Postgraduate study

Creative Writing MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Creative Writing

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, this one-year, full-time taught Masters programme is tailored towards your practice in either fiction or poetry.

There is a strong practical element to the programme, helping you develop your creative skills through workshops, presenting your work for peer discussion, and hearing from guest writers and other professionals on the practicalities of life as a writer.

You’ll also sharpen your critical skills through seminars exploring the particulars of your chosen form and through option courses in literature, helping you move from theoretical considerations to practical applications.

The programme culminates with the publication of ‘From Arthur’s Seat’, an anthology of student work.

Literature has been taught here for over 250 years, and today Edinburgh thrives on its designation as the first UNESCO World City of Literature, home to the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library, and a number of celebrated publishing outlets, from Canongate and Polygon, to Luath Press, Birlinn and Mariscat. The University hosts the prestigious James Tait Black Awards, established in 1919 and the oldest literary prizes in Britain.

You’ll be based at the heart of the University, in George Square, which has variously been home to Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Welsh Carlyle, and which hosts the Main University Library, lender of some two million borrowable volumes. In summer, it’s a popular Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue.

There are lots of opportunities to write and share your work, from ‘Student’, the UK’s oldest student newspaper (founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson), to ‘50GS’, a new student-led digital journal, and our own ‘From Arthur’s Seat’. Around the city, you’ll find library readings and bookshop launches, spoken word gigs, cabaret nights and poetry slams.

We team teach our programme so that you benefit from the input of a range of tutors, as well as your fellow students and our Writer in Residence, Claire Askew, who also co-ordinates a range of student writing prizes and our annual industry event, The Business.

Over the duration of the programme, you’ll take two core courses, both worth 40 credits, and two optional courses chosen from a wide range of subjects, both worth 20 credits.

The core courses in Creative Writing are two-hour, tutor-led workshops in which you’ll present your work-in-progress, and critique the work of your fellow students. You’ll also attend a weekly two-hour seminar exploring techniques and issues specific to your practice (either fiction or poetry), and the statements and theories of practitioners.

We have a large number of option courses to choose from, including preferred courses for fiction and poetry (which will be offered to Creative Writing students in the first instance), and courses from across the Department of English Literature and the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Throughout the programme, you’ll be expected to attend readings and talks by visiting speakers. Early on, these will be from published writers and, later, advisors from the writing business: literary agents, magazine editors and publishers.

The final element of the programme is your dissertation, a piece of creative writing (worth 60 credits) written with the advice and support of a designated supervisor. Fiction dissertations are between 15,000 words and 20,000 words, poetry dissertations between 30 and 35 pages.

Students taking the programme will expand and refine their skills in poetry, or fiction. They will develop critical skills as readers of their own and others' work and will gain experience in the processes of presenting and publishing literary writing.

Over the course of this programme, you’ll complete a body of creative work that has been rigorously peer reviewed.

A number of our graduates have seen their student work professionally produced, such as Sarah Kamlet (now Fulton), a writer and photographer living in Los Angeles, who’s ‘Ode to Jeff Goldblum’ was written for the Creative Writing MSc and subsequently made into an animated short on Funny or Die.

Our students go on to careers in a wide variety of fields, including publishing, marketing, arts administration, web and audio book editing, script and ghost writing, and gaming narrative design.

You may also follow your own creative path, becoming a published writer, or decide to extend your studies and move into a career in academia.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

Applicants who are entered into selection will be asked to provide a sample of written work to enable their suitability for the programme to be assessed.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should also supply a portfolio of writing. For poetry this should be about 10 poems (somewhere between 200 and 400 lines in total); for fiction two or three short stories, or an equivalent amount from a novel (between 3,000 and 5,000 words).

If you are undecided about whether to apply for fiction or poetry, you should send a sample of both (if offered a place it will be for one or the other). Work in other forms (for example journalism, life writing or advertising) will not be considered.

All supporting documents, including references, must be uploaded to the online application system by the deadline date.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School
  • School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
  • Room 1.13, 50 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LH