Have you got a story to tell? Or poems that you want to shape into a collection? This degree will help you develop your creative writing practice. You’ll experiment with a wide variety of forms to help you discover your preferred mode of writing.
Why study MA Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths?
- You may be writing regularly; you may be returning to it after concentrating on your career. Whatever your background, if you're serious about your writing, we can help you to develop your practice.
- Our students bring with them a lively range of interests, cultures and experiences. We welcome students of any age who share the drive to take their writing seriously.
- You’ll have the chance to experiment with different forms – poetry, the novel, short story and life writing - as well as to specialise in one of those areas - and you will receive expert guidance in each field. Read work by our students.
- Some seminars will be taken by visiting writers who will talk about their work, introduce you to different theories of creative writing and engage you in discussion about their writing. Recent visitors have included Ali Smith, Caryl Phillips, Claire Keegan and Daljit Nagra.
- We host weekly readings and discussions organised by our Writers Centre, together with occasional visits from editors, literary agents and organisers of literary projects.
- Several graduates of this programme have gone on to be award-winning influential poets, among them Emily Berry, Abigail Parry, Nick Makoha, Katrina Naomi, Richard Scott and Jack Underwood who now teaches at Goldsmiths. Our Fiction and Life Writing graduates are similarly successful, Luiza Sauma, Tom Lee, Elaine Castillo, Sarah Leipciger, Anthony Joseph amongst others.
- In 2018, the Royal Society of Literature elected 40 new fellows under the age of 40 – in effect selecting the leading young British writers today. Six of them – Ross Raisin, Evie Wyld, Lucy Caldwell, Sophie Collins, Amy Sackville and Emily Berry – are Goldsmiths creative writing alumni. No other university creative writing programme comes close to matching that.
- Awards won by our creative writing alumni include the 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award, Authors’ Club First Novel Award, John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, Betty Trask Prize, Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and several Eric Gregory Awards for Poetry. There have also been shortlistings for the Costa Prize (in both the poetry and fiction categories), the Encore prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Award for New Writers, the Dublin International IMPAC Prize, The Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for Poetry.
- The Pat Kavanagh Prize is presented annually to an outstanding graduate from the programme. The £500 prize, created in memory of the much-admired literary agent, is awarded by a team of her colleagues at United Agents. This has been the catalyst for publication by several previous winners.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Department of English.
What you'll study
For 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the Programme Changes page
You will take three compulsory modules over the course of the programme. You will also participate in twelve one-on-one tutorials throughout the year.
|Compulsory modules||Module title||Credits|
|Workshop in Creative and Life Writing||30 credits|
|Contemporary Contexts for Creative and Life Writing||30 credits|
|Creative and Life Writing Portfolio||60 credits|
You also choose one option module. Full-time students take the module in the second term, while part-time students take it in the second team of their second year.
You can choose from a specialist workshop in fiction, poetry, or life writing, or an option module from the list of MA options offered by the Department of English and Creative Writing including topics such as European Avant-Garde, Postmodernist Fiction, or Re-writing Sexualities.
Assessment is by the submission of four pieces of writing of 5,000 words each – either an essay, or, for workshops, a piece or pieces of creative or life-writing – plus a critical account of how you have structured and developed your work. You will also be assessed on a portfolio (maximum of 20,000 words) containing a piece or pieces of creative or life-writing together with a critical account of how you have structured and developed your work. In all cases, the number of words applies to prose.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
What our students say
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject.
You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Annual tuition fees
These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2021/2022 academic year.
- Home - full-time: £8370
- Home - part-time: £4185
- International - full-time: £15360
It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time if you require a Tier 4 student visa, however this is currently being reviewed and will be confirmed in the new year. Please read our visa guidance in the interim for more information. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.
If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.
In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.
There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.
Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.
This programme is eligible for one of the department's fee waivers. Find out more about how to apply.
How to apply
Due to the popularity of the programme and the large number of applications we have 3 application rounds. You may expect to be contacted during the week following the application round deadline and will be informed if you have been invited to attend an interview.
MA Creative & Life Writing is a very small and highly competitive programme. Remaining places are currently limited for 2021, so apply soon if you can.
Deadline for submitting your online application: Monday 9 November, 2020
Interviews conducted : 23 November – 4 December 2020
Deadline for submitting your online application: Monday 22 February, 2021, 9am
Interviews conducted : 8 – 19 March 2021
We are experiencing delays due to the high volume of applications and a system error that has now been fixed, please expect to hear from us to confirm if you have been invited to interview by 19 March 2021. Thank you for your patience.
Please note that places on the programme are filling up quickly, and that successful candidates may need to be put on a waiting list once the programme is full.
Deadline for submitting your online application: Monday 7 June 2021
Interviews conducted: 21 June – 2 July 2021
For more information about programme please contact Joana Rodrigues.
Making an application
You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system.
Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:
- Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
- The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
- If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
- You must also submit a portfolio of your creative or life writing with your application. Your portfolio should include two or three short stories, 20-30 poems or several extracts from a novel
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
When to apply
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.
Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.
Find out more about applying.
Staff who contribute to the programme include:
Maura Dooley –Programme Co-ordinator for the MA
Maura’s most recent collection of poetry is ‘The Silvering’ (2016). Her versions of Iranian poet Azita Ghahreman in ‘Negative of a Group Photograph’ (2018) won a PEN Translation Award. She has edited anthologies, worked as a script consultant in film and theatre and been involved in numerous initiatives to enhance the profile of poetry in the United Kingdom.
Stephen Knight – poet, novelist
Stephen’s poetry publications include ‘Flowering Limbs’, ‘The Prince of Wails’ ‘The Sandfields Baudelaire’, ‘Dream City Cinema’, and, for children, ‘Sardines and Other Poems’. He has published the novel, ‘Mr Schnitzel’ in 2000, and an anthology, ‘I Am Twenty People’, edited with Mimi Khalvati. He has worked as a theatre director and his fiction and Poetry reviews regularly appear in The Times Literary Supplement. He won the National Poetry Competition and his work has received a Poetry Book Society recommendation.
Francis Spufford – novelist
Francis is a writer of creative non-fiction, essays and more recently, fiction. His novel ‘Golden Hill’ (2016) won the Ondaatje Prize. His anthology of literature about the poles is, ‘The Ends of the Earth’ (with Elizabeth Kolbert), and he is the author of ‘The Child That Books Built’, ‘The Backroom Boys’, ‘Unapologetic’ and ‘Red Plenty’.
Ardashir Vakil – novelist
Ardu’s first novel, ‘Beach Boy’, won a Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and has been translated into 10 languages. His second novel, ‘One Day’, was shortlisted for the Encore Award. Ardu is currently working on a new novel and a collection of shorter fiction.
Blake has published a wide range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. His memoir ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’ won the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography. He has written a study of the murder of James Bulger, ‘As If’, as well as collections of poetry, most recently ‘Shingle Street’, novels which include ‘South of the River’ and many plays and adaptations.
Erica has published a novel ‘Seizure’, a collection of short stories ‘Gravity’, and ‘Ariel’s Gift’ a study of the writing of Ted Hughes’s ‘Birthday Letters’. ‘Chief Engineer’ a biography of the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge, is her most recent work (2017). For many years she was literary editor of The Times. She is a regular reviewer and interviewer for a variety of media.
Tom’s short stories have been published widely and shortlisted for many awards, including the Sunday Times Short Story Award. ‘Greenfly’, his debut collection, was followed by his first novel, ‘The Alarming Palsy of James Orr’, (2017). He is currently working on a memoir.
- Romesh Gunesekera
- Diana Evans
- Eva Salzman
- Clare Fisher
- Ross Raisin
Find out more about staff in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.
Graduates of this programme include writers Tom Lee, Lucy Caldwell, Ross Raisin, Amy Sackville, Rohan Kriwaczek, Evie Wyld, Sara Grant, Naomi Foyle, Bronia Kita, Claire Adam, Lijia Zhang, Luiza Sauma, Ashley Dartnell and Suzanne Joinson and the poets Emily Berry, Andy Spragg, Kate Potts, Jack Underwood, Abigail Parry, Anthony Joseph, Katrina Naomi and Matthew Gregory.
Among them they've won or been shortlisted for awards including:
- Desmond Elliott Prize 2019
- The Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012
- Rooney Prize for Literature 2011
- Dylan Thomas Prize 2008 and 2011
- The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2009
- John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2009 and 2010
- Several Eric Gregory Awards
- Guardian First Book Award
- New Writing Ventures Prize
- Several Betty Trask Awards
Other graduates have gone on to work in publishing (for example, as senior commissioning editors), journalism, public relations, teaching, advertising, the civil service, business, industry, and the media.
The MA will enable you to develop transferable skills, including: enhanced communication and discussion skills in written and oral contexts; the ability to analyse and evaluate different textual materials; the ability to organise information, and to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments.
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.