MA Creative Writing (Non-Fiction)
- Full Time
- Degree of Master of Arts
- Course Length
- 1 year
- Course Start Date
- September 2023
Literary non-fiction is changing in exciting ways and this is your chance to be a part of it.
Our best modern writers have been experimenting with new forms and subjects. Nature-writing, the personal essay, biography, food journalism, art criticism and memoir are all part of the intellectually stimulating emerging mix.
So if you want to develop your own non-fiction writing in any of these genres or one of your own, this MA programme is for you. You’ll study on one of the only dedicated non-fiction MA courses in the UK at the country’s leading university for the teaching of creative writing. This enables you to graduate with the best grounding possible for a successful and fulfilling literary career.
This is one of very few courses in the UK that gives you the opportunity to concentrate exclusively on writing non-fiction. Our students come from extremely varied backgrounds, and in the past have included barristers, a zoologist, actors, doctors, teachers, a master of wine and an asparagus farmer!
The age range is diverse, too: from people in their early twenties to those in their sixties and seventies. Students come from all parts of the globe, but all are united in their desire and commitment to writing non-fiction. The diversity of students and the range of their interests is one of the great strengths of the course, as is its collegiate atmosphere: you’ll learn as much critiquing your peers’ writing as you will writing your own pieces.
Some people come with a project in mind, others have no specific idea about what they want to write. Either approach is fine – the course gives you the opportunity to develop an existing project and to experiment with different subjects and voices. Your time at UEA offers you a unique opportunity to focus on your writing in a stimulating and supportive environment.
We encourage you to take advantage of UEA’s vibrant literary culture. Each year a dozen or so leading novelists, poets and non-fiction writers take part in our autumn and spring literary festival, UEA Live. You will also have the opportunity to meet some of the UK’s leading agents and publishers.
We publish an anthology of our students’ writing each year and distribute it to a key list of editors, agents and critics.
Study and Modules
At the heart of this Master’s programme are three compulsory modules: Writing Lives, The Life of the Book, and Writing the First Person. These will allow you to explore the form and function of all types of non-fiction, via discussion of a range of influential examples both old and new. As well as examining the many forms that non-fiction may take, you will address practical matters such as how to write a proposal, conduct research and take a project through towards publication. Workshopping is a central element in all the compulsory modules. In Writing Lives and Writing the First Person, each week selected students will workshop up to 3,000 words of a work in progress. In The Life of the Book, everybody workshops 500 words each week.
In addition to the three compulsory modules, you’ll take a fourth module, which you can choose from the wide range available within the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing. The optional module gives you the chance to meet students from other MA strands, such as Prose Fiction and Poetry.
In the summer semester (May–June), you’ll have one-to-one sessions with a tutor as you work on your dissertation – a 15,000-word piece of non-fiction.
If you elect to take the course part-time over two years, you’ll take one module per semester rather than two, and you will receive supervision for your dissertation towards the end of your second year.
You’ll have opportunities to discover the extensive collections held by the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA. We also invite leading non-fiction writers to give seminars on aspects of their craft. Recent guests include George Szirtes, Rachel Lichenstein, Olivia Laing and Philip Hoare. These are supplemented by one-to-one tutorials with your module leader. In most years students also choose to set up informal reading and writing groups among themselves.
Optional A Modules(Credits: 20)
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. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, the University will endeavour to consult with 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. 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 inform students.
Teaching and Learning
Practising and prize-winning non-fiction writers regularly teach on the MA. Teaching takes place in three-hour seminars, part of which are given over to workshopping students’ work. The rest of the seminar is spent discussing set texts that you will have read in advance. Some of these will be entire books, others will be extracts. The set texts are chosen to illustrate a particular literary technique, or because they raise pertinent questions about a specific aspect of non-fiction writing, such as ethics, ‘truth’ or voice. This reading, together with scrutiny of your fellow students’ work, is designed to make you more critically aware as a reader and, just as importantly, as a writer, too.
During the teaching period, you’ll be writing your own pieces to present for workshopping. You may be conducting independent research relating to your chosen project throughout the year, particularly during the summer when you will be working on your 15,000-word dissertation. Each year, students produce a dossier in advance of the visits by agents and publishers in which they provide brief biographical information and talk about the projects they are working on. You will also write a 2,000-word submission for the anthology of student writing, which is published in the autumn.
Your compulsory modules are each assessed by a 5,000-word assignment. The topic is entirely your choice, and you will have ample opportunity to workshop possible assignment subjects and to discuss them with individual tutors.
The subject of your 15,000-word dissertation is also entirely your choice. You’ll work with your supervisor over the early summer and submit it at the beginning of September.
- Degree Classification
- Bachelors degree - 2.1 or equivalent
- Degree Subject
- Literary or related subject
- English 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): 76 (minimum 64 in each section and 76 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 email@example.com
Promising candidates will be invited for an online 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.
This course is open to UK, EU and International applicants. The annual intake for this course is in September each year.
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.
Additional Information or Requirements
Candidates are required to submit a sample of biographical writing or creative non-fiction of around 3000 words with their application.
Fees and Funding
Tuition fees for the Academic Year 2023/24 are:
UK Students: £9,500 (full time)
International Students: £19,800 (full time)
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 Home students).
We estimate living expenses at £1,023 per month.
Further Information on tuition fees can be found here.
Scholarships and Bursaries
The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.
Course Related Costs
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.
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.
After the Course
Our students’ publication record is impressive; many have gone on to have work published, some with large publishing houses including Random House and Bloomsbury, others with smaller presses.
There is a strong alumni network. Often students stay in touch after graduation and continue to read and comment on each other’s work. A significant number go on to take a PhD as they value the supportive atmosphere UEA offers its creative writers.
A degree at UEA will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. We've been ranked 1st for Job Prospects by StudentCrowd in 2022.
Examples of careers you could enter include:
- Non-fiction author
- Art critic