MA in Creative Writing & Publishing class photo by Chris Ison

Creative Writing and Publishing

MA Creative Writing & Publishing

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Applications open
Duration: Two academic years, part time
School: Arts
Location: West Dean
Scholarships and bursaries: See available funding

This programme is for you if you are already a committed writer looking to complete the first draft of a novel. You are keen to further develop your writing and research skills and learn about the publishing process and the role of the professional author in today's publishing environment. Learn from professional authors (see tutor profiles below for published work) with extensive creative writing teaching experience and visiting industry professionals. Workshops include experimental collaboration with artists working in other disciplines at West Dean College. Intensive study blocks foster an immersive atelier-style experience within the College's School of Arts and allows for self-determination in independent practice.

Benefit from the unique setting and history of the College. The house, its archive and extensive grounds offer opportunities to explore site-specific works, while historic connections to literary and publishing experimentation provide a stimulating environment for study.

Learning environment

  • Attend 12 three-day intensive blocks of workshops, lectures and tutorials (over two years)
  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Personal tutorials with subject tutor
  • Intensive workshops
  • Creative interdisciplinary environment
  • Benefit from exposure to prominent visiting guests, writers and publishing professionals.

What to expect

  • Explore literary fiction in its varied forms
  • Develop your writing, editing and critical skills
  • Complete a first draft of between 45,000 - 60,000 words in year one
  • Redraft the first chapter of your novel for publication in a specially produced anthology
  • Gain hands-on experience of the publishing process
  • Learn how to build your author profile
  • Gain and articulate a critical insight into your own writing process, challenges, strengths and direction.
  • Learn from a range of published writers and industry experts in a way that enhances your development as an emerging writer.
  • Enhance your practice by learning from and alongside other artistic and creative practitioners.

Course structure

Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks.

Course units

Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation   Mid-year review

Authorial Practice 1: Writing a first draft
40 credits

Authorial Practice: Critical analysis
20 credits
Interdisciplinary Practice
20 credits
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

MACW-1 cont.
Authorial Practice 1: Writing a first draft
40 credits

MACW-2 cont.
Authorial Practice 2: Critical analysis
20 credits
MACW-3 cont.
Interdisciplinary Practice
20 credits
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation   Mid-year review

Authorial Practice 3: Editorial and Revision
50 credits

Professional Publishing Practice
50 credits
Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation    

MACW-4 cont.
Authorial Practice 3: Editorial and Revision
50 credits

MACW-5 cont
Professional Publishing Practice
50 credits


Contact hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and supervised practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

On the MA Creative Writing & Publishing you typically have around 17-18 contact hours per study block, typically consisting of:

  • 5-6 hours of lectures
  • 4 hours of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised practicals
  • 30 mins of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • reading journal articles and books
  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

10% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 171 hours
Independent learning: 1629 hours

term dates

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good honours degree in English or a compatible subject and be able to demonstrate a commitment to writing.

Candidates with a relevant portfolio and alternative accredited learning are also invited to apply.

English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.

2020 MA Creative Writing and Publishing graduates on the launch of their anthology 'Story Making'.

Story Making anthology

Story Making is the anthology produced by our 2020 MA Creative Writing & Publishing graduates. The publication is a collaborative project featuring work created by students during their studies on the two year programme. The anthology was produced in collaboration with Subject Leader Mark Radcliffe, with the guidance and support of époque press.⠀

Story Breaking anthology

Congratulations to the Class of 2021 on the launch of their anthology Story Breaking!

The anthology brings together the opening chapters of our student's debut novels, and gives them first-hand experience of the publishing process. During the launch event, students gave a short introduction and reading from each of their novels, spanning genres from literary fiction to speculative crime.


As part of the College's Artist-in-Residence programme, Creative Writing and Publishing students have access to a series of professional writers living and working onsite, amongst students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.

Recent Writers-in-Residence included Rutendo Chabikwa and Anni Domingo, to coincide with their work being published in Myraid Edition’s New Daughters Of Africa, Elizabeth Haynes, William Shaw and Allie Rogers.

Writers in Residence
School of Art Credit Thom Atkinson.jpg

School of Arts

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.

School of Arts

Student perspective

"I was looking into different universities/ colleges in order to do a Masters in Creative Writing and in the end chose West Dean's because I was impressed with the amount of attention and guidance the students got from their tutors, as well as the environment and freedom for creativity. I am also very pleased with the attentiveness of the course and how it has helped me grow as a writer." Nadia Ioannou, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, Second Year. Read more 

"There's something about the sense of place here, notwithstanding all the amazing people and objects within... The history, the variety of things going on, the people you meet, all firing the imagination. It’s thought provoking, a place where as a writer you can’t help but become minutely observational. You’re drawn into the “West Dean Immersive Experience.” Not just creative writing, but part of a broad and very skilled artistic community...Another “big thing” about the Creative Writing & Publishing MA programme, is its focus upon publishing what we write, crafting something people will want to read, will appreciate and enjoy.” Jim Green, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, Second Year.

"I love it. I have almost completed the first draft of a novel which is something I never thought I’d be able to say. The teaching is first class and very supportive." Emma Matovu, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, First Year.

Every Creative Writing tutor at West Dean is a published author and they are all still writing and being published alongside their teaching. Every teaching block we attend, we meet a new award-winning writer-in-residence, and we frequently socialise with them in the dining room bar. [...]If it sounds perfect... it is, but this is my West Dean College experience. Friends ask me what I love about West Dean, and I tell them it’s the academic rigor. I may keep the rest to myself." Eve Kenworthy, MA Creative Writing and Publishing, First Year. Read more in a new student blog post by Eve here.

Fees & funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £1,890 per term (£5,670 per academic year)

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place. Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.

We may routinely increase our course fees from year to year for one-year courses and may review and change such course fees without notice.

Postgraduate loans

If you are a UK student and plan to take a postgraduate Master's course you may be able to get a postgraduate loan of up to £12,167 to help with course fees and living costs. See

Student scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries are available, based on individual needs.

Find out more about funding

How to apply

Applications for this course can be made by submitting a completed application form and emailing it to: [email protected].

Any questions?
Email [email protected]; call us on: (01243) 818 300 and select option 1, or read more about our Admissions processes.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is a full partner of the University of Sussex


Commendations from the University of Sussex include:

"The demonstrable passion among the course team for the pedagogy of creative writing."

"The emphasis on writing as a craft, comparable to other subject disciplines in the College."

"The introduction of writers into the ‘Artists in Residence’ scheme to support the course and provide external feedback to students."


Do I need an English degree to apply?

Applicants should have a good honours degree in English or a compatible subject and be able to demonstrate a commitment to writing. We can consider applicants who don’t meet academic entry requirements, through our Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) process. In this case applicants would demonstrate their suitability for the course through a portfolio of work showing their creative writing ability and alternative prior learning, gained through experience. Read our portfolio advice to learn about the general requirements, what we look for in a good portfolio, and what it should reflect.

Can I follow a career in publishing after taking this course?

This course isn’t designed to prepare you for a career in publishing. What we do is offer an overview of the publishing process and what the author might experience from submission to publication.

How many words would you expect to see in the application portfolio?

We’d like to see around 3000 words of writing, containing some form of prose fiction.

What level of time commitment is required?

This is a part time course comprising of 12 three-day study blocks spread over the two years. Typically, each study block takes around 17-18 teaching hours including lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals. When not attending lectures, much of your time is spent immersed in independent learning through self-study.


Mark Radcliffe Creative Writing Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Mark Radcliffe

Subject Leader - MA Creative Writing and Publishing 

Mark Radcliffe is the author of three novels; Gabriel's Angel (2010), Stranger Than Kindness (2013), and most recently, Three Gifts (2023). He has a PhD in Creative Writing and Philosophy (University of Sussex) and an MA in Creative Writing (UEA).

Mick Jackson

Mick Jackson's first novel, The Underground Man, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Royal Society of Authors' First Novel Award. His novels, collections of stories and an e-book are published by Faber and Faber. Mick was an RLF Writing Fellow at the University of Sussex and has been writer in-residence at the Science Museum, London and the Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton. He has an MA in creative writing.

Lesley Thomson, tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
Domenica de Rosa (Elly Griffths) tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Domenica De Rosa

Associate Tutor - MA Creative Writing and Publishing
Tutor - Certificate in Crime Writing

Domenica de Rosa is the author of sixteen published novels, twelve of them written under the name Elly Griffiths. As Elly Griffiths, she is best known for the highly successful Ruth Galloway crime novels. In 2016, she won the Crime Writer's Association Dagger in Library Award for her body of work.

Laura Wilkinson Tutor on the MA Creative Writing course at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Beth Miller

Beth Miller is the author of six novels, including the bestselling The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright (2020). Her most recent novel, The Woman Who Came Back to Life (2022), will be published in seven languages. She has also published two non-fiction books. She has a PhD in Psychology and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Brighton University. She teaches regularly for Arvon, and is a book coach for writers at all stages.