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Mfa creative writing ireland

MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction

You can develop your author’s voice and explore your creativity with an MFA in Creative Writing with a fiction focus. You can write historical fiction, flash fiction and young adult fiction. Experienced, published faculty will guide you on your writing journey in a supportive literary community.

In Grace Library, spanning the third and fourth floor of the University Commons, there are numerous quiet spaces and study rooms for individuals and groups to use.

Credits Required:
Cost per credit:
Time to degree:

As few as 5 semesters


On campus, some online

Master’s in fiction writing curriculum

Carlow’s MFA in fiction program includes four 11-day residencies in Pittsburgh and Dublin, Ireland, that feature workshops, master classes and mentor conferences. In a required practicum, you will work on a writing and reading plan and submit work for critique, review and collaborative feedback.

By the end of the program, you will produce and defend a publishable, book-length fiction manuscript. Lectures and readings in all genres are also available.

Quick facts

  • Elevate your work with literary experiences and mentorships
  • Build close connections with faculty and peers
  • Expand your reading horizons and learn to critique fiction
  • Create a publishable body of work

Career opportunities for fiction writers

Career opportunities for those with creative writing degrees range from writing to social media to working in publishing. The creative thinking skills you will cultivate in this program are highly sought by employers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for writers and authors is expected to decline 2% over the next 10 years, but many authors leverage their skill sets in freelance capacities, or go on to become postsecondary teachers. The employment rate for postsecondary teachers is expected to increase 9% over the next 10 years.

UCD School of English Drama Film Scoil an Bhéarla, na Drámaíochta agus na Scannánaíochta UCD

MA Creative Writing & MFA Creative Writing [Fiction & Poetry]

The School of English, Drama & Film offers two taught postgraduate programmes in Creative Writing, an MA and an MFA [Master of Fine Arts] Fiction and Poetry, and a research degree, the PhD in Creative Writing.

The MA in Creative Writing builds on the well-established commitment of the UCD School of English, Drama and Film to fostering and supporting new writing. The university has long been associated with some of Ireland’s greatest writers, including James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Mary Lavin, Anthony Cronin, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Conor McPherson, Marina Carr, Colm Tóibín, Emma Donoghue, Maeve Binchy and many others. There are over thirty full-time members of staff with expertise ranging from Old English to contemporary literature and drama and a number of practising writers, including the distinguished playwright, Frank McGuinness.

The School of English, Drama and Film has always included in its programme of extra-curricular activities a rich array of readings, writing workshops, writers’ groups, and special seminars offered by writers-in-residence. In 2006 a structured programme of courses and supervision, the now well-established MA in Creative Writing, was introduced to enable committed writers to develop their potential within a supportive framework. It is a one-year course of lectures, seminars, workshops and supervision meetings which aims to provide committed writers with taught classes on theories and practices of writing, presentation and editing techniques, reading of selected texts as writers and supervision of a major writing project.

UCD now offers an MFA in Creative Writing (both fiction and poetry). This is the first MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree in Creative Writing (fiction and poetry) to be offered by an Irish university. It is a full-time course, devised in response to demand for an advanced postgraduate course, offering close supervision and direction of a novel / collection of short stories/ collection of poetry for the duration of an academic year. This course is suited to students who have already acquired the skills associated with a full programme in creative writing; MA, M Phil Creative Writing, BFA, BA Creative Writing Major/Joint Major or equivalent and have a work in progress to which they now wish to devote the greater part of an academic year with a view to offering that work for publication. Credits are weighted accordingly. Fifty of the overall ninety are allocated to this work, which on submission will be a complete novel or collection of short stories or a collection of poetry. In addition, this course offers a module in the teaching of creative writing, comprising both theoretical and practical components.

The PhD programme in Creative Writing provides you with the opportunity to engage in individual research over three years of full time study under the supervision of a member of academic staff, leading to a thesis that combines creative work with a critical commentary. The majority of your research will be practice based, that is carried out through your own creative practice, and will lead to a novel, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection or other major piece of writing. You will also need to produce a critical commentary that contextualises your writing and demonstrates understanding of the writing process. The final composition of the submitted thesis will be a matter of negotiation between the supervisor and the candidate in order to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of doctoral study, but will be approximately 70% creative work and 30% commentary.

There are first rate libraries in UCD and the Dublin area. Several have renowned archives as well as expertly resourced electronic collections. Over many years, the School has established a worldwide reputation for excellence in fostering postgraduate research and in teaching. Designated as a UNESCO City of Literature in 2009, Dublin has an immense amount to offer aspiring writers.

The MA programme

• provides opportunities to explore and develop your own creative writing skills under experienced

tuition and supervision

• ensures that the art of writing is informed by of theories and practices of contemporary writing

• allows for small classes by strictly limiting the number of participants

• actively fosters the development of students’ capacity to edit their own work

• is taught by experienced, published staff of international reputation

• builds on UCD ‘s long tradition of fostering literary talent

• offers courses incorporating the manuscripts of works of leading writers held in Special Collections

• benefits from engaging with many visiting guests across the arts and publishing sectors. Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, and J.K. Rowling were among the many writers to read at the college in recent years. In addition, students have participated in writing seminars presented by William Trevor, Edna O’ Brien, Jane Urquhart, Alistair MacLeod and Paul Harding. Booker Prize winning author, Anne Enright, in her capacity as Laureate for Fiction, taught on both the MA and MFA programmes in 2015-16.

Semester One

  • Reading and Writing Fiction [10 Credits]
  • The Archive of Imagination: Myth & Folklore in fiction [5 Credits]
  • Poetry in Progress [5 Credits]
  • Craft & Composition (10 Credits]
  • Peer Reviewing Workshop

Semester Two

  • Single Text [MA] [10 Credits]
  • The Library of the Imagination; Short Fiction [5 Credits]
  • Poetry in Context [5 Credits]
  • Workshop [+ individual consultation] with Writer-in-Residence [10 Credits]

Writing Project –c.15,000 words (35 Credits)

The MFA programme

In addition to sharing the objectives as outlined above for the MA programme, the MFA [Fiction and Poetry] provides close supervision and direction of a novel, a collection of short stories or a poetry collection already well underway prior to the commencement of the course.

Semester One

  • Single Text [10 Credits] Choice between Novel or Poetry Anthology
  • Line & Structural Editing of work in progress [Novel or Collection of Short Stories] or Sound and Visual Poetry [10 Credits]
  • Pedagogic Strategies 1. Theory [5 Credits]*
  • Module from selection of School of English postgraduate offerings

Semester Two

  • Line & Structural Editing of work in progress [10 Credits]
  • Pedagogic Strategies 2. Practice [5 Credits]*
  • Module from selection of School of English postgraduate offerings
  • Completed Work [Novel / Collection of Short Stories / Poetry Collection] –c.50,000 words for Novel/ Short Stories. Work of an equivalent undertaking for poetry [50 Credits]

* The modules offered in the teaching of creative writing, Pedagogic Strategies 1 & 2 are only available to those holding a post graduate degree.


Students are assessed in a variety of ways, which may include writing assignments, editing exercises, creative responses to texts, class presentations, and writing portfolio.

The Teaching Team

Prof. Ian Davidson – Poetry

Katy Hayes – Writer Fellow in Fiction

Dr Paul Perry – Writer Fellow in Poetry and Fiction

Declan Hughes — Fiction

A writer-in-residence is appointed for the second semester by the University in conjunction with the Arts Council.

Among the visiting writers, publishers, editors, scholars 2007-2015 were;

Brendan Barrington (Publisher & Editor) Catriona Crowe (Archivist, essayist and Critic) Prof. Paul Durcan (Poet) Hugo Hamilton (Fiction and Memoir Writer) Claire Keegan, (Fiction Writer), Claire Kilroy (Fiction Writer), Maggie McKernan (Literary Agent), Conor McPherson (Playwright, Screenwriter, Film and Theatre Director), Deirdre Madden (Novelist), Edna O Brien (Former Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at UCD), Fiction writer), Denis O’Driscoll (Poet, Prose Writer, & Critic), Billy Roche (Playwright, Novelist, Short-story & Screenwriter), Jonathan Williams (Literary Agent), Michael Longley (Poet and Ireland Professor of Poetry), Caroline Walsh (Literary Editor, Irish Times), Catherine Dunne (Fiction Writer), Dave Rudden (Fiction Writer), Claire Hennessy (Fiction Writer), Donal Ryan (Fiction Writer), Peter Murphy (Fiction Writer) Chris Binchy (Fiction Writer) Ferdia MacAnna (Fiction Writer, Playwright, Screenwriter, Film and Theatre Director) Siobhan Parkinson (Fiction Writer), Faith O’Grady 9Literary Agent), Siobhan Parkinson (Fiction Writer and former Childrens’ Literature Laureate), Louise O’Neill (fiction writer) Declan Meade (Stinging Fly Director and Ed. In Chief)


  • Applications for both the MA & the MFA must be made online;
  • Copies of relevant academic qualifications, the writing sample and the references should be included in the online application. No material should, at this stage, be submitted by post.
  • The procedure for verifying these qualifications, undertaken after an offer has been accepted and before registration, requires the provision by post or by hand of original hard-copy academic transcripts, specifying the subjects studied and the grades attained, from the issuing educational institution/awarding body.
  • These should be posted or personally delivered to Online Applications, Tierney Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland (applicants from the Republic of Ireland who wish to have their original documentation returned should forward a stamped addressed envelope, applicants from outside the Republic of Ireland should forward an addressed envelope). If originals are received without an addressed envelope they will be archived.
  • Any documentation not in English should be accompanied by an official English translation.

The entry requirement for the MA programme is a BA Hons English or equivalent, and/or proven commitment to and experience in the field of creative writing; a portfolio (c.25 pages) of recent creative work; a personal statement of reasons for taking the course and references.

The entry requirements for the MFA programme, as stated earlier, are any of the following; an MA, M Phil [Creative Writing] BFA [Creative Writing], BA Creative Writing Major/Joint Major or equivalent, a portfolio with an outline [max 2.000 words] of the novel in progress, together with the opening 25 /30 pages. In the case of a short story collection, two stories, and in the case of poetry, a minimum of ten poems, maximum of fifteen; and finally, a personal statement of reasons for taking the course and references.

Any candidate considering a PhD is required to complete a detailed project proposal. These should be developed in collaboration with your potential supervisor. An essential first step is making contact with a potential supervisor to discuss possible research topics. See here for further general information.

Please contact Prof. Ian Davidson ([email protected]) if you have any queries about which staff member may be most relevant to your proposed research.

Enquiries about the Graduate Studies programmes can be emailed to [email protected]
or telephone 716 8323.

Student Profiles

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds and countries, including Ireland, the UK, US, New Zealand, India, Austria and Germany. Most have a good deal of writing experience and wish to pursue professional careers in writing, with specialisations in novel writing/ short stories or poetry. Several have won prestigious awards. Last year, 2014, Colin Barrett won the Guardian First Fiction Prize with Young Skins [Pub. Stinging Fly Press / Jonathan Cape (UK) Grove Black Cat editions (US) then went on to win both the Frank O’Conner International short story award and the Rooney Prize for Literature. This year Colin was nominated as one of the five under 35 honourees by the National Book Foundation in the US. His stories have appeared in Five Dials, A Public Space and The New Yorker. 2015, has also seen the publication of novels by four of our recent graduates; Susan Stairs, The Boy Between, [Pub. Hachette Ireland ]; Paula McGrath, Generation, [Pub. John Murray Originals]; Andrea Carter, Death at Whitewater Church, [Pub. Constable/Little Brown]; Henrietta McKervey, What Becomes Of Us [Pub. Hachette Ireland]; Henrietta won both the Hennessy First Fiction Award and the UCD Maeve Binchy Travel Award in 2014. See Photo below. The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Prize 2011 was awarded to graduate, Helena Nolan, while in 2013, graduate Jessica Traynor won the Hennessy Emerging Poet Award and the Hennessy Writer of the Year Award in 2013.

Masters Programs in Creative Writing in Ireland 2022

In order to successfully obtain a Masters qualification, you will need to obtain a number of credits by passing individual modules. Most taught Masters will have a number of core modules which you must take and pass in order to obtain the qualification. The assessment of research Masters is almost always entirely by a single dissertation module or project.Top Master Programs in Creative Writing in… Read more

In order to successfully obtain a Masters qualification, you will need to obtain a number of credits by passing individual modules. Most taught Masters will have a number of core modules which you must take and pass in order to obtain the qualification. The assessment of research Masters is almost always entirely by a single dissertation module or project.