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Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment


School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - English and Creative Writing

Start Dates(s): September


MA (one year full-time or up to three years part-time)
PgDip (eight months full-time or two years part-time)


Part-time - £1,042 per 30 credit module

UK - £6,252

International - £12,900

In Brief:

  • Learn from internationally published and performed award winning writers
  • Develop a highly-innovative approach to creative writing
  • Work in a vibrant location that nurtures your creative development
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Our course encourages you to develop and work at the edge of new and evolving practices. You will be invited to engage with fundamental issues in the theory of literature, producing original creative writing in prose, poetry, hybrid and experimental forms as you develop your personal practice through  critical reflection.

The course will be of particular interest if you are a writer of prose or poetry, but you will not be required to commit to either form.

You may also be interested in taking individual modules from the course syllabus on a pay-as-you-go basis. This way you could either build up to gaining the full qualification or study for your own enjoyment and/or professional development.

“When I started the course, I thought that 'Innovation and Experiment' implied a particular approach to writing. However, the innovative and experimental elements are largely determined by the student rather than the syllabus, and all manner of styles from straight prose to highly experimental writing are encouraged. I've always enjoyed a good balance of critical theory and creative practice, so I was pleased to discover modules in which we read and discussed a wide range philosophy and theory relating to literature and creative practice - this has informed my writing and helped take it in a new direction.”

Andrew Keegan, 2013-14 student

Course Details

MA Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment offers you the opportunity to develop your writing and to challenge your creative habits. You will be invited to:

  • Engage with fundamental issues in the theory of literature
  • Produce original creative writing in prose, poetry, hybrid and experimental forms
  • Develop an ongoing personal practice through reflection on creative achievement and speculation on future development.


Semester 1

You will explore the role of theory in creative writing – engaging with fundamental issues that have influenced the development of innovative and experimental writing. You will be writing your own original work in a stimulating and supportive workshop environment and reflecting on how your social, political and gender positioning influences your creative production.

A series of lecture and seminars on philosophical contributions to major questions surrounding contemporary writing:

  • What is a literary text?
  • What is the relationship between language and writing?
  • How can one write politically?
  • How does one’s awareness of gender affect writing?

We will be reading the work of Freud, Marx, Derrida and others, examining how a wide variety of contemporary writers have explored these questions in creative practice including Charles Bernstein, Caroline Bergvall, David Eggers, Christine Brooke-Rose and many more.

You will undertake a series of workshops in which you share your own creative projects with fellow students and a writing tutor. Work will be submitted regularly in advance to the group and the tutor, who will make detailed preparation for the workshops including annotated material. This workshop provides a context for an on-going creative exploration of how theoretical ideas can influence and inform creative practice.

Study Theory, Text, Writing as a single module.

If you do not wish to continue onto the Postgraduate Diploma or full Masters qualification you can be awarded the Postgraduate Certificate if leaving the course at this stage.

Semester 2

You will explore the rich legacy of experimental writing from the 1950s onwards, learning about its links to theory and trying out your own experiments. You will be encouraged to push the boundaries of your creative practice in an adventurous way. You will also receive training in how to conduct yourself as a professional writer in the academic and cultural worlds.

A series of workshops and seminars, this module explores the history of new writing technologies over the last 50 years and examines how writers have sought new forms for expression to address rapidly changing realities. Topics covered may include:
  • Technologies of the book
  • Visual, sound and concrete poetry
  • The use of mathematical rules and constraints in writing
  • An introduction to new writing technologies including: hypertext, Photoshop, flash and web or CD/DVD
  • The Novel as hypertext and narrative engineering

Study Experimental Practice as a single module.

This module deals with the public and academic aspects of the literary arts, including topics such as:
  • The public value of the arts
  • Marketing, publishing and networking
  • Writing a research proposal
  • Effective oral presentations

Study Literature in the Academic and Cultural World as a single module.

If you do not wish to continue onto the dissertation project you can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma if leaving the course at this stage.

Semester 3

As the culmination of this course of study, you will undertake an ambitious, large-scale independent creative project which will allow you to pursue the creative questions which fascinate you in more detail.

The Creative Project gives you regular one-to-one tutorial support as your pursue your creative vision. You will be encouraged to draw on your knowledge of theory, experimentation and your own developing practice. Reading material will be negotiated on an individual basis depending on your chosen area.


Year 1, Semester 2 (one core module)

  • Experimental Practice (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 1 (one core module)

  • Writing Workshop (30 Credits)

Year 2, Semester 2 (one core module)

  • Literature in the Academic and Cultural World (30 credits)

Year 3, Semesters 1 and 2 (one core module)

  • Dissertation: Creative Project (60 Credits)

Entry Requirements

Applicants to this course must have a good honours degree in an appropriate subject.

You may be asked to attend an interview for a place on this course. You should bring an appropriate portfolio of work, clearly demonstrating an established creative practice. A portfolio should contain work that shows a good range of skills, some originality and knowledge of literature.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International students must provide evidence of proficiency in English- IELTS 6.5 band score (with no element below 5.5) as proof of this.

Suitable For

The course is for humanities graduates and/or experienced creative writers who are looking to challenge their conceptions of literature and develop their own practice in new ways. The course will also function as an introduction to further creative study at PhD level.

You will be encouraged to be open to new ways of thinking and to be flexible about experimenting in your creative work. At the same time you will also have considerable freedom to identify and develop your own writing projects.

You will also be invited to reflect on your creative achievements in order to understand your practice more fully, to present it to others (e.g. writers, audiences, publishers, agents) and to identify areas for future exploration.

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,042 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£12,900

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section


Your own creative activity is the main driver for learning on this course. It is supported by regular workshops, lectures and seminars, personal tutorials, masterclasses with visiting writers and other activities such as event attendance.

Students on the full-time and part-time routes will study together and have additional opportunities to share and discuss work via the university’s virtual learning environment.


You will be assessed through:

  • Written assignments (creative, critical and reflective) (66%)
  • Final creative project(34%)

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Dr Ursula Hurley - Course Leader: MA Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment

I work in experimental prose, playing with the relationship between fiction, biography and autobiography. I write critically and creatively in this area. Recent achievements for my creative work include: Shortlisted for the MMU Novella Award, 2014; First Prize in the Unbound Press Creative Non-Fiction Competition; short-listed for the Kingston University Press Short Biography Prize; commended in the Leaf Books short memoir prize; long-listed for the Fish International Memoir Prize. My current project is a literary biography of Renaissance playwright, Elizabeth Cary, which was shortlisted for the Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Prize for an uncommissioned biography. I also have a strong interest in teaching and learning in relation to creative writing. I contribute to collections on writing pedagogy, most notably Beyond the Workshop (Ed. Paul Perry, Kingston University Press, 2012); How to Write Fiction (and think about it) (Ed. Robert Graham, Palgrave 2007); and Everything You Need to Know About Creative Writing (but knowing isn't everything) (Ed. Heather Leach and Robert Graham, Continuum 2007). Find more detail on my work here:


The aim of this course is to encourage you to challenge and develop yourself creatively as a writer whilst informing you about the contexts and techniques of contemporary literature. Graduates may use it as part of their career development in teaching, publishing or journalism or as a means of access to doctoral study.

Career Prospects

Previous graduates have gone onto further study and training and participated in literary culture through organizing literary competitions and publishing creative work in magazines. Two of the 2010-11 cohort are beginning PhDs in Creative Writing in 2011 (at the University of Northumbria and the University of Salford) and one is undertaking an internship at a local small press poetry publisher (The Knives Forks and Spoons Press).

Alumni Profile

Mignotte Mekuria (graduate of the 2010-11 cohort)

‘I knew that I would enjoy the MA Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment because I was following my heart in studying it. It far exceeded my expectations. It is not merely a place to learn how to write, rather it is an introduction into literature itself. Studying literary theory, sharing and critiquing work in writing workshops and engaging with experimental techniques combined to strengthen my work as a writer and deepen my appreciation of literature as a reader. During the course I also got to meet other writers, attend fascinating seminars and for the first time, became aware of Manchester as a city with a thriving literary scene. The University of Salford is a wonderful and engaging place to study; students and staff are friendly and helpful and the facilities, from training sessions to careers guidance, are all easy to access. I loved the university so much I have stayed on to do my PhD. I encourage anyone with a passion for writing to look into the course, it does not disappoint.’

Links with Industry

The course benefits from a regular programme of visiting writers to the English Subject Group through the ‘Vital Signs’ and ‘Drama Workshops’ series. In addition, at least two workshops per academic year are convened by key figures in innovative writing. Past visitors have included: Robert Sheppard, Phil Davenport, Allen Fisher, Camille Martin, Carrie Etter, Philip Kuhn and Tony Trehy. These events create opportunities for local, national and international networking.

Other local links include the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, which hosts an annual showcase of our students’ work; Bury Art Gallery’s Text Festival (curated by Tony Trehy); Community Interest Group arthur+martha (directed by Phil Davenport and Lois Blackburn), The Knives Forks and Spoons Press (Alec Newman) and The Other Room poetry series (co-run by James Davies, Tom Jenks and Scott Thurston). These links benefit students through creating opportunities to engage with the latest contemporary practices, to network with established writers, to perform and publish their work and to learn about teaching and publishing creative writing.

Further Study

Postgraduate research in Creative Writing is co-ordinated by the Creative Writing, Performance and Innovation cluster, headed by Dr Scott Thurston. The Cluster’s key strength is in the practice and study of innovative writing, and its research interests include experimental and literary fiction, young adult fiction, innovative poetry, visual text, scriptwriting, devising and directing for stage, performance, adaptation, autobiography and translation. Find out more

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