MA in Literature and Creative Writing

More than an MA Creative Writing

More than an MA Creative Writing*

The Writing and Society Research Centre offers a challenging, rigorous coursework and research MA combining criticism and creative work and leading to an MA in Literature and Creative Writing. By connecting creative writing practice to ideas and creative work from across the arts and sciences, we offer students the opportunity to think across creative, critical and disciplinary categories and to produce either works of scholarship or creative writing (or related creative work that crosses over into other areas including music, art, performance and film).

Our Centre is unique in Australia in the way it combines scholarship, authorship and expertise in publishing. The Centre includes some of Australia's most celebrated writers (such as the novelists Gail Jones and Alexis Wright) and widely published literary scholars and critics with international reputations (such as Ivor Indyk, Hazel Smith, Chris Andrews, Mridula Nath Chakraborty and Anthony Uhlmann). We are ranked above world standard in the study of literature and creative arts practice.

The Centre houses the highly decorated literary press Giramondo Publishing, and the pre-eminent literary review site in Australia, The Sydney Review of Books. With all this we are able to offer a multifaceted understanding of literature and writing. Hazel Smith is a world leader in the field of practice-led research, research-led practice, and this carries with it our philosophy of deepening the understanding both of critical and creative practice by linking critical and creative thinking. In short, we think this is one of the best places in Australia either to become a writer or to think in a critical and scholarly way about writing.

Critical and Creative Writing Program

The full MA program takes two years. The first year involves course work units of two kinds. In the first year there are two semester long units that develop student's professional and scholarly skills both in critical and creative practice. The two sets of skills augment and reinforce one another. These units involve working with some of our distinguished literary scholars in the discipline of English in the School of Humanities as well as meeting with Alice Grundy the publishing officer at Giramondo Publishing, staff involved with The Sydney Review of Books, and the Sweatshop Western Sydney Literacy Movement (whose members include celebrated up and coming novelists Mohammed Ahmad, Luke Carman, Felicity Castagna) and other postgraduate writers linked to the Centre. MA students are further encouraged to take part in the vibrant culture of the Centre with its many events and seminars.

Sitting above these semester long skilling units are four six week intensive units (two each semester, one following the other). These units are taught by scholars and creative writers in the Centre (Gail Jones, Ivor Indyk, Hazel Smith, Anthony Uhlmann and Chris Andrews) and follow the logic of what has been termed, a little technically, 'cultural phenomenology': that is, an important object, idea, or cultural practice is brought into focus and examined from a number of different angles, so that an understanding of how we experience that thing is developed.

This method is well adapted to thinking in both creative and critical ways. The MA in Literature and Creative Writing mixes units related to writing and aesthetic practice with the opportunity to work with some of Australia's leading writers, editors and critics in developing creative or critical work.

The second year of the MA involves a full year of research, where students will complete either a major creative work (with an exegesis) or a short thesis of 25,000.

Course content

Below is a brief outline of the units that make-up the MA in Cultural and Creative Practice in 2015. Find out more by following the links in the unit titles.

First Year 

Semester 1

Word (Literary Traditions): examines the theme of 'Awkwardness' in Australian Literature. Taught by Ivor Indyk.

Search (Translation): considers processes of transmission and transformation between cultures, including translation and other forms of creative and critical engagement, with a focus on writing. Taught by Mridula Nath Chakraborty.

Applied Methods in Literature and Creative Writing: This is a team-taught unit that relates to methods of research in both creative and critical activity. The unit will also be the place students begin to map out their creative or critical Masters project.

Semester 2

Idea (Conceiving Experience): This unit explores some of the creative, philosophical and social dimensions of time. Taught by Gail Jones.

Display (Sounds, Images, Texts): will examine the relationship between text and sound, literature and music. Taught by Hazel Smith.

Applied Practice in Literature and Creative Writing: A unit in which students, led by Centre staff, will workshop ideas from their final project

Online unit: (TBA)
An online unit is currently under development and it is hoped it will be available to run in 2015, though at present this has not yet been finalized.
World (Art and Nature): This unit will be offered in online in 2015 and can be taken in place of one of the four face to face intensive offerings. It examines how creation in art might be understood as an analogue of creation in nature by looking at the overarching idea of 'symmetry'. Taught by Anthony Uhlmann.

Second Year

Masters Project: provides the opportunity for students to undertake a major research project in a selected area under academic supervision. Students are allocated an experienced supervisor in their field of study.

Exit Points

Graduate Certificate

Students can choose to complete three units (one semester long skilling unit and two intensive units) in order to graduate with a Graduate Certificate (something that is particularly beneficial for high school or primary school teachers currently working and looking to upgrade their qualifications as teachers of literature and creative writing).

Graduate Diploma

Students can choose to complete the full six first year course work units without doing the second year research project, in which case they will graduate with a Graduate Diploma.

MA (Research)

If students choose to complete the full two years they will graduate with an MA Research. If they perform well in this process they will become competitive for further study (either at the DCA level or for a PhD in English literature).

Part-time study

Students are welcome to enrol in the MA part-time. Part-time students complete their units across two years. Please note the MA will be reconfigured in 2015, so students enrolling part-time in 2014 will complete their degree in a slightly different form.

* This new course model is currently being reviewed by the UWS internal review processes, and is up to date at the time of writing. It will be confirmed ASAP.

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