overview of narrative positions and key terminology. Next, you'll explore the foundational principles of various narrative positions, including 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 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 opportunities and demands of different narrative positions, you will develop the core professional practices you’ll need to make the most of your Creative Development and Editorial Development modules, succeed in your Major Project, and advance the rest of your writing career.

Further information

Writing Genre Fiction ( CLP11701 )

This module introduces you to and enhances your understanding of writing for the genres and sub-genres of science fiction, fantasy, romance, crime and horror. It begins by investigating the core techniques and current trends in these areas. You will augment writing practice skills developed in the first trimester by undertaking frequent writing challenges and honing your critical self-reflexivity, aided by formative masterclass feedback. Addressing, challenging and subverting audience expectations is the focus for the final weeks, alongside writing for particular markets. This module has an all fiction reading list from the forefront of current genre writing.

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.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Writing Genre Fiction?

To apply you will need a Bachelor Degree with honours in any discipline or other qualifications/experience which demonstrate through our recognition of prior learning process that you have appropriate knowledge and skills in Writing Genre Fiction equivalent to SCQF level 10.

Can I get admission into Writing Genre Fiction based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the Postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.

As all learning, teaching and assessment activities are conducted in English, if your first language is not English you must have a minimum International English Language Testing System score of 7.0 with all four elements having a score of no less than 7.0.

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

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

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
All Students 2023/24 2024/25
All students *£860 *£tba
Modules are purchased via our online store and paid for in full at time of enrollment. Rate shown above is for 20 credits*; as course comprises 180 credits, the total cost is currently £7,740.
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


This course helps you to create the following career opportunities:

  • Book deals

  • Representation by literary agents

  • Publication in journals and anthologies

  • Working for literary organisations

  • Paid commissions as a writer