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M.Phil. in Creative Writing

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1 Year Full-Time

Our Creative Writing faculty are all practicing writers. We've all been through it and we're respectful of how exposing writing can be, and how vulnerable someone can feel as they approach the craft with serious intent for the first time.  Sometimes students tap straight into a rich vein of form. Others take time to eliminate the writers that they don't want to be until they arrive at a true voice. We know that virtuosity can be immediate but also that progress is more often painstaking and incremental.  Our workshops and lectures are supportive places. There is no one path to being a writer but it is our job is to help a student set out the imaginative, technical and practical wayposts of their own practice. We like to think that we do it well.  

The programme benefits from taking place in the heart of Dublin, a city with a vibrant contemporary literary culture – a milieu alive with writers, theatres, literary events, festivals, magazines and publishers. Trinity has a notably rich literary heritage of its own, ranging from Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith to Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland. The college has also long led the way in the teaching of Creative Writing. Many distinguished writers have graduated from this master’s programme, from established voices such as Conor O’Callaghan, Chris Binchy and Sean O’Reilly to exciting emerging talents such as Sara Baume, Nicole Flattery and Lisa Harding.

Triona Campbell
2019-2020

The instruction from the professors and guest speakers, the feedback from my fellow students, and the focus on the work itself was what I needed to bring my writing to the next level.

William Rockwood
2019-2020

There is not a better city than Dublin, better university than Trinity, and better place than the Oscar Wilde Centre to study the craft of fiction writing. The faculty have a wide range of experiences and are overflowing with wisdom, the Oscar Wilde Centre is alive with history, but best of all were my classmates and the diversity of literary influences, experiences, and writing they produced.

Course Structure

The centrepiece of the Creative Writing M.Phil. is the three-hour weekly workshop. This is where you bring work and get to listen to others. The idea of it is daunting, but the reality is hardworking, inclusive and dynamic.  For the first term, students are encouraged to range across form and genre, to break habits and open new vistas. This is where students start to see the core of their portfolio emerge, although most don't see the portfolio taking shape until the following Spring. The ‘Structure in Fiction and Poetry’ module works through the shapes and uses, the interior dynamics of writing.  ‘Writing for a Living’ addresses the demands of reviewing and essay writing. Both modules are structured and intellectually rigorous but at heart they involve writers talking about writing and bringing the class into the orbit of their own experience.

In the second semester, the weekly Briena Staunton lectures brings a series of established writers in to talk about the practice of writing. A visiting Writer Fellow also leads a workshop, offering students a further chance to engage with a working writer in close-up. The creation of a final portfolio is the formal endpoint of the MPhil, but it is equally important for us to see writers emerge in rich, artistically textured and diverse surroundings. That is the enduring satisfaction.  

Teaching and Assessment

The programme is designed as a one-year, full-time course. Teaching is delivered through lectures, group workshops and personal tuition. Much of this takes place in the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing, which offers a supportive and sociable working environment for the School of English’s creative writers. Current faculty teaching on the programme include the course director Eoin MacNamee, as well as Deirdre Madden, Kevin Power, Harry Clifton and Carlo Gébler. Visiting Writer Fellows in recent years have included Claire Keegan and Colette Bryce. The course is assessed by means of various essays and portfolios, culminating in working towards a final dissertation portfolio of 15-16,000 words.

Admissions Information

Applicants are expected to hold a university degree or equivalent qualification (at least an upper second or equivalent, GPA of at least 3.3). In addition, applicants must submit a portfolio of selected recent creative work.  The portfolio of sample work should include no more than 3000 words of prose (short stories, excerpt/s from a novel or drama) or 6-8 poems; genres may be combined but this is not a requirement.

Applications for admission in 2021/22 will open in November 2020. Candidates are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible, as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis as they arrive. The closing date for admission is 31 March. The 2021/2 academic year will start in September 2021.

Funding

Each year, we offer a Constantina Maxwell FAHSS Scholarship to an incoming M.Phil. student. The value of the scholarship is a €3,000 contribution towards tuition fees. All successful applications accepted by 30 June will be automatically considered for this award, which is open to all Irish, EU and international applicants. Details of other funding opportunities can be found here.