Creative Writing and Publishing

MA Creative Writing & Publishing

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MA Creative Writing and Publishing
Duration: 2 academic years, part time
Applications open
Bursaries are available from £500 | Read more about funding

This programme is for you if you are already a committed writer looking to complete the first draft of a novel. You are keen to further develop your writing and research skills and learn about the publishing process and the role of the professional author in today's publishing environment. Learn from professional authors (see tutor profiles below for published work) with extensive creative writing teaching experience and visiting industry professionals. Workshops include experimental collaboration with artists working in other disciplines at West Dean College. Intensive study blocks foster an immersive atelier-style experience within the College's School of Arts and allows for self-determination in independent practice.

Benefit from the unique setting and history of the College. The house, its archive and extensive grounds offer opportunities to explore site-specific works, while historic connections to literary and publishing experimentation provide a stimulating environment for study.

Learning environment

  • Attend 12 three-day intensive blocks of workshops, lectures and tutorials (over two years)
  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Personal tutorials with subject tutor
  • Intensive workshops
  • Creative interdisciplinary environment
  • Benefit from exposure to prominent visiting guests, writers and publishing professionals.

What to expect

  • Explore literary fiction in its varied forms
  • Develop your writing, editing and critical skills
  • Complete a first draft of between 45,000 - 60,000 words in year one
  • Redraft the first chapter of your novel for publication in a specially produced anthology
  • Gain hands-on experience of the publishing process
  • Learn how to build your author profile
  • Gain and articulate a critical insight into your own writing process, challenges, strengths and direction.
  • Learn from a range of published writers and industry experts in a way that enhances your development as an emerging writer.
  • Enhance your practice by learning from and alongside other artistic and creative practitioners.

"I expected to learn about writing, but I also learnt about who I am as a writer. West Dean prepared us for life as writers."

Nicki Herring, MA Creative Writing Student
Bench in the Sunken Garden at West Dean


Immerse yourself in the enriched learning environment of the College, with exposure to artists in other disciplines, access to 500+ short courses and use of the on-site Art and Conservation Library with thousands of specialist books, journals and databases.

The College's unique setting within the award-winning West Dean Gardens offers new avenues of inspiration for your work; the historic walls, surrealist trees and changing colours of the seasons all have a story to uncover and inspire.

Student perspective

"I was looking into different universities/ colleges in order to do a Masters in Creative Writing and in the end chose West Dean's because I was impressed with the amount of attention and guidance the students got from their tutors, as well as the environment and freedom for creativity. I am also very pleased with the attentiveness of the course and how it has helped me grow as a writer." Nadia Ioannou, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, Second Year. Read more 

"There's something about the sense of place here, notwithstanding all the amazing people and objects within... The history, the variety of things going on, the people you meet, all firing the imagination. It’s thought provoking, a place where as a writer you can’t help but become minutely observational. You’re drawn into the “West Dean Immersive Experience.” Not just creative writing, but part of a broad and very skilled artistic community...Another “big thing” about the Creative Writing & Publishing MA programme, is its focus upon publishing what we write, crafting something people will want to read, will appreciate and enjoy.” Jim Green, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, Second Year.

"I love it. I have almost completed the first draft of a novel which is something I never thought I’d be able to say. The teaching is first class and very supportive." Emma Matovu, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, First Year.

Every Creative Writing tutor at West Dean is a published author and they are all still writing and being published alongside their teaching. Every teaching block we attend, we meet a new award-winning writer-in-residence, and we frequently socialise with them in the dining room bar. [...]If it sounds perfect... it is, but this is my West Dean College experience. Friends ask me what I love about West Dean, and I tell them it’s the academic rigor. I may keep the rest to myself." Eve Kenworthy, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, First Year. Read more in a new student blog post by Eve here.

Story Making anthology

Story Making is the anthology produced by our 2020 MA Creative Writing & Publishing graduates. The publication is a collaborative project featuring work created by students during their studies on the two year programme. The anthology was produced in collaboration with Subject Leader Mark Radcliffe, with the guidance and support of époque press.⠀

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good honours degree in English or a compatible subject and be able to demonstrate a commitment to writing.

Candidates with a relevant portfolio and alternative accredited learning are also invited to apply.

English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.

Contact Hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and supervised practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

On the MA Creative Writing & Publishing you typically have around 17-18 contact hours per study block, typically consisting of:

  • 5-6 hours of lectures
  • 4 hours of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised practicals
  • 30 mins of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • reading journal articles and books
  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

10% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 171 hours
Independent learning: 1629 hours

term dates

Programme structure

Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks.

Read more

Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation   Mid-year review

Authorial Practice 1: Writing a first draft
40 credits

Authorial Practice: Critical analysis
20 credits
Interdisciplinary Practice
20 credits
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

MACW-1 cont.
Authorial Practice 1: Writing a first draft
40 credits

MACW-2 cont.
Authorial Practice 2: Critical analysis
20 credits
MACW-3 cont.
Interdisciplinary Practice
20 credits
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation   Mid-year review

Authorial Practice 3: Editorial and Revision
50 credits

Professional Publishing Practice
50 credits
Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation    

MACW-4 cont.
Authorial Practice 3: Editorial and Revision
50 credits

MACW-5 cont
Professional Publishing Practice
50 credits


Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £1,640 per term (£4,920 per year)

Lunch (typically 2 courses) for part time MA Creative Writing students: £57 per term (£170 per year), accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place. Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.

Postgraduate loans

If you are a UK student and plan to take a postgraduate Master's course you may be able to get a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 to help with course fees and living costs. See

Student scholarships and bursaries

Bursaries are available from £500.

Find out more about funding opportunities


As part of the College's Artist-in-Residence programme, Creative Writing and Publishing students have access to a series of professional writers living and working onsite, amongst students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.

Recent Writers-in-Residence included Rutendo Chabikwa and Anni Domingo, to coincide with their work being published in Myraid Edition’s New Daughters Of Africa, Elizabeth Haynes, William Shaw and Allie Rogers.

Find out more


Do I need an English degree to apply?

Applicants should have a good honours degree in English or a compatible subject and be able to demonstrate a commitment to writing. We can consider applicants who don’t meet academic entry requirements, through our Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) process. In this case applicants would demonstrate their suitability for the course through a portfolio of work showing their creative writing ability and alternative prior learning, gained through experience. 

Can I follow a career in publishing after taking this course?

This course isn’t designed to prepare you for a career in publishing. What we do is offer an overview of the publishing process and what the author might experience from submission to publication.

How many words would you expect to see in the application portfolio?

We’d like to see around 3000 words of writing, containing some form of prose fiction.

What level of time commitment is required?

This is a part time course comprising of 12 three-day study blocks spread over the two years. Typically, each study block takes around 17-18 teaching hours including lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals. When not attending lectures, much of your time is spent immersed in independent learning through self-study.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is a full partner of the University of Sussex


Commendations from the University of Sussex include:

"The demonstrable passion among the course team for the pedagogy of creative writing."

"The emphasis on writing as a craft, comparable to other subject disciplines in the College."

"The introduction of writers into the ‘Artists in Residence’ scheme to support the course and provide external feedback to students."


Mark Radcliffe

Subject Leader

Mark Radcliffe is the author of two novels; Gabriel's Angel (2010) which was longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize, and Stranger Than Kindness (2013). He has a PhD in Creative Writing and Philosophy (University of Sussex) and an MA in Creative Writing (UEA).

Mick Jackson

Associate Tutor

Mick Jackson's first novel, The Underground Man, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Royal Society of Authors' First Novel Award. He has published four novels, two collections of stories and an e-book, all with Faber and Faber.

Lesley Thomson

Associate Tutor - MA Creative Writing and Publishing
Tutor - Certificate in Crime Writing

Lesley Thomson's second novel A Kind of Vanishing was escribed by Ian Rankin as a treasure ‘and Lesley Thomson is a class above.’. The novel won The People's Book Prize in 2010. The Detective's Daughter became Amazon UK's longest running #1 in 2013. Lesley has an MA in English from the University of Sussex.

Domenica De Rosa

Associate Tutor

Domenica de Rosa is the author of sixteen published novels, twelve of them written under the name Elly Griffiths. As Elly Griffiths, she is best known for the highly successful Ruth Galloway crime novels. In 2016, she won the Crime Writer's Association Dagger in Library Award for her body of work.

Laura Wilkinson

Associate Tutor

Laura has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories. Her contemporary fiction is published by Headline Accent. These novels are Crossing the Line, Skin Deep, Redemption Song and The Family LineCrossing the Line was a Welsh Books Council book of the month and her latest, Skin Deep, has been widely praised, including a longlisting for Not the Booker Prize. Over the past nine years, she has also worked as an editor and mentor, coaching writers to competition shortlistings and publication. Laura loves to help writers find their voice and create compelling fiction.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.


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