Creative Writing for All


Many authors take their own life experience as a starting point for works of fiction. In this discursive course we will be looking at how memory and imagination can work together across a variety of genres to create engaging stories. A combination of writing exercises, text analysis, and group debate will form the basis of our sessions together. Students will discuss classic works of fiction in the context of the lives of their authors: placing famous texts within a social and historical framework. They will also share their own individual pieces of writing. As such, they will gain creative and critical skills which will bring a fresh perspective to the reading experience. Absolute beginners and practicing writers are equally welcome.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Please note that OUDCE reserves the right to alter course content and/or cancel field trips in accordance with government guidance.


What We Remember:

We will look at the power of subjective memory: both as a formal, fictional narrative device and as a psychological truth. We use set texts as a stimulus for discussion and then using a series of short writing exercises, students will create an initial personal piece of “real life” writing and thereby get the creative juices flowing.


The Power of Myth:

We will look at the power of the myth in a range of cultures: both in terms of traditional storytelling and modern political “spin.” Using set text and contemporary news media, we will look at how a mythic narrative enacts a set of moral values. We will then discuss how we narrate our personal experiences to fit our sense of our own myths, and how this natural human tendency can be subverted for the creation of original fiction.


Characters We Know:

We will begin with a series of writing exercises, using memory and anecdote as a starting point, to create a range of original characters. We will then discuss the relationship between character and plot, using set texts and visual media. We will then discuss how to create original story outlines for our group of characters.


Beyond Our Selves:

We will begin by discussing the relationship between an author and the writing process: how we can use story to explore ideas that we care about without lecturing the readers. We will look at set text and interviews to examine how an author’s attitude to his subject matter changes as the story develops. Using a combination of writing exercises and text analysis we will learn about the power of the “opposite” point of view.


The Critic vs. The Creator:

We will begin by discussing the difference between the critical and the creative mind, and the importance of separating the two throughout the writing process. We will discuss how to plan an extended story outline. We will also look at the common stylistic mistakes made by new writers and offer tips on how to avoid them. This should give students the skills and the confidence to continue to write, either fiction or autobiography – or a combination of the two.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1070.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments (and refunds) are subject to exchange rates at the time of processing.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date

Cancellations and refunds

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2021 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2021 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2021 - no refunds will be made.

Important note: You need to take out travel insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs.


Ms Elizabeth Garner

Elizabeth Garner is a novelist and editor with 17 years of experience of story-development in both film and publishing. She was written two novels: Nightdancing, which received the Betty Trask Award and The Ingenious Edgar Jones which was published to critical acclaim in the UK and USA. She is a fiction editor for Unbound Publishing. She teaches Creative Writing for The Oxford Department for Continuing Education.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2021.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.