The Creative Writing Program at the University of St. Andrews: A Comprehensive Guide

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a college student looking at her laptop

The Creative Writing Program at the University of St. Andrews: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you ready to unlock your full writing potential? Dive into the world of creative writing and discover the remarkable Creative Writing Program at the prestigious University of St. Andrews.

In this article, we’ll explore the specifics of the program, its curriculum, and the incredible opportunities it provides for budding authors. Join us as we delve into the application process and gain valuable tips for securing your spot in this literary haven. Get ready to be inspired and challenged.

The University of St. Andrews: An Overview

Let’s explore a brief overview of the University of St. Andrews, highlighting its rich history, prestigious reputation, picturesque location, and captivating campus environment.

History and Prestige

Founded in the 15th century, the University of St. Andrews stands as Scotland’s first university and is the third oldest in the English-speaking world. With a heritage steeped in centuries of academic excellence, it has garnered international renown. Its historical significance and commitment to top-tier education have made it a prestigious institution, respected globally for its contributions to higher learning and research.

Location and Campus Environment

Nestled in the charming coastal town of St. Andrews in Scotland, this university enjoys a unique and idyllic setting. Imagine studying amid cobblestone streets, ancient ruins, and the breathtaking backdrop of the North Sea. The town’s intimate size fosters a close-knit academic community, providing students with a welcoming and inspiring environment. The mix of tradition and modernity on campus offers a vibrant atmosphere for learning, making it an ideal place to pursue your educational journey.

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The University of St. Andrews’ legacy and the beauty of its surroundings make it an exceptional choice for those seeking a prestigious institution in a captivating setting.

What Creative Writing Programs Does the University of St. Andrews Offer?

Let’s dive into an overview of the creative writing programs offered by the University of St. Andrews, where your literary aspirations can flourish.

Undergraduate Options

As an undergraduate student at St Andrews, you have the chance to dip your toes into the world of creative writing through the English Department. While St Andrews doesn’t offer a standalone undergraduate creative writing degree, you can choose creative writing modules to enhance your skills.

These modules cover various aspects of creative writing, including poetry, fiction, and drama. Plus, you’ll have the privilege of being mentored by experienced fiction writers, poets, and playwrights who can guide you on your writing journey.

Once you’ve completed your undergraduate studies or if you’re looking to take your creative writing skills to the next level, St Andrews offers several postgraduate options. Let’s explore them one by one:

MLitt in Creative Writing

The MLitt in Creative Writing is designed to help you refine your creative skills. This program offers you a chance to immerse yourself in the art of writing.

It’s a one-year program consisting of two semesters. In the first, you’ll participate in technical seminars, workshops, and receive individualized attention. Then, in the second, you’ll engage in postgraduate supervision, culminating in the submission of a substantial creative work.

MLitt in Playwriting and Screenwriting

Are you passionate about writing for the stage and screen? The MLitt in Playwriting and Screenwriting could be your calling. It’s an excellent opportunity for aspiring playwrights and screenwriters to bring their stories to life.

This one-year program focuses on honing your dramatic storytelling skills. You’ll delve into two semesters of postgraduate supervision, where you’ll develop scripts for the stage, radio, or screen.

MFA in Creative Writing

If you’re aiming for a higher credential and have dreams of teaching creative writing, the MFA in Creative Writing is your ticket. St Andrews is among the first UK universities to offer this degree. This program paves the way for those aiming to teach creative writing in North America and Europe.

It’s a two-year program where you’ll work closely with a world-class writing faculty. Year one aligns with the MLitt program but with a stronger emphasis on contact time. In year two, you’ll focus on producing a substantial piece of creative work.

MFA in Playwriting and Screenwriting

For the budding playwrights and screenwriters, St Andrews offers the MFA in Playwriting and Screenwriting.

This two-year program empowers you to craft compelling stories for the stage and screen. In the first year, you’ll undergo technical seminars and workshops. Year two involves postgraduate supervision, where you’ll create scripts with an eye on performance. Additionally, you’ll gain practical experience in publishing an online magazine.

PhD in Creative Writing

If you’re a creative powerhouse and possess both academic research and creative writing prowess, the PhD in Creative Writing may be the ultimate challenge.

male law student

This program requires a unique combination of talents. To embark on this academic journey, you must approach a suitable supervisor with a research proposal and a sample of your original writing. The duration of this program varies depending on your research project and progress.

In conclusion, the University of St Andrews offers a spectrum of creative writing programs, catering to all levels of expertise and interests. Whether you’re just starting your creative writing journey as an undergraduate or aiming for the highest academic accolades with a PhD, St Andrews provides a nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment to explore your passion for writing.

What are the Benefits of Pursuing Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews?

Enrolling in a creative writing program at the University of St. Andrews holds significant advantages for aspiring writers and literary enthusiasts:

  1. Academic Excellence: The University of St. Andrews is renowned for its academic excellence, and its Creative Writing program is no exception. Students benefit from a high standard of education, guided by experienced faculty members and contemporary authors.
  2. Diverse Specializations: The program offers specializations in poetry, prose, and drama, allowing students to choose the form of writing that resonates with them the most. This diversity fosters creativity and allows for personalized learning experiences.
  3. Individualized Attention: With an emphasis on practice-based learning, students receive individualized attention and mentorship from accomplished authors. This personal guidance helps students hone their writing skills and develop their unique voices.
  4. Creative Community: Enrolling in the program allows you to become part of a vibrant creative community. You’ll interact with fellow writers, participate in workshops, and engage in discussions that nurture your artistic growth. This sense of belonging can be invaluable for aspiring writers.
  5. Global Perspective: St. Andrews’ international reputation means you’ll have the opportunity to connect with writers and scholars from around the world. This global perspective can enrich your writing by exposing you to diverse cultural influences and perspectives.
  6. Career Opportunities: Completing a Creative Writing program at St. Andrews can open doors to various career paths, including writing, publishing, editing, and teaching. The skills and experiences gained are transferable to many professions that value strong communication and creativity.

In summary, enrolling in the Creative Writing program at the University of St. Andrews not only provides a world-class education but also offers a nurturing and diverse environment that fosters creativity and opens doors to a wide range of opportunities in the literary and creative industries.

Opportunities for Publication and Exposure

St. Andrews University offers excellent opportunities for aspiring writers to get their work published and gain exposure. Here’s how:

  • University Press: St. Andrews University has its own vibrant and innovative student press, the St. Andrews University Press. This platform allows students to contribute their work and join the editorial team. It’s a fantastic starting point for those looking to get their writing published within the university community..
  • Literary Journals: The School of English at St. Andrews has a history of publishing literary journals and books, showcasing the works of talented students and faculty members. These publications provide an excellent avenue for students to see their writing in print and gain recognition.
  • Extracurricular Involvement: St. Andrews encourages students to actively engage in extracurricular activities related to writing. Clubs and societies, like the Creative Writing Society, often have opportunities for members to contribute their work to publications associated with these organizations.
  • Competitions and Contests: The university may organize writing competitions and contests in various genres. Winning or even participating in such events can provide exposure and a sense of accomplishment. Keep an eye on announcements and submission deadlines for these contests.
  • Campus Publications: Look out for opportunities to contribute to campus newspapers and magazines. These publications often welcome student submissions and can reach a broad audience within the university.
  • Online Platforms: In the digital age, there are numerous online platforms and blogs where students can share their creative work. St. Andrews supports its students in building an online presence for their writing.
  • Literary Events: Participate in literary events on campus, which can include readings, open mic nights, and author visits. These events not only allow you to showcase your work but also connect with fellow writers and literature enthusiasts.
  • Networking: Establishing connections with professors and mentors who have experience in the publishing industry can open doors to opportunities for publication. They can provide guidance, recommendations, and valuable insights into the publishing world.

a male student smiling at the camera while holding his books

To get your work published and gain exposure at St. Andrews, it’s essential to be proactive, engage in university-affiliated publications and activities, and network with faculty and fellow students who share your passion for writing. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can build a strong writing portfolio and increase your chances of success in the world of literary publishing.

How to Get into the Creative Writing Program at the University of St. Andrews

Here are the application requirements for the different creative writing programs at the University of St. Andrews:

MLitt in Creative Writing

  • A 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree is typically required.
  • A writing sample is essential, typically consisting of 10-15 pages of prose or 6-10 poems.
  • A personal statement that outlines your interest in creative writing.
  • Two academic references.
  • English language proficiency for non-native English speakers (if applicable).

MLitt in Playwriting and Screenwriting

  • A 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree is typically required.
  • A portfolio of original creative writing for stage, radio, or screen.
  • A personal statement explaining your interest in playwriting and screenwriting.
  • Two academic references.
  • English language proficiency for non-native English speakers (if applicable).

MFA in Creative Writing

  • Applicants typically have a strong background in creative writing, including prior study at the graduate level.
  • A portfolio of creative work is required, which could include a novel, collection of short stories, or poetry collection.
  • A detailed proposal outlining the creative project you intend to undertake during the program.
  • Two academic references.
  • English language proficiency for non-native English speakers (if applicable).

MFA in Playwriting and Screenwriting

  • Similar to the MFA in Creative Writing, applicants need a strong background in playwriting and screenwriting.
  • A portfolio showcasing your work in these areas.
  • A detailed proposal for your creative project.
  • Two academic references.
  • English language proficiency for non-native English speakers (if applicable).

PhD in Creative Writing

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate expertise in both academic and creative work.
  • Consultation with a project supervisor.
  • Detailed research proposal.
  • Sample of original writing.

Please note that these requirements are subject to change, and it’s advisable to visit the official program website for the most up-to-date information and any additional requirements that may apply.

Tips and Insights for Prospective Applicants

Young curly student woman wearing backpack glasses holding books

  1. Build a Strong Portfolio: One of the key factors in gaining admission to any creative writing program is your writing portfolio. Take the time to craft a portfolio that showcases your best work. Include a variety of writing samples to demonstrate your versatility as a writer.
  2. Highlight Your Writing Achievements: If you have any writing-related achievements, such as published works, awards, or recognition, be sure to include them in your application. This can set you apart from other applicants and demonstrate your commitment to the craft.
  3. Prepare a Compelling Personal Statement: Your personal statement is your opportunity to explain why you’re passionate about creative writing and why you want to pursue this program at St. Andrews. Be sincere and specific about your motivations and goals.
  4. Seek Recommendations: Strong letters of recommendation from professors or mentors who can vouch for your writing skills and potential can be valuable. Ensure that your recommenders know you well and can speak to your abilities.
  5. Research the Program: Take the time to thoroughly research the Creative Writing program at St. Andrews. Understand the curriculum, faculty, and any unique features of the program that align with your interests.
  6. Meet Deadlines: Adhere to all application deadlines. Submit your application well in advance to avoid any last-minute issues.
  7. Prepare for Interviews (if applicable): Some programs may require interviews as part of the admission process. Be prepared to discuss your writing experiences and aspirations.

In summary, to increase your chances of gaining admission to the Creative Writing Program at the University of St. Andrews, focus on showcasing your writing talents through a strong portfolio, emphasize your achievements, and craft a compelling personal statement. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the university’s admissions office for any specific inquiries or guidance during the application process.


Overall, for those with a passion for creative writing, the University of St. Andrews offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs. These programs provide a platform for aspiring writers to hone their craft under the guidance of experienced mentors.

Enrolling in a creative writing program at St. Andrews not only offers academic excellence but also fosters a creative community where individualized attention and diverse specializations allow students to flourish. The global perspective and career opportunities make it an ideal choice for literary enthusiasts.

Furthermore, the university offers numerous opportunities for publication and exposure, from its own student press to literary journals and extracurricular involvement. This rich literary environment provides a nurturing space for writers to thrive.

When applying to these programs, building a strong portfolio, highlighting achievements, and crafting a compelling personal statement are key. Staying proactive, meeting deadlines, and preparing for interviews can enhance your chances of success.

Young female student smiling at the camera.

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