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York university ma creative writing

Creative Writing BA

We believe good writing can be taught and that good writers can be trained to be better writers. Our faculty are all published writers with vast experience in a variety of genres including novels, short stories, poetry, memoir, creative nonfiction, cross-genre writing and digital experimentation.

Our faculty and recent graduates have been finalists or winners of almost every major Canadian literary award. Many continue to be active in the literary community, founding and staffing several major Canadian literary journals and presses. Our graduates are known for collaborating on publishing ventures that have changed Canadian literature.

Please note this program is intended for students with a year of undergraduate studies and is not for direct entry from high school. Students may apply after completing their first 48 credits by presenting a portfolio containing work in both poetry and prose fiction as evidence of writing experience.

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What you’ll learn

  • In every course, you’ll learn the hands-on skills needed to enter the professional literary world.
  • Exposure to core creative writing skills lets you develop your own style and gain confidence in your writing.
  • You’ll develop the communication, research, organizational, management and teamwork skills prized by today’s employers

Hands-on experiences

  • Get an intimate view of Canada’s literary scene from alumni who are professional writers, editors and publishers.
  • Attend the Creative Writing Readers Series where you’ll hear contemporary Canadian and international writers in conversation and reading or performing their work.
  • Immerse yourself in internships with the Brick Literary Journal and other publishers.
  • Degree Options & Requirements
  • Courses
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Where can your degree take you?
  • Admissions
  • Creative Writing Reading Series
  • Awards & Prizes
  • News

The Creative Writing cohorts at York are always small. This allows for more individualized feedback from professors and peers on your writing, and fosters greater personal growth as a writer. It also generates a sense of community and belonging which is often lacking in larger programs. Studying Creative Writing enabled me to learn how to approach literature through the perspective of the writer, something that isn’t explored in most English classes where various literary theories and external perspectives are placed on texts.

Creative Writing MA

Unleash your creative potential and pursue your passion for writing.

Taught by award-winning authors with specialisms in fiction, poetry, non-fiction and scriptwriting, this course is a fantastic opportunity for you to learn the craft of creative writing while also exploring the theory behind it.

Course location York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full time, 2 years part time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

2:1 honours degree in a related subject

Sample of creative writing

Tuition Fees

UK 2022-23 £7,000 full time –> full time International 2022-23 £13,000 full time –> full time Discover Creative Writing at York St John University

Course overview

Join our thriving literary community and grow your creative potential. You will develop your skills as a writer and explore the theory and practice of writing in the contemporary world through taught modules, independent study, writing and research.

Through this course you will develop transferable skills, work on a publication and complete your own final project. You will work on a longer portfolio in depth, supervised by a dedicated member of staff.

You may write in any form on any given module. You will be encouraged to be open minded and flexible in choosing different styles of writing. There are also modules designed to enhance your employability. These are ideal if you have an interest in either running groups for writers or learning about how to operate in the publishing industry.

The portfolio project is an opportunity for independent and in-depth development of a writing project, supervised by a writer on the team, and supported by 3 workshops, spread throughout the year.

Your experience on the course will be enhanced by further opportunities including:

  • A writing retreat
  • Opportunities to meet with an agents, publishers and editors
  • A wealth of brilliant events through the York Literature Festival

You will be able to take part in one-to-one sessions with your tutors throughout each semester. The final assignment is independently led and is a chance to invest in a project of your choice.

Course structure

How you will study

You can study this postgraduate course full time or part time. This allows you to fit your studies around other commitments.

If you choose to study full time the course will take 1 year to complete. You will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules
  • 2 optional modules

If you choose to study part time the course will take 2 years to complete. The modules will be split over both of those years.

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.


On this module, you will gain an understanding and examine the key concepts of creative writing in an academic environment. You can explore your writing practice and engage with ideas of creativity and authorship. You will develop drafting, group work-shopping and editing skills and discover how to reflect on your work and write critical commentaries.

Here you will engage with the written voice in your work and the work of others. You will deconstruct the idea of the writer’s voice and consider practical issues relating to the expression of voice on the page. In addition, you can study creative language in a cultural context, the use of speech and the voice, while examining the importance of speech-like forms in published work and your own writing.

You will critically analyse examples of voice across fiction and non-fiction genres, including poetry, prose and scripts, and consider, through these, the performative nature of language.

On this module, you will consider wider contexts for your writing, such as working with vulnerable groups, schools and hospitals. You will explore how to get published across different mediums, working with other practitioners and writing in various contexts. You will have the opportunity to meet industry professionals, from agents and publishers to facilitators and collaborators. This is an opportunity for you to explore possible routes for employability.

On this module, you will analyse environmental concerns across multiple fiction an non-fiction genres. You will produce your original work in response to a variety of environments, thinking in both critical and creative terms. Areas for study include:

  • Climate change fiction
  • Literature of and approaches to space and place, in particular the North of England
  • Psychogeographies

You will will build upon the skills developed on Critical Approaches to Creative Writing, whilst developing your verbal presentation skills.

During this module, you will focus on issues of the relationship between writers and audiences, across a range of fiction and non-fiction genres. This will help you develop and produce original writing, while understanding genre conventions, which will enhancing the impact you have on your on audiences.

You will engage with a range of texts that work within genres such as:

  • Science fiction
  • Crime
  • Literary fiction
  • Performance poetry
  • Drama monologues
  • Screenwriting

On this module, you will critically reflect on genre conventions and how writing can experiment with these traditions and boundaries. You will consider the relationship between historical and contemporary writing in a variety of forms. Here, you can develop an understanding of influence, adaptation, appropriation and dialogues between texts. This will enable you to experiment with and develop your own responses to the theme of tradition and innovation.

This is your opportunity to develop a professional portfolio of creative writing, while conducting research to support your work. The portfolio may consist a collection of works, be a continuous work or an extract from a larger piece. Through 1 to 1 supervisions, you will develop, discuss and perfect your portfolio. Your supervisor will support you in your project research.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

The year is organised across 3 terms: autumn, spring and summer, with the MA starting in the final week of September. There will be 1 module per term for part time and 2 modules per term for full time students. Sessions are typically taught from 6.00pm to 8.00pm on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings.

Sessions are taught in small groups run by an expert member of the writing team. In these groups, you will share your work, whilst taking part in writing exercised that have been designed to inspire your creativity. You will also learn how to edit and perfect your work and prepare for submission or dissemination.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


You will be assessed on portfolios of original creative writing. The creative text will be in response to the concepts, ideas and themes explored in the module. Your portfolio will also contain a reflective document, in which you discuss your creative process and inspirations.

In each case, you will be supported with formative activities helping you to develop these skills, and your writing practice, in order to produce your best work in terms of both creative output and reflective discourse. From semester 2, modules have an oral presentation component. Here you will pitch your written creative work and develop your verbal presentation skills.

Throughout the course, you will have multiple opportunities for one to one formative feedback sessions with your academic tutor.

Creative Writing

When you commit your stories to paper you enter the realm of creative writing. Your portfolio of writing may take many forms — novels, short stories, plays and screenplays, interactive stories, hypertext documents to name a few — and involve elements that are fictional or imaginative.

The program emphasizes literary writing rather than formula writing, and aims to introduce you to the forms and styles of writing which authors, past and present, have created and explored in their works. It will expose you to the history of formal experimentation and growth in particular genres.

As you advance, you’ll be encouraged to explore specialized study in one or two genres such as fiction, poetry and playwriting.

Important eligibility information: This program is intended for students with a year of undergraduate studies and is not for direct entry from high school. Students may apply after completing their first 48 credits by presenting a portfolio containing work in both poetry and prose fiction as evidence of writing experience.

Highlights of the creative writing program:

  • Many of the graduates of York’s Creative Writing program are writers: of poetry, novels, short stories, plays, TV shows, screenplays, and criticism.
  • Among them have been winners or finalists for major awards: Canadian Authors Association awards, the CBC Literary Prizes, the Commonwealth Prize, the Governor General’s Award, the Pat Lowther Award in poetry, the National Magazine Awards, the Bronwen Wallace Award for Canada’s best emerging writer, the Thomas Morton Prize, and others. Recent graduates are publishing in journals and are active in the literary community, some starting presses and magazines.
  • Learn more about writing by attending the “Creative Writing Readers Series” which provides an opportunity for you to meet and hear contemporary Canadian writers read or perform their own prose or poetry.
  • The Creative Writing Faculty awards acknowledge the achievements of writers in the program in poetry and fiction.

Possible Career Paths
Editor, novelist, poet, screenwriter