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Creative writing oxford summer

Creative Writing Summer School

Immerse yourself in your writing over three intensive weeks spent in Oxford.

This unique summer school offers opportunities for writers at both intermediate and advanced levels to work under the guidance of experienced tutors.

You will write, develop your technique, sharpen your critical faculties and discuss your work in small, focused seminars. Each weekday you will attend a talk given by an author, publisher, agent, or editor. You will live and work in beautiful Exeter College – founded in 1314 – the environment that nurtured J R R Tolkien, Philip Pullman, Martin Amis, William Morris, and many others.

At the end of your three weeks, you will have acquired new skills, made new friends, and developed a fresh portfolio of creative writing.

  • A three-week residential summer school.
  • Take part in interactive seminars featuring writing exercises and group discussion.
  • Benefit from guidance by tutors who are both published authors and experienced teachers.
  • Attend daily talks and readings given by established authors, agents, editors and others.

Participate in open mic nights and peer-led workshop sessions.

What is meant by intermediate and advanced?

The intermediate strand of the summer school is open-access; it is for keen readers who have written regularly and read widely over a sustained period. Students on the intermediate programme take two seminars, one in fiction and one in creative non-fiction. Applications for the intermediate strand do not require samples of written work.

The advanced strand of the summer school is an intensive programme which is suitable for writers who have completed or nearly completed a single-honours degree in Creative Writing or English Literature, or who have taken a significant number of courses in creative writing or English literature. Students on the advanced strand are likely to have developed specialisms in their work; they choose two from seven available seminars: creative non-fiction, fiction (two options), poetry, scriptwriting, short story, and teen/young adult fiction. Applications for the advanced strand include a statement of purpose and samples of written work.

Both strands live and work in beautiful Exeter College, socialising, dining and attending plenary lectures together.

Seminars

All of the seminars involve writing exercises, group discussion, and the development of a portfolio of creative writing.

Each seminar has two two-hour meetings per week. Classes typically contain no more than 15 students.

(See “Programme details”, below, for seminar descriptions.)

Contact hours

The programme provides you with a minimum of 46.5 contact hours, comprising:

  • 24 hours of seminar meetings (12 hours per seminar); and
  • 22.5 hours of talks and readings (15 sessions, each lasting 1.5 hours).
Social programme

You can enjoy optional social events throughout the summer school. These may include a walking tour of Oxford, after-dinner talks and weekend excursions to sites of literary and/or historical interest. Most of these activities incur additional costs.

You’ll have an opportunity to share ideas and work with your fellow students at open mic nights (one per week) and informal peer-led workshop sessions (two per week).

Beyond the summer school, Oxford is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a busy cultural and social scene offering a wide variety of plays and shows, concerts, films and exhibitions.

Programme details

Intermediate-level seminars

Creative Non-Fiction

Writing about real lives and experiences – your own, or someone else’s – is rewarding but also daunting. What if you have too much information, or your story involves other people? How do you fill the gaps? How do you keep the reader reading? What if your core purpose is to write creatively not about a life, but about a specific place or time, journey or sickness, idea or vocation? And when does storytelling tip over into fiction? In this course we will use practical exercises, examples, discussion and the sharing of writing to explore ways of imagining, researching, developing, shaping and voicing real-life material to form a narrative.

Tutor: Dr Emma Darwin’s memoir, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin (Holland House Books, 2019), explores her disastrous attempt to write a novel about her family. Her debut novel, The Mathematics of Love (Headline Review, 2006), was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ and other awards; her second, A Secret Alchemy (Headline Review, 2009), was a Sunday Times bestseller; Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction (John Murray Learning) was published in 2016. She has a PhD in Creative Writing (London) and was an Associate Lecturer at the Open University; she blogs at This Itch of Writing.

Fiction

By looking at techniques used by published writers, we shall learn how we can bring our own stories to life. Practical exercises and discussion of each other’s work will deepen our understanding of fundamentals such as character, description, plot, dialogue, point of view and suspense. We shall also experiment with different narrative forms. Last but not least, the course will explore how to rewrite and edit – vital skills for your creative writing in the future.

Tutor: Dr Lisa O’Donnell is Lecturer in Creative Writing at City University, London and Tutor in Creative Writing at Curtis Brown Creative. Her first novel, The Death of Bees, was published by Random House in 2012 and Harper Collins in 2013. Her second, Closed Doors, was published by Random House in 2013 and by Harper Collins in 2014. The Death of Bees was awarded The Commonwealth Book Prize in 2014 at The Hay Festival presented by the late John Le Carré. It has been translated into 19 languages and longlisted for the Barnes and Nobles Discover Great Writers Award in the US, and shortlisted for the Waterstones First Book Award and the Anobi First Book Award. It also won an ALEX AWARD in 2014 awarded by the American Library Association.

Advanced-level seminar options

Creative Non-Fiction

We tell stories about ourselves and others every day. Taking a close look at autobiography, memoir, and biography, we will discuss how these stories are told and the extent to which this has an impact on what we think we know about our own lives and those of others. The relationship between narrator and subject, facts and invention, transnational perspectives and questions of style and form, including online lives, in creative non-fiction life-writing will be explored. There will be opportunities to share our own writing and publication plans.

Tutor: Dr Jane McVeigh is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton. She publishes on different aspects of life-writing. Her biography, Richmal Crompton, Author of Just William: A Literary Life (forthcoming 2022) considers Crompton’s life, the extent to which it influenced her writing and why she tried to keep so much of it hidden from view. In Collaboration with British Literary Biography: Haunting Conversations (Palgrave, 2017), explores the relationship between a biographer and his or her subjects.

Fiction: Turning Ideas Into Narratives

This course is aimed at those who are starting to write prose but do not yet feel fully confident. Using a variety of exercises and some examples from literature, we shall investigate the formation of character, and develop character arcs. Then we shall develop story and plot outlines together, planning scenes. Finally, we shall attempt to identify and discuss your unique strengths and preferences with a view to finding your USP – unique selling point.

Tutor: Dr Rachel Bentham has been Royal Literary Fellow at Bath University, and teaches for both Bristol and Bath Spa Universities. Her plays and short stories have been regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her poetry is internationally published. She has recently completed a novel set in nineteenth-century Tahiti. A recent collection of haiku was called Let All Tongues Flower (Firewater Press, 2013); and her most recent collection, also of haiku, is titled Other Roads North (2019) and reached number one on Amazon.

Fiction: Fine-Tuning Your Writing

This course is designed to help you hone your craft as a writer and see your project through to its completion. We shall start by examining your aims and motivation, troubleshooting any problems you are having in maintaining commitment and progress. We shall explore how to give your writing maximum resonance and power, analysing how you can use voice and point of view, give your characters extra depth and weave together story strands, themes and images. Finally, we shall look at sending your work out into the world, with workshopping and advice on editing and pitching.

Tutor: Lorna Fergusson is an experienced writing coach and editor who has taught on various OUDCE programmes since 2002. She has republished her novel, The Chase, originally published by Bloomsbury. Her chapter on Pre-writing appears in Studying Creative Writing published by Frontinus. She has won the Historical Novel Society’s short story award with ‘Salt’ which appears in An Oxford Vengeance. She has been shortlisted for Macmillan’s Write Now Prize and was runner-up for the Mogford Prize in 2021. Her new book for creative writers, The Unputdownable Writer’s Mindset, will be published in 2022.

Poetry

‘I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering’ (Robert Frost). In this course we shall embark on unpredictable journeys of discovery, in particular exploring the realm of ambiguity and multiple levels of – sometimes conflicting – meaning. In collaborative exercises and individual work, as well as analysis of poems by established poets, we shall try to see what makes a vivid or striking poem, and how best to channel and shape the ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ (Wordsworth). The course will consist of taught seminars followed by workshopping of students’ work.

Tutor: Matthew Barton has published three collections of poetry, Learning to Row (Peterloo Poets, 1999) Vessel (The Brodie Press, 2009), and Family Tree (Shoestring Press, 2016). His translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies also appeared this year from Shoestring. He has won many awards for his work including BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year (twice winner), second prize in the National Poetry Competition, joint second prize in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and first prize in the Strokestown competition (Ireland). He is a tutor of poetry for the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at OUDCE and the editor of Raceme Magazine.

Scriptwriting

This course is based on the study and creation of scripts for stage, screen and radio and on helping aspiring dramatists to develop a practice to engage with a golden age of script writing. Convincing characters in coherent plots, with a keen awareness of genre, is the basis of all good fiction. We shall explore such core elements, culminating in the submission of a short script. In the third week, students can workshop a script begun outside the course. Dramaturgy will be strictly focused to help writers to develop individual writing for performance projects, using processes that are ‘industry standard’.

Tutor: Shaun McCarthy is a professional stage and radio dramatist. He teaches for Oxford and other universities in the UK and Europe. He is currently writing a resetting of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, to May Eve in Oxford 1963, and co-producing a play based on seven after-show discussions about a play we never actually see.

The Short Story

This course encourages you to become a braver, more vital writer by experimenting with the short story form. As close to poetry as it is to prose, the short story is ideal for testing uncommon characters and situations, innovative structures and syntax. Unlock voices and creative techniques that will transform your writing practise. In the final week we will focus on intensive self-editing and how to transform a saggy, weak story into a powerful, shapely narrative, through close examination of language, rhythm, energy and pace. Perfecting short fiction is a great way to build your track record through publication in literary journals and entry to awards judged by agents and publishers.

Tutor: Susannah Rickards’ collection of short fiction, Hot Kitchen Snow, drawn from experiences of growing up in North East England and working in East Africa, won the international Scott Prize in for best debut fiction collection in 2010, and is published by Salt. Her writing regularly appears in journals and anthologies and has been broadcast on BBC radio. She read English at Oxford University and now lives in Surrey, UK, where she writes and mentors new and established authors.

Teen/Young Adult Fiction

The teen/young adult fiction market has become one of the most exciting, and rewarding, areas of publishing. This course, run by an established novelist, will look at the way successful writers have chosen subjects and themes, explored fantasy and/or social realism, and found exactly the right voice to appeal to younger readers. It will also explore such key topics as planning, plot development and perspective. Students will be guided in the development of a story of their own, and there will be plenty of opportunities to workshop ideas and get feedback on stories as they progress.

Tutor: Julie Hearn is the critically acclaimed author of a number of novels for young adults, all published by Oxford University Press. Included are: Follow Me Down, shortlisted for the Branford Boase First Novel Award, The Merrybegot, shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Highland Children’s Book Award, and Rowan the Strange, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and described by The Guardian as “nothing short of extraordinary”. Her eighth novel, I am NOT adorable, written for younger children, was published by Jolly Heron in 2018 and a collection of short stories, The Princess Thing, is in the pipeline.

Recommended reading

Each seminar has its own requirements for preparatory reading.

Students will have access to the Continuing Education library (around 10 minutes’ walk from Exeter College), but no other Oxford University libraries.

Certification

All students who complete the programme will receive an attendance certificate.

Those seeking credit at their home institution may request a detailed certificate which lists contact hours (for talks, readings and seminars), an assessment of their contribution to seminar discussions, grades achieved for written work, and the number of private study hours required. Certificates will usually be sent to students’ home institutions within a month of the end of the summer school.

As Oxford University does not offer credit for this summer school, those wishing to obtain credit from their home institution for attending this programme must make appropriate arrangements with that institution in advance.

Residential: Standard (shared bathroom) – £3,400; Residential: En suite (private bathroom facilities) – £3,700; Non-residential (no accommodation or meals) – £1,510

Payment

Programme fees

Residential: Standard (shared bathroom facilities) – £3,400
Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily programme of talks and readings); access to IT facilities and the Continuing Education library; accommodation in a standard single room with shared bathroom facilities for the nights of Sunday 24 July to Friday 12 August 2022 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 24 July to breakfast on Saturday 13 August 2022 (except lunch on Saturdays and Sundays).

Residential: En suite (private bathroom facilities) – £3,700
Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily programme of talks and readings); access to IT facilities and the Continuing Education library; accommodation in a single en suite room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 24 July to Friday 12 August 2022 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 24 July to breakfast on Saturday 13 August 2022 (except lunch on Saturdays and Sundays).

Non-residential – £1,510
Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily programme of talks and readings); access to IT facilities and the Continuing Education library; no accommodation; no meals, except the programme`s formal opening and closing dinners on Sunday 24 July and Friday 12 August 2022, respectively.

There are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.

Invoicing and payment

Successful applicants who accept their offer of a place on the summer school will be invoiced for the appropriate programme fee once they have been formally enrolled on the programme.

Invoices will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment. Fees may be paid online with a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer.

Students are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of the date on which their invoice was issued. Late applicants (see “Apply for this course”, below) are required to pay the full fee within 7 days of their invoice date.

Please note that:
  • students need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. (see “Cancellations”, below);
  • a student’s place on the summer school is not confirmed until their fees have been paid in full;
  • places will not be held for students whose fees are not paid in full by the due date; and
  • in no circumstances will students be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.
When you have paid your fees

Your place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as your payment is received by OUDCE.

You will receive a receipt for your payment: an automated email from [email protected] if paid online, or via email from [email protected] if paid by bank transfer.

The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details (see “Level and demands”, below).

Cancellations

All enrolments are subject to OUDCE’s Open Access Terms and Conditions.

You will enter into your contract with the University when you pay the course fees in full.

You have the right to cancel your contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you paid your fees. You will receive a full refund of any payments you have made.

By accepting your offer of a place on the summer school you enter into your contract with the University.

You have the right to cancel your contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you accepted the offer. You will receive a full refund of any payments you have made within those 14 days.

If you cancel your place at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period you will not be entitled to a refund.

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.

If you wish to cancel your place on the summer school you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at [email protected]

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a course or individual seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable.

Course aims

Each seminar has its own course aim and objectives.

Teaching methods

Students will attend a programme of talks and readings.

Elements of seminar teaching will normally include:

  • mini lectures by tutors;
  • tutor-led class discussions;
  • writing exercises;
  • small group activities; and
  • individual student presentations.

Students will attend short one-to-ones with their tutors to receive feedback on their written work.

Learning outcomes

Each seminar has its own learning outcomes.

Assessment methods

Tutors will monitor and assess students’ contribution to class discussions.

Students are expected to submit an assignment of 2,000-3,000 words in length for assessment for each seminar taken.

Application

Before you submit your application
  • ensure you meet the admissions requirements (see “Selection criteria”, below);
  • check the seminar timetable carefully to ensure that your first and second choice courses do not run at the same time (advanced-level applicants only);
  • make sure you have all the required supporting documents listed below;
  • ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of enrolment on the summer school, especially those relating to payment of fees and cancellations (see “Payment”, above);
  • read the ‘Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements’ (see “Level and demands”, below).
  • if you are a non-native speaker of English you should be prepared to provide evidence of English language proficiency.

The application process – intermediate strand

Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in BLOCK CAPITALS.

Applications should be emailed to: [email protected]

Application deadline

Applications for the intermediate strand will be processed on a first come, first served or rolling basis until 15 May 2022.

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be accepted until 15 June 2022.

After you have submitted your application

Applicants will normally be offered a place by email from [email protected] within 14 days of their application having been received.

Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline the offer. In accepting an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

Late applicants will normally be offered a place within 7 days of their application having been received, and will then have 7 days in which to accept or decline the offer.

The application process – advanced strand

Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in BLOCK CAPITALS.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • A brief statement of purpose (250-300 words) detailing your academic reasons for wishing to attend the summer school. This should include what you feel the programme would offer you and your writing, and what you feel you could bring to the summer school. This may include details of creative writing courses you have previously taken, or the relevance of the summer school to your present course of study or professional development. It is essential that you clearly state your reasons for wishing to enrol on specific seminars.
  • Samples of your writing which demonstrate your powers of creative expression.
    • Please provide samples of your work relevant to your first and second choice courses and ensure that the name of the seminar is printed at the top of each sample.
      As a guideline prose fiction, creative non-fiction and dramatic dialogue samples should be no more than 1,000 words in length (please provide an extract of a longer piece of work if appropriate); applicants for the poetry seminar should provide five short poems.

    In the case of non-native speakers of English, official evidence of English language proficiency.

    Applications should be emailed to: [email protected]

    After you have submitted your application

    You will receive an email from [email protected] confirming receipt of your application materials, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the admissions panel.

    Application deadlines

    The advanced strand of the summer school operates a gathered field closing date system by which applications are reviewed fairly and equally in batches at specific dates throughout the admissions period rather than on a first come, first served or rolling basis.

    There is a limited number of places available on every seminar within each gathered field, and in assigning successful applicants to seminar groups the admissions panel will pay particular attention to applicants’ personal statements.

    There are three deadlines for applications to the advanced strand of the programme:

    • Gathered field 1 – 15 March 2022
    • Gathered field 2 – 15 April 2022
    • Gathered field 3 – 15 May 2022

    Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered on a first come, first served basis until 15 June 2022.

    Notification of the admission panel’s decision

    Applicants will normally be notified of the panel’s decision by email from [email protected] within 14 days of the relevant gathered field deadline.

    Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline the offer. In accepting an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

    Late applicants will be notified within 7 days of their materials having been received, and successful applicants will then have 7 days in which to accept or decline the offer of a place.

    Enrolment – both strands

    Students will be formally enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted their offer of a place.

    The enrolment process includes the issuing of invoices, which will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment (see “Payment”, above).

    Students will be required to provide four photographs (UK passport-sized – ie 4.5cm high x 3.5cm wide), with their full name printed on the back of each. The photographs should be posted to: Creative Writing Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK

    Any queries?

    Please contact the Programme Administrator by email at [email protected]

    Level and demands

    Participants are expected to
    • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme;
    • attend all seminar sessions and talks and readings;
    • be actively engaged with their seminar topics;
    • submit an assignment of 2,000-3,000 words in length for each seminar taken; and
    • undertake approximately 96 hours of private study during the programme (elements of private study will include: reading, writing and other preparation between seminar meetings, work in the library, writing papers, etc).
    Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

    European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals (excludes Irish nationals)

    You do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You can enter as a visitor for up to 6 months by using your passport or identity card at the eGates. Note that from 1 October 2021, you will not be able to use your identity card and will need to show your passport; this is explained on the UK Government website. The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full which you should keep in your hand luggage in case you are ever asked any questions on arrival. If you have pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme this paragraph does not apply.

    a. Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA

    If you hold a passport from one of these countries you can enter via the eGates as a visitor for up to 6 months. However, you should still keep the standard format pdf letter we will provide you in your hand luggage in case of any queries, or in case you need to attend a staffed desk if the eGates are not working or if the eGates cannot recognise the chip in your passport.

    b. other non-EEA nationals

    You may need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK depending on which passport you hold. You can check if you need a visa before coming to the UK on the UK Government website

    If the website shows that you require a visa: you must apply for a visitor visa before coming to the UK. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from.

    If you are not a national in section a. we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application.

    You should ensure your summer school application is submitted as early as possible to allow yourself sufficient time to complete the visa application process.

    The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full.

    For legal reasons the Programme Administrator is not permitted to provide any visa advice to applicants. You can find information about visitor visas on the University visa and immigration webpages.

    It is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to enable you to be admitted to the UK. The university takes no responsibility for a visa being denied at any point before or during a course.

    If you fail to attend the course and are from a nationality that require a visa before coming to the UK, we may need to contact the Home Office if we have issued you with a standard format pdf letter for visa purposes to cancel this visa.

    Please note that the standard cancellation policy applies in all cases. (See “Cancellations”, above.)

    Disabled students (including those with mobility difficulties)

    The aim of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) is to treat all students equally and welcomes applications from people with disabilities. Individuals’ needs are taken into account as far as possible, providing reasonable adaptations and assistance within the resources available. We ask that people let us know of any disability or special need (confidentially if required) so that we can help them participate as fully as possible.

    When applying for OUDCE’s college-based summer schools, prospective students with mobility difficulties or visual or hearing impairments may want to make preliminary enquiries to the Programme Administrator, as the age and layout of these colleges often makes them user-unfriendly (although adaptations are often possible). Oxford, as an ancient city, tends to be difficult to navigate for people with disabilities. The number of very old buildings, designed in an age less sensitive to issues of disability, makes access to much of the city centre difficult. However, OUDCE will do as much as it is able to make study with the department possible.

    Applicants should contact us if they will have problems gaining access to a bedroom or a teaching room that is located on upper or basement floors.

    Selection criteria

    This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience. Applicants should be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

    Academic requirements for the intermediate strand

    We welcome applications from all aspiring writers aged 18 and over.

    You should be a keen reader who brings an open-minded, questioning approach to both reading and writing; you should also have written regularly and read widely over a sustained period.

    Academic requirements for the advanced strand

    Applications are welcomed from those who have completed or nearly completed a single honours university degree programme in creative writing or English literature, or a combined honours university degree programme in creative writing and English literature.

    If your degree is in a different, but related, subject, the admissions panel will look for evidence that you have taken a significant number of courses in creative writing or English literature, namely the equivalent of two years’ worth of credits.

    The summer school is not appropriate for those who have already achieved commercial publication.

    English language requirements

    As students are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions and are required to produce written work, it is important that applicants can demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in the four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.

    If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency in the form of an original certificate or a certified copy that is not more than two years old on the date the summer school starts. You must satisfy one of the following requirements:

    IELTS Academic – minimum overall score of 6.5, with not less than 6.5 in each of the four components

    TOEFL iBT – minimum overall score of 100, with not less than 25 in each of the four components

    Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – grade C or above.

    For further information on English language qualifications:

    If you are a non-native speaker of English who has successfully completed a full-time degree-level programme at a university where English is the language of instruction or you have significant business and professional experience in an English-speaking environment, you may not need to provide a certificate of English language qualification. Please contact the Programme Administrator for further details.

    Accommodation

    Location

    Founded in 1314, Exeter College is one of Oxford University`s oldest colleges and is situated in a prime city centre location.

    Bedrooms and meals

    Students who choose to attend the summer school on a residential basis will have a single study bedroom.

    Bedrooms are located up the four to nine floors of a staircase; bath and/or shower and toilet facilities on each staircase are shared. A limited number of rooms have private bathroom facilities (shower and toilet) and these are available for a higher fee. Early application for these rooms is essential.

    Students cannot be accommodated at Exeter College either prior to or beyond their programme dates. Family members and/or friends who are not enrolled on this summer school cannot be accommodated in college.

    Residential students will take meals in the college’s dining hall. All meals are self-service with a range of options available. The only exceptions are the summer school’s opening and closing dinners, which are formal served set menu meals. Should applicants have any dietary requirements (eg vegetarian, gluten-free) they are required to complete the relevant section on the application form.

    Please be aware that accommodation at Exeter College is limited and may not be available for those who submit their applications towards the end of the admissions period.

    Non-residential students

    Students who choose to attend the summer school on a non-residential basis are responsible for finding their own accommodation. Information on accommodation in Oxford is available at:

    No meals are provided for non-residential students, except the summer school’s opening and closing dinners.

    IT requirements

    Although it is not required, most students bring a laptop to Oxford to assist them with their studies.

    For residential students, wireless internet access is available in all bedrooms; for all students, wireless access is available in communal spaces of the college.

    All students will be eligible to use the computers and printer in Exeter College’s computer room.

    Experience Creative Writing Academy

    Do you love creative writing? Are you keen to learn from the best? Oxford Scholastica’s Experience Creative Writing Academy will develop your writing prowess while giving you an authentic university experience, and introducing you to the study and career options writing offers.

    You’ll have the chance to experience all of this while studying on the campus of the beautiful Oxford University. Oxford has long inspired many of the greatest writers – from C.S. Lewis to J. R. R. Tolkien. Spend your summer with us and give yourself the chance to let Oxford’s magic work its way into your own writing skills too.

    Key Facts

    Location: University of Oxford campus
    Ages: 15–18
    Class size: Maximum 15 students
    Fees: £5,495
    Length: 2 weeks
    Dates: 3rd-16th July, 17-30th July, 31st July-13th August 2022
    Receive: Graduation Certificate & Letter of Recommendation

    Learn

    Our courses combine Oxford-style teaching with practical challenges and debates. Small class sizes and expert tutors help you dive deep into your chosen subject area.

    By taking our Experience Creative Writing course, you’ll get to:

    • Master key concepts such as how to write effective dialogue, create fictional worlds and develop a book series – all under the guidance of one of our expert tutors from leading universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
    • Have the chance to quiz a successful young writer about how they built a flourishing career from writing, gaining key insights into the future study and career options should you wish to pursue writing beyond school.
    • Put your creativity and knowledge to the test in our Book Series Challenge, in which you will come up with ideas for an outline of a book series, including characters and storylines.
    • Develop skills in high demand by universities and employers, such as public speaking, critical thinking and teamwork, via our Masterclasses.
    • Build your global professional network by meeting students from all over the world and joining our alumni community.
    • Attend our Graduation Ceremony at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and get a Graduation Certificate and personalised Letter of Recommendation from your tutor.

    What better way to learn about a career than to talk to someone who’s living it? Our Heroes programme invites you to meet a successful young writer and:

    • Learn more about what a day in their life looks like
    • Understand more about the cutting edge aspects of the sector that they work in, and hear their top career tips
    • Ask them your burning questions about their university and career path

    Challenges are one of the most exciting parts of our programme! Halfway through our Experience Creative Writing course, you’ll be given the chance to put your writing skills to the test during our Book Series Challenge. It’s certainly not the only practical activity you’ll do on your course – the course is full of opportunities to apply your skills – but for many of our students, it’s their highlight! You’ll get to:

    • Puzzle through the challenges that writers face when writing a book series.
    • Work collaboratively with your peers in a “writer’s room” to come up with elements for an ongoing book series.
    • Feel the buzz of working to a strict editorial deadline as you enhance your ability to cooperate in a team with different responsibilities. Can you create what could be the next Harry Potter, Maze Runner, or His Dark Materials?

    Course programme

    Course Outline

    On our Experience Creative Writing Academy programme, you’ll cover a range of challenging topics across nine classroom sessions.

    Class 1: The Nature of Creative Writing

    Explore the key characteristics of creative writing and how to escape the dreaded “writer’s block”.

    Class 2: Storytelling

    What are the ingredients that make a story work? Test out these techniques with a piece of your own writing.

    Class 3: Explore Stories and Novels

    Find out more about Christopher Booker’s thesis of seven basic plots in literature.

    Class 4: Character Development

    How do you develop a character your readers will believe in? We’ll examine different texts and you can have a go with a character of your own creation.

    Class 5: Discover Genres

    Explore different types of genre and what gives each one a distinctive feature.

    Class 6: World Building

    How do you build a fictional world? Explore the techniques used by writers to “build a world” in their work, and in their readers’ minds.

    Class 7: Constructing Dialogue

    Review classic examples of dialogue from famous novels, plays and films to see common themes.

    Class 8: That’s a Wrap

    Learn how to ensure writing becomes part of your fabric and daily routine, and discover techniques to help you start and finish a story.

    Class X
    Your final class is based on your tutor’s personal expertise in the field, focusing on cutting-edge research that they’re passionate about.

    Please note this course outline may be subject to change.

    More information

    Want to know more about attending our Experience Creative Writing Academy? Learn about what your schedule will look like, where you’ll stay, our entry requirements and some of the fun activities that will round out your academic experience.

    Reserve Your Spot

    Ready for a life-changing educational experience? Apply in minutes and reserve a spot for Oxford’s #1 rated summer school and online programmes.

    Oxford Writing Summer School

    Take your writing to the next level. Join our Writing Summer School on the Oxford University campus, or online, to sharpen your writing skills and develop the confidence and knowledge to put you ahead of the curve – in your university application and beyond.

    Get excited about writing

    There are few more inspiring places than Oxford to grow your skills as a writer. Follow in the footsteps of world-renowned Oxford authors such as Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman on our Oxford writing summer programmes.

    Learn from world-class writing tutors

    Surrounded by the dreaming spires of Oxford University, you’ll spend your time with us learning all about the ins and outs of different genres of writing, alongside other ambitious students from all over the world.

    Be inspired

    From the fundamentals of storytelling to the techniques needed to construct a realistic fictional world, our writing summer school will introduce you to the skills you need to be a successful writer. You’ll also meet a real-life writer so you can ask all your questions about what it’s really like making a living from writing, and you’ll discover the many career paths you could take as a professional writer.

    Get the Oxford experience

    By the end of your course, you’ll have a much clearer idea of whether a writing-related subject is the right direction for you – and you’ll achieve all of this while enjoying everything that the magical city of Oxford has to offer.

    Browse our Oxford Summer Writing Courses

    Our summer writing courses are two weeks long and are held on the world famous Oxford University campus. Whether you’ve studied aspects of the subject before, or are totally new to it, our Writing Summer School offers a perfect course to suit your needs.

    In Oxford | 15-18 Year Olds

    Experience Creative Writing

    Where better than Oxford to hone your skills in creative writing? Get inspired by the city that was home to Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and Philip Pullman. In this course, you’ll explore different genres and plot-types, learn about the importance of dialogue, and practise different techniques to hone your skills and ensure writing becomes a part of your daily routine.

    Browse our Online Writing Courses

    Drawing on the Oxford Scholastica Academy’s years of experience of running world-class summer schools, our online writing courses combine Oxford’s spirit of excellence with the very best in future-focused learning.

    Live Online | 15-18 Year Olds

    Creative Writing

    Do you enjoy reading, writing and using language to express yourself? This course will show you how to write for different audiences and in a variety of genres while analysing works that have stood the test of time. You’ll also learn how to create engaging content for online platforms and develop your own unique voice.

    On this course, you’ll:

    • Learn about different genres and styles of writing, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and online content creation
    • Dive into your favourite texts to find out what it is that makes them so compelling
    • Practise building fictional worlds, characters and dialogues
    • Develop your own personal writing projects, with feedback from your tutor and peers

    Students from up to 85 different nationalities chose to experience our writing courses last year:

    9 out of 10 said our writing summer courses were one of the most memorable summers of their life

    9 out of 10 said that our high school summer writing courses gave them greater certainty about their future direction

    94% of students said they had a greater certainty over their future academic and career choices