Major in Creative Writing
Students who graduate with the Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing will be skilled writers in a major literary genre and have a theoretically informed understanding of the aesthetic, historical, social, and political context of a range of contemporary writing. Students in the major will focus their studies on a primary genre: fiction, poetry, or nonfiction.
The organization of the major incorporates the writing workshop model into a broader education that furthers students’ knowledge of historical and contemporary literary practice, sharpens their critical attention, and fosters their creative enthusiasm.
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Summary of Major Requirements
- 1 Fundamentals in Creative Writing Seminar
- 2 Technical Seminars (in primary genre)
- 3 Advanced Workshops (at least 2 in primary genre)
- 4 literature courses
- 1 literary genre course (in primary genre)
- 1 literary theory course
- 1 pre-20th-century literature course
- 1 general literature course
= 13 Courses and a Thesis
Courses in the Major
Creative Writing courses give priority to students who have declared the major with Edgar Garcia, the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). In instances where a class has many more applications than it has spots, priority is determined first by degree program and then by class year.
Fundamentals in Creative Writing Seminar
The Fundamentals in Creative Writing course is an introductory cross-genre seminar to be taken by all students in the major. Every section of the course focuses on a current debate relevant to all forms of literary practice and will introduce students to core texts from each major literary genre.
Technical Seminars (in Poetry, Fiction, or Nonfiction)
These courses are designed to give students a solid grounding in core technical elements of their primary genre. Coursework may involve creative exercises, but papers will focus on analysis of assigned readings.
Critique is the core value and activity of the workshop environment. Students in Advanced Workshops will practice critique under the guidance of the workshop instructor. Advanced Workshops typically focus on original student work.
Literary Genre Courses
This requirement can be met by a cross-listed English course or an eligible literature course offered by another department. For a list of eligible courses, please visit this page.
A substantial proportion of one of these courses must involve the study of literature written before the twentieth century, and one must fulfill a theory requirement. For a list of eligible courses, please visit this page.
Research Background Electives
Students take two courses outside the Creative Writing program, selected in consultation with the DUS, to support the student’s individual interests and thesis project.
BA Thesis & Workshop
Students work on their BA project over four quarters. In Winter Quarter of their fourth year, students will enroll in one of the Thesis/Major Projects Workshops in their genre.
31 Bachelor of Arts Programs in Creative Writing
Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing is an ideal opportunity for individuals with a passion for writing and a desire to pursue a career using their writing talents. Students earning a degree in creative writing learn about the industry from published authors, share creative ideas with other students, and study literature through a diverse variety of courses. What is a BA in Creative Writ… Read more
Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing is an ideal opportunity for individuals with a passion for writing and a desire to pursue a career using their writing talents. Students earning a degree in creative writing learn about the industry from published authors, share creative ideas with other students, and study literature through a diverse variety of courses.
What is a BA in Creative Writing? The Bachelor of Arts degree involves the study of the history of literature, with a focus on fiction, nonfiction, poetry and scriptwriting. Furthermore, students are provided various opportunities to improve upon and cultivate their talents and writing skills. Program participants learn about the basics of effective writing styles while engaging in an imaginative enterprise. Spending time with agents, editors, and publishers and participating in readings, workshops, and networking events equips program participants with the tools for success in a creative writing career.
There are various reasons that students choose to enroll in a Bachelor of Arts program. For instance, if an individual enjoys writing, then engaging in workshops taught by published writers expands their imagination and writing skills through experimentation, practice, critical reading, and discussion.
The program costs vary depending on the facility. Typically the course length is between one and three years. Prospective students should thoroughly research each school prior to deciding on a program to ensure that the goals align with their career plans.
Students can work in numerous professional areas after earning their degree. For example, individuals can explore career paths in publishing, journalism, screenwriting, copywriting, and communications. Often graduates pursue careers in education and professional editing.
There are many international options available for the program through a diverse selection of universities. Online coursework provides an ideal option for individuals living around the world with limited access to an institution. Additionally, Internet-based learning opportunities offer flexible schedules for students who work or have a family. To get started, search for your program below and contact directly the admission office of the school of your choice by filling in the lead form.
BA Creative Writing
Explore the urge to create and build new worlds, to share language and stories with others. On our course you work on the craft of writing through a multi-genre approach, through and across a variety of writings from fiction and poetry, to non-fiction, psychogeography, performance writing and beyond.
At Essex we offer an unusual approach to the practice of writing, combing innovative and traditional methods in order to develop your writing skills and abilities to judge your work critically, while expanding your knowledge across different modes and genres. In the Centre for Creative Writing we encourage a culture of experiment and creativity, enabling you to feel part of a community of writers.
Uncover the history and theories of writing practices through studying familiar as well as unfamiliar writings from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to Wordsworth, and Kae Tempest, as well as writers taking alternative approaches to text production, from contemporary revisionings of fairytales, to new nature writing, science fiction, and the experimental language play of the French Oulipo group.
You will enhance your skills by engaging with a range of techniques, practical exercises and creative approaches and opportunities, including:
- Discover how words and ideas move across the world and are transformed through translation
- Write an independent creative project developed over eight months in your final year
- Explore the psychological foundations of creativity in relation to myth
- Surrealism and Defamiliarisation
- Creative use of social media
- Writing for radio and playwriting
Essex has nurtured a long tradition of distinguished writers whose work has shaped literature as we know it today, from past giants such as the American poets Robert Lowell and Ted Berrigan, to contemporary writers such as mythographer and novelist Dame Marina Warner, and Booker Prize winner Ben Okri.
Our course offers a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum, focused on developing your abilities as a writer, while allowing you to take options from the other courses within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies including literature, filmmaking, journalism and drama.
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- You can respond both critically and artistically to your studies in our unique literary conservatoire.
- We encourage innovation, experimentation, and originality in writing and thinking.
- Our literature and creative writing courses are taught by leading academics and writers.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our teaching staff are experienced and established writers who have a breadth of experience across literary genres, from novels, prose and plays, to poetry and song.
The Centre for Creative Writing is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers students the skills, support and confidence to respond artistically and critically to the study of writing with the guidance of experts.
The Centre for Creative Writing currently hosts two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, professional writers who are on-hand to help students develop their writing on a one-to-one basis.
- Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
- Write for our student magazine Rebel or host a radio show
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading literature specialists at regular talks and readings
- Our on-Campus, 200-seat Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
- Improve your playwriting skills at our Lakeside Theatre Writers workshops
- Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
Many of our students have gone on to successfully publish their work, notable recent alumni including:
- Ida Løkås, who won a literary prize in Norway for The Beauty That Flows Past, securing a book deal
- Alexia Casale, whose novel Bone Dragon was published by Faber & Faber and subsequently featured on both the Young Adult Books of the Year 2013 list for The Financial Times, and The Independent’sBooks of the year 2013: Children
- Elaine Ewert, recent graduate from our MA Wild Writing, placed second in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2015
- Patricia Borlenghi, the founder of Patrician Press, which has published works by a number of our alumni
- Petra Mcqueen, who has written for The Guardian and runs creative writing courses
Our graduates are also ideally prepared for careers in the media, education, publishing, and the film and theatre industries. Two particular areas in which our graduates have had recent success are publishing and the theatre. One of our former students is now in charge of editorial at a large publishing house, and another has just taken over running one of the country’s major theatres.
Other recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of desirable roles including:
- The Civil Service
- Journalism and broadcasting
- Museum and library work
- Commerce and finance
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject
BTEC: DDM, depending on subject studied – advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits at Merit or above, depending on subject studied – advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied – advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped?
If you select Essex as your firm choice, you will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements to those published on our website.
If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you’ll find this information.
English language requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
Status What this means Core You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted. Core with Options You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted. Compulsory You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail. Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail. Optional You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
The module number.
A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules – increasing as you progress through the course.