Creative Writing and Publishing
The West Dean College Certificate in Life Writing is awarded in recognition of the successful completion of all three weekend course units spread across each academic term, self-directed study and the submission of a 5000 word piece of work. It is delivered by experienced educators and authors, Joanna Moorhead and Hannah Vincent.
The course aims to draw together a clearer understanding of the skills, knowledge and qualities that lend themselves to good life writing and is underpinned by a clear understanding of some of the forms and craft that enable the writer to produce high standard work.
Each weekend unit will be based in the inspirational environment of West Dean College’s historic rooms. It is aimed at writers who wish to commit to an extended programme of study without having to make a significant time commitment and who will benefit from a cohesive course that offers focus on the key elements of successful life writing over the course of an academic year.
This Certificate is designed for writers who want a thorough and cohesive course on Life Writing. It offers a deeper and broader raft of teaching designed to enable the student to take on a piece of longer writing. The focus is primarily on the development of the craft of writing in the context of Life Writing. At the end of the third unit students will be expected to submit the first 5000 words of a Work in Progress for feedback from the tutors.
On successful completion students will be offered an interview for the MA in Writing and Publishing should they want to continue their studies and project. The MA is set up to facilitate the production of a completed novel but is exploring expanding its remit to facilitate Life Writing.
To introduce you to the key areas of Life Writing including: memoir, biography, autobiography, and explore the similarities and differences. The course will also offer a brief overview of the history of life writing: from Plutarch and Vasari to Johnson, Woolf, Holroyd and Hermione Lee to present day.
It will encourage you to consider various aspects of being a life writer, including:
The course will offer a stimulating and varied learning environment to enable writers to develop their skills around voice, style, tone, pacing and prose. Writing exercises will be used along with discussion, textual analysis, and a subject overview.
It will facilitate constructive critical thinking/reflection, editing and rewriting skills, contextual and critical studies.
The first unit will include:
This second unit will include:
At the completion of the course students will submit the first 5000 words of a piece they have developed on the programme for feedback from the programme tutors two months after the final Unit.
The Certificate in Life Writing while not nationally validated nevertheless aims to provide students with the ability to identify themes within their practice and to identify the kind of work they are looking to produce and be able to communicate this confidently.
Please bring your usual writing equipment, notebook and pen and/or laptop.
Explore and expand your work in a uniquely immersive environment with its own connections to art history. Our School of Arts students enjoy specialist studio spaces dedicated to painting and drawing, sculpture and tapestry and textile-based work as well as exceptional exhibition space.
The course fees are payable in advance of study.
Course fee: £940 (non-residential, payable in one instalment covering all three units – payable by 3 October 2023).
Accommodation for a weekend course, including dinner and breakfast, is currently available from £213 per weekend (single occupancy). Please see accommodation costs on our website – or in the printed brochure, specific to the timing of each unit.
Specific Terms and Conditions include a commitment to attend all three weekend course dates listed as no alternative course date can be offered for any that you are unable to attend. Therefore, no refund can be made for the course fee for any weekend you are unable to attend.
Second year MA Creative Writing and Publishing student Eve Kenworthy talks about her experiences on the course during the last term, the guidance and support provided by the course tutors and dreams of her future as a writer.
By Pam Hamilton, MA Creative Writing & Publishing student
On the first day of my MA in Creative Writing and Publishing at West Dean College I was terrified. It was two decades since I’d been in formal education, I was worried the tutors had over-estimated my potential, and I was scared of the other students. I had spent my career in the corporate world and felt like a fraud....
A blog post by Mark Radcliffe, Subject Lead MA Creative Writing & Publishing.
I have a new novel out on March 2nd called Three Gifts. It is about a boy given the opportunity to trade in years from his own – as yet unlived – life, in exchange for his mother being cured of cancer. It is I think, a happy book. I may be wrong, it is hard to tell at this point. Find out more
For National Writing Day, MA Creative Writing and Publishing alumnae Jenny Browning and Emma Ward share what they are currently working on, reflections on their time at West Dean College and how they continue to pursue the dream of becoming published writers.
By Eve Kenworthy, MA Creative Writing and Publishing student Imagine the perfect place to study creative writing. It might be a grand house filled with creative people. You could be in an oak paneled library with large windows facing manicured gardens, towards the rolling Sussex countryside. From your desk you can see sheep safely grazing under a blue cloudless sky. Eight other students c...
By Sara Bryce-Gordon, MA Creative Writing & Publishing student, Second Year
Joanna Moorhead is an award-winning freelance journalist who writes regularly for The Guardian, The Times, YOU magazine, Good Housekeeping, Easy Living, Mumsnet and BBC websites. She has been part of the BBC news team covering Papal elections and has edited The Guardian's women and health pages.
Hannah Vincent is a novelist, short story writer and award-winning playwright. Her first novel Alarm Girl was published in 2014. She wrote her second while carrying out PhD research at the University of Sussex in autobiographic practice. The Weaning was published in 2018. Hannah’s debut collection of short stories She-Clown and Other Stories was published in 2020. Hannah teaches creative writing on The Open University’s MA programme and she has taught life writing for New Writing South and Charleston. She is currently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Brighton.