Monday, November 4, 2019

We are now OPEN for Sept 2020 applications! Plus: how we select you, what makes us unique

The Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland is now OPEN for applications to join our September 2020 cohort. Full details about our selection process can be found further down this blogpost, but we have already started looking at applications for our next student cohort.
We have a rolling selection process. If you successfully complete all three stages, we will offer you a place within 24 hours of being interviewed by us. That means we usually start wait-listing people from May each year. So if you're thinking of applying, sooner is better.

That's especially true for part-time applicants. We only take four or five new part-time students each year, and we've already got two people with deferred part-time offers for September 2020. So if you're thinking of applying as a part-time student, do not delay!

What makes our creative writing MA so popular? For a start, we put genre fiction front and centre in our course. If you love science fiction, fantasy, crime or horror, many creative writing 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 graphic novels and comics, which most programmes ignore. 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 great module on this.

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

There are 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 style for creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have them in our classes. 

Instead, you are 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 copy and paste in your usual personal statement. We look to see if applicants have done their research on the course and have enthusiasm for our specialisms.

Do your homework and research our programme. Read the other entries on this blog. If you want your application taken seriously, show us you've taken our course seriously. Remember, your personal statement is also a chance to showcase your ability as a writer. So blow our socks off!

All being well, we'll progress you to the next stage of our selection process. We don't expect a writing sample with your application. Instead we'll invite you to undertake a writing challenge. We ask you to write us an original short story of up to 500 words, and you'll have a week to submit. This matches the writing challenges students face many weeks on our MA.

We give you a choice of first sentences. You select one and use that as the opening for your story. We let you decide when to receive the brief, so you can choose a week to suit you. And we include the criteria used to assess your story, so the process is 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. But if your story shows promise, we will invite you to an interview - face to face or via Skype.

The interview lasts about an hour. During that time we use a teaching and learning activity from our course to assess you. This also gives you insight into our programme and how we teach. 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, 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  or five part-timers who are with us for two years.

If you still have any questions, get in touch before you apply. Email programme leader David Bishop here: The sooner you apply, the better your chances...

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