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MSt in Creative Writing

Key facts

TypeOxford Qualification - Part-time
Start dateSep 2015
Subject area(s)Creative Writing
FeesFees for 2015-16 will be approximately £5,925 (EU students); £9,305 (non-EU students). This comprises the following: University composition fee: £4,525 (EU); £7,905 (non-EU) and the College fee: approximately £1,400 (EU and non-EU).
Application statusApplications not yet being accepted
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email rebecca.rue@conted.ox.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1865 280145.


Click here for frequently asked questions PDF document.

About the M.St in Creative Writing

Oxford University's Master of Studies in Creative Writing is a two-year, part-time master's degree course offering a unique combination of high contact hours, genre specialization, and critical and creative breadth. The emphasis of this postgraduate creative writing course is cross-cultural and cross-genre, pointing up the needs and challenges of the contemporary writer who produces his or her creative work in the context of a global writerly and critical community. The master's degree in creative writing offers a clustered learning format of five Residences, two Guided Retreats and one Placement over two years. The research Placement, a distinguishing feature of the course, offers between one and two weeks' hands-on experience of writing in the real world. Students may undertake their placement in a literary agency, a publishing house, the offices of a literary periodical, a theatre company, a screen production company, or other relevant organization. Placement organisations have included Macmillan, Initialise Films, Random House, the BBC, the Literary Review, AM Heath, Pegasus Theatre, the Poetry Society, and Carcanet.

The virtual open event for this programme is available to watch at www.conted.ox.ac.uk/cwopenday. The open event features acting Course Director Jane Draycott and course administrator Rebecca Rue, who discuss the programme, its requirements and the student experience. Participants' questions were texted in and answered during the event. A FAQ of all the questions and their answers is available at the top of this section.

The MSt has a blog, a resource for Oxford events, calls for submission, competitions, news, interviews and more, which is available at http://blogs.conted.ox.ac.uk/mstcw/.

"The Oxford MSt enables you to fast-track your career in writing."
- Fortuna Burke

"… the freedom to explore and experiment… has been fundamental to my development as a writer."
- Clare Tetley

"The range and variety of the group … offers truly exciting opportunities for the kind of exchanges that really accelerate your development as a writer."
- Michael Schuller

"What does the course offer? Self-discipline, professionalism and confidence."
- Abigail Green-Dove

"I doubt there’s a more suitable MSt in the United Kingdom for work which challenges boundaries and takes risks."
- Jennifer Thorp


Student support PDF document.

Click here for the course brochure PDF document.

The Residences and Retreats are generally focussed around weekends, and take place in late September, mid-January, late April and early July of Year 1; and early October, late March/early April and early July in Year 2. The research Placement will usually be between September and February of Year 2. There is also a compulsory matriculation ceremony, with the date to be set by the college. Possible matriculation dates do not necessarily coincide with the residence dates. For more information on matriculation please see http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/new/matriculation.

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. Each student is assigned a supervisor who works closely with him or her throughout the development of the year 2 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, are a distinguishing feature of the course.

There is an internal course website which enables MSt in Creative Writing students to share information, writing, and their publication successes. It is regularly updated with details of competitions, prizes and events, for example how to enter for the prestigious Bridport Prize - www.bridportprize.org.uk. Previous winners and shortlisted writers from the MSt include Clare Morgan, Jane Draycott, Kate Clanchy, Philip Gross, and alumni Sarah Darby, David Shook and David Krump.

We offer our up-coming students a full day of induction and orientation to the course, during which they have the opportunity to meet each other and the programme director and tutors. A library tour and e-resources session, and an introduction to usage of the dedicated course website are provided. There is an induction seminar, where students are able to experience a taste of the hands-on methods of the writing workshops. In the evening of the induction day, students and tutors enjoy a buffet and reception, followed by tutor readings. On the third evening of the Residence all MSt students are encouraged to give a short reading of their work to an audience of their colleagues and others.

In Year 2 of the course we engage top agents and publishers to meet our students and share their views of contemporary issues in writing and publishing. Among those who have joined us to date are Simon Trewin, Victoria Hobbs (A.M. Heath), Clara Farmer (Editorial Director, Chatto), Stuart Williams (Harvill Secker), Alex Bowler (Jonathan Cape) and Caroline Wood (Felicity Bryan Agency).

Each Residence and Retreat features guest speakers and readers. Among those we have welcomed to date are: Philip Pullman, Jon Stallworthy, Gerard Woodward, Eva Salzman, Douglas Dunn, Tim Pears, Patrick Gale, Patience Agbabi, Fred D’Aguiar and Sadie Jones. Students are also invited to participate in the Masterclasses arranged by the Kellogg College Centre for Creative Writing. Invited 'Masters' for these events have included: Professor Sir Andrew Motion, Julian Barnes, Simon Armitage, Julie Myerson, Gary Geddes and John Barr, President of the Poetry Foundation of America. Students and alumni also regularly attend the seminar series put on by the Writing Centre, among whose speakers are Francesca Kay, Ruth Fainlight and Philip Gross.

Eight cohorts of students have so far graduated, and our students have already achieved significant writerly successes. A 2007 graduate specializing in poetry was awarded the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation of America; another 2007 graduate has published his poetry in book form with Carcanet/Oxford Poets; a 2009 graduate is featured in Bloodaxe’s “21 of the most exciting young poets of the 21st century” in the anthology Voice Recognition. Another student took part in The Mexican Poets’ Tour to mark the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence movement and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by the Embassy of Mexico, United Kingdom). A 2009 alumnus’ book was published by Eyewear in 2013. A 2010 alumnus was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2012, and also won the 2012 Edward Stanley Award for a selection of poems published in the US journal Prairie Schooner. He was also short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

Our fiction writers have achieved high-profile publication with a 2012 graduate securing a two-book deal with Quercus, a 2011 graduate also being published by Quercus, and a Canadian graduate selling her first novel in a three-book deal in Canada. Our short fiction writers have achieved high-profile periodical publication and shortlisting, one of our 2010 graduates winning Oxford University’s DL Chapman Memorial Prize with a short story, and a 2011 graduate winning the London Fringe Festival’s Short Fiction Award. A native-speaking student from the Netherlands has published her first novel both in Belgium and the Netherlands (published in Dutch, in a translation by the author, originally written in English while at Oxford). A 2010 graduate has been short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger award 2011. One 2011 alumnus’ first novella was published in 2013. A 2007 alumnus’ second book will be published soon by Cillian Press. A 2007 alumnus has signed with Amsterdam publishing house Prometheus for her second novel. A 2008 alumnus’ fourth book came out several months ago in the Czech Republic. A 2009 alumnus has published two novels with Harlequin and the third novel of her trilogy will be published in 2013.

Our dramatists have had plays staged in significant theatrical venues, and a 2007 graduate has won the Alfred Fagon Award for the best play by a writer of African and Caribbean descent. One alumnus’ play opened in February 2010 and sold out. The script is being adapted into a graphic novel, and the show reprised in May and travelled in summer 2010. It was also filmed professionally. He was nominated for a Princess Grace Award for playwriting and was also awarded the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize for "young poets of unusual promise". A 2012 graduate’s play was awarded Best Play by Meera Syal at the Oxford University New Writing Festival 2012 and was longlisted for the King`s Cross Award for New Writing 2012. A 2010 graduate is now an award-winning playwright who has had four stage plays produced and three radio plays recorded. One alumnus’ play was performed as part of a showcase of new writing at The Soho Theatre.

Many of our alumni have signed with agents, and several every year go on to PhDs in Creative Writing.

The MSt has enjoyed a very strong application field since its inception, attracting record interest in 2013 from a global constituency of writers.The course`s emphasis on critical analysis as well as on writerly and creative excellence attracts students of commensurately strong academic potential as well as of significant creative promise. This combination of academic rigour and creativity is a central distinctive feature of the course. The resulting emphasis on exploration and the development of an individual writerly voice serve to attract particularly talented students from around the world as well as a strongly diverse group of UK students of varied backgrounds and ethnicity.

Continuing education and life-long learning in Oxford have been formally linked to the collegiate system of the University since 1990, when Kellogg College, the University’s 36th college, was established. Please consult www.kellogg.ox.ac.uk/ For details of this year's Oxford Literary Festival please see www.sundaytimes-oxfordliteraryfestival.co.uk.


OUDCE, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA.

Programme details

How is the course structured?

Course Dates Year 1, 2015-2016

Residence 1: Sunday 20 September 2015 - Wednesday 23 September 2015
Residence 2: Friday 15 January 2016 - Monday 18 January 2016
Residence 3: Sunday 24 April 2016 to Wednesday 27 April 2016
Guided Retreat: Sunday 3 July 2016 - Tuesday 5 July 2016
2016-17 course dates to be confirmed.

How is the course assessed?

The M.St is by course work assessment. In year 1, 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 year 2, 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.

Course submission requirements

Students are set specific creative and critical work to be completed between Residences and handed in to set deadlines (see How is the Course Structured? above). Year 1 creative submissions must be in more than one genre. In Year 2, submitted work focuses around genre of choice (see What Does the Course Cover? above).
During Year 1:
4 x 2500-word assignments, 2 creative writing and 2 critical analysis
1 x 7000-word portfolio of creative writing
1 x 4000-word extended critical essay
During Year 2:
1 x 2500-word report of Research Placement
1 x final creative writing project amounting to:
approximately 25,000 words of prose fiction
or approximately 25,000 words of narrative non-fiction
or two pieces of radio drama, one of 60 minutes duration, one of 30 minutes duration (approx 18,000 words)
or stage play of 90 minute’s duration (23,000 – 25,000 words)
or TV play of 90 minute’s duration (approx 18,000 words)
or screenplay (entire, c. 110 to 120pp; approx 25,000 words)
or a collection of poetry of between 40 and 60 pages AND between 600 and 1200 lines

1 x 5000-word extended essay on a genre-related critical approach of own choice

Who should apply?

We 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 we normally seek is 3.6 out of 4.0. We do not seek a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT score. Although a GRE or GMAT score is not a formal requirement, if one is available it should be supplied.

The high number of contact hours are concentrated into Residences and Retreats. Students should be at a stage in their writing where, with appropriate guidance, they can undertake agreed assignments, projects and essays between meetings. There is a dedicated Course Website for provision of up-to-date information; contact and exchange between students; and contact between students and tutors. The course, however, is not a ‘distance-learning’ course, and tutors, while being happy to help with questions or problems, do not offer regular weekly ‘office hours’.

The M.St is unlikely to be suitable for those who are just starting out on their writerly and critical development.

If you have any doubts about whether the M.St is right for your stage of development, please consult the website for information on our Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing www.conted.ox.ac.uk/dipcw

Selection criteria

There may be specific subject requirements for your course, so do check the selection criteria below. These will be used by the University in assessing your application.

Read full selection criteria



Dr Clare Morgan

Role: Director

Clare Morgan is a fiction writer and literary critic. Her novel, A Book for All and None was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 2011. She has...more

Mr Amal Chatterjee

Role: Assistant Director

Amal Chatterjee was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Kolkata/Calcutta, India. The author of a novel, Across the Lakes, and a historical study,...more

Ms Jane Draycott

Role: Assistant Director

Jane Draycott is a ‘Next Generation’ poet (Arts Council/Poetry Book Society 2004), and has a particular interest in combined arts and...more

Ms Rebecca Abrams

Role: Tutor

Rebecca Abrams is the author of five works of fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent novel, Touching Distance (Macmillan, 2008) was shortlisted for...more

Dr Anna R Beer

Role: Tutor

Anna Beer is a biographer and literary critic. She was University Lecturer in Literature at the Department for Continuing Education, Oxford, between...more

Miss Caroline Bird

Role: Tutor

Caroline Bird is an award-winning poet. She won a major Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was short-listed for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001. Her...more

Ms Wendy Brandmark

Role: Tutor

Wendy Brandmark is a fiction writer, reviewer and lecturer. Her novel, The Angry Gods, was published in the UK and the US, and her short stories have...more

Mr Ben Brown

Role: Tutor

Ben Brown is a playwright who read Law at Worcester College and has taught at Brasenose and Balliol. His last play, Three Days in May (national tour...more

Mr Patrick Collins

Role: Tutor

Patrick Collins is an award-winning writer of thirty stage plays. He is founder and artistic director of the Broken Lace Theatre Company, which...more

Dr Nicoletta Demetriou

Role: Tutor

Nicoletta Demetriou is a research fellow in Ethnomusicology and Life Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford. She studied music in Cyprus, Greece, and...more

Ms Abigail Docherty

Role: Tutor

Abigail Docherty is currently Pearson Playwright in Residence at the Tron Theatre Glasgow. Her play Sea and Land and Sky was the winner of the...more

Mr Frank Egerton

Role: Tutor

Frank Egerton studied English at Keble College, Oxford, and from 1995 to 2008 reviewed fiction for publications that included The Times, TLS and...more

Mr Jonathan Evans

Role: Tutor

Jonathan Evans has written over seventy commissioned scripts for a number of popular TV dramas. He also writes for children, most recently the...more

Ms Roopa Farooki

Role: Tutor

Roopa Farooki is the author of five critically acclaimed novels (The Flying Man, Half Life, The Way Things Look to Me, Corner Shop, and Bitter...more

Dr James Hawes

Role: Tutor

James Hawes studied German at Hertford College, Oxford, before taking a postgraduate certificate in Practical Theatre and a PhD on Kafka and...more

Ms Alice Jolly

Role: Tutor

Alice Jolly graduated from Oxford University with an MA in Modern History in 1989. She has published two novels (What the Eye Doesn’t See and If...more

Miss Emma Jones

Role: Tutor

Emma Jones’ first poetry collection, The Striped World, was published by Faber & Faber in 2009, and was awarded the Forward Prize for Best First...more

Ms Marti Leimbach

Role: Tutor

Marti Leimbach is the author of several novels including the international bestseller Dying Young, which was translated into over fifteen languages...more

Ms Jenny Lewis

Role: Tutor

Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright, children’s author and screenwriter who has worked extensively in cross-arts performance and community arts...more

Mr Stephen May

Role: Tutor

Stephen May has been working in the creative industries for over 25 years. He has written, produced and directed for theatre, TV and Film in the UK...more

Mr Patrick McGuinness

Role: Tutor

Patrick McGuinness is is the author of two collections of poems, The Canals of Mars (2004), and Jilted City, several editions, notably of the...more

Mr Jamie McKendrick

Role: Tutor

Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955, lives in Oxford and has published six books of poetry including The Marble Fly (1997), which won the...more

Mr Jamie Nuttgens

Role: Tutor

Jamie worked as a Director, Actor and Stage and Lighting Designer in Experimental Touring Theatre and as a Commercial Producer/Writer in Independent...more

Ms Tina Pepler

Role: Tutor

Tina Pepler is a dramatist who works in radio, television and film. She has written extensively for BBC radio – original plays, dramatisations, and...more

Professor Jon Howie Stallworthy

Role: Tutor

Jon Stallworthy, FBA, FRSL, is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Literature; he is Emeritus Professor of English Literature...more

Dr George Szirtes

Role: Tutor

George Szirtes is a poet and translator. His thirteen books of poetry include The Slant Door, (Secker 1979) which was awarded the Faber...more

Dr Sam Thompson

Role: Tutor

Sam Thompson is a fiction writer, reviewer and tutor. His novel, Communion Town (Fourth Estate, 2012), was shortlisted for the 2012 Amazon Rising...more

Course aims

What does the course cover?

The first year concentrates equally on prose (fiction and narrative non-fiction), poetry and drama. There is a significant critical reading and analysis component, which is linked to the writerly considerations explored in each of the three genres. Students are expected to engage fully with all three genres, in a spirit of exploration and with the aim of discovering what impact and relevance unaccustomed genres have for the development of their individual writerly voice. This necessarily involves undertaking assignments and exercises in areas that are new to students, and do not relate directly to any work they may have in progress. Students may be able to continue with their own longer term pieces-in-progress but the concentration of year 1 teaching is on producing new work, and the exercises and assignments, which should take priority, reflect this emphasis.

The second year offers specialisation in a single genre, again accompanied by a significant critical element focused around issues of interest to the individual student and related to the genre of choice.

Your specialisation choices are as follows:

• The novel
• Short fiction
• Radio drama
• TV drama
• Screenwriting
• Stage drama
• Poetry
• Narrative non-fiction

In year 2, the specialisation in the genre of students’ choice provides an opportunity for significant concentration on either new work, or, subject to consultation with supervisor, on existing work-in-progress.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.


The level of tuition fees you pay (home-EU or non-EU) depends on your residential category. For a detailed classification of home-EU/non-EU status, please refer to the fees and funding website. As a postgraduate student studying on this course at OUDCE you may be able to gain assistance through Career Development Loans or Educational Trusts and Charities.

The Clarendon Fund
The aim of the Clarendon Fund is to assist the very best students who obtain places to study for postgraduate degrees in the University. The main criterion for the awards is academic ability. Central information about the Clarendon Scholarships is provided at www.clarendon.ox.ac.uk

Apply for this course

Application Form and supporting materials

The University requires online applications. Paper applications are only acceptable in exceptional cases where it is not possible for you to apply online.

The application form is obtained by going to the Application and Admissions procedure section of the online prospectus, at Graduate Admissions Office, www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/. For a full explanation of application methods, see www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/apply.

Paper applications
If it is not possible for you to apply online, a paper application form can be requested from the Graduate Admissions Office. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at:

Graduate Admissions
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD
Tel: 01865 270059

Please note that in order to submit a paper application you must be able to pay the application fee by credit or debit card using our online store. If this is not possible, you may pay by cheque or bankers draft drawn on a UK bank account.

You will need to submit the application form and all supporting materials:

• Three references
Note: If you anticipate having difficulty providing 3 referees who have an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for this Programme of Study, please contact the Programme Administrator for advice.
• Transcripts of previous higher education results.
• Current CV/resume
• A statement (see application form) of your reasons for applying to the course. This should include what you feel the course would offer you and your writing, and what you feel you could bring to the course.
• A portfolio of creative writing for assessment. This can be in any of the three genres, or in more than one, and should consist of approximately 2000 words of prose (fiction, or narrative non-fiction) or 10 short poems or fifteen minutes equivalent of drama.

Please note that supporting materials cannot be returned. Please also note that no correspondence can be entered into, should your application be unsuccessful.

English Language ability

Prospective students whose first language is not English should note that English language certification at the higher level is required, and any offer of a place will be conditional on the receipt of an original certificate (see the ‘Notes of Guidance’).


Non-EU students must get an appropriate visa to cover their time in England before coming to the UK. As the MSt is a two-year, part-time course, it does not have the number of teaching hours per week required for a Tier 4 student visa. An alternative may be a student visitor visa to enable you to come to England for the periods required over the duration of the programme. For visa information, refer to www.ukvisas.gov.uk.The UKCISA website at www.ukcisa.org.uk/index.htm also contains useful information for both EU and non-EU students new to the UK. Forr more information see student visa information

Application Deadlines

Applications for the 2014 intake are now closed.
If you have any questions about the progress of your application, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office (tel: 01865 270059; Query facility); or the Course Administrator, Rebecca Rue (tel: +44 (0)1865 280145; email: rebecca.rue@conted.ox.ac.uk ).

Fees for 2015-16 will be approximately £5,925 (EU students); £9,305 (non-EU students). This comprises the following: University composition fee: £4,525 (EU); £7,905 (non-EU) and the College fee: approximately £1,400 (EU and non-EU). There may be a small fee increase for the second year of the course, 2015-2016.

Residency category
The level of tuition fees you pay (home-EU or non-EU) depends on your residential category.

If you are a non-European national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you may qualify for the home student fee, so long as you (or your spouse or parent) have been resident in the UK for the last three years for purposes other than full-time education.

Please note that UK/EU citizenship is not sufficient to be granted Home status, without also fulfilling the residence requirement. Students who have not been resident in the UK/EU for the last three years may be liable for the non-EU student fee. For a detailed classification of home-EU/non-EU status, please contact the OUDCE Student Adviser on 01865 280355 if you have any queries.

An offer of a place on the course will be conditional upon your demonstrating that you are able to meet the course fees.

For information on student funding, please visit our website: www.conted.ox.ac.uk and follow links to `students’ and `sources of funding’. You will find information on student loans, bursaries and Professional and Career Development Loans as well as details of external sources of funding. For further information on funding, see the Oxford Funding Search www.ox.ac.uk/feesandfunding/search.

Please read our Terms and Conditions and Student Contract before applying for this course.
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