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The Life Writing Programme (In-person) 2024-2026

(Two years. One evening per week for 25 weeks per year)



The Life Writing Programme has been carefully designed to develop your understanding of the craft of turning personal or researched experience into narrative. It has a particular emphasis on the different forms of creative non-fiction: life writing, autobiography, biography, historically-researched fiction, travel writing, diaries, journals, comic writing and blogs and teaches writing techniques that can be used in both non-fiction and creative fiction.


In your first year you will reflect on the sources and themes of your own writing

  • develop a deeper understanding of your own creativity and enhance your story-telling ability
  • learn the writing techniques that will bring the world of your imagination to life on the page
  • explore the relationship between memory and imagination in non-fiction narratives

In the second year the focus will shift from shorter scenes to longer narratives. You will:

  • learn how to create compelling characters and a strong, distinctive narratorial voice
  • discover ways of enhancing the dramatic impact of your writing and explore the different ways in which life stories can be told
  • gain further insights into language and technique and examine the related concepts of authenticity and integrity in life writing

Throughout the course you will continue to explore aspects of character and setting, learning to negotiate memory and constructs of time in relation to life writing.

You will hone your critical and editing skills and develop your eye for good life writing. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group.

At the end of the two-year programme you will be invited to attend Publishing Day where you will have an opportunity to discuss your work with a publishing professional

What this creative writing course will do for you

This programme will help you:

  • develop your confidence and ability as a writer.
  • organise and manage your work
  • evolve a strong individual style.

It is an ideal programme for writers who want to write a memoir, biography or autobiography, travel journal or other challenging piece of prose and are looking for structure, encouragement and feedback to help them achieve this.

All you will need to bring to the programme is your imagination, a love of reading, a passion to write and the determination to succeed.

What is required of me?

Over the two years you will need to organise a minimum of twelve hours per week for classes and reading/ writing time.

You will need to have access to a computer with email and an internet connection as the programme uses an online learning platform to allow students to keep in touch outside of the taught sessions.

How our life writing course works

The programme follows a structure of four life writing courses over two years. Weekly seminars of two and a half hours include a mix of practical writing exercises, discussions, group work, tutor-led feedback and taught sessions.

You will work closely with our experienced tutor, who will meet you for one-to-one tutorials. There are also options to take masterclasses with visiting tutors in the Easter and summer holidays – two masterclasses a year and included with your course fee.

At the end of the course is Publishing Day, an opportunity to find out about the publishing process and meet publishing professionals. That is also included in your course fee.  The in-person seminars are taught at Kemptown Bookshop, Brighton, a cosy space which has its own cafe.

Once you have enrolled you will be taken to your course page on our website. When your course starts your tutor will add course outlines, supporting seminar notes, writing exercises and a Writers’ Forum where you can chat with other writers in your group.

Click here for further information on the structure and content of individual courses


Key Facts

Programme Length

Two years. Maximum group size 12


Kemptown Bookshop, 91 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EE

Term Dates

Autumn: 30th September – 13th  December (Reading Week 28th – 1st November)

Spring: 6th January – 28th March (Reading Week 17th – 21st February)

Summer: 28th April – 23rd May

Easter Holiday Masterclasses: 4th, 5th and 6th April (in-person). 12th and 13th April (online)

Summer Holiday Masterclasses: 13th, 14th and 15th June (in-person). 28th and 29th June (online)



Mondays 6.30-9pm

Entry requirements

No formal qualifications required

Programme team

Cathy Hayward (programme director) and Katy Massey (tutor)

Fee £1,249.17+VAT (total £1,499) per year

The fees include:

  • Two-year programme. 25 weeks of taught classes per year. Pitched at graduate degree level
  • Four one-to-one sessions with an experienced tutor over the two years
  • Two one-day weekend masterclasses a year (with option to purchase additional ones)
  • Publishing Day and meeting with an agent at the end of the course
  • Five student and alumni readings/ social events across the year (small fee applies for refreshments for the in-person events)

A 10% deposit (£149.99) is paid at the start of the first year by way of deposit for the second year. This is then taken off the second year’s fees.

Students can also pay in instalments: £949.49 (half the course fees plus the second year deposit plus £50 admin fee) at the start of the autumn term and then £749.50 at the start of the spring term.

The second year course fees will then be £1,350 including VAT.

To enrol: choose one of the payment links at the bottom of this page and click on it
Taster days:

We run two taster sessions for our life writing course in July and September. These two-hour workshops give you a flavour of how our course works, allow you to explore your creativity and enable you to meet fellow writers and our programme director and tutor. Learn more and book your place.

Please ensure you have read our Terms and Conditions. For further information on this course or our other programmes contact

Cathy Hayward