Small, bespoke and highly creative, our distinctive writing programme at the University of Dundee has been praised by writers and teachers from across Scotland and around the world.
"Dundee has become the university with the most outward looking and inspiring, creative and literary programme in Scotland. I applaud what this programme has achieved for students, staff and the wider literary culture."
Michael Schmidt - Managing and Editorial Director, Carcanet Press and PN Review.
What kind of programme do we offer?
Our courses are designed to help you explore and extend your own possibilities as a writer and to involve you in a varied and exciting array of literary activities – publishing events, readings, festivals, magazines and more. Our students start creating projects from the moment they begin with us and go on to to jobs in publishing, teaching, books festivals, writer- in-residence positions – as well as publishing novels, short stories and poetry with a range of publishing houses and magazines.
No wonder our programme has been described as one of “the most exciting” by Richard Holloway (Writer, Broadcaster, Critic) and “properly creative and intellectual” by Christopher Reid (Poet and former Poetry Editor at Faber & Faber).
Whether you join us as an undergraduate or graduate student, which you can also do part-time or module-only, you will gain assurance and confidence in your own writing. Find out more below – and or get an insight into what it is like to study here from our short film
"The Dundee Creative Writing Programme is stellar, as it is both academically rigorous and vibrant with creativity. In celebrating the written word, individuality is always honoured above conformity, which is the only way an artist can find or develop a unique voice."
Jennifer Clement, Author, Director of PEN International, San Miguel Poetry Festival, Mexico and USA.
What will you be writing?
Because of our unique package of four hour Writing Workshops, “Wordcraft” and “LiveWire” sessions and intensive one-on-one tutorials, you will quickly gain skills that help you identify and manage a whole range of creative projects. Our students write novels, stories, poetry, monologues, as well as explore creativity in non-fiction, essays, journalism, reviewing and writing for the theatre.
In addition, you will be a member of a close-knit writing community that is supportive and exciting - presenting and publishing your own work with authority and flair as well editing, curating and assisting in a range of literary and theatrical events.
The range of additional activities and opportunities for students on the MLitt at Dundee is fabulous.
"The MLitt at Dundee is incredibly exciting and creative. I wish more writing programmes were like this one."
Paula Morris, Director of Creative Writing, University of Auckland, New Zealand
How will you work?
Our intensive four hour workshops are like no other writing programme. In them, you are guaranteed to produce new work and will develop on-the-spot writing and editing skills and an ability to produce creative work across a range of topics and genres. At the same time, seminars, masterclasses and one-on-one tutorials will help you clarify your thinking about your writing and reading, sharpening your critical skills and understanding of what makes great writing…great.
You will be taking part in our vibrant and intensely imaginative literary life – encompassing the Writers Read series, our Literary Festival, activities with the Rep Theatre , as well visits, talks, and opportunities to meet publishers, review the work of others, and to publish and perform your own work.
"I love coming to participate at events at Dundee because the atmosphere is open, stimulating and inspiring." Meaghan Delahunt, Author, UK and Australia
Where will you go after graduation?
Our students emerge from our programme with a sharpened sense of literary and cultural life and with an impressive body of work that is ready to be taken into the world. They become festival managers, editors, published authors and poets, writing teachers and performers.
“The MLitt in Writing Practice and Study has been life-changing for me. My time at Dundee made me realise that it is possible to have a career as a professional writer, and I came away with the skills and self-belief to make that dream a reality. My debut novel, Beneath the Skin was published by Polygon in 2016, and I’ve just received a firm offer for my second one, The Bone Harp.” Sandra Ireland (Writing Practice and Study, 2014)
Some of our undergraduate and postgraduate Alumni ...
Fran Baillie, Mixter-Matte (Grey Hen Press, 2017)
- Claire McLeary has just had her debut novel Cross Purpose published by Contraband imprint (Saraband, 2017) and signed a two book deal. The debut novel has been praised as "a dark delicious read" and its writer "A brilliant new talent for the lover of crime"; it has also been longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017.
- Sandra Ireland’s first novel Beneath the Skin (Polygon 2016) received rave reviews following publication, and her second novel, Bone Deep (Polygon 2018) was listed as one of the '9 best Scottish fiction books' by The Independent in February 2018.
- Clare Hunter was awarded a Creative Scotland Bursary for her non-fiction and is represented by Scotland s leading literary agency.
- Oliver Langmead has just published Metronome (Unsung Stories, 2017), following Dark Star (Unsung Stories, 2015) his first novel inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost that he completed while on the MLitt programme.
- Beth McDonough is an award winning poet and Creative Writer-in-residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts and has published Handfast (co-written with Ruth Aylett) with Mother's Milk Books; the collection was described as "beautifully designed" and "compelling".
- Lindsay Macgregor is a recipient of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust; she hosts Platform Poetry at Ladybank. Her first poetry collection, The Weepers, has been called a "stunningly good debut".
- Edward Small has published Mary Lily Walker, ghost-written Fae the Boatyaird to Buckingham Palace: The Autobiography of ex-Lord Provost John Letford MBE, and written and produced Dundee's Four Marys for stage. He lectures extensively on a range of historical subjects including The Life and Times of McGonagall and The History of the Scottish Funera, produced and staged The Four Marys at Verdant Works to sell-out audiences in 2015, and successfully brought Death Pantomime to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.
- Daniel Shand published his debut novel, Fallow, with Sandstone Press in 2016. The novel has won the prestigious Betty Trask Prize, awarded for a first novel of ‘outstanding literary merit’ by an author under the age of 35; Fallow has been lauded by fellow Scottish author Alan Warner as “a brilliant, unpredictable road novel.”
- Zoe Venditozzi published her first novel, Anywhere’s Better Than Here , with Sandstone Press and was made Reader-in-Residence at Dundee Libraries.
“My time at Dundee was where it all started—getting an early chance to write in a workshop setting gave me the perfect foundation for the rest of my work.” Daniel Shand (Master of Arts, 2011)
Some of our Alumni...
- Daniel Shand won the prestigious Betty Trask Prize for his debut novel Fallow in 2017, awarded for a first novel of 'outstanding literary merit' by an author under the age of 35.
- Claire MacLeary had her debut novel Cross Purpose published by Contraband (Saraband) in 2017. It has since been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime book of the Year 2017.
- Sandra Ireland has published two novels with Polygon - her first, Beneath the Skin, received rave reviews when it was published in 2016, and her second, Bone Deep, was listed as one of the '9 best Scottish fiction books' by The Independent in 2018.
- Sarah Isaac won second prize in the Short Story competition at the Wells Festival of Literature in 2016 for her work 'Souterrain'.
- Susan Haigh's short story 'Looking for Nathalie' was shortlisted for the Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition 2016. She was also named as a finalist in Scotland's most valuable short story award, the Scottish Arts Club competition.
- Clare Hunter was awarded a Creative Scotland Bursary for her non-fiction.
- Oliver Langmead published Dark Star, his first novel inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost, with Unsung Stories. It made the shortlist for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize 2015 and was selected by Sarah Waters in the Guardian Best Books of 2015 round up. He has since published another piece of work Metronome.
- Beth McDonough is Creative Writer-in-residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts.
- Lindsay Macgregor is a recipient of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust; she hosts Platform Poetry at Ladybank. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Castle Fellowship.
- Zoe Venditozzi published her first novel with Sandstone Press and was made Reader-in-Residence at Dundee Libraries.
Find out more
Our teaching staff are dedicated to delivering a world class writing programme that is shaped around individual students’ needs and plans. We are committed to helping you achieve to the very best of your ability, inspiring and guiding you at every step.
Because we created the programme ourselves, we are invested in making it everything we believe a writing programme should be – productive, highly creative, rigorously critical and exciting. We are:
Kirsty Gunn - Author of novels, short stories and essays, as well as a collection of fragments and meditations, Kirsty Gunn has won many international awards. The Big Music was a Guardian Book of the Year and winner of the New Zealand Book of the Year, and her new collection of short stories, Infidelities, published by Faber and Faber in November 2014, was the winner of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2015 and was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Kirsty has previously taught Creative Writing at the University of Oxford and at a number of international writing seminars and schools. Her writing workshops are renowned for their creative energy and zest.
Watch a podcast created by Gary Gowans with excerpts from The Big Music read by Brian Cox
Dr. Gail Low, Senior Lecturer in English, founder and general editor of DURA online arts review magazine, DURA: Dundee Review of the Arts. She teaches non-fiction writing especially the personal and lyric essay, and thinks essays should also be as much about expressive form as content. She is the author of Publishing the Postcolonial: Anglophone West African and Caribbean Writing in the UK, 1950 – 1967 and White Skins Black Masks; with Kirsty Gunn she has co-edited The Voyage Out and with Marion Wynne-Davies, A Black British Canon. She has research interests in post-war and contemporary British cultural history and literature, and publishing history and teaches modules in editing and publishing. Gail co-organised the Scottish Universities Insight Institute's seminars and workshops on Independent Publishing in 2011.
Dr. Aliki Varvogli works in the area of contemporary American fiction, and her current projects include studies of ‘credit crunch fiction’ and of the police procedural. She teaches modules in genre fiction, poetry and prose criticism. She has published books, articles and book chapters on various American authors, including Paul Auster, Philip Roth, Annie Proulx and Jonathan Safran Foer. Her research interests include contemporary American literature, postmodernism, crime fiction, literature and travel, and 9/11 fiction. Dr Varvogli's most recent publication is Travel and Dislocation in Contemporary American Fiction. She is also co-editor of the series, Approaches to Contemporary American Literature.
Edward Small -
- Lindsay Macgregor - Interview can be seen here
Chris Arthur - The poet and scholar Dr Jim Stewart who died in 2016 was instrumental in establishing Writing Practice and Study with Kirsty Gunn back in 2009, and his influence and teaching practice continues to live on in our unique WordCraft seminars, poetry activities and and work on poetics that is embedded in our teaching across the programme. Hear Jim Stewart reading “Hive”.
These pages provide information on the opportunities to study Creative Writing at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, our staff, students and alumni plus Creative Writing news, events and publications at the University of Dundee. You can also find out more about what it is like to study here by having a look at our student blog.