My Life, Student Life

Masters in Professional Creative Writing – Coventry University

Introduction 

While researching different postgraduate Creative Writing degrees, Coventry University  caught my eye. I knew that it was highly commended for its student satisfaction in the Guardian and found the MA Professional Creative Writing degree to offer a lot of scoop and areas to practice and refine my own writing abilities. I, as a student would also learn and get involved in opportunities in the worlds of publishing, communication and media industries at present. 

The course covers modules which are traditional, modern and new. Novel writing to the graphic novel and creative nonfiction, playwriting to writing for television, screen and multimedia, poetry to psychogeography and eco-writing, from crime writing to fantasy and horror. At present the modules on the MA Professional Creative Writing degree are The Novel and Creative Non-Fiction, writing for Stage and Screen, Genre Fiction, Emerging Writing Specialisms, Working as a Professional Writer and Creative Dissertation.      

From first glance, I knew immediately that the modules were strong and provided a range of topics to allow writers to express themselves in their prefered genres and enhance their own skills and knowledge, while also encouraging them to explore new territories of writing. The modules encourages independent creative work while also encouraging workshops where there is peer-on-peer critical feedback to improve in practice-based modules and workshops. Then, there is the opportunity to get coached by industry professionals as well as the course tutors, who all have industry experience themselves and get a taster of working as a professional writer.   

According to the course outline on the website, the course equips us with the tools to improve our creative work, knowledge and skills in the industry before taking it that one step further and enhance everything to professional, industry standards. Once we have the collection of creative work, we will learn and experience how to approach professionals in the industry and showcase our capabilities as writers to launch a career in the publishing, media and communication world while trying to get that dream book published.  

Writers Retreats 

A strong aspect of the Professional Creative Writing course at Coventry University is that there are opportunities to participate in ‘Writers Retreats’. These are excursions that are arranged every year to various locations to enable students to complete research for their creative work, taking place in the UK or abroad. These ‘retreats’ are subsidised by the University and often vary based on the genres the modules in the course, to encourage and influence research around students’ creative work and projects.

While I read about these trips being put into place as part of the course, I was excited to have the oppitunity to take part in at least one of these retreats with fellow writers. My undergraduate degree gave me the foundation of of the ability to research thoroughly into the elements that will make up my project, but I feel by going on these retreats I can actually be there in the location and get that research the first hand rather than behind a computer screen. To add to this, I will be able to embark on this while sharing and getting imput on my ideas from my fellow writers.  

Personally and on a realistic point of view I am concerned about these writers retreats if I was to chose this course, it would definitely provide some physical challenges for me. Obviously I wouldn’t know the full details until I’m there or until I found out what the trips were going to be, but the corcern would be there.   

I would have to follow up on this if I wanted to pursue the course, but according to the website, there is an option that may be more suited to me where students organise separate trips than the ones which are organised by the University for them to complete their research in another location, that they, themselves have chosen.  

Clubs & Societies

While looking at Coventry University, I found a list of clubs and societies and a few caught my interest…

Gaming

Gaming society is one where there looks to be something for everyone; video games, PC games and Tabletop games. I like the thought of this as it is a relaxed society which may help me after some stressful study sessions, to come into a environment which encourage a atmosphere of calm competitiveness. This is also an opportunity to meet and get to know new people as we unwind. 

Nintendo Society

In keeping with the gaming theme, I would have the chance to join the Nintendo society and their socials, enjoy taking part in tournaments and more. Joining others with the same love of Nintendo in a competitive, friendly environment, while being treated fairly and with utmost respect. I miss playing games like Super Mario Bros, Super Smash Bros and Animal Crossing and this society will get me back into it which I’d love to do. I would love to get myself playing the more recent games in  exciting events and tournaments while hanging out with new people within this society.

Movie Club

Movie club is most definitely one I want to join, to relax and meet new friends who love cinema as much as me. The society organises and hosts cinema trips and film screenings, while also giving us opportunities to discuss what we have seen with our fellow casual watchers and film enthusiasts while we indulge in our film passions. The society encourages members to vote on choices of films with choices like classic cinema, independent films, mainstream movies and everything in between including award ceremonies and more. Members are encouraged to expand our genre tastes while we watch a variety of films and then critique and review films watched, which I would love to do for my own blog as well as the society.   

Student Media Society

Of course, there is the student media society which I am most definitely joining if I chose to study at Coventry University. The society covers everything from photography, journalism, film and radio. Members can join in on any section that interests us, while we gaint he tools and expertise to turbocharge the projects that you’re passionate about. We have access to industry-grade equipment within a dedicated creative space to do so. This enables members to meet fellow members with the same interests and passions in these individual sectors and give us the opportunity to network with media professionals, while always expanding our professional portfolios. I don’t think I can ignore a society that helps me fulfil my passion while joining a community of students and making a fresh group of friends!   

Coventry University Visit 

Feeling enthused by the course, I decided to visit Coventry University. I enquired and I was able to arrange a meeting with the MA Creative Writing course director. I recieved a very prompt response from the course director and he was more than happy to pass on the course handbook prior to visit (which detailed everything from the current modules to the staff members and the reading lists and anything else current and prospective students need if they chose to study on on this particular MA). 

From the begining, I decided upon comuting from home to University as I would only have around six hours of contact hours a week in University for very little and to would save on accommodation costs. So, if I was to pursue Coventry University, I would have to consider the distance that I would have to travel. There were multiple trains every hour and the journey themselves would take 20 minutes so this would be easy to commute for my lecturers, workshops, tutorials and other such times. 

On the day before my visit to Coventry University and my meeting with the course director, I  frantically searched for an accessible, suitable disabled toilet that was available to me to use on this day. It became frustrating as I got passed from department to department as people didn’t know whether hoists were available. But I appreciate people were honest as they continued to put in touch with the right person. 

Unfortunately, when I did get through to the right person I was told the disabled toilets there was no more than standard sized disabled toilets which were unsuitable for me. In regards to this particular visit, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem as I would be going home after this visit straight away and I could use the toilet when I got home. However, if Coventry University was going to become an option then I would need to make some serious enquiries and arrangments to ensure a hoist or two are put into place in time for my studies. 

During my hunt for a suitable disabiled toilet at Coventry University, I was able to get in touch with their disability department and arrange a meeting with them after the meeting with the MA Creative Writing course director. 

For this particular visit to Coventry University, my dad decided to drive us down in the car, so we wouldn’t risk the trains being late for my meeting with the course director. The journey took longer than expected, Coventry isn’t as far as Leicester so I thought it would be a quicker journey, but the motorway was busy and I was glad I was with my dad and he knew the way. I accepted that driving to Coventry University would be difficult as traffic would be difficult to predict and a direct train would be the way to go. 

In the end, the journey took around 45 minutes to get into Coventry and to the University.  Unlike many Universities I have visited, roads and pavements both go straight through the Coventry University’s campus and we were able to see some of the campus while in the car. Once we parked up we headed onto the campus, I was confused of how this layout worked for all students, not just wheelchair users especially if there are roads going though a section of the campus. 

I found navigation quite confusing as the buildings were a bit all over the place, the pavements were very thin for myself and I struggled to get down them in my wheelchair. But, then we broke onto another section of the campus which was what looked to be the main part of the campus and the space here was much better and it was more closed off. It was cold and windy on that day so we were limited on the time we spent on the campus looking around, but from what I could see it was more quaint and beautiful and I instantly fell in love with it.  

Meeting with Course Director

At the time of the meeting, my dad and I went up to meet the MA Professional Creative Writing course director. As he welcomed us into the office and we began to him, he gave a good impression just like he did via his emails, being helpful  as he broke down the make up the course, going through each with me and detailing it according to the style of writing I was into. After thoroughly glancing through the course handbook that I was given before the visit the course director and I were able to have an extensive chat which answered all of my queries and concerns.  

Throughout the course, I would also be able to have creative control over my creative work while following the guidelines Coventry University would provide with. All the assignments within the degree and designed so writers can craft and develop their projects to high professional standards which can then be sent off to an agent or editor. There will also be an emphasis on networking with these and other industry professionals which may lead to publication. The course also requires students to construct a ‘writers diary’ across the duration of the course so I can record my thoughts and progress as a writer while helping me to reflect on their assignments and projects and their ability as a writer so we can self-critique and self-reflect on our overall excursions into the industry.

I was excited about this as many courses allow you to develop projects and and encourage you to pursue your projects this course would allow me to develop my projects are high standards and then create any other aspects that need to accompany my project to be noticed by the right people. Then there’s the fact that you may come to know these industry professionals which may help you get a foot in the door. Meanwhile, I can create my ‘writers diary’ in any format or tone I wish, whether this is in a formal diary layout or as a blog and discover for myself my areas to improve and express my own journey as an aspiring writer. 
Students on the MA Professional Creative Writing course are also given the chance gain teaching experience by teaching and participating undergraduate degree classes to help the students with their own writing style and craft. The prospect of this would be an amazing opportunity for me and it is not something the other courses that I have researched offer. I was also invited to attend some of the MA classes on the course as it will allow me to get a taste of what to expect before applying. (However, due to everything going on lock down, I haven’t managed to do so.) 

The course director explained that they had not had any wheelchair users on that particular course before but he reassured me that he would do his best to see that the course accommodate me and my needs so I can experience everything to the full extent including the writers retreats which I was quick to raise. We spoke at length about this and the conclusion was if I decided to study the course we would see what could be adapted or arranged so I could take part in them. Classes within this course are often based in the latter area the campus which would be fantastic as this was the part of the campus that was more compact and nice and it will also prevent me of having the concern of rushing around all of the time.     

Generally, the contact sessions within the course would take place over one or two days of timetabling and nothing to early which meant no 9am classes, thank god! Hopefully the hours would be spread out but compact enough that I didn’t need to come back and fourth all of the time but also  have time to go to the library and eat as well as anything else I needed to do. 

After we had finished speaking to the course director, he kindly introduced us to other members of staff that would be teaching on MA Creative Writing. I loved meeting and getting to talk to them, putting faces to names and what they taught. This would make it less scary if I came to study on this course in September.

Coventry University – Modules

I glanced further into the course, I began to imagine the experience I would gain as I work to develop my creative work and projects and build up the skills and knowledge as well as a strong portfolio to showcase myself to industry while building up networking with agents, editors and publishers.          

All the modules taught on the MA Professional Creative Writing degree; The Novel and Creative Non-Fiction, writing for Stage and Screen, Genre Fiction, Emerging Writing Specialisms,  Working as a Professional Writer and Creative Dissertation appeals to me as this will all allow me to explore and construct new and different writing projects in traditional, contemporary and emerging forms. 

Having the module handbook at hand, I saw all of the modules are mandatory as they are all key professional genres as writers focus on narritive and voice in professional industry project briefs. While I was reading about each module, I couldn’t help but mentally plan ideas of creative projects for each assignment criteria…

The Novel and Creative Nonfiction

The first of the six modules on the course, we will read and analyse the creative workings of other writers while studying the components of fictional and creative non fictional narratives, gaining technical and theoretical tools to plan and write the opening chapters of a piece of extended prose of our own creation in a fiction or creative nonfiction form, style and narrative.

While creating the opening chapters to my extended piece of fiction or non-fiction, I would need to complete extensive research for my novel and its opening chapters through sources, content from my writers diary and the writers retreats available for this module. I would need to complete further research into marketing my piece through constructing a synopsis and package for a publisher to accompany the openning chapters of my overall novel and non-fiction as I target publishers and/or literary agents. 

I know the one project that would be perfect for this module. My novel series ‘Realms of Magic.’  a project that I’ve been wanting to pursue for a while and have been writing it in my spare time but one that I hope to get professional feedback on as well as peer feedback to improve it. I can show my tutors the version of the opening chapters that I’ve been working on my gap year and see how I can take it that step forward to catch the eye of publishers and agents. I can then develop the synopsis to capture the essence of the latest version and develop a package for a publisher based on the novel would you I haven’t had a chance to do before. The module may help me to get my novel developed and help get it to a publisher in the industry. 

Writing for Stage and Screen

This module’s aim is to give me and other students the essential tools to write  for performance writing (film, tv, theatre), students will be expected to read and experience a wide range of contemporary dramatic output – plays, television programmes and movies, developing understanding of the media and improve their own practice and analyse traditional and emerging patterns of dramatic production. As students we would study the different forms, playwriting, writing for television and screenwriting in detail before starting to work on our own original piece.     

The project will involve me to write a 30-minute original stage play, a ‘pilot’ for an original television drama or comedy, a short film or the opening 30 pages of a feature. It will focus on the elements of storytelling common to all genres: premise, theme, ‘active question’ (or dilemma), character, action and dialogue with an emphasis on creating compelling characters in confronting situations and choices to engage audiences. 

I will be able to create an original story in a format that is off professional standard and can be submitted to industry professionals such as directors, literary managers, producers and heads of development. My idea for this module is to write a police drama that I have been attempting to establish for a while now. I have the content and the overall story figured out, but I haven’t managed to craft it suit a traditional script no have the knowledge to place it into the formal layout that is expected by industry professionals.

Writing Genre Fiction

As part of this module I can gain technical and theoretical tools and explore the conventions around the horror, crime, science fiction and fantasy genres and write creatively in all these genres, including key features such as audience expectations and convensions of the plot and structure, characterisation etc. 

I, as a student would study classic and contemporary texts around each of the genres, learning about the market and industry surrounding it. 

I will then formulate and develop ideas through drafting, self-critism and reflection on my own part before researching through writers retreats and other sources before creating an original short story or sample novel chapters in my chosen genre. Using my project, I can then research the correct market even further to prepare my piece for a competitions and/or possible publication.

Out of the genres it looks like we are to focus on, I would favour to write in fantasy. I have another piece of fiction that I would love to get off the ground. However, I am open to new genres ans will hold my decsion on what to write until I would need to decide.

Emerging Writing Specialisms

I as a student would be able to learn craft and style in new emerging forms of writing such as eco-writing, experimental poetry, the graphic novel, writing for video games and new crime genres. These options vary year to year, determined by staff expertise and informed by student interest but are thought to include at least three of those options. 

After experimenting writing in these forms, I would chose to specialise in two of these forms, studying key work around these forms and allow this research as well as my research from the writers retreats to influence my creative piece. I would need to self reflect and self critique on my develop my newly constructed pieces to develop the pieces further and prepare them for submissions to competirons and/or publication.

Personally, I am not sure which of the two options I pursue as of yet, maybe graphic novel and crime writing but I am open to new options.

Professional Development: Working as a Professional Writer

This module is focused on individual students’ independent journey in their professional development as we navigate the complex, diverse and increasingly multicultural world of the creative and media industries; including networking with agencies, publishers and media professionals. We as students will be articulating and communicating the industry while remaining to our own artistic vision and creative outputs to the demands of the industry.

Personally I would find this module very helpful and informative to enable me to self develop my work as well as acquire the right skills for my creative work on the relevant writers retreats and elsewhere as well as on a personal level and  give me a professional outlook to be able to get my foot in the door and into the world of publishing. It is something I’ve been working towards for a few years now but from module to be dedicated towads it is going to give me that extra boost.

Creative Dissertation

In the final module of this masters degree, I will create and construct a creative research project appropriate to Master’s level, studying a range of research methods alongside study research and data collection techniques to influence my overall project. The module will also cover how to form my project to academic writing standards, completing practice-based research and an appropriate strategy before writing my final creative dissertation.

After a stressful but productive time on my master’s degree I can finally work independently and focus my time, my research from writers retreats and other sources as well as current and newly acquired skills that I have gathered during my studies into my own final creative dissertation, with support and guidance from my tutors and my dissertation supervisor.

At present I’m thinking of pursuing my novel series ‘Realms of Magic’ as my final creative dissertation. This is strong ongoing projects of mine and I really enjoy working on this project and want to aim to see that finished product. If it goes to plan i would have submitted the opening chapters as part of the first module will already have assisted me and I can then persue to work on it even further. But the course may drive my creative dissertation into a different direction to what I originally intended to do.

Writers Diary

As a MA Professional Creative Writing, I keep a writer’s diary or journal throughout the direction of the course. I can either keep it as a physical journey or an online blogging format. The content encouraged is detailed self-reflection and self-critism on each of the modules and the projects I create and my overall thoughts and development as a writer, both within the course and my outer journey as well.  This diary will be expected to be updated regularly as it will be needed to be enclosed within the submissions of each of the modules in the course. 

Personally, I feel its a good idea to keep such a record in either of these forms, it will allow me to have confidence and self discipline to keep such a thing. I would launch mine in a blog format and when I’m feeling down about my work and uncreative, it will hopefully give me that reassuring nudge. 

Part-time Pathway

If I was to become a student on the MA Professional Creative Writing degree, I think I would go for the part-time option which means I would complete the course over the duration of two years. The course director expressed that he thinks I should go down this route as it has a lot of benefits. I would be less likely to be juggling as many projects at once, meaning I could use the additional time to concentrate and develop and practise my style of writing and enhance my writing further to produce creative work to a higher standard. I would also have the duration of the summer between my first and second year to plan and research my dissertation, maybe even try and make a start.  

The timetable for a part time student might also be beneficial to me as it would usually take place over two days which would make the commuting from Birmingham to Coventry easier. It would allow me to manage my time better as well as my writing.  

Personally, I feel the part-time pathway is for me because I aim to get the most out of the course and I think it will be best for my stress levels.

Disability 

Following the meeting with the course director, my dad and I went to a meeting with a member of the disability team which we had organised the previous day. We spoke at length about myself, my academic requirements as well as personal requirements if I was to become a student here at Coventry University. The member of the disability team seemed open and reassured me that they could accommodate my needs accordingly. 

We spoke about my need to apply to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and the whole process and this would fund my need for a notetaker and study support tutor, I found this refreshed my memory as I had forgotten what I needed to do to apply. She also expressed that my DSA also covered travel expenses which would be needed as I would be comuting instead of living in student accommodation. As a disabled student at Coventry University I would be given access to the learning support centre where I could use as a place to go and study as an alternitive to the library. I can get extra support outside my study support tutor funded by my DSA if needed.

One pressing concern that we did raise with the member of the disability team was the lack of suitable toilets for myself. I stressed that I could not find a suitable one for this visit but I would definitley be in need of one if I chose to study here. The member of the disability team admitted that she didn’t know of a suitable one within the University, only ones in Coventry, but if I did chose to attend Coventry University, she would make some serious enquiries and ensure that one or two hoists or hoisting facilities like ‘Changing Places’ were put into place in time for my studies. 

Overall Thoughts

Coventry University is definitely a strong option despite some of the difficulties. The campus and the lack of the hoisting facilities at Coventry University is a concern and it is definitely items to factor in when making my final decision but otherwise the University itself is very strong.Following the meeting at Coventry University I was contacted quite promptly by the course director and the member of the disability team, touching base and any updates they had for me.

The course director had already gotten in touch with the disability team regarding me as a potential student and has been in touch with me more lately regarding my application, while the disability team had successfully located a ‘Changing Places’ facility in a building which would be a short distance away from where my lectures would be based. This was a great discovery as this resolved one of my major concerns. These emails were much appreciated and it definitely showed that both people showed initiative to take an issue and follow it up as needed.  

 I immediently fell in love from the course and the oppitunities it offers from the start. The course enables you to practise your prefered areas of writers as well as introduces you to more, you can then enhance creative work up to professional standards and incorporates professional content, advice and coaching towards the industry to allow writers to be prepared for a career in the industry.   

Consideration 

For these reasons, MA Professional Creative Writing at Coventry University is a strong contender when making my final application!

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