Find out how a City Short Course can help you towards your writing dreams


Were you encouraged to pick up a pen during lockdown and finally write your great novel?  Perhaps you found more time for reading and thought: ‘I could do that’?  Or maybe you have always dreamed of writing something – anything – but don’t know where to start.

If this sounds like you, a City Writing Short Course might be just the ticket to get you started on the path to literary success.

City, University of London runs a variety of creative writing Short Courses which include novels, non-fiction, memoirs, crime and thrillers and fact-based storytelling.  There are also courses on freelancing, writing for the web, copywriting and business writing for those who want to develop practical skills for the workplace.

In line with government guidance, the courses are currently held online, making them much easier to fit into busy schedules.

Emily Pedder is the Subject Course Coordinator (Writing) at City.  She said choosing to study a short course can be a rewarding experience, allowing writers to learn in a welcoming, nurturing environment.

“Whatever your writing experience or ambition, we will have a course that is right for you.  Our courses allow people the time and space to hone their writing within a supportive, safe community, working closely with  brilliant tutors – who are all published writers themselves. Our tutors use their personal and professional experience to guide you through the maze of writing, editing and preparing to find an agent or approach publishers.

“Your fellow students are also an excellent source of support and we find the workshop-style classes help students build their own networks with fellow writers.”

Emily points to the success of many of the writers who have either taken, or taught on, a City writing course. These include Monique Roffey – who won the Costa Prize in 2021 for The Mermaid of Black Conch – and who previously taught the memoir writing course.

“We are always thrilled to hear of everyone’s success and encourage our alumni to stay in touch with us after the course ends.  One of the ways that we do this is with the City Writes competition which is held every term and provides an opportunity for the best writers from our community to read a 1000 word extract of their work, sharing the stage with one of our published alumni or tutors reading from their new or award-winning publications.

“We are particularly looking forward to welcoming Kiare Ladner, a Novel Studio alumna and tutor, to our next City Writes on 1st April.  Kiare published her debut novel, Nightshift, with Picador just last month.

“I’d encourage anyone who would like to explore or develop their writing to look at our courses at City and see what we have to offer,” Emily said.

The Novel Studio

Applications are also open for The Novel Studio programme which offers 15 selected students the unique opportunity to work exclusively on their novels for a year.  Six modules, taught by professional writers and editors, guide students through the tricky terrain of novel writing, from plotting, planning and researching a novel, through to character development, pacing, narrative voice and style, revisions and editing.  The deadline for applications is 30th April.

All applications will be automatically considered for the City Novel Studio Competition.  The best three applications will be passed on to Christine Green, literary agent at Christine Green Authors' Agency, with a view to representation.

There is also the opportunity to apply for The Novel Studio scholarship which supports a talented writer from a low-income household who might not otherwise be able to accept an offer of a place on course.  The Scholarship is generously supported by Novel Studio alumna and best-selling crime author, Harriet Tyce.

Short Course writing highlights

Recent highlights from the Short Course writing community include the following:

Short Story and Writers' Workshop alumna, Erica Buist, published her debut memoir, This Party's Dead, with Unbound in February.

Novel Studio alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty, has sold her debut novel, Lessons in Love and other Crimes, to Indigo Press in a world rights, pre-emptive deal. UK publication is in April 2021 and you can pre-order now.  Inspired by the author's personal experience of hate crime, her agent, Jessica Craig, describes it as “a heart-breaking, hopeful, trail-blazing novel about the most quotidian of crimes.”

Crime Writing tutor, Caroline Green, has a new thriller out, Sleep Tight, which is gaining rave reviews.

Novel Studio alumna and tutor, Kiare Ladner, published her debut novel, Nightshift, with Picador in February.

Short story writing alumna, Alex Morall, published her debut novel, Helen and the Bees, with Legend Press last October.

Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus, Ciaran Thapar, has sold his book, Cut Short: Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City, to Viking Penguin and it is due to be published in June.

Writing for Children tutor, Anna Wilson, has a new children's book, The Wide, Wide Sea, available now from the National Trust, in 150 Sainsbury's stores and on full release in bookshops and online from July. It is illustrated by the acclaimed Waterstone's Book of the Month illustrator, Jenny Løvlie.

Find out more

Find out more about City Writing Short Courses here.