Information for Applicants:
What Students Say
2006: for this year's anonymous questionnaire comments on the campus and distance learning MAs in Creative Writing, click here.
A few of our students have agreed to comment on their experiences with the Creative Writing Department.
Ray Robinson, PhD candidate
The Creative Writing Ph.D. at Lancaster University has offered me a fantastic opportunity to explore the craft and context of my writing in depth over a period of three years. I was already a practicing writer, and had also successfully completed an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster in 1999, but I felt that I needed a new challenge and that I was ready to produce a body of work which would, hopefully, make an original contribution to learning and knowledge in creative writing.
Half way through my second year of Ph.D. study, Electricity was accepted for publication by Picador (released in trade paperback on March 17th 2006). I feel incredibly lucky to be in this situation after years of struggle and rejection and self-doubt. For me the apotheosis of Graham Mort’s excellent supervision is not only the fact that I am now published, but that his influence over the past three years is continuing to shape my development, and my new creative work.
Rebecca Irvine, PhD candidate
Nigel McLoughlin, successful PhD student
The PhD allowed me to take three years and focus my creative energies on producing a themed collection of poetry and to work with a supervisor who was vastly experienced and who had a very keen critical vision. As a result, I learned an enormous amount about how my creative processes operate and what type of concerns and influences inform my writing. The PhD allowed me to develop enormously as a poet and allowed me to further my academic career. I have taken up a post as Field Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire and the creative project from my PhD has been published as Blood (Bluechrome, 2005), my third collection of poems.
Click here for the most recent student comments on the Campus MA Residential Course: The Hurst, 14th-19th November 2005
Jane Eagland: full-time campus MA student
What was I doing back in the classroom on the other side of the desk? As I approached fifty, a significant milestone, I had paused to take stock. For twenty-six years I'd taught English to secondary school students, a job I used to love. But more and more I felt it was taking up too much of my life. I was tired of being a bridge for others to walk across on their way to where they wanted to go. I wanted to go there myself. I wanted to see if I could take my writing seriously, to discover where it might lead me.
The M.A. course seemed to offer a comforting buffer between the security of full-time employment and the terrifying freedom of the life of a writer, a life I imagined as one of isolation with only the biscuit tin for company. If I could get on the course, I would have a structure in the form of the workshops and support from the tutors and other students. I wasn't so bothered about the qualification - the time for career development was past.
Geraldine Green, full-time campus MA student
My decision to take an MA in Creative Writing was made after enjoying a BA in Imaginative Writing/Literature Life & Thought, completed 2000. I'd never written poetry before; most of my adult life was spent working in offices. I'd read poetry widely for many years and fell into writing it with passion.
I needed to meet other writers to expand and explore this passion and to sharpen my skills as a critic. I was impressed with what I'd researched about the tutors and the course, so decided to take an MA at Lancaster.
I enjoyed my experience at Lancaster and came away with a deep sense of achievement. The space was a safe one in which to take writing to be workshopped and to help others develop theirs. This sharing was, for me, one of the greatest delights. I'm also delighted that my poetry collection, 'Green Lizards', written on the course, has been accepted for publication next Spring.
Geraldine Green gained a Distinction on the MA in October 2005. She is now planning to do a PhD. Read Geraldine's account of her July 2006 poetry readings in New York.
Anita Sivakumaran, overseas student, full-time campus MA
I’ve always believed in following my instincts…and in Google. Browsing the web one afternoon in the corporate office of IBM (where I was working as a Technical Writer and lasted two months), I came across a list of UK universities offering MA in Creative Writing. Although I had no precedents to guide me, I made the intercontinental leap from Madras to Lancaster and it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.
The workshops that form the skeleton of the course have really made a difference to my writing, to my confidence, and to my ambitions. I have had a wonderful year talking shop with my tutors and the community here has made me feel more home than anywhere else. I received a very warm welcome from the department and this has led me to stay and do a Creative Writing PHD here.
Amy Wevodau: overseas student, full-time campus MA
The Creative Writing program at Lancaster University was challenging, intense, and very helpful in deepening both my skills and commitment to writing well. The small course size made focused attention on each piece of work submitted to the workshops realistic. At first I was concerned that we were not assigned a list of reading to do, but found that the recommendations made by the tutors and my course mates were more specific and helpful than a general list would have been and in addition to a list, all of that reading would have been overwhelming, if not impossible. Both my tutors drew from a wealth of writing and teaching experience that gave them keen insight into my writing and overall creative development, as well as that of the whole group.
Steven Ellerhoff: overseas student, full-time campus MA
Attempting to sum up my experiences at Lancaster University is as difficult as writing a one page synopsis of the novel I wrote there. That was one of our assignments on the Creative Writing course, and all of us agonized over it. There's so much to a novel. Oftentimes its an author's entire life, his or her collected experiences, have shaped it. That's an awful lot to express in brief.
I wanted to go to Lancaster to see what I could write, but also to gain whatever perspective I could on Britain, on America, the world, even human beings in general. I have lived my entire life within the state of Iowa in the United States of America, a place best known for growing corn and raising pigs. Living in Lancaster, England, was much more than a change of scenery.
Richard Monks: part-time campus MA student
Having worked for some years as a scriptwriter in both television and radio I reached a stage in my career where I felt I needed fresh input. The Part-time Creative Writing programme at Lancaster I believed would offer just that, allowing me to continue working professionally, whilst studying at the same time. I found the weekly workshops invaluable, not only as a platform for discussing my own ideas, but, equally importantly, for the opportunity to read and critique a wide range of other students’ work, which I’m certain has in turn influenced my own writing.
Sophie Duffy: distance learning student
It can be isolating at home with young children – more so when you have a desire to write. I needed the challenge of an MA but the problem was finding one that would accommodate the needs of my family. I never expected the right course for me to be 300 hundred miles away. The Lancaster MA has a structure that keeps me writing and offers the flexibility I need. It’s just the challenge I want and my writing now has a sense of purpose and direction. I no longer feel isolated but part of a virtual writing community.
Catherine O’Mahony: distance learning student
I've written ever since I can remember. At school I was always able to do creative writing as part of my English lessons. When it came to my degree in English, I really missed being able to do that. I missed the encouragement and criticism of a tutor. None of my friends or family was particularly interested in creative writing or able to provide that kind of support. I discussed this with one of my university tutors, who suggested I consider an MA in Creative Writing.