Creative Writing MSc
Programme website: Creative Writing
The community has been one of my favourite parts. The department has very warm and encouraging staff. Some of my classmates are now close friends, and we still workshop stories across time zones, and complain to each other about writing - and not 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.
There are lots of opportunities to write and share your work, from ‘The Student’, the UK’s oldest student newspaper (founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson), to The Selkie, which was founded by Creative Writing students in 2018 to showcase work by people who self-identify as underrepresented.
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, the poet Ryan Van Winkle, who also co-ordinates a range of student writing prizes and our annual industry event, The Business.
The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, including well-published and prize-winning writers of poetry, prose fiction and drama. They include:
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 activities in Creative Writing are tutor-led workshops in which you’ll present your work-in-progress, and critique the work of your fellow students, and regular seminars 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 25 and 30 pages.
On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
- identify, conceptualise and define formal elements of craft in your chosen field (poetry or fiction) within published works and within works by your peers
- remain open to criticism and respond effectively and creatively to feedback on your own creative work
- work from initial conception through multiple drafts to the final version of a creative piece within your chosen field (fiction or poetry)
- transfer editorial skills and creative abilities from one context to another
- analyse creative works within your chosen field (fiction or poetry), work with a focus on craft effectiveness, and articulate strengths and weaknesses in a piece of writing in a constructive manner
Over the course of this programme, you’ll complete a body of creative work that has been rigorously peer reviewed.
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. Some decide to extend their studies and take a PhD with us.
Many of our alumni go on to achieve literary success, publishing novels and short story and poetry collections, and winning awards. Our graduates’ recent successes include:
- Debut novels from Amanda Block (The Lost Storyteller, published by Hodder Studio), Karin Nordin (Where Ravens Roost, published by Harper Collins), August Thomas (Liar’s Candle, published by Simon and Schuster), Secrets of a Serial Killer by Rosie Walker (published by One More Chapter) and Mark Wightman (Waking the Tiger, published by Hobeck Books and shortlisted for Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2021)
- Debut short story collections from Dayle Furlong (Lake Effect, published by Cormorant Books), and Dima Alzayat (Alligator and Other Stories, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Award for Fiction)
- A non-fiction debut from Sonali Misra (21 Fantastic Failures, published by Rupa Publications India)
- Debut poetry collections from Rebecca Tamás (WITCH, published by Penned in the Margins), Naomi Morris (Hyperlove, published by Makina Books) and Aileen Ballantyne (Taking Flight, published by Luath Press)
- The 2021 Brotherton Poetry Prize, won by Lauren Pope, and the 2021 Pontas & JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize, won by Bhavika Govil
Meet our graduates
These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.
A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in any discipline. This will often be in a directly related subject like English Literature/Creative Writing, but we welcome applicants from all academic backgrounds.*
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.
(*Revised 9 November 2021 to clarify that degree may be in any discipline.)
Students from China
This degree is Band C.
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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.
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, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)
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.
Find out more about our language requirements:
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
- your tuition fee status
Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.
Other funding opportunities
Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:
- School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
- 50 George Square
- Central Campus
- EH8 9LH
This programme is not currently accepting applications. Applications for the next intake usually open in October.
Start date: September
Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process. Application numbers are high; it is advisable to apply early to maximise your chances of acceptance.
Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2022/23:
|Round||Application deadline||Places awarded by|
|1||8 November 2021||16 December 2021|
|2||1 February 2022||24 March 2022|
|3||30 April 2022||16 June 2022|
|4||1 June 2022||26 July 2022|
(*Revised 14 October 2021 to update application deadline information.)
The online application process involves the completion of a web form and the submission of supporting documents.
You should supply a portfolio of writing.
- For poetry, this should be six (6) pages of poetry, starting a new page for each new poem of 14 lines or over.
- For fiction, this should be a complete story or stories, or an equivalent amount from a longer work (between 2,500 and 3,500 words).
These are firm limits.
If you are undecided about whether to apply for fiction or poetry, you should send a sample of both, i.e. six (6) pages of poetry and 2,500-3,500 words of fiction (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.
When writing your personal statement, consider the following questions:
- What do you most hope to learn/gain from a Creative Writing degree, and why is ours the programme for you?
- Tell us about your writing: what are you interested in and why? Are there aspects of your current practice you're particularly proud of? Things you know you need to work on?
What (if any) prior experience do you have of studying Creative Writing?
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:
- School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures
- 50 George Square
- Central Campus
- EH8 9LH