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Creative Writing (Non-Fiction)  MA


Programme Director Dr Julie Wheelwright talks about the course

MA graduates talks about MA Writing (and publishing) non-fiction

Bridget O'Donnell and Peter Moore both had books published after completing this MA. Here they give some tips to aspiring non-fiction writers and offer an insight into the joys and problems of writing non-fiction, including the 'Peter Ackroyd equation'.


The Creative Writing (Non-Fiction) MA provides you with essential skills and a supportive and challenging environment in which to:

  • develop your reportorial and research skills
  • experiment with approaches to writing narrative non-fiction
  • reflect on your own and others' work
  • learn about the publishing industry
  • shape a full-length work of narrative non-fiction into a marketable proposal.

The course, run mainly in the evening, encourages you to be ambitious and imaginative. The unifying factor for all writers accepted onto the course is your intention to deliver information through a narrative structure.

Our ethos is excellence and diversity and we admit students from all over the world of different ages, experiences and backgrounds.

Our definition of narrative non-fiction includes biography, travel, history, life writing, true crime, sports and other forms of sustained and structured non-fiction storytelling.

Course Fees:

  • Full-time EU: £6,000 per year
  • Full-time Non EU: £7,750 per year

Start Date:

September 2016

How to Apply

Entry Requirements

You will normally have a UK honours degree (in any subject) or the overseas equivalent. But successful completion of a certificate course in creative writing, or a professional qualification, or relevant experience may also be acceptable. The prime criteria are proven ability and commitment.

You will need to submit 5,000 words of non-fiction and may need to attend an interview as part of the application process. (Overseas applicants may be interviewed by telephone.)

English Requirements

For students whose first language is not English an IELTS score of at least 7.0 is required (with 7.0 in the writing component).

Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

Visa Requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than 6 months
  • Students on courses of less than 6 months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

When and Where

Start Date:
September 2016
Two years full time
The course is designed to fit in with the lives of those already working full-time, with students coming in for two evenings per week over two years (with the occasional Saturday workshop). Extra workshops and lectures will take place on occasional Saturdays. The 'Own Nonfiction Book' module takes place in term three of year one and over terms one, two and three of year two. It consists of tutorials, workshops and substantial work in the students' own time. The Publishing Industry module takes place in term three of year two, and consists of seminars, exercises, presentations and lectures by visiting industry professionals.

Course Content

The course focuses on writing and research skills including identifying a subject, using archives, exploring genres and structuring material. You will also learn how to prepare a manuscript for publishers and agents.

It offers a taught component,one-to-one-tutoring, workshops and opportunities to hear guest speakers. The course advisors, made up of leading figures from the non-fiction world, provide you with expert advice and direct exposure to the publishing industry.

Course Structure


  • Fundamentals of Non-Fiction
  • The Process of Writing
  • Storytelling
  • Literary Criticism
  • Complete Book

Read the full programme specification.

Teaching and Assessment

Teaching is based around a mix of practical workshops, seminars and lectures. All this is supported by one-to-one tutorials and by independent study: notably reading and preparing presentations on set texts and performing set writing exercises. As the course progresses, the emphasis shifts to independent study and is supported by workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Central to all three Creative Writing MA courses is the requirement to finish a full-length novel, memoir, play or screenplay. The course culminates in a showcase of your work to an audience of industry professionals and other interested parties.

Read the full programme specification.


  • Full-time EU: £6,000 per year
  • Full-time Non EU: £7,750 per year

* The fees listed above are per year.


For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.



Students can apply for two industry-sponsored awards, which may lead to agent representation and cash prizes.

Career Prospects

Former creative writing students have gone on to win prizes and have work published:

  • Peter Moore's book (developed on the MA) Damn His Blood: Being a True and Detailed History of the Most Barbarous and Inhumane Murder at Oddingley and the Quick and Awful Retribution was published by Chatto & Windus in 2012. Watch a video trailer about Peter's book
  • Bridget O'Donnell's book Inspector Minahan Makes a Stand: The Missing Girls of England was published by  Pan Macmillan in 2012
  • Aaron Eske's memoir about international adoption, My Family: A Symphony was published by Palgrave in December 2010

Application Deadline

Places are limited and we strongly recommend that you apply as early as possible, as applications will close when the course is full.

Please submit the following:

  1. One application form. You can download a pdf file of our application form or apply online by following the links below.
  2. An explanation in no more than 200 words of why you think you would benefit from the course. Please write this in the "Statement in Support of Application" section of the application form.)
  3. A portfolio of your non-fiction writing, up to a maximum of 5,000 words. Please ensure that your name is on every page and that the work is a copy as it cannot be returned.

Application forms


Selection process

There is no fixed application deadline, although applications will close when the course is full so you are encouraged to apply early. We aim to process all applications within six weeks of receipt.

Please note: Academic references are not required when you submit your application. However, the admissions tutor may request them at a later date to help make a decision on your application.

Return address

Please return your application form and/or supporting documents, marked "Postgraduate Applications 2016" to:


Centre for Creative Writing

City University London

Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB