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Queen Mary Summer School

Creative Writing Now

A neon sign saying 'what is your story'


Academic Lead: Dr Elsa Court and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan 

This course explores contemporary examples and practices of creative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and draws upon some of the formal and political motivations of contemporary English-language literature for its content. It is particularly suited to Summer School students looking to develop their creative voice independently and alongside their existing critical writing skills. It teaches students to explore distinct narrative and/or poetic voices and techniques and issue as well as learn from peer-feedback in workshop environments.

What makes great storytelling now, and what makes new narrative or poetic voices so distinctive? What is challenging about writing creatively in the present moment, and how do we understand what constitutes a story or a poetic form in our own writing?

This course draws on a range of contemporary literature in English, and will give students the freedom and the tools to experiment with fiction, nonfiction or poetry, and to shape their own creative voices in the process. Using a combination of writing workshops and seminar-style discussion, we will address the ways contemporary literature reckons with a world in flux (BLM, #MeToo, climate change) and invents new, experimental ways to move beyond the boundaries of literary form. Writers we will look at include Claudia Rankine, Cathy Park Hong, Patricia Lockwood, Sheila Heti, Olivia Laing, Tao Lin, Rachel Cusk and Claire Louise Bennett.

The emphasis will be on developing the tools to give and receive constructive peer feedback with an effort to build craft alongside of — but separate from — the students’ existing skills in analytical reading and writing. The course is assessed by coursework submission as well as feedback participation during the workshops.

2023 Creative Writing Now Syllabus [PDF 64KB]

Course content is subject to change.

Course aims

This course aims to: 

  • to give students the opportunity to explore the relationships between contemporary literary forms and the content, subject matter or issues that may be addressed by different and overlapping approaches or genres.
  • to explore with students a range of international contemporary literature, in the fields of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.
  • to provide students with a supportive framework in which to develop their own literary practice, and make judgments about subject matter and form.
  • to give students a critical context for their work and encourage them to reflect on its relationship with the contemporary.

Teaching and learning

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and field trips. 

Learning outcomes

You will gain:

  • a knowledge of narrative technique
  • a critical and practical understanding of imagery, structure, and form in relation to prose fiction, nonfiction, and/or poetry
  • an understanding of the contexts of writing in prose fiction, nonfiction, and poetry today

You will be able to:

  • Develop effective storytelling and poetic voices
  • Employ imagery and a variety of storytelling and poetic forms
  • Appraise the formal and structural elements of the text
  • Develop a sophisticated critical understanding of narrative and poetic technique
  • Acquire the ability to respond constructively and critically to creative work produced by peers
  • Express yourself with confidence in writing in a range of narrative, lyrical, and critical modes


The Queen Mary Summer School costs: £2,100 per session, which includes tuition and social programme. 

We offer a 10% discount to:

  • Students and staff from partner institutions
  • Alumni
  • Current Queen Mary students 


The cost of accommodation is £1029 per session. For further information, please visit our accommodation page.

Additional costs and course excursions

There may be additional costs for field trips, such as entry to exhibitions, which will be in the region of £30.
All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

Please note there is no deposit payment required for the Queen Mary Summer School.

Entry requirements

To join our Summer School, you should have completed a minimum of two semesters’ study at your home institution.

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications:

  • if your home institution uses the four-point Grade Point Average (GPA) scale, we usually require a 3.0 GPA
  • if your home institution uses the letter scale, you will need to have a B+

We welcome international qualifications and we consider every application individually on its academic merit. 

English language requirements

All of our courses are taught and assessed in English. If English isn’t your first language, you must meet one of the following English Language requirements in order to join

  • If you hold a degree from a majority English speaking country plus Canada you may use this degree to satisfy the English language requirements for entry, provided the degree was completed no more than 5 years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.
  • IELTS, 7 overall or higher
  • TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 100 (L22; S25; R24; W27)
  • China UEE (University Entrance Exam) -  110
  • CET 4 – 550 or CET 6 – 490
  • PTE Academic 68
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 185 70- grade C (old marking system)
  • Applicants with an alternative qualification should check it is equivalent to the above or contact us at
Drop here!

How to apply

Applications are now open!

Have a question? Get in touch - one of the team will be happy to help!

Applications close 29 May 2023.


Teaching dates
Session 1: 3 July - 21 July 2023
Course hours
150 hours (of which 45 will be contact hours)
3,000 words or 8-10 poems (70%) 250-500 words of reflection on practice (20%) Participation grade (10%)

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