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Edinburgh creative writing

TLab: Travel and Learn Abroad

The ESU has partnered with the University of Edinburgh through the Scottish Universities International Summer Schools program, also known as SUISS, to provide a variety of courses. These are multi-week courses ideally suited for secondary school teachers. Study literature, creative writing, or theater – or all three!

  • Modernism (July 11-23, 2022) Lectures are complimented by visits to the Scottish Parliament, the National Gallery of Modern Art, and more!
  • Contemporary Literature (July 25 – August 6, 2022) Activities include a Ceilidh dance, a Burns Supper, and a formal evening reception at the beautiful Playfair Library.
  • Scottish Literature (August 8-20, 2022) Takes place during the Edinburgh festival season, and includes a performance at the Edinburgh International Festival among many other events.

The Text and Context course provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary study in Modernism, Scottish Literature, and Contemporary Literature, which examines literature from Britain and Ireland in the context of key social and cultural developments during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The dynamic and diverse characteristics of more than a hundred years of English, Irish, and Scottish texts are studied in conjunction with recent developments in literary theory.

Creative Writing (July – August, 2022)

The Creative Writing course is one of the most exciting and diverse programmes available in Britain. The four-week course offers developing writers a supportive environment in which to further their writing skills in fiction, poetry, and drama. Students have a unique opportunity to develop their own critical analysis by attending Modernism and Scottish Literature lectures, as well as author-led masterclasses.

The Theatre and Performance course offers a unique programme in the theory and practice of drama in Britain and Ireland today. This two-week course provides a challenging, dynamic and diverse introduction to contemporary theatre with a global impact. Students benefit from workshops offered by the Playwright’s Studio Scotland – Scotland’s only dedicated, independent development organisation for playwrights. The course takes place during the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, giving students the opportunity to attend exciting new productions alongside their study.


Below is a list of all the courses offered by SUISS. The dates of each program are listed below along with the cost in dollars. See more than one course that interests you? You can mix and match multiple courses, provided their dates do not conflict.

2022 Price Per # of Weeks/Courses

Creative Writing Course Options (Modules)

Creative Writing + Scottish Literature

Creative Writing +Theatre &Performance

Contemporary British and Irish

Theater and Performance

August 8 – 20

4-$5200 + Contemporary Literature

6-$7350 + Modernism & Contemp Literature

Program cost includes accommodation in the Pollock Halls of Residence, University of Edinburgh, with breakfast and dinner at the Pollock Halls cafeteria. Housing with en-suite accommodation is available at an additional cost.

Program cost does not include travel, travel insurance, medical insurance, additional meals, or incidentals.


Every year, the ESU provides nearly 50 scholarships for classroom teachers in their communities. ESU scholarships are for current classroom teachers attending our multi-week courses at Shakespeare’s Globe, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Oxford.

SUISS offers their own scholarships which are completely independent from the ESU. Please read below for more information.

You may also explore further scholarship and grant resources in our fundraising guide.


SUISS offers a number of scholarships to applicants. These opportunities can be explored in greater detail on their website. There are four opportunities which are open to American applicants:

  • Partial SUISS Scholarship – All applicants to SUISS programs are eligible to request a partial SUISS Scholarship, worth up to £500.
  • The Saltire Scholarship – Open to early-career teachers and academics looking to promote Scottish Literature. May only be applied to the Text & Context: Scottish Literature course.
  • The John McGrath Scholarship – Open to aspiring playwrights and may only be applied to the Theatre & Performance course.
  • The Elizabeth MacLennan Scholarship – Open to actors, performers, and related theater professionals and may only be applied to the Theatre & Performance course.

Please note that because these scholarships are offered by SUISS, staff in Edinburgh are best equipped to answer any and all questions. You can contact them through their website . SUISS is the authoritative source for any information related to their scholarships, not the ESU.


  • Text and Context: 34 hours
  • Creative Writing: 60 hours
  • Theater and Performance: 30 hours

All students who successfully complete their course receive a certificate of attendance verifying the number of contact hours. Academic credit is optionally available for a modest fee.


This program is comprised of rigorous, graduate-level seminars. Students are strongly advised to read as many of the texts as possible before arriving in Edinburgh, as time will be limited once the program is underway. The lectures will be pitched high, and lecturers are advised that all students will be familiar with the texts at the time of lecture. To see the reading lists for the different courses, click on the course title: Text and Context, Creative Writing, Theatre & Performance.


Application Instructions:

1. Compile your application materials:

  • Two letters of recommendation from professional contacts
  • Current CV
  • Proof of overseas health insurance (photo or scan of card)
  • One-page personal statement, detailing what you hope to gain from the course and how it will affect your teaching. Your statement should give evidence of your qualifications, writing abilities, motivation and adaptability to new circumstances. Please give some indication of your reading in relevant subjects.
  • Passport-style photo

2. Complete the TLab Application – Scottish Universities’ International Summer School. All applications must be submitted digitally via this application.


Cancellation Policy: For cancellations received in writing more than eight weeks prior to the start date of the course, 50% of the total course fee will be retained. The English-Speaking Union regrets that it will not be able to refund any part of the course fee within eight weeks of the start date of the course owing to accident, illness, or any travel disruption due to strike or terror. You are strongly urged to purchase adequate travel and health insurance which also protects against any emergency medical expenses or loss of personal property.

If you are unable to attend the program, you must notify the ESU immediately in writing at [email protected] and when applicable cc the ESU Branch that awarded you an ESU TLab Branch Scholarship. Fees already paid to SUISS will be returned according to SUISS’ cancellation policy, as specified in their application and course information on their website.

ESU Branch TLab Scholarship Recipients: In addition to the cancellation policy as stated above, ESU Branch TLab Scholarship recipients will also be obligated to repay the ESU for any and all additional TLab fees such as stipend and/or airfare if disbursed or paid prior to departue in the event of a withdrawal.

If the State Department of the United States announces a “no travel” policy or SUISS cancels a program, fees paid to SUISS will be returned according to the SUISS’ cancellation policy, as specified in their materials.

International Airfare: It is highly recommended to all participants to book a changeable/refundable flight. ESU TLab Branch Scholarship recipients do NOT book international airfare until given permission by your ESU Branch.

Creative Writing

Develop your creative and critical skills in fiction or poetry as part of a supportive community of intelligent readers and acute listeners.

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.

Why study for an MSc in Creative Writing in Edinburgh?

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, Tracey S. Rosenberg, who also co-ordinates a range of student writing prizes and our annual industry event, The Business.