MA Creative Writing Crime Fiction (Part Time)


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Since completing her MA in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction), Emma Healey’s debut novel has been published to universal praise and she has toured the world to promote her work. She joined UEA with half a draft of her novel ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ and having developed links with publishers during her time on the course, she achieved every writer’s dream of being signed by a literary agency.Her debut novel was published by Penguin in June 2014.

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"My year at UEA was one of the best of my life"

In their words

Ian McEwan, Creative Writing Graduate and Booker Prize winner

Key facts

At UEA we aim to lead the world in both the creative practice and critical study of crime fiction.


In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), UEA was ranked joint tenth in the UK for the quality of its research in English Language and Literature (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis) with 82 per cent of our research rated either 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).


The British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA contains the extensive personal archive of the Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, and literary material from other prominent authors such as Naomi Alderman, Tash Aw, Malcolm Bradbury, Amit Chaudhuri, J.D. Salinger, Roger Deakin, Lorna Sage, WG Sebald and the playwright Snoo Wilson.

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Imagine writing a full-length novel under the guidance of award-winning crime writers and experienced creative writing tutors. All without relocating or giving up work.

UEA’s part-time, low-residency MA Creative Writing Crime Fiction gives you unique flexibility with a distance-learning course supported by short residencies when possible. You’ll take the course via a specially designed, highly inclusive online platform, with three two-day residential or live online periods per year.

Our live, synchronous sessions have involved appearances from literary agents and editors as well as professional writers such as Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Arne Dahl, Denise Mina, Dredra Say Mitchell, and Yrsa Siguroardottir.

By the end of the course you will have a draft of a full-length work, a stronger self-awareness as a writer and critic, and a greatly increased chance of publication.


The Creative Writing programme at UEA was the first of its kind in the UK and is distinguished by the unrivalled success of its alumni, who include the 2017 Nobel Laureate, Kazuo Ishiguro, and his fellow Booker Prize-winners, Ian McEwan and Anne Enright.We introduced the first MA in 1970, the first PhD in 1987, and students now join us from all over the world.

The MA Crime Fiction builds on our world-leading expertise, presenting you with the unique opportunity to further your knowledge and skills within the crime/thriller genre. We have now embedded critical crime fiction and non-fiction modules across most levels of taught study within the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, and doctoral research and supervision in the area is also growing at UEA. Plus we’re a founding partner of Noirwich, Norwich’s annual crime writing festival, which takes place in September, coinciding with the September residential/live period.

The principal aim of the MA Crime Fiction is to help you develop a deeper understanding of the craft and context of producing crime writing, and have an enhanced critical awareness. By the end of the course you will have become more adept and more self-aware in your own practice and will have completed a draft of a full-length novel.

During the course you will become fully conversant with all aspects of being a professional writer, and will enjoy – like all UEA Creative Writing students – greatly enhanced prospects of publication on graduation. Our course builds on our extensive connections with publishers and agents.

Course Structure

Our MA Crime Fiction comprises modules designed specifically for the course, ensuring our teaching has the same creative and academic integrity as UEA’s other Creative Writing MAs.

In the first year you will take the modules A Critical Approach to Crime Writing, and A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Crime Writing. In these modules you will critically examine a number of landmark crime texts; address the practical and theoretical issues of fiction writing; and explore the literary devices particularly relevant to crime writing – including plot, suspense, pacing, setting and characterisation.

You will also take A Creative Approach to Crime Writing 1 and 2, which run through both the first and second years. In these modules you will plan and write your own crime novel, guided by one-on-one tutorials and group workshopping.

At the end of the first year you will submit the first 10,000 words of your novel for assessment. You will complete the novel in year two, supervised throughout the process by our experienced tutors.

Each year, in addition to these modules, you will take part in three short residential/live online periods of study, involving masterclasses and seminars, which make up the modules A Public Approach to Crime Writing 1 and 2. These are a great chance to meet your fellow students in person or online and enhance your career prospects, benefiting from the advice of visiting writers, publishing professionals and other research-related professionals.

Teaching and Learning


You’ll be taught through a specially designed, highly inclusive online platform. This technology, along with Skype, FaceTime and phone calls enables you to participate in seminars, workshops, online discussions and tutorials.

Your first year workshops and seminar groups will be made up of 12-14 students (the annual intake). Within these, you’ll submit your work-in-progress to the close scrutiny and constructive criticism of your peers. This gives you an insight into the reception of your work among a community of engaged readers, and will in turn contribute to the development of your classmates’ work.  Following each submission of your work-in-progress to the core workshop (A Creative Approach to Crime Writing 1), you will have a one-to-one tutorial with your class tutor (via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone) for a more detailed discussion of your work. 

The module A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Crime Writing will involve online exercises and discussion boards, while A Critical Approach to Crime Writing, is focused around the study of core and recommended texts, and student presentations of these subjects using PowerPoint.

In your second year you will be assigned to a primary supervisor for a series of individual supervisions via the dedicated website/Blackboard pages (which are open to the other students for their voluntary input) and with follow-up tutorials, across the year in which you will discuss your work-in-progress in detail.

Independent study

The course will equip you with the editorial skills, writerly and genre knowledge and professional disciplines that will enable you to work independently on your creative writing both during and after the course.


All of your work will be assessed throughout the year and then marked at the end.

In your first year you will complete assignments for three modules. You’ll write a 5,000-word essay for both A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Crime Writing and A Critical Approach to Crime Writing. For A Creative Approach to Crime Writing you’ll write the first 10,000 words of your crime novel.

In your second year you will complete a full-length work of crime fiction (60-90,000 words).

After the course

Thanks to the reputation of Creative Writing at UEA you’ll graduate with many opportunities in the creative industries open to you.

We have excellent links with literary agents and publishers, some of whom visit the campus to talk to students during the May residential. Publication aside, a significant number of our graduates go on to work in teaching, publishing, as literary agents, in journalism, public relations, the film industry, communications, the media, and arts development and administration. Others pursue PhDs and academic careers.

Career destinations

  • Novelist
  • Creative writing teacher
  • Literary agent or publisher
  • Journalist
  • Arts administrator
  • Public relations

Course related costs

You will need to pay expenses for your residentials – including travel, accommodation and subsistence.

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 70 credits:

Name Code Credits


This is your opportunity to write the beginning of a crime novel, including the planning and plotting. You will be directed throughout the year to the formation of this proposal, and work, through online group workshopping, residential workshops, and one-on-one tutorials. Discussions will also focus around genre and public and critical expectation. Formative work, largely comprising of draft outlines, research plans and early chapters, will be assessed throughout the year and the summative work will be the first 10,000 words of your novel.




You will study key crime fiction texts and accompanying critical essays and papers. These will include the modern genesis of the genre, from authors such as James M Cain to Gillian Flynn, allowing you to formulate your own critical response. Formative work, largely comprising of online presentations (for example, PowerPoint, or a Word document, and are not 'live'), will be assessed throughout the year and you will have a summative piece of work which will be a critical essay.




Writers are readers as well, and increasingly operate within the public realm. Attendance at literary events and festivals, profile raising and networking, are now often expected activities of the professional writer. During this module there will be three brief residential periods. You will attend masterclasses (conducted by visiting writers), the obligatory seminars, plus informal readings (from tutors and visiting writers), and events featuring industry professionals (during the annual agent and publisher evening).




You will study the theoretical and practical study of devices employed in the writing of crime fiction (such as suspense, pacing, characterisation, purpose, structure and prose style), while looking at a variety of fictional and critical texts and extracts. Formative work, largely comprising writing exercises, and discussion boards, will allow you to experiment, and solidify positions, and will be assessed by the tutor and your peers throughout the year. Summative work will be a contextualising essay, on an aspect or aspects of the craft and theory of writing crime fiction, while it could also situate your creative project.



Students must study the following modules for 110 credits:

Name Code Credits


Through close supervision during the year, by a primary supervisor, you will have the opportunity to complete a full length crime novel. There will also be numerous formative assignments, online supervisions, tutorials and peer workshopping opportunities, along with residential workshops.




Writers are readers as well, and increasingly operate within the public realm. Attendance at literary events and festivals, profile raising and networking, are now often expected activities of the professional writer. This module will comprise the attendance of three brief residential periods annually. Students will attend masterclasses (conducted by visiting writers), the obligatory seminars, plus informal readings (from tutors and visiting writers), and events featuring industry professionals (during the annual agent and publisher evening).




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • UEA Literary Festival

    The University of East Anglia's first literary festival took place in 1991 and over the last twenty five years we have welcomed a host of award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators, scientists, economists, broadcasters and more.

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  • Home Truths

    The troubled little sister of crime fiction, domestic noir has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years.

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    For a window onto the exciting new writing coming out of the UEA Creative Writing programme, visit our website…

  • Ask a Student

    This is your chance to ask UEA's students about UEA, university life, Norwich and anything else you would like an answer to.

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Classification Bachelors (Hons) degree - 2.1 or equivalent preferred but not essential
  • Special Entry Requirements Sample of work - see below

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (minimum 6.0 in each section and 7.0 in writing)
  • PTE (Pearson): 65 (minimum 50 in each section and 65 in writing)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


Promising candidates will be invited for a Skype interview with a member of the Creative Writing faculty and we aim to inform candidates of the outcome within five working days. Unsuccessful candidates are welcome to re-apply, though not within the same academic year. Successful candidates will either be offered a place for the forthcoming academic year or a place for the following academic year (if it is felt that they need more time to develop as a writer). Once the forthcoming year is ‘full’ candidates will be offered a place on our reserve list with the option of a place for the following academic year if a place does not become available.

Please note that those candidates offered a place on the course for the forthcoming academic year will not be able to defer their offer to the next year if they are unable to take up the offer of a place, however they are welcome to reapply the next year.

Special Entry Requirements

Candidates will be expected to submit a portfolio of writing for assessment of between 3000 and 5000 words, which could be part of a novel in progress or a piece or pieces of short fiction. This does not have to be crime writing focused but must be prose fiction.

Candidates should submit two recent references for this course. 


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the Admissions Office directly for further information.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £8,900
  • International Students: £8,900

Please note the tuition fee above is for the full two years part-time. The fee will be charged at 50% of the total amount each year. 



There are a variety of scholarships and studentships available to postgraduate applicants in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For further information please see the School of Literature and Creative Writing.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Please note that the closing date for receipt of complete applications (including all documentation and references) is 1 June 2020.  However, the course may become full before the closing date and so candidates are advised to apply as early as possible.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515