MA Creative Writing Scriptwriting

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The MA Creative Writing Scriptwriting addresses dramatic writing across the media with the rigour and professional insight that are the hallmark of our creative writing teaching.

You will explore both the theory and practice of dramatic writing, addressing contemporary critical debates, analysing written and performance texts, and experimenting with a range of techniques in original writing. You will develop your skills in constructive criticism and creative editing of your peers’ writing, creating a supportive writers’ network in the process.

Your modules will be taught by theorists and practitioners, and will be supplemented by masterclasses given by visiting specialists. Our teaching is carried out through seminar discussions and presentations, screenings, workshops and readings, and may also include performance visits. You will be assessed on an analytical essay, original creative writing and working process materials.

Overview

The Scriptwriting strand of our world-renowned MA Creative Writing has three core modules. First, Dramaturgy, in which you will study the core principles of drama as explored from Aristotle to McKee and as embodied in a range of plays, films and TV programmes, from Antigone to Game of Thrones.

You will also take part in the Scriptwriting workshop, building upon your study of dramaturgical theory. You will incorporate this theory into your own writing practice in weekly creative development workshops, completing scriptwriting and planning exercises; over the course of the workshop, you and your fellow writers will bring your exercises to the group for discussion and evaluation.

Alongside these modules runs the Process module, where each week you will benefit from the scrutiny and feedback of your fellow writers and workshop leaders, such as the renowned playwrights Steve Waters and Timberlake Wertenbaker. You will develop a short script for your choice of medium, building an idea from concept to realisation under the keen eye of an industry expert.

Over the summer you will also write a dissertation, under the supervision of a member of our faculty. 

Course structure

The Scriptwriting strand of the MA Creative Writing is taken over one academic year (full time) or two years (part time). You will take four taught modules (two in the autumn semester, two in spring) and write a dissertation during the summer, with tutorial supervision. 

In addition to the three core modules outlined above, you may choose another module from the range of modules offered within the School (excluding other Creative Writing workshops). These include Politics and Media; Asian Cinema; Creativity and Development in Film and Television Production; and Adaptation and Interpretation.

By the spring semester you will have embarked on your dissertation, benefiting from close supervision and advice as you write a full-length drama for the medium of your choice. This will be an original script, written to at least second draft stage, for stage, screen (TV or feature film), or radio.

Assessment

Each module is independently assessed, and is weighted at 20 credits. The dissertation is weighted at 90 credits (50% of the overall course grade). 

Course tutors and research interests

Lecturers on the course have included:

Steve Waters is an acclaimed writer for stage, radio and screen; his plays include Temple, which was staged at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in 2015, and his play Limehouse, which opened in 2017 at the same venue. He has also written on dramatic writing for The Guardian and in his book The Secret Life of Plays.

Timberlake Wertenbaker is one of the most celebrated contemporary playwrights, with her plays such as Our Country’s Good and more recently Jefferson’s Garden performed across the world. Her radio adaptation of War and Peace in 2015 is a highlight of contemporary radio.

Rob Ritchie is one of the UK’s leading script developers – he has worked for the Royal Court theatre, Joint Stock Theatre and was the Head of Scriptwriting at the National School of Film and Television, as well as developing scripts for The Script Factory and others.

Where next?

Graduates of the course have a variety of related careers. Some are acclaimed playwrights for the stage, such as E. V. Crowe and Bruntwood Prize-winner Janice Okoh; some are writer/performers who make films and sitcoms, such as Molly Naylor; some, like Paul Farrell and Rob Kinsman, work on television series such as Waking the Dead or Doctors; and others, like Mags Chalcraft, go on to take up a PhD. Our graduates are out there winning BAFTAs, working in radio, teaching and script editing – even running other MAs. 

Frequently asked questions

How and when do I apply?

We take applications through our online system right up until July of the year of study. The key element of this application is an extract of up to 30 pages from your dramatic work for screen or stage; this can be several short extracts or one long piece.

Can I specialise in my core medium?

Yes, although the Dramaturgy module and Scriptwriting workshop require you to explore writing in all media or study texts across media, as we want to extend your range.

Do I get to have my work workshopped?

Yes, we build in to the course workshopping with directors and actors and have a day when extracts from your dissertation are presented to an invited audience.

Is the course linked to the writing industry?

We take seriously the idea of writing as a living as well as an art, and bring in guests and agents throughout the year. Recent guests have included the radio producer Celia de Wolff, the actor Emily Taaffe, the playwright David Edgar and the film director Guy Myhill.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 160 credits:

Name Code Credits

CREATIVE WRITING (SCRIPTWRITING) DISSERTATION

LDCC7502X

90

CREATIVE WRITING RESEARCH METHODOLOGY CONFERENCE

This 10-credit module consists of a day-long series of presentations and plenary discussions delivered by Creative Writing and Critical faculty of direct relevance to the practical aspects of researching and writing a major piece of creative work. It is intended for all students on the Prose Fiction, Poetry, Scriptwriting and Biography and Creative Non-Fiction MA courses. Attendance is compulsory.

LDCC7006B

10

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: SCRIPTWRITING

This module is the heart of your course, the place where you write together and critique each other's work. It's a core module for all Scriptwriting MA students, complementing your other core module Scriptwriting: Dramaturgy (full-time students); part-time students complete Dramaturgy first in year 1 before joining their Workshop group. This module puts your study of dramaturgy into practice by enabling you to find your voice across the dramatic media - film, television, theatre and radio. It allows you to experiment with a variety of forms and writing contexts on a weekly basis. Initially we workshop everyone and build the discussion group; then we focus the discussion on a handful of writers a week, with the class all offering their thoughts. This all culminates in a portfolio of short works and also enables you to embark on your dissertation project with a week given over to exploring the idea in outline.

LDCC7004A

20

CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: DRAMATURGY

How does drama work? Dramaturgy explores dramatic theory across the media of theatre, film, television and radio, and attempts to find shared principles between them. Weekly seminars will develop your understanding of dramatic structure, character, time and space, the distinction between plot and story, as well as encouraging you to examine the dramatic forms in isolation. To achieve this we'll study a range of contemporary films and plays as well as classics, dip into radio and television and draw on a body of readings and theories. You'll find that the learning will be practical and reflective, and it will have direct applications for your work in drama whether as a writer or a director. You'll also have fun, with screenings, discussion and presentations. The module will end with you writing a comparative essay that draws on what we have studied, but it can also respond to dramas you love. Some prior experience of dramatic writing is useful for this module, but a love of drama is essential.

LDCC7007A

20

CREATIVE WRITING: SCRIPTWRITING: PROCESS

This module is compulsory for all Scriptwriting MA students and is reserved for students of the Scriptwriting programme. Dramaturgy and Workshop 1 are pre-requisites for this module. Students develop a short script for theatre/film/television/radio from initial idea through pitch/treatment/step outline/script drafts. In weekly workshop sessions, the stages of project development are tabled for tutorial and peer group critique. Assessment is by presentation of a portfolio of working documentation, script drafts and a short reflective essay.

LDCC7005B

20

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Students may only select a Spring Semester (SEM2) module.

Name Code Credits

ADAPTATION AND INTERPRETATION

Critical reading and creative writing collide when adapting a text for performance in another medium. The very process forces a string of questions: Is it possible to separate a story from its expression? What, if any, are the obligations owed to the source text? Must the adaptation always be 'secondary'? Can we define a 'good' adaptation? The questions only grow more interesting if we consider changes in reception and more complex when we alter era or cultural setting. This module focuses on key questions in dramatic adaptation, establishing a foundation in basic theory and then focusing on readings of source works and screenings or performances of adaptations. Seminar discussions probe the choices offered by original texts and explore the possibilities and limitations inherent in different forms. In the later sessions, you will have the opportunity to workshop an adaptation for a final project. Writers are expected to produce scripts, while theatre directors will have to option to produce a script or a performance. The module is a must for scriptwriters, but no prior scriptwriting experience is necessary as the seminars teach the basic techniques of dramatic writing. Class workshop will further develop skills in the specific dramatic forms.

LDCC7010B

20

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Various attempts at (sub-)categorising contemporary fiction interpret it as a departure from previous aesthetics or a response to political or historical events or movements: post-modern; post-colonial; post-feminist; post-communist; post-9/11; post-millenial; post-national; even post-post-modern etc. As a prefix, "post-" suggests supersedence rather than novelty; at worst it is merely an aspirational syllable. Its proliferation co-exists with more conventional attempts at temporal taxonomy such as monographs and student guides dedicated to specific decades. One way of reading "post"-something-or-other is to think of it as an engagement with, and critical reassessment of, the past it so assiduously hyphenates: its literary conventions, cultural heritage, philosophical traditions, political ideologies, and - paradoxically - its long shadows way beyond the present moment. The manifestations of these engagements and reassessments can be rather contradictory. The memory boom of the 1990s put paid to claims about "the end of history" or skepticism over Grand Narratives. The renewed popularity of the (neo)historical novel and period drama also chafes against the recent turn towards trauma studies. The effects of new market forces, media and digital technology on the form of writing and the construction of the "author" could also be seen as one of the legacies of modernism. A focus on mindfulness, ethics and affect sits uneasily alongside the necessity for art to provoke and push boundaries. Expressions of the regional contend with an increasing awareness of transnational subjects, diasporic identities and global issues, and some of the most interesting writing today comes from 'the East' or writers with hybrid origins and hyphenated identities. Can fiction still be formally inventive and how might it enter into dialogue with other art forms (photography, sculpture, painting, cinema)? In the light of the critical and commercial success of 'creative non-fiction' we might also want to ask precisely how narrative can perforate disciplinary and generic categories. On this module we will attempt to construct a (naturally provisional, selective and incomplete) genealogy of the contemporary by examining some of the discernible trends and tensions of relatively recent. Much of this writing will be Anglophone but you should be prepared for adventures in reading translations. We will also have the opportunity to do some work in UEA's newly founded Archive of Contemporary Literature: what and who is being archived according to which criteria, and what do archivists, academics and critics consider archival about the contemporary?

LDCC7020B

20

CREATIVE-CRITICAL WRITING

Too often, academic critical writing seems to bring pre-packaged language to bear on works whose whole essence and aim is to change the ways in which we see and describe our world. And too often such writing fails to acknowledge the ways in which it itself participates in the literary 'creativity' it is also about. How, then, to write criticism? Criticism which responds inventively to the literature which it analyses? Criticism which registers, in its own form, language, method and the ways in which it has been transformed by the work(s) of art it encounters? Criticism which recognises that it cannot rest on received concepts and categories? In this module you'll explore these questions. Over the course of the semester we'll read, ponder and experiment with a broad range of possible ways of practising creative-criticism, including the essay form, auto-commentary, conceptual writing, inventive 'theoretical' writing, and diaristic writing. Your assessed work for the module will be in two parts: a piece of creative-critical writing of your own and a critical reflection on a particular aspect of the theory and practice of creative criticism.

LDCE7004B

20

EAST ANGLIAN LITERATURE

Throughout the medieval and Early-Modern periods Norwich was one of England's most important cities - probably second only to London - and East Anglia one of the country's culturally liveliest and richest areas. You will explore the literature of these periods in its material contexts (the region's prosperity and power may still be seen in its architecture and in the rich holdings of its libraries and museums) and ask whether there was a specifically East Anglian cultural tradition. You will explore East Anglia's rich dramatic traditions, its devotional literature and practices (in orthodox forms and in those that brush against the heterodox), and, insistently, the manner in which its literature participates in its broader social and cultural worlds.

LDCE7002B

20

GOOD GOOD GIRLS AND GOOD BAD BOYS? AMERICAN FICTIONS OF INNOCENCE

Oscar Wilde wrote that 'The youth of America is their oldest tradition; it has been going on now for three hundred years'. Is this true? If so, why? This module aims to account for the preoccupation with youth in America, focusing particularly on the concept of 'innocence'. Drawing on a wide array of fictional and theoretical works, you'll consider the following questions: What is at stake in America's investment in innocence? What power interests and ideologies are maintained by repeatedly describing America as 'innocent'? How is this investment in innocence revised in different historical moments? How is it challenged? How is innocence (and loss of innocence) depicted differently for female, male, white and non-white protagonists? At the end of this module, you'll have had the opportunity to reflect on these questions in seminars, and pursued your own interests in assessed work (presentation and essay). You will also have developed your communication, writing and research skills.

AMAL7000B

20

LUDIC LITERATURE

The aim of this mixed creative-critical module is twofold: both to explore together some of the major works of playful or 'ludic' modern literature across various languages, and to develop our appreciation of style and form by practising various forms of writing that are themselves ludic: creative imitation, parody, transposition from one style and form to another, creative translation. In play, we will find, the boundary between the 'creative' and the 'critical' becomes unclear. The module is generally taken by a mix of students from the various critical and creative writing MAs, as well as by students in Literature and Philosophy. On the 'critical' side, the module traces the evolution of leading postmodernist styles and themes, especially ludic ones, back to their origins in Dostoevsky, Joyce, Kafka, Borges, and Nabokov. Using these enormously influential authors as a starting point, we read a range of ludic authors, passing back and forth between languages, nations, and genres. Each week we usually pair two authors. In previous years we have studied, for example, Dostoevsky against Nabokov, Kafka against Borges, Perec against Queneau and Calvino, Carter against Coover, Muldoon against Heaney, Pynchon against Barthelme, and Ashbery against Mallarme. There is also a strong philosophical element of the module, you will be encouraged to explore the philosophical theory of aesthetic play in Kant, Schiller, and Nietzsche, and later in Huizinga and Derrida. On the 'creative' side in previous years we have, for example, read Kafka's short tales against Borges's re-writings of them, tried to write like Kafka or Borges, turned a Kafka story into a Dostoevsky paragraph or a Nabokov poem, explored the various translations of these authors, and played with re-translating them. We have taken a story by Coover and re-written it as a sestina, two kinds of sonnet, and a villanelle. In doing all this, we are asking fundamental questions not only about play but also about style and form, how they shape meaning and make possible certain kinds of writing and thinking. We are also returning to the way in which literature was studied, and creative writing engendered, before the invention of professional literary criticism and creative writing courses in the twentieth century. All students will be encouraged to try their hand at parodying and imitating the texts we are studying, though this is not compulsory. Final assessment can take the form of a 5000 word critical essay or of a combination of a creative piece and a critical essay, to make up 5000 words.

LDCE7006B

20

PHILOSOPHY OF LITERATURE SEMINAR

In a collaborative seminar or group-study format, you'll explore (together with the teacher) a range of topics in the philosophy of literature. Topics that you'll study will typically include: the definition and purpose of literature; the status of fictional characters; the relevance of author's intention and the role of interpretation in fixing meaning; aesthetic evaluation, taste, subjectivity and objectivity; the value of fakes and copies; the emotional effect of literature; whether literature can convey truth and knowledge, and the relationship between aesthetic judgement and ethics. You'll prepare a package of two essays relating to different parts of the course, preceded by formative drafts and essay tutorials.

PPLP7001B

20

POLITICS AND MEDIA

Working from the assumption that the media are an integral part of modern political life, we will examine the way in which politics is represented in the media and reviews critically the argument about 'bias'. We will also explore the arguments around the ownership and control of media, the increasing use of the media by political parties and the changing relationship between citizens and politics engendered by new communication technologies.

PPLM7002B

20

PUBLISHING - A PRACTICAL APPROACH

Are you interested in how a book is selected for publication, in how to write for an online readership, or in learning how to edit? Whether you are a writer or a would-be publisher, this module will give you an introduction to the modern publishing industry and equip you with some of the practical skills involved in the successful publication of texts. As well as becoming acquainted with the structure and economics of the contemporary publishing world, the opportunities and challenges posed by digitalisation, you will examine the process whereby books are chosen by literary agents and publishers, review principles of text and jacket design, acquire basic copyediting and proofreading skills, learn tips for publicising books online, write jacket 'blurbs' and press releases. You will also engage with the principles and practice of blog-writing, with copyright law and aspects of publishing finance. In recent years speakers such as Chris Hamilton-Emery from Salt, Philip Gwyn Jones of Scribe, Rosie Sherwood of art-publisher Elbow Room and Eloise Wales of The Literary Platform have addressed the seminars. We have examined correspondence between authors and publishers in the UEA Archive of Contemporary Writing, visited the Jarrold's Print Museum in Norwich and the London International Book Fair. Towards the end of the module you will also have to opportunity to become involved in the editing of the annual MA Creative Writing anthologies. Assessment is by formal essay OR creative-critical assignment such as a literary blog.

LDCC7012B

20

RADICAL DRAMATURGIES

Do you want to write outside the box? Define your own kind of performance text beyond the constraints of conventional story-telling? Radical Dramaturgies offers you the chance to study a range of dramatic texts and theory that explode conventions of playwriting and performance. Weekly seminars and workshops will deepen your understanding of form and practice in a variety of modes of writing: the solo play, the micro-play, site-specific writing, verbatim, 'post-dramatic' work, devised, multi-media, or hyper-naturalist. You'll explore the work of writers such as Wallace Shawn, Samuel Beckett, Suzan Lori-Parks, Tim Crouch, Martin Crimp, Caryl Churchill, Moises Kaufman, Simon Stephens, Franz Xavier Kroetz, Sarah Kane, or the ideas of Hans Thies-Lehmann. You'll read and discuss work and then explore it in your own practice - create your own site-specific piece on campus, explore self-presentation through the solo play, and experiment with 'found-text'. These writings and a short essay will make-up the portfolio of works by which you will be assessed. Writers and artists across disciplines are welcome as are theoretically minded students wishing to work creatively.

LDCD7001B

20

ANALYSING HOLLYWOOD CINEMA

'Hollywood' as an industry, cultural institution and maker of films has dominated the global cinematic imagination for decades. On this module, we investigate the history, production cultures and texts made by the US film industry from its classic period to contemporary filmmaking. This will include analysing Hollywood from a range of perspectives, which may include things like studio filmmaking, independent filmmaking, genre filmmaking and the blockbuster. In doing so we will discover the multiplicity of cinemas at work within the concept of Hollywood.

AMAM7011B

20

THE NON FICTION NOVEL

Some of the most exciting and innovative fiction of the moment is in fact a hybrid form of fiction, borrowing subject matter and techniques from traditionally non-fiction modes such as memoir, criticism, journalism, reportage and life-writing. These novels depart from the usual concerns with character, realistic dialogue and plot to focus on voice, place, time, employing strategies of literary craft to be formally innovative. You will look at original non-fiction and also at contemporary 'realist' novels which are pushing boundaries and gaining attention in the wider literary culture. You will study the forms, techniques and thematics of both non-fiction and fiction, with an aim to experimenting with and improving your writing in both forms. Some writing in class and between classes will be required.

LDCC7022B

20

THE POETICS OF PLACE

This module will allow you to explore innovative and experimental forms of place writing, from the critical and theoretical to the literary and artistic. You'll study critical and theoretical approaches such as (though this may be subject to small changes each year) psychogeography, ecocriticism, critical heritage studies, deep mapping, animal studies, and literary activism. At the same time, you'll consider a number of original works of literature from recent years, thinking carefully about the relationship between theory, method and form. Some of the authors that you'll consider (though this may be subject to small changes each year) are: Richard Mabey, Alice Oswald, W.G. Sebald, R.F. Langley, Italo Calvino, Kei Miller, Sue Clifford and Angela King, Tim Robinson, Paul Farley, Kathleen Jamie, Iain Sinclair, and J.A Baker. During the module, you'll explore some of the following questions: how have different ways of 'framing' place influenced the sense of cultural identity associated with that place? What role might literature play in this? How might recent developments in theory and practice inform your own methods of place writing? How might they encourage you to experiment with new methods? What surprising literary forms might this lead to? And finally, what new ideas might this prompt about publication, exhibition and public engagement? On this module, you'll not only gain a strong foundation in debates concerning literature's relationship to the environment, to heritage, and to ideas of community but you'll engage with these debates following your own line of inquiry, and/or through your own developing practice, in ways that will equip you to take on similar projects after the MA as well.

LDCC7023B

20

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FICTION

This module is designed to complement the prose fiction workshop but is open to students on related programmes. You'll be provided with creative and critical knowledge in a single experiential burst, by exploring as they are relevant to writing fiction such topics as time, place, dramatic structure, character and concinnity. We'll also give consideration to professional issues confronting novelists, from writer's block to editing, contracts and dealing with the media. The module presents the writer as both artist and supplier of intellectual property to a market, while examining that and other tensions critically. Reading, writing and analysis happen alongside each other. You'll examine fictional, critical and professional texts, and write exercises illuminating the issue at hand. Assessment is by creative writing coursework with a critical commentary and you'll also be expected to make presentations on topics of your choice.

LDCC7015B

20

Disclaimer

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.

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Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject UK BA (Hons) 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): 68 (minimum 55 in each section and 68 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 intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

Special Entry Requirements

Candidates will be expected to submit a portfolio of writing for assessment - up to 30 pages of dramatic script/screenplay.

Please note that those candidates offered a place on the course 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.

Intakes

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 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

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

How to Apply

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

You can apply online.

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
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

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:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515