The Distance Learning MA Summer School 2014

Students came from the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Nigeria and Ghana to attend the 2014 Distance Learning MA Summer School. 

See below for a selection of responses drawn from anonymous evaluation forms completed by our Distance Learning MA Summer School.


The workshops were interactive, hands-on and very relevant to my project and general creative writing practice. The exercises on writing and critical reading were stimulating and revealing. I found each and every session excellent: engaging, challenging and intensive, but also fun and exhilarating. Time always went by very quickly because we were so engrossed in the workshops.

The workshops were well organized, relevant and very inspiring. I came away with so much - excellent help advice and support and inspired to develop my work in many different ways. All tutors were excellent, I very much enjoyed all workshops.

Tom’s insightful session on place-based writing opened my eyes to new ways of developing and evoking the intimate connection between place, character, story and writing in general. It showed how place can evoke deep emotional resonance in both the writer and the reader.

I found that the tutors were brilliantly able to engage across genres. Some workshops which I might not have expected to have been of relevance actually opened my mind in ways that I had not anticipated! It’s hard to pick one or two out but, if pressed, I’d say Tom Pow’s session: place-based writing was exceptionally helpful to me as was Polly Atkin in her practical and helpful approach.

Visiting Agents and the Business of Writing

The presentations of visiting agents were excellent. We were offered an insight into two very different types of publishing house. Comma Press and David Highman literary agency; one which is huge and mainstream, the other more of a non-profit organisation concentrating much more on translated works and the short story. It was fascinating to hear the different approach these two publishing houses have.

The synopsis writing workshop with Zoë was great. Very interesting to hear other student’s synopsis and how they summarised their work, although some were written more as blurbs than a synopsis. It was good that Zoë also took part in the exercises with us.  I had already done this in Conference but still found it useful as I’m changing my book around. A good focus for me. Again, very inspiring.

A Colloquium of Students

This was an opportunity to meet fellow students from all over the world and from very diverse backgrounds. I think on this course we had doctors, lawyers, teachers, yoga instructors, ex-army captains – people with such divers experience and from so many different countries around the world. Students coming to this course at various stages of their lives were able to offer a life time of experience and knowledge which added much depth and at times emotion to class discussions. I learnt so much from them too and not just from the tutors.

I feel so privileged to be included in this group. I think the dynamic was powerful –a real energy, strong creative force and genuine support and interest from everyone, made stronger by the cultural mix. I also thought the cultural mix - in viewpoints, writing and discussions gave an electric feel to the entire week, making for stimulating workshops and all social times. This has enabled me to understand more about different voices, interests, styles, focus and topics/content in writing and I’ve gained so much. I also know that this will add richness to my life and my writing on an ongoing basis as I’m certain that the friendships I made this week will continue to grow and there is a real feeling of support across so many countries. Very cool and exciting.

Personal Tutorial

Sarah worked very hard to help me reach a clearer understanding of my project, and where to go from here. I have new insights to apply to my body of work now and feel I have a workable plan that suits my strengths.

I cannot praise highly enough the organization and content of the course and the calibre and professionalism as well as the enthusiasm and energy of the tutors, particularly Zoe and Eoghan.  I would have no hesitation in recommending the whole course to anyone at all interested in creative writing.  Please thank everyone involved from me.

Other Comments

The week was very enjoyable and inspiring beyond expectation.

The Summer School was a truly wonderful and enriching experience. I would actually love to do it all over again. Thank you to everyone involved.

The room was clean and spacious, with towels, soap, tea/coffee amenities, etc, as well as daily cleaning, linen changes, etc which was all very much appreciated. The food was very good. It was very convenient that the accommodation was close to the other venues (dining, classrooms, library and other facilities).

The week was amazing. Meeting course participants face to face and learning together was a wonderful experience.