MSt in Creative Writing | University of Oxford
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MSt in Creative Writing

About the course

The MSt in Creative Writing is a two-year, part-time master's degree course offering a unique combination of high contact hours, genre specialisation, and critical and creative breadth.

The emphasis of the course is cross-cultural and cross-genre, pointing up the needs and challenges of the contemporary writer who produces their creative work in the context of a global writerly and critical community.

The MSt offers a clustered learning format of five residences, two guided retreats and one research placement over two years. The research placement, a distinguishing feature of the course, provides between one and two weeks' in-house experience of writing in the real world.

The first year concentrates equally on prose fiction, poetry, dramatic writing and narrative non-fiction. There is a significant critical reading and analysis component, which is linked to the writerly considerations explored in each of the genres. In your second year you will specialise in one of the following:

  • the novel
  • short fiction
  • radio drama
  • TV drama
  • screenwriting
  • stage drama
  • poetry
  • narrative non-fiction.

The residences in particular offer an intensive workshop- and seminar-based forum for ideas exchange and for the opening up of creative and critical frameworks within which to develop writerly and analytical skills. There is a strong element of one-to-one tutorial teaching and tutorials take place within residences and retreats, and relate to the on-going work produced for the course.

You will be assigned a supervisor who will work closely with you throughout the development of the year two final project and extended essay. All assessed work throughout the two years of the course is subject to one-to-one feedback and discussion with a tutor. This intensive, one-to-one input, combined with the highly interactive workshop and seminar sessions, is a distinguishing feature of the course.

The MSt is assessed by coursework. In the first year, four assignments (two creative, two critical), one creative writing portfolio and one critical essay are submitted. Work is set during each residence and handed in for assessment before the next meeting. Feedback on work submitted is given during tutorials within the residence or retreat. In the second year, submissions comprise one research placement report, one extended critical essay, and a final project – a substantial body of creative work in the genre of choice. You will be allocated a supervisor to guide and advise you on your creative and critical work throughout the second year.

You will be set specific creative and critical work to be completed between residences and handed in to set deadlines. Creative submissions in the first year must be in more than one genre. In the second year, submitted work focuses around the genre of your choice.

Graduate destinations

Graduate destinations have included doctoral programmes in creative writing; teaching creative writing; publishing creative work in chosen field; careers in arts/media.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2016-17

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a related field.

Assessors are looking for writers with a proven record of commitment to their craft. You should be a keen reader, and bring an open-minded, questioning approach to both reading and writing. You will not necessarily have yet achieved publication, but you will have written regularly and read widely over a sustained period. You will be keen to dedicate time and energy and staying-power to harnessing your talent, enlarging your skills, and aiming your writerly production at consistently professional standards. It is likely you will have a first degree, or equivalent, although in some cases other evidence of suitability may be acceptable.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

References/letters of recommendation 

Your references will support your commitment to creative writing and suitability to pursue a course of this nature at graduate level. 

Both professional and academic references are acceptable.

Written work and/or portfolio produced by the student

The portfolio of creative writing for assessment can be in any of the three genres, or in more than one, and should consist of approximately 2,000 words of prose fiction or narrative non-fiction, or 10 short poems, or fifteen minutes equivalent of drama.

This will be assessed for excellence in creative writing.

The portfolio needs to be clearly indicative of the candidate's ability in creative writing.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

The statement of purpose needs to be full enough to give an appropriate picture of the matters you address. There is no fixed length but around a page is suggested. The portfolio and statement of purpose must be in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (two years)
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

All applicants whose paper submissions indicate they are qualified for entry will generally be interviewed, either in person or by telephone/Skype. There are always two interviewers. Interviews usually last up to approximately 30 minutes and provide an opportunity for the candidate to discuss his/her application and to explore the course in more detail.

The interview is designed to ascertain, through a range of questions, the shape and emphasis of the candidate's writing and reading, and general suitability for the demands of the MSt. 

Publications

Applicants do not need to be previously published, but the MSt is unlikely to be suitable for those who are just starting out on their writerly and critical development.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department for Continuing Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

The department’s Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for all the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. A range of scholarships are available to students on the many part-time master’s, postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma courses, and doctoral programmes offered by the department, including a number specific to certain courses. In addition, the department has bursary funds available to assist students on low incomes.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£4,660£1,467£6,127
Overseas£8,140£1,467£9,607

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of the website.

Additional information

This course has residential sessions in Oxford so you will need to meet any travel and accommodation costs you may incur in attending these sessions.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff prior to submitting your application. In case of any queries, please contact the course administrator.

The set of materials you should send with an application to this course comprises:

  • a statement of purpose, of around one page in length
  • a CV/résumé
  • three professional and/or academic references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date
  • written work, consisting of a creative writing portfolio.

The portfolio of creative writing can be in any of the three genres, or in more than one, and should consist of either (i) approximately 2,000 words of prose fiction or narrative non-fiction, or (ii) 10 short poems, or (iii) fifteen minutes equivalent of drama.

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.