1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Creative and Critical Writing

Develop your own creative writing while engaging in intensive study of critical theory.

Our MA is driven by the sense that the critical and the creative are necessarily intertwined. It has grown out of longstanding teaching and research interests in:

  • creative writing
  • psychoanalysis
  • cultural materialism
  • eco-writing
  • postcolonialism
  • deconstruction
  • feminism 
  • queer theory.

Our faculty includes professional authors and researchers of international standing.

You read, think and write in the fertile intersections of the critical and the creative, developing indispensable skills and insight.”Camila Bostock
Creative and Critical Writing MA
English PhD research student

Key facts

  • Our research quality was ranked in the top 10 in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • English at Sussex is ranked in the top 15 in the UK (The Guardian University Guide 2018, The Complete University Guide 2018 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017and in the top 100 in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.
  • Your teaching is underpinned by the interdisciplinary research carried out in the Centre for Creative and Critical Thought.

How will I study?

You have the opportunity to develop your own creative writing with:

  • taught modules
  • independent study
  • tutorial advice.

In the summer term, you undertake supervised dissertation work, which includes critical discussion and creative writing.

You're assessed by term papers and a dissertation of up to 15,000 words, of which up to 10,000 words may be creative writing.

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to study this course full time or part time. Find the modules for the full-time course below. 

For details about the part-time course structure, contact Nicholas Royle at

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Creative and Critical Writing Dissertation

      60 credits
      Summer Teaching, Year 1

      This module gives you the opportunity to undertake supervised work on a dissertation of up to 20,000 words, on a topic of your choice agreed with your supervisor. If you are a part-time student, you will begin your background reading for the dissertation in the first summer term and vacation of your studies.


    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Blackness, Innocence, Modernity

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

    • Creativity and Utopia

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module explores the intimate relationship between creativity and utopia, as it is played out in literary and theoretical texts from More to the present day. It examines the extent to which the art work can create new worlds (brave or otherwise), and traces the historical changes in the utopian function of literature, in its various philosophical, literary and theoretical manifestations. After an initial grounding in More's "Utopia", the module moves through some key eighteenth and nineteenth century utopias, before focusing on the ways in which utopian thought is refashioned in modernist and contemporary writing. In paying attention to the changing function of utopian thinking in twentieth century literature, the module also explores how the theoretical developments of the modern and contemporary period have inherited a utopian legacy. How has Marxist utopian thinking informed modern and contemporary utopianism? How does the Frankfurt School investment in utopian thought relate to Derridean and Deleuzian conceptions of utopian possibility? The relationship between creativity and utopia will be explored both through the reading of several key utopian texts, and through reflections on the practice of creative writing.

    • Psychoanalysis and Creative Writing

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Psychoanalysis has exciting and major implications for all kinds of writing, not least that sort called 'creative'. This module will focus on some of the ways in which a close reading of psychoanalytic texts, especially those of Sigmund Freud himself, can be linked to the theory and practice of creative writing. We will look in particular detail at how Freud's work illuminates the question of literature (and vice versa) in relation to such topics as the uncanny, fantasy and day-dreaming, story-telling and the death drive, chance, humour, mourning and loss. Concentrating on detailed reading and discussion of a series of psychoanalytic, critical and literary texts, the module will lead you through to having an opportunity to submit a term-paper work that may (if you wish) include a creative writing as well as a critical component.

    • Capital and Poetics

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      In the wake of the end of the Cold War and especially since September 11, as neoconservatives replaced Marxism with 'terrorism' as their new and irrational enemy, many writers in America and Europe sought with redoubled commitment to revitalise elements of Marxist thinking in their creative practice: to confront the new dominant form of rationality with a creative rationality of the dominated.

      This module will investigate the history and present significance of that commitment in several ways: through study of the tradition of Marxist thinking about the relation of aesthetics to social and political life; through consideration of mainstream trends in contemporary literature and the economic and political interests they reflect and fortify; and through the evaluation of theoretical claims made by contemporary writers themselves, both in creative writing and in criticism, about their own strategies of opposition and the problem of their potential efficacy.

    • Deconstruction and Creative Writing

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module focuses on deconstruction, especially in relation to the work of Jacques Derrida, and on the theory and practice of creative writing. Following a preliminary discussion of the question 'what is deconstruction?', we will explore a series of topics including the gift, madness, secrets and drugs. You will explore texts by Kafka, Borges, Katherine Mansfield, Blanchot and Harry Mathews, for example, as well as work by Derrida and Cixous. You will concentrating on detailed reading and discussion of a range of deconstructive, critical and literary texts.

      You will have the opporutinity to submit a term-paper that can (if you wish), include a creative writing as well as a critical component.

    • Experimental Writing

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module considers why and how writers produce new forms. We will explore the historical and current uses of a variety of names for writing that defies generic expectations ('innovative', 'avant-garde', 'experimental', 'difficult' and 'cross-genre' to name a few).

      You are required to read a wide range of exemplary texts (likely but not necessarily chosen from the modern and contemporary periods) that eschew easy generic categorisation. A particular theme or problem may be selected by the tutor each year (e.g. cross-genre writing, innovative poetics, documentary writing orspeculative fiction). Readings might include work by Walter Benjamin, Andrea Brady, Anne Carson, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Renee Gladman, Bernadette Mayer, Fred Moten, Harryette Mullen, Maggie Nelson, Raymond Queneau, Charles Resnikoff, Sophie Robinson, Fran Ross, Muriel Rukeyser and Monique Wittig.

      Critical inquiry will focus on the effects of formal techniques within specific literary historical and social contexts. You will also develop your own writing and up to 50% of class time may be devoted to workshopping student work. As a writer you may be asked to identify the tensions or contradictions that animate your writing and to work up in structured, experimental or procedural fashion a set of formal mechanisms for reframing these tensions.

      The module will help you to bring creative writing and critical practice together in order to best navigate your aims and objectives for writing. Final assessment will involve a critical/creative dissertation of 6,000 words.

    • Voices in the Archives: Writing from History

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      In this module you will consider how writers draw on history to shape their creative writing.

      You will think about how different literary genres engage with the past through form, narrative and literary language, and look at the cultural impact of contemporary historical fiction. You will also consider work by poets and film-makers.

      Authors studied may include Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison, Hilary Mantel, David Dabydeen, Mario Petrucci, George Szirtes and Michel Hazanavicius.

      You will take part in creative workshops and develop key research skills, exploring the methodological implications of using physical and virtual archives.

      You will work with historical newspapers, letters, diaries, prints, photographs and other documents to experiment with using language from the past to inflect contemporary voices.

      Topics for discussion include the critical and ethical implications of writing about real historical events and characters. You will consider how contemporary writing is founded on a long tradition of writing from history, often re-visiting the past with a particular political or creative agenda, from Shakespeare and Dickens onwards.

      You'll also explore how recent historical fiction interacts with other genres, for example in the fantasies of Susanna Clarke and Angela Carter and consider theoretical work on memory and nostalgia by critics such as Mieke Bal and Svetlana Boym.

Entry requirements

Students will normally have an upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above or, in exceptional cases, be able to provide evidence of equivalent professional or artistic experience. Applications must be accompanied by a short sample of recent, unpublished writing (creative or critical).

English language requirements

Higher level (IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Meet the people teaching and supervising on your course.

  • Faculty profiles

    Prof Peter Boxall
    Professor of English

    Research interests: Modernist and contemporary writing

    View profile

    Prof Nicholas Royle
    Professor of English

    Research interests: English and American literature

    View profile

    Dr Minoli Salgado
    Reader in English

    Research interests: Biopolitics, Creative Writing, Human Rights Discourse, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Salman Rushdie, South Asian Literature in English, Terror and Transnational Writing, Trauma studies

    View profile

    Dr Samuel Solomon
    Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing

    Research interests: Contemporary Poetry, Creative and critical writing, Feminist theory, Gender and Sexuality, Literary And Cultural Theory, Marxism, Modernist and contemporary writing, Print Culture

    View profile

    Dr Bethan Stevens
    Lecturer in English and Creative & Critical Writing

    Research interests: Book Illustration, Creative and critical writing, Historical Fiction, Modernism, Museum Studies, popular culture, The History of Printmaking, The Long Nineteenth Century, The Novel, The Short Story, Victorian culture, Word and Image Theory

    View profile

    Prof Keston Sutherland
    Professor of Poetics

    Research interests: Contemporary Poetry, Critical Theory, Marx, Philosophy, Poetics, psychoanalysis, Romanticism, Samuel Beckett, Wordsworth

    View profile


Graduate destinations

93% of students from the School of English were in work or further study six months after graduating. Our students have gone on to jobs including:

  • publications controller, Oxford University Press
  • web content developer, The British Library
  • bookshop manager, Waterstones.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

At Sussex, you gain skills in critical assessment and written communication while also developing your abilities in problem solving and independent thinking. Creative and Critical Writing graduates often use these skills in careers in:

  • publishing, journalism and editing
  • libraries, teaching and consultancy
  • media, marketing and events management.

Other graduates have gone on to do further research and work in academia. Some of our MA students have taken up funded doctoral study at universities including Cambridge, Bristol, Johns Hopkins, Pennsylvania, Yale and Sussex, among many others.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Contact us