Fostering creative writing innovation since the 1960s Fostering creative writing innovation since the 1960s


Course Convenors:Professor Sir Malcolm Bradbury

Prof Andrew Cowan: Director of Creative Writing (Academic)

Prof Tiffany Atkinson: Director of Creative Writing (Partnerships)

Dr Jacob Huntley: English Literature with Creative Writing BA

Dr Philip Langeskov: Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) MA

Dr Naomi Wood: Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) MA

Mr Henry Sutton: Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) MA

Prof Tiffany Atkinson: Creative Writing (Poetry) MA

Mr Steve Waters: Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) MA

Dr Helen Smith: Biography and Creative Non-Fiction MA

Prof Andrew Cowan: Creative Writing MFA

Ms Jean McNeil: Creative and Critical Writing PhD

UEA was founded in the 1960s and since its inception the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing has paid particular attention to contemporary literature. Its staff include a number of well-known authors and critics. Many internationally renowned writers have lectured here, and several hundred have been interviewed for the year-round Literary Festival, including Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Doris Lessing, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie and Muriel Spark, to name but some. Many others have held Writing or Teaching Fellowships, including Richard Beard, Bernadine Evaristo, Helon Habila, Frances Leviston, David Lodge, Adam Mars Jones and Paul Muldoon. 

In 2012 the city of Norwich, where UEA has its home, was designated England's first UNESCO City of Literature. In celebration of this event the School established a Visiting Chair in Creative Writing. The inaugural professors were the playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker and the novelist Ali Smith. These have been followed by James Lasdun, Margaret Atwood, Bill Manhire, Tim Parks and Ian Rankin, each of whom has contributed tutorials, masterclasses and lectures to the Creative Writing programme and participated in public reading events.

The Creative Writing MA, the first of its kind in the UK, was founded in 1970 by the novelist-critics Angus Wilson and Malcolm Bradbury (pictured) in the belief that there were a good number of writers of originality and potential who would welcome the chance to develop their work in a university that emphasized the importance of contemporary writing. Ian McEwan was their inaugural student, and until 1995, when Andrew Motion was appointed Professor of Creative Writing, the MA concentrated on Prose Fiction, reflecting the interests of those who taught it. Since 1996 we have also offered a Poetry MA, which is based on a similar workshop structure to the Prose Fiction MA. In 1998 a Scriptwriting stream was introduced, and in 2000 an MA in Life Writing - now known as the MA in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction - was inaugurated by Lorna Sage and Janet Todd. An MFA in Creative Writing was introduced in 2015, along with a groundbreaking low-residency MA in Crime Fiction.

Besides Wilson and Bradbury and the current teaching staff, many significant writers have taught on these courses, including Angela Carter, Patricia Duncker, Richard Holmes, Michèle Roberts, W.G. Sebald and Rose Tremain.

In 1990 the Jordanian/British writer Fadia Faqir became the UK's first PhD in Creative and Critical Writing, since which time a thriving research programme has grown up in the School. Each of our Creative Writing faculty is engaged in supervising PhD students, and while the relationship between the creative and critical components of each project varies, the emphasis is on ensuring that practice and critical understanding develop in tandem. Most of our research students will be given the opportunity to teach at undergraduate level, and many will go on to publish and work in the field.

Undergraduate Creative Writing at UEA began informally in the 1960s and continued until the English Literature with Creative Writing BA was introduced in 1995. In common with all our courses, the BA stresses the importance of the relationship between the creative and the critical. The Creative Writing component of the degree typically comprises a third of the course, which is taught in seminar-workshops under the guidance of practising writers. Creative Writing modules are offered in each year of the BA, some compulsory and some optional. One of the first year modules includes one-to-one collaborative work with students on the Illustration BA at Norwich University of the Arts. The modules taken in third year are modelled on our MA, and for a number of our most accomplished students the BA will act as a bridge into the MA.

Each of UEA's Creative Writing courses offers an opportunity to explore and develop your literary ambitions in relation to the wider social and literary context, to work under the pressure of deadlines, and to share the experience of writing in the company of other committed writers at all stages of their development. Many graduates of our courses have found employment in the creative industries, working in publishing, journalism, public relations, business communications, information technology, market research, community work, literary agenting, librarianship, teaching, and various forms of creative entrepreneurship. An unrivalled number of our alumni have also achieved literary success, and we maintain excellent contacts with agents, publishers, and the professional theatre and film world in order to facilitate this.

A look at the roll-call of our alumni will suggest something of the spirit and direction of Creative Writing at UEA, as well as its diversity. 1980 alumnus Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.  Ishiguro and two other graduates of the MA - Ian McEwan and Anne Enright - have won the Booker Prize for Fiction, while UEA alumni have been shortlisted on fifteen other occasions. Graduates of the programme have also won or been shortlisted for every other major literary award in the UK, including The Orange Prize, The Costa Award, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, The Forward Prize, The T.S. Eliot Award, The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Guardian First Book Award, The Walter Scott Prize, The James Tait Black Memorial Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize, The Betty Trask Award, The Encore Award, The Somerset Maugham Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, The Saltire Award, The Authors' Club Award, The Eric Gregory Award, The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, and the BBC National Short Story Award. 

Among some recent successes, Mona Arshi, who graduated from the Poetry MA in 2012, was the winner of the 2015 Forward / Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, which was won by current PhD student Emily Berry in 2013 and by PhD graduate Sam Riviere in 2012. Emma Healey, who graduated from the Prose Fiction MA in 2011, was the winner of the 2015 Costa First Novel Award, which was previously won by UEA graduate Christie Watson (Prose MA 2008) in 2011. Thomas Morris, who graduated from the Prose Fiction MA in 2013, was the winner of the 2016 Wales Book of the Year Award, which was won by UEA graduate Owen Sheers (Poetry MA 1998) the previous year. Naomi Alderman (Prose MA 2003) was the winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, for which Ayobami Adebayo (Prose MA 2014) was also shortlisted. 

In 2011 UEA's Creative Writing programme was itself awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, the UK's most prestigious higher education award, in recognition of its continuing excellence in delivering innovative courses at a world-class level.