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Creative Writing – Online Learning Programme 2021-2023


The online version of the Creative Writing Programme (CWP) has been developed to allow writers who live abroad or who cannot travel to our programme centres to benefit from this prestigious university level writing programme. It has been carefully designed to develop your understanding of the craft of writing, to provide you with the support and structure you need to push your skills to another level and to complete a planned writing project. Whether it is a novel, a novella or collection of short stories, your course tutors will teach you the writing techniques you need to complete your work, offer you focused written feedback and help you set realistic deadlines.

It’s not just what you learn on the programme that will aid your development as a writer; you will be supported and inspired by your fellow writers and will build a network of friends and readers that will sustain your writing in the future.

In your first year you will reflect on the sources and themes of your own writing: develop a greater understanding of your own creativity and the creative process; learn how to create dynamic fictional characters; discover ways of enhancing the dramatic impact of your fiction and explore the different ways in which stories can be told. In the second year the focus will shift from short scenes to longer narratives: you will develop your understanding of plot, story structure and the ‘world of the story’; explore the complex relationship between characters, narrators and readers; discover the importance of theme, conflict and dramatic tension and gain further insights into language, technique and style.

Throughout the course you will continue to explore all aspects of characterisation, deepening your understanding of the function and role of character as you move from short character sketches to multi-character scenes to the complex interaction and character development of longer narratives. You will be shown ways to enhance your own creativity, hone your critical and editing skills and develop your eye for a good story. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group.

By the end the programme you will have significantly increased your understanding of how to write good fiction, have developed a substantial body of work and have either finished your writing project or be in a position to bring it to completion.

What this programme will do for you

This programme will develop your confidence and ability as a writer. Through online discussion and experimentation, in practical work guided by your tutor, you will learn how to improve the quality of your writing; develop your creative and critical skills; organise and manage your work and develop a strong individual style.

It is an ideal programme for writers who want to write a novel, a collection of short stories or an experimental piece of imaginative prose and are looking for structure, encouragement and feedback to help them achieve this.

What is required of me?

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

You will need to commit to a minimum of twelve hours per week for the duration of each course. This includes online seminar time, writing time and reading time. You will need a computer/laptop with a built in camera, good internet access and be able to be online regularly once a week. You will also need to complete writing tasks by the deadlines set so you can share and discuss your work with other writers. All students on the distance learning courses are responsible for ensuring that their own computers and Internet connections are working and properly maintained.

For writers joining the programme from outside the UK a good grasp of the English language is essential as all the discussions and writing on the course will be in English.

How will my learning be structured?

Once you have enrolled you will be taken to your course page on our website where you will have access to course outlines, supporting seminar notes, writing exercises and a Writers’ Forum where you can chat with other writers in your group. When the course starts, to join your online class, you simply click on the link on your course page and the online classroom will open up. On your screen you will see your tutor and the other writers in the online classroom. Each weekly writing seminar runs for two and a half hours. Seminars will include a mix of practical writing exercises, discussion of work written in the seminar and discussion of published texts, group work, tutor led feedback and taught sessions. Over the course of the two-year programme you will work closely with two of our tutors. On each course you will be offered one-to-one tutorials and an opportunity to take additional seminars with visiting writers on the Creative Writing Programme Weekend Schools.

There is a small fee for Weekend Schools (£30) and for Publishing Day (£50). These additional day schools can be published after you have enrolled on the programme.

Programme Structure

Autumn term 2021. Course 1 – Approaches to Writing

10 weeks of study, online discussions and creative writing exercises.

Through small group online discussions, practical exercises and tutor feedback, you will explore the fundamental principles of storytelling and discover ways of enhancing the dramatic, sensual and visual impact of your writing; explore your own creativity and the ways in which you can realise the dramatic potential of your ideas; understand the importance of writing for your reader and learn the fundamentals of good characterisation. There are reading, researching and writing exercises each week. At the end of the term, you will produce a portfolio of short pieces of creative writing for creative and critical comment from your tutor.

Spring and summer terms 2022. Course 2 – Tactics for Writing

15 weeks of study, online discussions and creative writing exercises.

In this course you will experiment with different narrative modes, tenses and viewpoints and explore the subtle nuances of perspective that can be achieved through their careful and consistent application. You will explore the techniques and structures used in prose fiction and gain a greater insight into the way scenes are structured and the different ways in which characters and readers can be positioned in relation to the action of a story. At the end of the course you will share and discuss your work with other writers in your group. At the end of the course you will submit work for constructive appraisal, discuss your progress and plan your writing project for the second year with your tutor.

Autumn term 2022. Course 3 – Story Structure

10 weeks of study, online discussions and creative writing exercises.

In this course you will explore a number of ‘classic’ plots and different approaches to narrative structure and consider the ways they can be utilised within different genres. You will consider the key turning points in the structure of a story; the importance of beginnings, middles and endings and transitional scenes in narrative; further ways of generating tension and conflict to create narrative drive and hold your reader’s attention; ways of focusing and connecting your writing to increase coherence and resonance and ways of managing the writing process so the narrative arc you create fully realises the story’s potential. You will also continue to make progress on your writing project and will share your work with other writers in your group. At the end of this term, you will submit further work to your tutor for a written critical appraisal.

Spring and summer 2023. Course 4 – Writing Workshops

15 weeks of study, online discussions and creative writing exercises.

This final course is designed to offer you further insights into writing technique especially in the drafting and re-drafting of texts. It will focus on the structural editing of key scenes as well as developing your editing skills and appreciation of sentence and paragraph construction. In the second part of the course: the online writing workshops, you will focus your attention on critical appraisal of the writing process, both on the level of prose and the level of story. In this final part of the course, guided by your tutor, you will discuss finished short stories and novel chapters written by you and other writers in your group. You will submit a final piece of work to your tutor for written critical feedback and on Publishing Day at the end of the course you will be able to seek advice on getting your work published and if you have a finished manuscript, you will be able to sign up for a script consultation with a visiting publishing professional.

Key Facts

Programme length

Two years

Term Dates

Autumn: 4th October – 17th December (Reading Week 25th – 29th October)

Spring: 10th January – 25th March (Reading Week 14th – 18th February)

Summer: 25th April – 27th May

(Dates for 2022-2023 will be given in the summer term of 2022)

Seminar times: Wednesdays 10am – 12.30pm (UK time).

Entry requirements

No formal qualifications required.

Programme tutors

Dr Mark Slater (programme director), Rosie Chard, Dr Beth Miller, Jacq Molloy, Dr Hannah Vincent


£850 per annum. Fees for the year can be paid in full before the start of term or in two instalments at the beginning of each course.

Autumn Term, Approaches to Writing (10 weeks) £340

Spring/Summer Term, Tactics for Writing (15 weeks) £510

International Students, please note fees must be paid in GB Pounds.

For further information on this course or our other programmes contact

Mark Slater