Types of Courses
So, what type of course should you choose? The type of degree course you choose to pursue will depend on a number of factors, including what you hope to gain from the experience and your writing experience to date, as well as strict considerations such as your existing qualifications, current work/life commitments and financial situation.
Here’s a general overview of the types of degree courses available and what you can expect, but do bear in mind that institutions may differ in their administration of courses:
- BA in Creative Writing - The undergraduate degree course is typically general, taking in elements from across the genres of Creative Writing over a three year period of study. The final year coursework portfolio assessment will provide an opportunity to focus on a chosen speciality or specialities, but over your three year period of study you will be expected to have gained a grounding and competency across the genres and a very good knowledge of contemporary literature. Teaching includes workshopping among peers, as well as group tutorials. The BA in Creative Writing may be taken as a single honours degree or, very often, as a joint honours degree with another Humanities course, most often English Literature. The BA in Creative Writing may also - as is the case at the University of Wales Swansea and University of Glamorgan - have equal weight with Media or Professional Writing.
- MA in Creative Writing - Lasting one year if taken as a full-time course, the MA is a postgraduate taught course, where specialities may be chosen from a range of modules. Often, elements of the English Literature MA modules are incorporated into the course – such as Gender or Psychogeography, for example. Workshopping among peers will play a vital part in the development of skills but you can also expect to have much more one to one tuition with an assigned tutor than you would undertaking a BA, and writing towards publication will probably be a much more central focus to the course. Final assessment will usually comprise of coursework throughout the year and culminate in a large project or portfolio, accompanied by a reflective, critical assessment of your creative process. The MA, along with the MPhil, is seen as the ‘traditional’ route into PhD study.
- MPhil in Creative Writing – Usually lasting two years (and over a part- or full-time basis dependent on the institution), the MPhil is a research-based, rather than taught postgraduate course. This course will necessarily require strong self-motivation and a willingness and confidence to undertake work independently. During the period of study, a large project of prose or poetry will be undertaken, and you will be assigned a supervisor to guide your progress. Assessment will normally be based on the production of a single body of large creative work but will also be accompanied by a reflective, critical study of your creative process.
- PhD in Creative Writing – The doctorate is a three year research-based degree, which is anticipated to result in the completion of a major work, such as a complete collection of verse or a collection of short stories, a novel or a work of Creative Non-Fiction in the region of 70,000 words. You will be appointed a supervisor and have regular contact with them as you progress through the project. Assessment is by both the creative work itself and, as with the MPhil degree, a reflective, critical study of the creative process and the work itself.
- Undergraduate and postgraduate Certificates or Diplomas in Creative Writing – Certificates or Diplomas in Creative Writing offer a chance to undertake writing projects, explore many of the modules studied at either BA or MA level, get tuition and enjoy workshops and discussions with other students to develop your work without committing to a full degree course over a one or two year period. You do not need formal qualifications to study for the undergraduate Certificate in Creative Writing. Certificates and Diplomas can be taken on a part-time or full-time basis.