My Life, Student Life

Applying to Masters in Creative Writing

Considering to do a postgraduate degree a big decision and I wanted to ensure that I was completely happy with a decision to pursue a masters degree. I made sure to look at all the original courses that caught my interest, University of Birmingham, De Montfort University, University of Derby, Coventry University and Nottingham-Trent University, weighing up pros and cons. I finally decided to apply to University of Birmingham and Coventry University…

Application – University of Birmingham

Considering University of Birmingham as an option. I proceeded to fill out an application for the MA Creative Writing course; via the submission deadline as recommended by tutors who I spoke to on the open day.

University of Birmingham is a redbrick University and I immediately felt that added pressure to get into University of Birmingham. I knew the acceptions of applications would possibly be higher than other Universities. However, I was really keen on the course so I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply.

Unlike applying for an undergraduate degree where people would apply though UCAS and a generic application form to fill out for up to five Universities, a postgraduate degree often requires you to apply through the individual University websites you have chosen. I was actually more nervous to apply through the website itself as I felt that pressure again. But, at the same time I was able to focus more on exactly what this University needed from me.

I made sure to check the University of Birmingham’s application guidelines to ensure that I had or could get access to exactly what I needed for its completion. According to the details I accessed via the website, the application needed, my personal information, education details, academic references, transcripts, my final undergraduate certificate, details of my work experience and a written personal statement and a written extract of work to show my abilities for the MA Creative Writing course.

First I compiled all of the documents I had at hand before I made enquires and request the documentation that I was missing elsewhere. Having graduated in 2019 with a Bachelors Degree 2:1 in Creative Writing and Journalism at De Montfort University, I did not have to wait to receive my grade which was great, I knew that I had secured the appropriate grade to get onto this masters degree.

Personal information

The first section I came to was filling out my personal information, requiring me to provide my name, contact details and address etc. It was simple but robotic. I was detached and felt it time-consuming but I do understand the need for it. I had to be mindful that the information I provided was the most up to date. I had to be very careful and re-read the area to ensure accuracy.

Education

The next section in the application asked me to fill out the details of my education. It was slightly different to UCAS, which only asked for grades and the awarding body, taking my word for qualifications. University of Birmingham’s application required me to send educational transcripts, detailing my complete education at De Monfort University or HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record) as they are known now.

As I didn’t have these immediately at hand nor was sent these in the post, I began to panic, how was I going to get a copy? I contacted De Montfort University and they told me it would take 14 days for a printed HEAR to be sent to me and it would cost me a fee. I would then have to scan it in to the application in the designated section. There must have been an easier way then I discovered as a graduate there is a way of accessing them online <INSERT LINK> as a result of my Bachelor’s Degree.

BUT then I received an email from University of Birmingham stating that they could not accept this version and it had to come directly from De Monfort University on official headed paper.

This section was rather complicated.

References & Work Experience

This section asked for two academic references and one reference from a previous or current job. I was also required to provide a copy of my CV with a full education record, along with other experience and skills. This wasn’t something I had to do as part of my UCAS form three years ago. I had no problem with uploading a CV as I make an effort to regularly update it for this very reason. Then, a previous job of mine was most helpful in providing me with a reference for my application. This was the easy part.

Acquiring academic references were harder. University of Birmingham required for me to contact my tutors from De Montfort University and request for them to send me the references for me to upload to my application. I was nervous about asking for academic references, is always something I’ve been nervous about to ask people to this type of thing. I needed to grow in confidence here. But I was lucky that both my tutors both agreed to give me academic references but they preferred to send it directly to the University of Birmingham as opposed to sending it to me to upload. Though I appreciated their preference to do this, I did become anxious about whether they would be written and provided within adequate time. I informed University of Birmingham of this and kept chasing them myself for these references. The more and more time passed with no news from anyone, I couldn’t help but become increasingly anxious by the day but in the end they kindly provided the references.

Personal Statement

I found writing a personal statement difficult at first as I knew I was applying directly through the university website and as it is a postgraduate degree I felt that extra need to choose my words very carefully so that I could get onto the course.

First I described a bit about myself before describing my current projects with links to literature I’ve been reading and illustrated how the material helped me to generate ideas. I went on to explore other genres and types of writing that I would like to do alongside Middle Earth. From this, I moved on to the related experience that I have had within the industry that could link to this course. I was careful to highlight in particular the experience I had in publishing through my undergraduate degree where I published a book of short stories and I also made sure to include that I had a 2:1 in a related subject to the course I was applying to.

I finished off by stating what I would like to get out of the course which immediately was the skills and abilities to be able to get my work published as well as a clearer mind into how the industry operated and what I would need to expect when I pursue my career as a writer

As I wrote the personal statement only concentrated on everything I needed to put in there but editing it was the most difficult as it could only be roughly one page long and I had to share everything in equal but measured amounts to showcase myself and my abilities I edited it a number of times before finally choosing on my final draft but even here I had to pray and believe in my own abilities that I had submitted a strong personal statement.

Here are my tips on writing your statement:

  • Get everything down first, yourself, talents and what you want to get out of course and your hopes for future
  • save this version and keep editing and reviewing it but don’t put stress on oneself. You’ll drive yourself mad
  • Have other people read it for clarity check, spelling and grammar but it’s your personal statement so you need to make the decision on the one you are going to submit to uni

Written Extract

A key component of my application to University was to submit a written extract of 2,000 words. First of all, I considered to submit an extract from my book of short stories that I had published as part of my undergraduate degree. I wanted to show the University of Birmingham that had a physical book published through my undergraduate degree.

But then it hit me, I decided to send me an extract from a big ongoing project that I am very passionate about at the moment. A fantasy fiction novel called ‘Middle Earth’. I have always been about the ability to take myself out of one world and put myself within another, the ability to escape from reality if only for a short time.

This novel that I’ve been writing is one that I wish to pursue and develop in my career as a writer especially after participating in NaNoWriMo 2019 <insert link to NanoWrimo website> where I had the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It was a big intimidating challenge but it really helped me to evolve my worldbuilding even further and understand my characters even more. Reading books like Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken and Harley Merlin and the Secret coven by Bella Forrest definitely help but to have the challenge to write that many words in such a short amount of time really helped me focus and it’s one project I am really proud of.

Choosing one particular extract out of my fantasy fiction novel was challenging though. I currently have different versions of my fantasy-fiction novel at hand and I couldn’t decide which one to use for the extract to go with my application. I had the option to submit the chapters that I completed as part of one of my final projects in my undergraduate degree as I did work on that version for a long time or I could submit the extract I wrote as part of the Nanowrimo challenge, although at the time I wasn’t sure whether the ones I developed here would have at a good enough standard in an application for a master’s degree. There was the option to submit the chapters that I have been working on in the time since leaving De Montfort University. I kept going back and forth on which one to choose. After some deliberation and some craftsmanship, I decided to submit the opening two chapters of the novel as I felt they were some of the strongest chapters and and and they gave a good insight into the overall novel.

I was also given the chance to submit any further documentation which could support my application in any way, so I chose to upload and submit the synopsis to my entire novel so people could grasp the overall concept to it as well as reading the extract that I provided.

Conclusion

Once every section of the application was filled in, I read and rewrite everything over to make sure that I hadn’t missed any crucial details. I also checked over my writing extract to make sure I was completely happy with it. When I had done this, I requested that someone else read over my application and my writing extract with fresh eyes to see if they could see any errors that I had missed.

Once I had done this, I officially submitted my application. I knew that if I didn’t do it at that time, I would just drive myself crazy and it would never be submitted. I waited nervously for a response and hoped that I had secured a place on the MA Creative Writing course at University of Birmingham.

Application – Coventry  University

I immediately fell in love from the course and the opportunities 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. Country University encourages practise based modules focused on traditional, modern and new content. Students are able to attend writers retreats to influence and practise their own perfered areas of writing as well as attempting new and exciting areas. The course allows students to develop their own work and craft it into industry-level material.  

Feeling enthusiastic about ‘Professional Creative Writing’ at Coventry University  I proceeded to fill out an application for the course to submit before Easter as recommended.

The ‘Apply Now’ button was on the course page and it required me to set up a login in, complete with email and password before taking me to the main application Where the tool was clear to help me apply. Compared to UCAS and the University of Birmingham, applying to Coventry using their application tool was easy. The process was just filling in the boxes under the following headings:

  • Personal Details – Birthdate, gender names, nationality, disability etc.
  • Address  and contact details
  • Courses Applied For, including mode of study and qualification level (course code was on the website)
  • Course Fees
  • Education History, including previous university and academic reference
  • Qualifications, including previous degree type, completion, and place of study,
  • Employability History
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Submit Application

I found this a much easier process as I had everything at hand including references and my certificate ready to upload.

Referencing

I was able to enter my educational history complete with the name and contact details of two academic references after completing the form, this section was followed by an email saying that the university had not yet obtained references but they sent me my Application ID for the lecturers to quote when they wrote a reference.

Then I had to add my employment details and references, which I chose Birmingham Phab Camps. The chair-person was happy to give e a reference. This was an easier process than getting academic references.

Personal Statement

I used the same base as my Birmingham statement but tailored it to Coventry, tightened it up and made reference to Coventry’s course. Uploading the statement with my qualification certificate. A simple step to complete the application. All that was left was the terms and conditions and press submits – once the certificate was scanned in. 

Some students are requested to submit a portfolio of written work, but as I had a degree in a related course, I did not need to write a piece of work for submission. Even if I wanted to, it was not an option on my particular application. The university took my degree as proof of considerable experience at an appropriate professional level.

Conclusion

I found this application process easy and with the help of the tutor that I spoke to at my Coventry visit, I was able to submit easy. It was an anxious wait, but I did receive an unconditional offer for a place on the course for the next academic year.

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