Advanced Writing Lives (Online)


Every day we meet people with interesting life stories.  Everyone is exotic to someone else.  Our lives are made up of tragic, uplifting and humorous experiences which shape us as individuals.  We love, fight, apologise, account for and endure through whatever comes our way.  These challenges are endlessly affecting, both for the people who experience them and the reader who knows them second hand.  We shall explore how writers transform their own and others’ lives into exciting and innovative texts, so that we can create our own.

This course develops the skills and learning acquired on the current Writing Lives online course.  This course differs in that it introduces topics, concepts and approaches which are commensurate with second year university/Level 5 study, further encouraging a high degree of individuality and innovation. It is recommended that students have considerable writing experience, a strong desire to embark on a sustained personal project, and advanced English-language skills. Students should also be prepared to write reflective critical commentary as part of the course requirements.

This course emphasises weekly reading and writing exercises, peer feedback, and tutor guidance. Tutors prompt and moderate discussions that centre on group learning rather than workshopping personal pieces of writing. Both assessed assignments receive detailed feedback from the tutor.

For information on how the courses work, please click here.


Programme details

1. Towards a definition of memoir

2. identifying subject areas about which to write

3. Engaging and sustaining the reader's interest

4. Whose life is it? And what is 'truth'?

5. Voices

6. The notion of self and ways to present it

7. Perspectives

8. So near yet so far - how close do we need to get?

9. Experimenting with time

10. Variety is the spice of life


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £635.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:


Concessionary fees for short courses


Mr Jeremy Hughes

Jeremy Hughes began his writing life with poetry. He was awarded first prize in the Poetry Wales Competition and shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award. He has published two pamphlets breathing for all my birds, highlighted at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and The Woman Opposite. He has published two novels – Wingspan (2013) and Dovetail (2011). He has been the recipient of a Literature of Wales Writer’s Bursary. His short fiction and life-writing have been widely published, and he has reviewed fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction for such publications as TLS, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, Acumen, and Oranges & Sardines. He was in the first cohort to study for the Master’s in Creative Writing at Oxford. He is a member of the Society of Authors.

Course aims

This course aims to:

  • Explore a variety of life writing so that students can produce engaging and exciting original work which utilises the material from their own lives.

Teaching methods

  • Introductory section, outlining key areas of work within each unit.
  • Description of required reading and recommended reading.
  • Presentation of materials taken from additional (eg. online) sources, relevant to each unit.
  • Online discussion forum.
  • Online personal study diary.
  • Tutor responses to forum and exercises.
  • Assessment and feedback.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • That there are many different types of memoirs.
  • That they must write in a manner which engages and sustains the interest of the reader.
  • That they must transform their own life experiences innovatively.


By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • To be able to write engaging texts.
  • Transform their life experiences into appropriate textual varieties.
  • The confidence to embark on their own memoir projects. 

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 1000 words plus a commentary of 250 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 2000 words AND an accompanying commentary of 500 words due at the end of the course. Please note: passing the course is contingent on completing the commentary as part of the assingnment, if you do not complete the commentary you will fail the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link:


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 5, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.