Creative Writing and Publishing
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.
What to expect
Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks.
|Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)|
|Christmas vacation||Mid-year review|
Authorial Practice: Critical analysis
|Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)|
Authorial Practice 2: Critical analysis
|Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)|
|Christmas vacation||Mid-year review|
Professional Publishing Practice
|Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)|
Professional Publishing Practice
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:
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:
10% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 171 hours
Independent learning: 1629 hours
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.
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.⠀
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.
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.
Course fees are the same for UK and international students
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.
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 www.gov.uk/postgraduate-loan
Student scholarships and bursaries
Bursaries are available from £500.
"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.
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."
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.
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.
We’d like to see around 3000 words of writing, containing some form of prose fiction.
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.
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
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'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's first novel Seven Miles From Sydney, (ed: Jeanette Winterson) was one of London’s City Limit’s Books of the Year in 1987. Recent novels include The Companion (June 2022), and The Mystery of Yew Tree House (September 2023).
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 has published six novels for adults, including Crossing the Line, Skin Deep, Redemption Song and The Family Line; as well as numerous short stories. As an editor and mentor, Laura coaches writers to competition shortlistings and publication.
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.