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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 - £1,260 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,560

International - £13,860

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

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 and will have the opportunity to work in other forms if you wish.

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.

"I found the theory elements of the course particularly useful because they challenged me to think critically about my creativity. It helped me look at my writing not just as an artist but as an academic, and engagement with theoretical material gave me a better understanding of my own ideas. These improvements were especially apparent in the Theory, Text, & Writing module, where our assessment allowed us to respond to theory through a piece of creative work— in prose, poetry, script, etc. 

The scope of creative form was vast, making me feel the academic underpinning wasn’t limiting my ability to be creative. What’s more, I was introduced to thinkers whose work helped me to flesh out my own ideas. By the end of the course, I found that my creative work was underpinning theory effortlessly, not because it needed to in order to fulfil an academic “requirement,” but because literary theory actually enhanced the quality of my work. So I can say that the creative engagement with theory on this course improves you not just as an academic, but as a writer. I don’t think I could go back to writing whatever came out of my brain without wanting to understand what the literary canon has to say about it. 

I’ve learned that to improve as a writer, I have to engage in the literary community, and the theoretical side of that journey is so necessary. Luckily, the staff at Salford recognise that and have shaped the course accordingly!”

Christina Sims, MA graduate 2016-2017, now working as a Salford University Wordscope tutor

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.


Trimester 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 engage with the rich legacy of experimental writing from the 1950s onwards, learning about its links to theory. You will      be      encouraged to try out your own experiments and to push the boundaries of your creative practice in an adventurous way.        

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.                


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.                

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.

Trimester 2        

You will be writing your own original work in a stimulating and supportive workshop environment, continuing to draw on fundamental issues relating to innovative creative writing, and reflecting on how your social, political and gender positioning influences your creative production. You will continue      to      develop and extend the boundaries of your creative practice and will also receive training in how to conduct yourself as a professional writer in the academic and cultural worlds.        

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.


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.                

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.

Trimester 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, Trimester 1

  • Theory, Text, Writing (30 credits)

Year 1, Trimester 2         

  • Writing Workshop (30 Credits)

Year 2, Trimester 1         

  • Experimental Practice (30 credits)         

Year 2, Trimester 2         

  • Literary Research Practice (30 credits)            

Year 3, Trimesters 1 and 2      

  • 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 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,260 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£13,860

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

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 - Senior lecturer and module leader on MA Creative Writing: Innovation & Experiment

“I work in experimental and innovative auto/biographical practices, ranging from historical narratives to digitally fabricated artefacts. My most recent work in this area is an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project, ‘In the Making’, exploring embodiment, disability and 3D printing: Initial findings appear in an essay for the international journal, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. Beyond this, I am writing a book on the uncanny qualities of digital fabrication, entitled Making Strange, and students will be invited to engage with my research on this during the Theory, Text, Writing module on the MA. In addition, I publish widely on auto-biographical practice and the pedagogy of writing with presses including Palgrave Macmillan.

Recent achievements for my creative work include:  First Prize in the Unbound Press Creative Non-Fiction Competition; short-listed for the Kingston University Press Short Biography Prize; and shortlisted for the Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Prize for an uncommissioned biography.


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. Recent successes include: Nia Davies’ first full-length poetry collection with high-profile publisher Bloodaxe Books; Nigel Wood and Joanne Langton co-editing The Dark Would anthology of Language Art with Phil Davenport; Nigel Wood editing a collection of writings on the work of poet Alan Halsey; Leanne Bridgewater’s work as a librarian in Coventry and publication of her first full-length collection with The Knives Forks and Spoons Press; Richard Barrett as widely-published poet and editor of Department Press; Stephen Emmerson as a well-published poet with work from the if p then q press and co-editor of the magazine and small press BLART books; Jazmine Linklater’s first collection for Dock Road Press; Joanne Langton’s work as editor with The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, and current post teaching English in Mexico (she also published her first collection with KFS). All of these writers have performed at The Other Room.  

In addition, several international graduates have returned to their home countries to begin or further their teaching careers in further or higher education and one has gone on to work in the Chinese film industry.

Alumni Profile

Cherie Battista, 2014 MA CWI&E graduate and current Salford University PhD student

"My decision to enrol on the MA in Creative Writing: Innovation and Experiment was informed by my interest in (auto) biography, and the university's flexibility in allowing me to study and continue to work as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist. During the course I found that all styles of writing were encouraged, from prose to poetry, in a safe environment where students were supported to share ideas and develop their creativity. I found that the balance between critical theory and creative practice worked extremely well, with opportunities to discuss literature, philosophy, and express new insights to inform critical and creative practice. The final creative project allowed me to present an experimental piece of writing that gave me the opportunity to further expand into a novel form for the purpose of my PhD thesis. Throughout my research journey I have learnt that writing is about re writing, and if you want the dream, then reach out for it and believe in yourself."

Links with Industry

The course benefits from a programme of visiting writers to the English Subject Group. 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), Carcanet Press, Erbacce Press (editorial directors include Ursula Hurley), The Knives Forks and Spoons Press (Alec Newman) and The Other Room poetry series (co-run by James Davies, Tom Jenks and Scott Thurston). In addition, Ursula Hurley is on the board for the Journal of Short Fiction in Theory and Practice. 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 English Literature, Language and Creative Practice Research group in the Arts Media and Communication Research Centre, headed by Dr Scott Thurston. The group explores hybrid and inter-disciplinary ways of working and in our examination of marginal, experimental and emergent practices. We are concerned with looking at the overlooked and teasing out readings of neglected and/or transgressive authors and cultural practices. From looking at writing conflict in Northern Ireland to Victorian Sensation fiction, from discontented minds in Early Modern Drama to the representation of serial killers in film and fiction, from African modernism to experimental poetry, from the hidden meanings of place names to discourse analysis – our work is searching, critically-engaged and culturally relevant.

A key strength of the group is in the practice and study of innovative writing, covering experimental and literary fiction, young adult fiction, innovative poetry, visual text, scriptwriting, devising and directing for stage, performance, adaptation, autobiography and translation.

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