Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Creative Writing

León Ferrari, Sin título (Caligrafía), 2000 © León Ferrari. Image © ESCALA

Study with us

Undergraduate courses

Undergraduate creative writing courses

Our undergraduate courses offer a unique exploration of the practice and theory of writing and can be taken as single honours degree or in combination with film studies as a joint honours degree.

Creative writing at Essex focuses on the practice and theory of becoming a writer. Since our department’s inception in the 1960s under the poet Donald Davie, we have nurtured a tradition of distinguished writers, who have shaped literature as we know it. These include Robert Lowell, Michèle Roberts, Ken Smith, Tom Raworth, Ed Dorn, Ben Okri, Pierre Joris and Ted Berrigan.

Our undergraduate courses explore a full range of writing styles and genres and help you to develop your writing skills and voice in tandem with your understanding of the history and theory of writing practice. We also offer the option to take creative writing as a joint degree with literature or film studies.

At postgraduate level, our MA Creative Writing follows Ezra Pound’s call to “make it new” and places a strong emphasis on innovation, experiment, and invention. We have a large and active doctoral community and welcome applications for PhD study combining original creative writing with critical commentary.

Studying a Creative Writing degree at Essex

Learn from experienced and established writers

Our creative writing staff have a unique breadth of writing experience across literary genres, from novels, prose and plays, to poetry and song:

We regularly invite writers to give writing workshops to our students as well as talks as part of our Writers at Essex series.

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott was Essex Professor of Poetry from 2010 to 2013, and made annual visits to the department to give special masterclasses and direct performances of his plays at the University’s Lakeside Theatre.

More about creative writing at Essex

  • Research and publications

    Ongoing research ventures include Memory Maps, an online writing project that began as a collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, and continues to provide opportunities for students to contribute work. You can also publish with our creative writing journal Creel, which is released on an annual basis.

  • Our alumni

    Many of our students go on to publish work after graduation with recent success stories including Alexia Casale, whose novel Bone Dragon was published by Faber & Faber. Other graduates include the writers Petra Mcqueen as well as Patricia Borlenghi, the founder of Patrician Press, which has published works by a number of our alumni. Another group of recent graduates have collaborated to publish a short story collection called Sense.

  • Life after graduation

    We have an excellent student support system to offer guidance and advice during your studies, and to prepare you for success after graduation. Our University’s Employability and Careers Centre also provides support to help you pursue your chosen career path, including by finding work experience and internship opportunities that allow you to put the skills you learn into practice.

Research Seminars

Writers at Essex

Throughout the year our weekly Research Seminar series welcomes leading academic specialists, as well as writers, poets, playwrights, filmmakers and journalists to talk about their work.

Masters courses

Creative writing masters

Our MA Creative Writing emphasises innovation and experiment and provides a challenging course of practice based study that allows you to develop your writing voice across an exciting range of forms and genres.

PhD study

Creative writing PhD

PhD study in creative writing allows you to combine an original creative writing project with critical commentary. You will be supervised by award winning writers with a unique breadth of experience across literary genres.

Research excellence

Research excellence

Three-quarters of our research is rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014). We do both creative and critical work across genres and media forms using a distinctly comparative approach.