MPhil (Writing)

The MPhil Masters in Writing course at the University of South Wales is tutored by significant writers; our graduates have published more than fifty books since 2010. This unique, flexible learning scheme offers the chance to develop your book-length manuscript under the expert guidance of University tutors and prize-winning writers.

Notable achievements of our MPhil in Writing graduates and current students include major literary awards – first prize in the Manchester Poetry Prize and the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (both 2015) and the Dundee International Book Prize (2014) as well as bursaries in England, Wales and the Irish Republic. Novels and poetry have been published by leading publishers including Bloodaxe, Canongate, Carcanet, Faber, Harper Collins and Heinemann. Guest writers at Masters residencies have included established names like Helen Dunmore, Andrew Davies and Michael Morpurgo, as well as new emerging talents and industry professionals.

The MPhil in Writing course involves two elements – a writing project and a critical study based on research into published writers’ work. You will get academic guidance during the weekend residencies.

Assessment is by thesis with a creative writing element.


There will be a cohort of eight or nine students in each year. You will need to spend about 18 hours studying and writing per week and will be assigned a personal supervisor who will guide and direct your progress by distance learning means, using e-mail, phone or post as appropriate. Previous students have been based in the UK, the USA and continental Europe. Each year, you need to attend three two-day writing residencies at the University (Friday and Saturday). These sessions include intensive workshops, personal tutorials, and visits by writers and professionals offering practical insights into the publishing world. Between your first and second year of study, you will also take part in a five-day writers’ week at Ty Newydd in North Wales, the last home of Lloyd George, situated on the Llyn Peninsula on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. The two elements of your work are linked in a final submission that can be submitted up to four years from your enrolment date.

Additional costs

The course fees include all tuition at and in between the residencies.

Students are responsible for arranging and covering their own accommodation costs for residencies; both near the University for the three weekend residencies (one night each) and for the summer residency at Ty Newydd. Full board lodging for the summer residency is offered by Ty Newydd at very reasonable rates.


Your writing project will be a book-length manuscript and may be a novel, short stories or poetry. The critical study, of around 10,000 words, may be on any writer, movement, genre or theme relevant to your creative project, as agreed with the Director of Studies. As is usual for research degrees, the final assessment will be by oral examination of your written submission by two impartial examiners, one from inside the University, one outside (i.e. no one who has taught you on the course), hosted by an independent Chair.


Individual supervisions are decided in the application and interview process. After acceptance onto the course you will know who your main supervisor is.

You will be assigned a second supervisor for input on particular aspects of the writing or the research. In workshops you will also have responses from other tutors and, of course, your fellow students.

The MPhil in Writing course team consists of creative writers, poet and critics, and novelists - all published writers and active researchers.

Barrie Llewelyn is a prose writer, and teaches fiction, poetry and non-fiction with a special interest in writing for the media and the essay form. She is also interested in the often fluid line between fiction and non-fiction. Recent research interests have taken Barrie’s focus to the link between creativity and well-being. The Speak to Me project partners resettled refugees with local English speakers in a series of creative writing workshops.

Dr David Towsey is a novelist and short-story writer, who specialises in genre fiction. He is particularly interested in crossover texts that complicate genre boundaries. His Walkin' Trilogy of novels blends numerous tropes from zombie horror, post-apocalyptic science fiction, and the western. He also co-writes fantasy-crime under the pseudonym D.K. Fields, whose Tales of Fenest trilogy considers the impact of storytelling in the democratic process.

Professor Kevin Mills is a literary critic and poet. He has published work on theoretical and philosophical issues in interpretation, Victorian literature, and individual authors such as HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Roald Dahl. His scholarly writing often blends creative and critical modes, exploiting the resources and confronting the limits of both. His poetry typically interweaves ancient texts and stories with contemporary experience, and explores relationships between language, the self, place, and time.

Find out more on the English Research website.

Prominent writers on our panel of associate tutors include:

Guest writers at Masters residencies have included established names like Helen Dunmore, Andrew Davies, Jasper Fforde, Gwyneth Lewis and Michael Morpurgo, as well as new emerging talents and industry professionals.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree in an arts subject is the standard requirement, but we consider it more important that you can demonstrate the practical and imaginative potential to complete a book with a portfolio of work, backed up by a clear scheme of research.

All applications must include two references on headed paper from your referees which should be uploaded as a supporting document. Please note, we can not accept applications without these two references. At least one referee should be able to comment on your academic/professional ability. References provided by relatives are not acceptable.

As part of your application you will also need to write a research proposal. Your research proposal should provide a clear understanding of the research that is to be undertaken and the context in which it sits.

Entry to this programme is strictly limited, due to matching individuals with supervisors, so early application is advisable. Applications are considered between January and Easter each year, though in rare cases a place may still be available after that date.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to have an IELTS score of 8.0.

More information is available on our Graduate School website.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

Apply directly to the University for this research degree. You can find more information on our Graduate School website.

Admissions statement 

Graduates can become published writers in their chosen medium or find work as critics, journalists or writing educators. The MPhil also offers a valuable qualification for those wishing to enhance their career prospects in publishing, editing and teaching, or proceed to PhD study.


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