Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Writing

An online study programme


Image courtesy of peteoshea under Creative Commons  

The PG Diploma in Creative Writing is a two-year part-time programme, aimed at writers wishing to develop their creative and critical skills at an advanced level. The programme adopts an all-encompassing approach to the discipline of creative writing, taking in a variety of genres and exploring the major forms of prose, poetry and scripts.

The programme starts in late September/early October each academic year, as well as a second start date in January each year – places are limited to ensure a constructive atmosphere for workshops.   

This is a part-time, postgraduate-level programme delivered wholly online in a fully-supported learning environment. Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate after successful completion of the first year if their circumstances change.




The programme is a keen mix of writing exercises and literary analysis, and students will develop an understanding of the following key areas:

  • The power of imagination in literary creation
  • The distinctive character of texts written in the principal literary genres: fiction, poetry and drama, and of other kinds of writing
  • How literature and language produce and reflect cultural change and difference
  • The structure, levels and discourse functions of the English language
  • The role of critical traditions in shaping literary history, and the linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts in which literature is written and read
  • The range and variety of approaches to literary study, which may include creative practice and performance
  • The central role of language and in the creation of meaning, and the affective power of language.



This part-time two-year programme will comprise six 20-credit modules which will develop students’ writing skills and their critical faculties in a range of genres. These modules are:

Year One

  • Effective Creative Practice: Creativity, Theory and the Craft of Writing
  • Critical Approaches to Creative Practice: Methodology, Research and Literature
  • Compressed Fiction: The Art of the Short Story

Year Two

  • Poetic Power: Theory and Practice in Contemporary Poetry
  • Sustained Fiction: The Novel as Narrative
  • Dramaturgy, Sound and Screen: Scripting for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television

Students will be required to complete all these modules in the first instance, though additional modules may be added in the future to accommodate future programme growth and offer a broader learning experience.Assessments will comprise a balance of creative portfolios at the conclusion of every module, alongside critical essays, reflective journals and literary reviews.

What's involved?

  • Our approach to e-learning is distinctive and may be different from your general perceptions about online study:
  • Flexible, fully supported, modular delivery
  • Taught exclusively online
  • Two stages: Certificate and Diploma. Each stage typically takes 12 months
  • Comprises six distinct modules
  • Part-time study (approximately 15 hours per week) allows participants to structure their learning around the other life circumstances 

Key points

  • These are not self-study programmes which leave you on your own, nor are they Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You will be part of an active learning community with regular contacts and activities.
  • The technology-based approach means that our programmes are highly flexible, and you can study from anywhere at a time convenient to you. They are however carefully structured and you will be asked to participate in tasks and activities every week.
  • The programme is highly interactive and comprises numerous blog-driven tasks and exercises. You can engage with the tasks at any time during the week, and you don’t ever have to be online at the same time as other people, but can engage through a simple commenting function.
  • The learning takes place within a reflective and supportive environment, providing all the benefits of studying as part of a community but without having to be in a physical classroom
  • As well as interacting with your fellow students, you will also have regular discussions with a dedicated and friendly academic and administrative team at York.
  • The programmes are situated within a Virtual Learning Environment called Blackboard. This is a user-friendly integrated website that provides access to study resources, discussion forums, the University of York Online Library and your University email account.

The York Team

A key feature of our programme is the availability and quality of support that we offer through module tutors, pastoral support and a dedicated administrative and technical support team.

Residential Weekends

We hold two optional two-day Residential Weekends at York each year. Each event is an opportunity to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in writing workshops and hear from writers about their experiences of the writing process and publication. These events are free of charge, though students are expected to meet the costs of their travel, accommodation and sustenance. For students who are unable to attend these weekends, there is the option to engage via real-time video conferencing or to watch recordings of the key sessions from each weekend. In the first two years, we anticipate that we will be joined at the weekends by John Baker, Helen Cross, Antony Dunn and Mike Kenny.

Entry Requirements & Cost

Who is the programme for?

The programme is aimed at experienced writers who are comfortable with exploring the possibilities of the English language.


Admissions criteria

Normally students will be expected to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in a related subject area (such as English). CLL will also favourably consider any student previously awarded a BA/BSc in any subject, and with evidence of recent HE level creative writing study.

As a Centre based upon the cornerstone of open access, CLL will also seek to ensure that those without the qualifications highlighted above, but with the obvious ability to succeed, have the opportunity to engage.

In such instances, a portfolio of recent creative/imaginative writing and/or the presentation of a critical literary essay may be requested and considered by the admissions panel; CLL reserves the right to ask any student for such a portfolio to support their application.

Any student may be called to interview.

Students must have an IELTS score of 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in Writing (or equivalent). Details of the requirements for distance learning students can be found at English language requirements: distance learning 2017/18

  • Sufficient study time: approximately 15 hours per week including the capacity to take part regularly in the online weekly tutorial group discussions. These are an essential part of the study process.
  • A willingness to share your experience and be an active member of your tutorial group.
  • A personal computer with a broadband internet connection and Office software suite, compatible with Word and Excel formats. Students should also have a personal computer with a webcam and microphone to facilitate online video discussions.

Programme cost

The online postgraduate diploma in Creative Writing is priced in line with other University postgraduate programmes, details of which can be found at

For 2017/18, the cost of the first year will be £2,700; the second year will be the same cost again, plus an inflationary increase of 2% maximum in the second year in line with standard University tuition fees.

Students can spread the cost of their tuition fees, including by paying monthly in advance. More information can be found at Finance and financial support for distance learners


Sarah Speight

Sarah Speight‌I chose this course primarily because it offers a great balance between all the different forms of writing – short fiction, poetry, scriptwriting and the novel. The practice of writing is interwoven with theory and literature to support and enhance our development as writers.

I was looking for a way to carve out the space and time for me to write seriously, in a guided and structured way. Over the months my confidence has grown more than I could have hoped had I opted to go it alone as a writer. I now have a clearer picture of my strengths and weaknesses, my writing voice and style, and my approach.

A big part of the course is that we’re taught how to critique other students’ work, constructively and sensitively. I now know what makes writing ‘good’, and why, and I feel better equipped to both give and take helpful criticism – an essential part of the writing process.

As a working mother, the online aspect of the course has provided the flexibility I need. What I didn’t expect was how much we would bond as a group; we have built a crucial support network for each other, which we plan to continue!

Robert Mills

Robert Mills‌When I enrolled I was hoping to acquire knowledge of the theoretical basis of creative writing, to have the chance to interact with other would-be writers and to become a better writer myself. However, given that most of my interactions with fellow students were to be online, I was uncertain that these would be fruitful. Such fears proved to be unfounded. Over the last eighteen months the students in my group have become a cohesive group. We are now able to trust each other sufficiently to share our thoughts and works in progress in the knowledge that we will receive constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement that are worth considering. Another potential pitfall of online course is that students are left to their own devices with minimal support. This is not the case with this course. Lizzi Linklater is an outstanding tutor who has supported us tirelessly and driven us to perform at a higher level. Have I become a better writer during the course? Only time will tell.

Antony Dunn, Visiting Writer

Antony Dunn‌It was a real pleasure to spend a weekend with Lizzi Linklater's group at the University of York. Particularly pleasing was the fact that, despite being members of an online course, the participants had clearly established a positive rapport with each other and with Lizzi. The quality of conversation and debate throughout the two days of workshops (both in and out of the seminar room) was very encouraging. Participants were not afraid to challenge each other (and the tutors) but the approach was uniformly supportive, kind and encouraging - absolutely the right balance. Lizzi has clearly shaped the atmosphere of the group very successfully and it was clear that the two days spent in each other's company, and in the company of Lizzi, had been a very inspiring experience. All involved, even those taking part remotely, contributed enthusiastically to the conversations and created and shared compelling new pieces of writing. It's inspiring to have taken part in the weekend.

Helen Cross, Visiting Writer

Helen Cross‌It was a real pleasure to meet Lizzi and work with her students. Lizzi runs a high quality, challenging and supportive writing group. I thought the students showed a real enthusiasm for, and ability in, creative writing and produced some super stories and poems during my time with them. They bring to the group a wide range of experiences and enthusiasms all of which helps to create a fertile atmosphere for creative experimentation and achievement. I'll look forward to hearing of their successes in the future.





How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system.

If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.





Emily Limb: 
Postgraduate Administrator 
Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 8482 

Elizabeth Linklater
Associate Lecturer‌