MA (Writing)

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

Course overview

The MA in Writing is a one-year, full-time course. It covers a range of genres and forms, and it interacts with our other postgraduate offerings in Literature and Publishing, Drama and Theatre, and Film. The course thus builds on our strengths in the teaching of writing for page and stage, screen, journalism and other media. The course is open to applicants from any disciplinary background (within and beyond Arts) and welcomes all types of writing interests. A ‘Qualifier’ option is available for potential applicants who do not have a university degree but have a suitable publications record or sufficient experience in a related creative field.

A weekly ‘Writers Seminar’ features writers, publishers, agents and other visitors from the writing professions. Galway’s Cúirt literary festival is the focus in April. Students
attend events and complete a related assessment.

Key facts

Entry requirements

A university degree (minimum standard 2.2, or US GPA 3.0) or the equivalent in education and professional experience. Students will be accepted on the basis of their degree result, a sample of recent writing (3,000 words maximum), and a personal statement of interest (500 words maximum). Those who wish to explore possibilities for entry through the ‘Qualifier’ option should contact the Course Director.

Duration: 1 year, full-time

Next start date: September 2016

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 15

Closing date: Candidates are advised to apply early, which may result in an early offer. See Closing Dates page for details.

Mode of study: Taught

Course outline

Core Course:

In each semester, all students will take a Writers' Seminar. This will meet once a week for three hours through the semester. Its scope will include fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, dramatic and non-dramatic writing, journals and journalism. Normally, there will be a different visiting writer at each seminar meeting. Only students from the MA in Writing may enrol for credit in this seminar. Assessment is based on weekly journal writings.  

Optional Courses:   

Students must take six modules in total. The Writers' Seminar is compulsory, students may then take any five of the following modules—two from one semester and three from the other:  

Poetry Workshop. Students produce drafts sometimes in response to prompts or assignments from the workshop leader(s). These drafts are sometimes circulated for class discussion, with a view to improvement. By the end of the semester, students produce a number of complete poems and the class publishes a chapbook.  

Fiction Workshop. Students examine elements of craft in published writers selected by the workshop leader. They also produce short pieces of fiction, sometimes in response to a prompt or assignment. Drafts may be discussed in class, or in conference with the teacher. By the end of the semester, students submit a set number of words of fictional narrative.  

Non-Fiction Workshop. For a month students complete weekly writing assignments in elements of narrative (description, dialogue, etc.), then an essay or book proposal, which is next week by week undertaken in steps. Class meetings are devoted primarily to discussion of works-in-progress.  

Feature-writing and Crime-reporting. Students practice the craft of feature-writing, book reviewing, and reporting. By the end of the semester, each student submits one major investigative piece of journalism.    

Students from the MA in Writing may also take a number of courses offered on the MA in Drama & Theatre Studies (MADT) and the MA in Literature & Publishing (MALP) programmes:  

  • Reviewing Irish Theatre: MA in Drama and Theatre Studies (MADT)
  • Playwright's workshop (places limited) (MADT)
  • Discovering the Archives (MADT)
  • Irish Playwrights since the 60s (MADT)
  • Theatre as a Creative Industry (MADT)
  • Book History  (places limited) (MALP)
  • Playwright's Workshop II: Adaptation (places limited) (MADT)
  • Contemporary Publishing
  • Copy Editing and Proofreading
  • Theatre and Globalization
  • Textual Studies (MALP)
  • Interpreting History 
  • Studies in Oral History 
  • Imaginative Responses 2 

Applications and selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who teaches this course?

Burke Kennedy, Mary-Elizabeth—Playwright and founder-director of StoryTellers Theatre Company. Author of "Cross My Heart", "Curigh the Shape Shifter", "The Golden Goose", "The Parrot", "Wind of the World" and many translations and adaptations. Teaches playwrights' workshop. 

Carey, DanGraduate of McGill University, Trinity College Dublin, and Oxford  University where he took his D.Phil. His book on Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson: Contesting Diversity in the Enlightenment and Beyond appeared with Cambridge University Press in 2006, and he is currently completing a cultural history of travel in the Renaissance for Columbia University Press. He has published in a range of interdisciplinary journals on literature, the history of philosophy, history of science, anthropology, and travel. His teaching interests include Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, the eighteenth century, and Romanticism. 

Carney, KieranPlaywright and screenwriter.  Author of the play "Afters" (London, 1995), co-author of RTE series "Bachelor's Walk" (2003), and author of "Hidalgo,⦡mp;euro;? RTE series.   Co-author and director, Zonad,   a feature film (2009).   Teaches workshop in adaptation for the screen. 

Frazier, Adrian
English Department, NUI Galway.  Programme Director.  Author of Behind the Scenes: Yeats, Horniman, and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre (1990) and George Moore 1852-1933 (2000) and editor of "Irish Theatre", the Irish review 9Autumn 2002), and Playboys of the Western Wold: Production Histories (2005), and Hollywood Irish: John Ford, Abbey Actors, and the Irish Revival in the Movies (forthcoming). Teaches Reviewing, Discovering the Archives, Nonfiction Workshop, and convenes the Writers Seminar. 

Gorman, Michael
Director of International Writer's summer course run, NUI Galway.  Author of Up She Flew (1991).  Co-teaches poetry workshop with Mary O'Malley. 

Kenny, John
English Department, NUI Galway. Author of a study of John Banville for Irish Academic Press (2008). Regularly reviews contemporary Irish fiction for the TLS and Irish Times.   Director of the John McGahern Summer School.  Director of the BA Connect (Writing).   Teaches Reviewing and Discovering the Archives.

Lonergan, Patrick— English Department, NUI Galway. Reviews Editor of   I rish Theatre Magazine, webmaster for the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL), programmes editor for the Dublin Theatre Festival 2005 and 2006, and theatre critic for publications including The Irish Times. Author of Theatre and Globalization: Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Winner - Theatre Book Prize 2008.   Editor of three other books on Irish theatre.   Teaches Reviewing and Theatre as a Creative Industry.

McCormack, Mike— Author of Getting it in the Head (1995), for which he won the Rooney Prize; Crowe's Requiem (1998); and Notes from a Coma (2005).  Teaches course in fiction-writing. 

O'Dwyer, RianaEnglish Department, NUI Galway.  One of the section editors of the Field Day Anthology, vol.5, and author of
many articles on women's writing: Introduction to Woman and Her Master (1840) by Lady Sydney Morgan, Volume I in series Irish Women's Writing, 1839-1888 (1998), "The Imagination of Women's Reality: The Theatre of Christina Reid and Marina Carr" in Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre (2000), and '"There was a kind lady called Gregory"' in Reflections at Coole: The Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering (2000).  Teaches Irish Playwrights Since the 1960s.

O 'Malley, Mary— Author of Consideration of Silk (1990); Where the Rocks Float (1993); The Knife in the Wave (1997); and The Boning Hall (Carcanet Press, 2002).  She received a Hennessy Award in 1990.  She is a member of Aosdana.  Co-teaches poetry workshop with Mickey Gorman. 

Pilkington, LionelEnglish Department, NUI Galway. Author of Theatre and the State in 20thC Ireland: Cultivating the People (2001) and many articles, including "Theatre History and the Beginnings of the Irish National Theatre Project", in Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre (2000) and "Irish Theater Historiography and Political Resistance", Staging Resistance:  Essays on Political Theater (1998). Currently writing a monograph entitled Theatricality, Agency and Irish Cultural Politics, 1900-2000.  Teaches Discovering the Archives and Theatre and Modernity in the Irish Revival. 

Woods, Joe—Print and Media Journalist. Formerly staff of MA in Journalism, NUI Galway. Teaches Feature-Writing and Crime-Reporting

Requirements and assessment

There is continuous assessment of regular writing assignments and end-of-semester projects. The Final Portfolio, consisting of revisions and further development of writings done for courses during the year, is submitted in mid-August and accounts for one third of the overall assessment.

Find out more

PAC code


Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 p.a. 2015/16
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2015/16
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16
Non-EU (Total): €13,250 p.a. 2015/16

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Current students

Jennifer McCarrick

"This is a great course of aspiring writers who want to be challenged, assessed, and improved in their work."

Past students

Gerry Hanberry

A student on the MA in Writing 2002/03, has just published his third collection of poetry At Grattan Road (Salmon Poetry, 2009) and in October 2009 won a Galway City Council sponsored award for a poem on a specific part of Galway City (Eyre Square in '09).
In summer 2004 Gerard wond hte Brendan Kennelly / Sunday Tribune Poetry Award. He has been shortlisted for many of Ireland's top poetry prizes including a Sunday Tribune / Hennessy Award in 2000, Strokestown 2003 and RTE's Rattlebag Poetry Slam 2003. He was runner-up in the Firewords City Poetry Award (Galway) 2005 and in 2000 won hte Originals Short Story prize in Listowel Writers Week.

" The MA in Writing at NUI, Galway has, without doubt, contributed enormously to the development of many writers, including myself, who have subsequently gone on to become established and published in their own chosen areas. The course has also greatly enriched the cultural life of the city. One example of this enrichment would be the large attendances at the many regular literary events held both on campus and in the locality. Established writers have been attracted to the area by the opportunity to study and write in genres other than their own and less experienced writers have been given the confidence and expertise to progress. The list of publications and literary prizes of MA in Writing graduates lengthens every year. An academic year spent studying on this course is a wonderful and valuable experience."