My Life, Student Life

Masters in Creative Writing – Nottingham-Trent University

Introduction 


The fifth and final University that I decided to research into was Nottingham Trent University (NTU) which had a MA Creative Writing  degree, I was interested to look into the course as Nottingham is known for a high literature area with a good representation. I have also heard from people that Nottingham Trent University is a very good University and people have had positive expierences.  


The course encourages students to get involved with everything available including writing and academic activities and events that would take place. A community of writers will be formed, students and tutors alike as individuals share creative pieces and provide editorial support and advice as well as constructive criticism. This will help us examine and identify our writing as well as strengths and weaknesses in our own writing to improve efficiently.
As well as the course and its modules, students can explore the importance of writers/readers relationship in a creative and hopefully inspiration space.

Tutors will also highlight and advice on trends and industry perspectives and skills such as research effectively and efficiently and the ability to feel confident enough to public speak, networking with editors and agents leading to the opportunities to publish. 
NTU’s MA in Creative Writing offers one core module,Writing: Research Methods, Theory and Practice, four modules including poetry, fiction, Writing for Stage, Radio and Screen, Children and Young adults fiction and finally a dissertation. 

Campus/Uni

The course caught my interest and I booked myself onto the next open evening that Nottingham-Trent University was hosting. On the day of the open evening, my dad and I drove to Nottingham which took us about an hour from Birmingham. 


If I were to become a student at NTU I would travel on train to and from Nottingham to get to my classes and campus. It is a direct, little over an hour to get there, but its doable given the classes and timetable is accommodating.  

NTU is split into a number of campuses and where MA Creative Writing would be held is on Clifton Campus, one campus that is on the outer side of Nottingham. This would be more difficult, but maybe still possible.


On arrival I saw that the buildings had a newish look to them and a fresh vibe, it looked slightly startling to the eye while in an enclosed space. Besides from a few tall curbs, the accessibility around campus is good with ramps and flat entrances accessing all buildings and the library.


Classes on the course are thought to be located in one or two buildings on campus which is so much easier for me than walking back and fourth, trying to make it in time for each class. Of course, this depends on timetabling. According to the staff member, giving the chat on the open evening, all the classes on the course would be in the evenings. This defintley meant there was no risk of 9am classes, however classes in the evenings defintley would make things challenging.   


The member of staff giving the open evening talk was really nice. The course sounded to be mostly made up of mature students, the classes being in the evening. The member of staff also informed me that they have had disabled students on the course before and I found this reassuring. 

Module Overview 


The course at NTU is a broad course which offers one core module and four option modules. Poetry, Fiction, Writing for Radio, Stage and Screen and Children and Young Adult Fiction. Every module has individual assignments designed specifically for their purpose. Through the course, students will become a part of a lively community of writers as students work through group and individual tasks as they experiment with genres, forms and styles in employability focused modules.


Students will have a forum to share work between themselves as well as time in workshops and lectures to provide constructive criticism and feedback on each other’s work as well as in depth editorial discussions. All encouraging create imagination in all work produced. The content, while encouraging and focusing on employability they will also allow experimentation and freedom with creative written work. Individual will also get input from agents and editors within the course.

Writing: Research Methods, Theory and Practice

This is a core module within the course which is an introduction to the MA Creative Writing course. The content of the lectures and workshops will discuss trends and workings of the industry. In doing so students will touch on issues and learn key skills to use in their writing. 
Through this module, individuals can practice and apply disciplines to influence others and their writing when providing editorial guidance as well as criticism.

These disciplines and techniques can be applied to individuals writing capabilities to improve professionally. Within this module there will be a number of crucial activities to improve individual writing and technical abilities. In doing this writers will develop a number research, editing, critique skills to benifit one’s writing.  This module will be taught by lectures but there are also guest speakers including agents, editors and other professionals. Content will cover those in the option modules and many others. This will then lead onto fundamental work towards the industry and to develop work to catch the eye of agents, editors and other professionals.


First of the three assignments within the module has an objective to name and identify one writer that has been a high influence to you personally  and as an aspiring writer and use their work as examples when discussing own writing and showing how one has learned from this to improve and to further one’s journey in the industry.


Personally, I think I would choose JK Rowling as the base of this piece. The author has always inspired me, she tells a fantastic story over seven books of one character’s journey, it is so intricate and detailed, but it has layers of past events and stories woven in between the original imaginative piece of narrative. I would love to do the same in my own writing and I would love the chance to highlight this in this assignment.


The second assignment within the module is  to explore one of the topics touched on in this module sessions and develop a creative piece surrounding this, then construct a critical and reflective piece. Obviously not being a member of the University at present, I wouldn’t know exactly the content of each session so I can not comment on this exactly but I am open to new topics and different forms and styles depending on the topic I choose to base this assignment on.


The third assignment within this module is around the anthology we have created as a collective group. Individually we reflect on one or more of the following; editorial process, production, design, marketing and audience development; the publishingindustry or researching the anthology. Of course I wouldn’t know until I became a student but at first sight I would feel very nervous about this assignment.

Option Modules 

Within the course, there are four modules that all are worth 40-credits. As part of the course students are to take two of the four options available and as it currently stands the modules are that follows…

  • Poetry 
  • Fiction 
  • Writing For Radio, Stage and screen
  • Children’s & Young Adult Fiction

Students have the opportunity to pick two options and develop knowledge and skills in two areas of writing. These two modules are predominantly workshop based as work is constructed and developed. It is a chance to to attempt new forms and styles of writing that you may of never have tried.

Being able to exchange pieces of work in these areas will help others and yourself build confidence, provide effective editing advice and guidance as you experience these areas as well enabling passion and voice. This leads to two assignments at the end of the option modules, one long piece along with a reflective commentary and a shorter piece, accompanied with a reflective commentary.

Option One: Poetry

First of the four option modules is Poetry. One of the aims of the modules is for students to develop their poetry they may have already written as well as general skills and techniques they have in the area. Individual students will be able to expand their collection of poetry, range and themes as well, Experimenting and express their voice and freedom in poetry as the module progresses. Students will work on poetry that will then be shared with others, edit effectively and provide criticism which will help others to improve work up to publishable material.


There are two assignments that make up the module. One being a constructive critique of another student’s poetry work. Honestly, I don’t know whether I’d feel comfortable doing this.

Needing to give constructive feedback and criticism in workshop sessions is one thing I have become used to doing and its become second nature and I like doing it to help them and appreciate it when they do it for me, but to do it for an assignment is something else.


Second of the two assignments is to write a sequence of poems which are formed and consist of 180 lines as well as a reflective commentary. The theme of the poetry hasn’t been specified and I’m guessing students will learn the possibilities when a part of the module. 
Personally, poetry isn’t my strong suit so this wouldn’t be an option I would choose.

Option Two: Fiction

The second of the options was fiction, set to capture the attention of short story and novel writers. In workshop sessions, students are to enhance their techniques and skills in the area, while also examining fiction literature to identify the techniques and styles of published fiction work to see if the skills can be imitated for own purposes. 

Students will always be able to have input from fellow fiction writers to provide support, editorial discussions and redraft guidance as others develop and refine craft, skills and techniques in personal fiction writing.

All which hopefully will lead to publishable material. Straight away, I already see the possible freedom the module gives students.Two assignments make up the module, the first being a 2,000 word short story with a critical commentary. At undergraduate level, I did struggle to write a piece that was 2,000 words long, most assignments were this long, struggling to build a strong foundation of a piece and build the foundation into a strong piece of fiction.

However, this was at undergraduate level and I have had practice during my degree and since graduating, so maybe I would be better doing it now, especially if we get more practice doing so during masters.

In regards to the submission itself, I think I word try a complete new story depending on inspiration given to me in the module. I am open to new ideas and can and will use the potential freedom of the module to mold it into a piece of strong fiction.The other assignment is to complete a story of 4,500 words or the opening chapters of such. 

Alongside this, a synopsis is needed with a critical essay. At first thought, my mind automatically goes to using the fantasy-fiction novel I am working on, but then again, I could try a new story or unearth one of my other stories that I have written and combine fiction with another genre.

Personally, I think I would pursue fiction as one of my options if I did chose this University. 

Option Three: Writing For Radio, Stage & Screen

The third option available at NTU is ‘Writing For Radio, Stage & Screen’ to examine as produce scripts for the stage, for radio and for screen. In doing so, will study craft, techniques and dramatic form, while learning to critique other’s work. 

Screenings and viewings will be arranged through the course as students will discuss the role and responsibility in the theatre, film-making, television and radio industries as an understanding and use of staging, structure, characterisation, action, plot, and story in formed. 

There will be individual work and group calibration as students will develop original ideas and practice abilities to write dialogue and description for the correct format techniques in a dramatic form.

Sessions will be provided to share scripts of various lengths and genres to enable editing to produce the content and format to a professional high standard.  Two assignments are in the module, one is to write a 10-minute play for either for radio or stage with a commentary.

Straight away, I know this sort of a piece would take some careful planning and crafting. I would possible craft an idea which would end on a cliff-hanger of some type.   

Assignment two is a commentary to coincide with a 30-minute original script for radio, stage or screen. Here is something for me, I have a script that I have tried to write for ages and this may be my opportunity. Writing For Radio, Stage & Screen is defiantly an option I would pursue if I became a student at NTU. 

Option Four: Children & Young Adult Fiction

Fourth and final module ‘Children & Young Adult Fiction’ encourages students to write for children and young adults aged six to sixteen, examing the reading age and get a broad outlook of different levels of fiction and craft and create writing to effectively target individual audiences.

There will be interactive seminars and workshops to develop this level of input. The module is split into two semesters, the first being designed for writers to grasp writing styles and activities, leading up to the first assignment to produce a short piece of fiction with a reading age of eight.

While in the second semester, students will have the opportunity to develop a piece of fiction in their chosen age range which will be influenced by a level of workshop content and fellow students’ input, shared between themselves which will congregate in a main assignment. 

During my undergraduate degree, I did a near enough identical module to this one. I have had practice writing for these different age ranges, with reflective comentries as well. For the first assignment I am not intially sure my creative fiction or non fictional short story I would write for a eight year old. I would first try and adapt a story I have already started or start fresh, once in the mind of an eight year-old. 

In regards to the second assignment, writing a story or section from a novel aimed at my chosen age range, I could use the fantasy-fiction novel I’ve been writing but I prosed this for a lot of modules and used it for this type of module at undergraduate level, so possibly I could write something else. I don’t think I would complete this module as I did this at undergraduate level and I would like to pursue another option in its place.     

Dissertation 

Students on the MA Creative Writing degree will start their dissertation by submiting a dissertation proposal and will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. Dissertation is an independent project which they will decide what writing to pursue.

Following deciding on topics, students will be required to present ideas to tutors and fellow students. Presenting an oral presentation is counted for 10% of the module and   I am not the most confident with giving a presentation but if it is a project I am passionate about, I might fair better. 


While creating dissertation in their chosen areas students will read an extensive stretch of literature and use research methods to influence an extended piece of original writing. The extended projects can be influenced by the work created in the options modules or genres not covered by option modules, such as creative non-fiction.

Content within the taught modules are good to be referenced in the reflective commentary, regardless of dissertation topic, style and narrative. Students will be given a clear body to which dissertation be incuding world counts based on form chosen to write it.  


I think I would definitely want to pursue my fantasy-fiction novel I have been working on for my dissertation. However, I am also open to new ideas and would see where the course and its content would lead.

I am nervous about the prospect of completing one, but there’s the possibility of students meeting in groups and encouraged to engage in discussions that will assist with the development of final dissertation. 

Full-time Vs. Part-time

Once again, I am to choose whether I want to complete NTU’s MA Creative Writing degree full-time or part-time. There is a breakdown of how the same course differs but what is Important to me is the modules and content is more spread out over two years if students take the part-time option. 


Full time students complete Writing: Research Methods, Theory and Practice, option one and option two and the Dissertation over one academic year. Taking the part-time option means that in the first year, students complete Writing: Research Methods, Theory and Practice and option one of their chosing and dissertation.

 
Personally I would chose the part-time option, it seems more manageable and in doing this I can dedicate more time and effort into each creative piece. The pathway opens more options for me, such as getting a head start on my dissertation, in the summer between the two years of study which would prove valuable.

I could also change my mind on the option I take during second year if I decide to go down a different route to what I had originally planned.  

Disability

Prior to visiting the campus, I found the email address of NTU’s disability team and contacted them directly. The members of the team were quite prompt when responding. I recieved an detailed email of items I should be aware of and how the team could support me.

They were also very open in telling me they currently do not have a hoist available in the toileting facilities but if I did attend they would get one sorted.


On meeting them in person, the disability team already had the details I had provided with them and we spoke at length about about possible other support I would require. Two people were manning the stall, neither of who were the person I communicated with via email and I found two different approaches towards me. 


One, to my annoyance spoke down to me, being very slow with what she was telling me as if I had trouble comprehending everything. I found this insulting especially as I had already informed them what I was coming here to do, I defintley could understand her.

Angry, I directed my attention to the other member of staff who still spoke to me normally. 
Along with explaining the support available, tailored to my information I gave her, a detailed report would be written and sent out to the members of the disability teams as well as the tutors on the course about my specific needs so they are aware of everything.

Study skills and support would be available to me on this campus, but it may be on limited days due to the campus being outside Nottingham but the study support would still be there. 


Unfortunately, due to the campus being outside Nottingham and the classes being at night, transportation to and from the campus would be rare.

For me, this was offputting as though I would be able to travel on the day to get onto the campus prior to classes, studying in the library, but to get off campus and to the train station would be challenging. Near enough impossible due to my access to suitable transportation.

Library

While still on campus as part of the open evening, I was able to take a look inside the NTU library. Controlled by the use of student cards, the doors open automatic and there is flat access to get inside. 

The library, like the campus had a brand new feel to it and clearly looked redesigned. Everything in there was spread out and all students had full access to this well equipped library. 


A librarian was very nice and took time to show me the different parts of the library. There were an extensive number of literature that students could use and then areas and catogries dedicated to each course. All seemed very well organised in a library which is open 24/7 which definitely suits students schedule and which offer online resources. 


From a disability point of view, there was a lift which gave me access to all the levels, although the size of the lift is very thin and it was just able to fit myself and my dad inside it. The space within the library was okay, it was difficult to maneover around some areas but generally it was good.

My concern was with the books being upper shelves being out of reach for me in my wheelchair. Otherwise, there were height ajustable desks as well as other suitable equipment for disabled students.     

Overall Thoughts

My overall thoughts on Nottingham-Trent University are mixed. I really liked the look of the course and its modules, I also liked the campus and some of the facilities.

If I were to submit an application to NTU, I already had a 2:1 in Creative Writing related subject and I could provide all the necessary details and evidence needed for my application. 

However, the location of the campus is too far out of Nottingham for me, I would worry about the social limitations as well as transport and access problems.

The course would also take place in the evening, which would make things impossible, the vital thing being getting to and from campus and home safely, late at night.  

Consideration

Unfortunately I was unable to consider  Nottingham-Trent University as an option for my masters study. 

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