Getting Started in Creative Writing (Online)


This course gives avid readers the skills necessary to turn a love of the written word into a practical experience. It introduces the key characteristics of creative writing, and students are supported with stage-by-stage guidance as they assimilate and put into practice a range of critical and creative methods. In addition to tutor feedback on the course assignments, participants will be encouraged to discuss one another's writing in the course forums, and will be given guidance on offering constructive and useful criticism.

Beginning with an introduction to writing fiction, this course leads students step-by-step through the essentials of the craft – including characterization, plotting, description, dialogue and editing – towards an enhanced understanding of how novels and stories are written. There are also individual sessions on special topics – such as constructing an effective opening sequence, using imagery creatively, and working with experimental or other distinctive genres – and the emphasis throughout is upon developing an individual voice and a confident style while working in a wholly supportive environment.

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

Unit 1: Getting Started

  • Getting acquainted with one another and the course
  • Autobiographical input
  • Working with notes
  • Practising discussion and critique of fiction-writing

Unit 2: Voice

  • Developing an individual emphasis
  • Pace and style

Unit 3: Descriptive Writing

  • Scene-making: Sharpening the senses
  • Fashioning a world

Unit 4: Point-of-view

  • Who tells the story? Owns the story?
  • Making choices about 1st, 2nd and 3rd person narrative

Unit 5: Character

  • Constructing individuals
  • Back-stories
  • Conflict

Unit 6: Dialogue

  • Writing the authentic, the important and the plausible simultaneously

Unit 7: Plot and Momentum

  • Patterns of Story
  • From story to plot
  • Subplots

Unit 8: Genre and Length

  • Choices that shape the stories we read
  • What we expect
  • How we may differ

Unit 9: Theme

  • What kind of a story will you tell?

Unit 10: Re-writing and Editing

  • Finishing, polishing, re-making, re-telling, expanding and cutting

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


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


Cherry Gilchrist

Cherry Gilchrist is a writer, lecturer and tutor. She is the author of a wide range of books including titles on Russian mythology, life story writing, feminine archetypes, alchemy and family history. Publishers include Piatkus, Weiser, and Penguin. Her blog Cherry’s Cache on diverse topics is regularly enjoyed by several hundred readers. As a writing tutor, she has also taught for the University of Exeter, Marlborough Summer School, Cheltenham Literature Festival, and many other venues including cruise ships. Her interests are history, nature and travel, and she lives in the Devon estuary town of Topsham. She is currently training to be a Exeter Red Coat city guide. Cherry gained her degree from New Hall, Cambridge, and holds a post-graduate diploma from the University of Bath Spa.

Dr Louis Greenberg

Louis Greenberg is a writer and fiction editor with a doctorate in modern English literature. Under his own name and co-writing as S.L. Grey, he has published nine novels including The MallThe Apartment and Exposure, a mystery about an immersive theatre group. Louis has studied scriptwriting, theatre set design and film finance, and two of his books are in film development. An Advanced Professional member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, Louis has edited fiction for several major publishers.



Course aims

This course aims to provide students with insight into the major aspects affecting creative writing, and enable them to use these features confidently in their own writing.

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.
  • Area for short responses to literary extracts from key texts.
  • Tutor responses to forum and exercises.
  • Assessment and feedback.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Key features (such as point-of-view, dialogue, etc) in a fictional work.
  • The practical use of such characteristics in their own writing.
  • How to use these aspects of technical expertise with increased skill and confidence.

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

  • The ability to recognize and name key features in literature.
  • Knowledge of what effects these features produce and how to undertake their use.
  • Increased confidence in their own use of such features as enhancements to the development of an individual 'voice' in creative writing.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 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 1,500 words due at the end of 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 4, 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.