Thursday, June 22, 2017

Selection process for MA Creative Writing @ Edinburgh Napier University, 2017-18

Unique is a great way to describe the postgraduate creative writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. For a start, we put genre fiction front and centre in our course. If you love science fiction, fantasy, crime or horror, most MFAs and MAs don't want to know - but we embrace great genre writing and people who want to write it.

Another unique focus at Edinburgh Napier is comics and graphic novels, which most other programmes ignore. In fact, we love this medium so much we devote an entire module about it, Writing Graphic Fiction. [Good news: no talent for drawing required!] We also specialise in Young Adult fiction, with acclaimed YA author Laura Lam leading a new module on this.

Edinburgh Napier's creative writing MA does not offer a poetry option. I repeat, poetry is not a requirement. There are plenty of other great courses with brilliant poets on the faculty - if you want to study poetry, seek them out. We have had prize-winning poets as students on our programme, but we don't teach or critique poetry.

There are also no peer review workshops in Creative Writing MA classes at Edinburgh Napier. I repeat, no peer review workshops. This boggles the mind of some people, as such workshops are the dominant teaching method for creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have them in our classes. Not one!

Instead, we set frequent writing assignments and expect you to bring the results to class. You're encouraged to critically self-reflect on your work [with prompts from us], and to share that thinking. You get professional editorial feedback on your writing and your self-reflection skills, delivered masterclass-style in class. And you get six hours of one-to-one mentoring.

If that sounds enticing, here's how you apply for our course. Like so much of our programme, the admissions process we use to select students also seems to be unique...


First, you fill in and submit an application form [there are links to an online version top right of this page]. We welcome applicants who already have a degree - it doesn't have to be in English, English literature or some form of creative writing]. We also recognise prior learning and writing experience in those who don't have a degree yet.

The crucial section of your form is the personal statement. This is where you tell us about your aspirations as a writer, and why our programme can help. Here's a hint: don't just paste in your usual personal statement. We always look to see if applicants have done their research on the course and have enthusiasm for our specialisms.

Do your homework. Google us to read interviews we've given about our approach to  creative writing. Read the other entries on this blog. If you want your application taken seriously, show us you've taken our course seriously. Plus: that statement is a first chance to showcase your ability to write. Blow our socks off!

All being well, we'll progress you to the next stage of our admissions process. We don't ask for a writing sample with your application. Instead - if we like your application form - we'll invite you to undertake a writing challenge. We ask you to write us an original short story of up to 1000 words, and you'll have two weeks to submit.

To make this a challenge, we give you a choice of first sentences. You select one and use that as the opening for your story. We also let you decide when we send the brief, so you choose the two weeks that best suit you. We even include the criteria we'll be using to assess your submission, so the process is more transparent.

Once you've sent in your story, we read and assess it. Some applicants get turned away at this stage [we take roughly one out of every five people who apply]. If your story shows promise, we will invite you to a selection interview - face to face or via Skype if you live a long way from Edinburgh.

The interview is the last stage. It can last up to an hour. During that time we use one or two teaching and learning activities from our course to assess you as an applicants. This  gives you insight into our programme and how we teach it. Rest assured, your interview should be an enjoyable experience, and not an interrogation!

We let you know within a day if we're offering you a place - no waiting for months to find out [and no fee to apply to the course, either!]. We use a rolling admissions process: once we're full, we're full. Our course takes a maximum of 16 full-time students a year, and up to four part-timers who are with us for two years.

If you still have any questions, get in touch before you apply. Email lecturer David Bishop here: d.bishop@napier.ac.uk . The sooner you apply, the better your chances...