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MA in Creative Writing 2018 Info & Applications

Rhodes University's MA programme in Creative Writing is committed to innovative approaches to literary production that expand the possibilities of writing. At once critical and creative, the programme emphasises the essential relationship between reading and writing. There are full time and part time study options. The full time, full residency option runs for one year every year, and the part time, low residency option over two years every second year.

Admission requirements: Students need an Honours degree in any discipline or the equivalent (e.g. a 4-year B. Journ degree). If a candidate lacks the necessary formal qualifications but has an extensive publication record or outstanding potential as a writer, admission as an ad eundem gradum candidate may be possible.

Applications: Application should be made on the standard MA application form, available here: Rhodes University MACW information + application forms 2018 or from the Rhodes University website [http://www.ru.ac.za/postgraduategateway/masters/forms/].

A 25-page portfolio of creative writing must accompany the application and the combined forms can be emailed to registrar@ru.ac.za or posted via Registered or Insured Mail to: The Registrar, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa.

You can also apply online – if you do so, please send us an email macw@ru.ac.za with your name and surname as well as the date on which you completed the electronic forms [https://ross.ru.ac.za/pgadmissions]. This will speed up the bureaucratic process of your application considerably and help us keep track of all applications.

The application fee is R100 (one hundred South African Rand). Closing date for applications is the end of October. This payable to the university only. Your application must be accompanied by a proof of deposit for this amount. Details on the application forms.
No applications will be considered after Monday 6 November. We will try to announce the list of successful candidates by late November early December. Please note that no correspondence will be entered into in the case of unsuccessful applications. However, we will offer to comment on your portfolio should you so wish.

Tuition fees: These change every year, and can be found at www.ru.ac.za/applying/fees/ under the first general heading of "All Faculties other than as specified below". Part time students pay the full fee for each of the two years. If a student drops out or fails to fulfil the programme requirements, fees are not refundable.

Course Materials: There is a non-refundable fee of R200 for course materials payable directly to the MACW during your orientation week. This is a token payment for photocopied materials you will receive during the course of your study. It is also a contribution to maintaining the MACW library of books that will be made available to you during the course of your study.

Conditions of study for part time students: you will need a good internet connection (preferably fibre or adsl). If you use cell phone networks you must ensure that they are reliable and will provide you with enough uninterrupted bandwidth for an hour or two every other week. You must also make use of a headset (earphones and microphone). This can be tricky when using newer laptops that only have a single audio plug. A “splitter” is required in such instances and these are available from your nearest IT supplier. It will combine both microphone and headphone plugs into a single one. See FAQ 18 below for more.

Bursaries and funding: There are a limited number of scholarships for full time students covering both fees and living expenses, provided by the Mellon Foundation. Contact the Rhodes office of Postgraduate Funding (pgfunding@ru.ac.za) for an application form. The closing date for these scholarships is the end of October, the same closing date as applications to the course itself Postgraduate bursaries in creative fields including creative writing are offered by the National Arts Council, www.nac.org.za or 011 8381383. These are offered for a brief period in September (best to check by phone exactly when this will be) before anyone knows if they have been accepted to the course. However, the NAC allows bursary applications to be submitted before confirmation of acceptance into the MACW.
The Rhodes Postgraduate Funding office provides loans, normally covering fees only, and only for full time students. Contact as above.


Course requirements: Upon acceptance to the course in early December, students are provided with a short reading list which they have to investigate over the two months before the course begins. At the start of the course proper, students are then given an extensive modular reading list which they will adapt to their needs in close consultation with the course coordinators. They are given assignments to write creative reviews of various books read during the year, which are incorporated into their reflective journal. A related assignment requires students to research contemporary South African writing via literary journals, using the unique resources of the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown.

Students are required to record their ongoing learning experience as writers in a reflective journal. In the journal they reflect critically on their learning experiences, comment on the coursework assignments, and discuss their reading. The ability to reflect on one’s learning is a crucial component of postgraduate studies, and an invaluable process for writers to engage with.

Students are encouraged to submit work to external journals and magazines for publication during the course so as to learn how to deal with the range of responses typically expected from editors. The course magazine, Tyhini, is published every year, featuring a selection of work produced by students. There are readings at schools and other public venues during the course, as well as during the National Arts Festival and at the launch of the course magazine.

As postgraduate students we expect you to respect all deadlines without having to be prompted and chased after the fact.


Course structure (part time): The part time course accepts candidates in even years with applications taken in October of the preceding (odd-numbered) year. The part time course follows the same curriculum as the full time course, split into four semesters:

Year 1 first semester: the same coursework as that which the full timers complete over 16 weeks is done over 32 weeks – that is, a seminar and assignment every two weeks. The seminar consists of an audio recording of the full time seminar and its assignment, uploaded on Mondays as an mp3 file via Rhodes University’s online learning portal, RUconnected. Students have the rest of the week to engage with the seminar and to produce a first draft of their assignment which is then discussed in small groups of 4 or 5 using a combination of written comments and an audio group feedback session. After the comments they submit a final version. Reading groups are held every second week when students read published fiction or poetry texts in an online audio group and respond. Year 1 second semester: coursework continues, but in addition, as with the full time course, students choose a genre stream and begin their thesis. The seminar-assignment cycle focuses on the thesis with its assignments feeding into aspects of the project. Year 2: students continue their thesis with their supervisors. A draft is handed in at the end of August and the final version in November.

Intensive weeks in Grahamstown: Part time students are required to spend three separate weeks in Grahamstown - one week each in February and July of their first year, and one week during their second year (usually April), and arrange to cover their own accommodation and travel. In these intensive weeks, they meet each other, teachers and potential supervisors, and the full time students. They participate in writing, reading and feedback sessions.

Assessment: Final assessment to award the degree is done by two external examiners per student. The weighting of the assessment is 75% for the thesis and 25% for the final portfolio of reflective journal extracts, coursework assignments, essays and book reviews. The MA final mark is awarded in three categories: pass, fail, or pass with distinction.

Course dates: The MACW course dates do not always coincide with the university terms and holidays. Exact dates supplied closer to the time.
Full time course starts: First or second week of February.

First intensive week: for all students, part time and full time, as well as all teachers. This is usually held in the last week of February. Students are required to attend from Monday 9am to Friday night, that is, to be in Grahamstown by Sunday night and to leave on Saturday.
Full timers Easter break: April.

National Arts Festival: July.

Second intensive week: July (usually a week or two after the National Arts Festival). All students, full time and part time, are expected to take part in Intensive/Contact weeks.

Third intensive week (part timers’ second year): April. All students, full time and part time, are expected to take part in Intensive/Contact weeks.

Full timers draft thesis + portfolio deadline: (to be announced, but around mid-Sept).

Full timers final (examination) thesis + porfolio submission: (to be announced, but usually mid-Oct).

Part timers draft thesis + portfolio deadline: (as above, September).

Part timers final (examination) thesis + porfolio submission: (as above, October).


Questions? See the FAQ below


MACW enquiries: macw@ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Tue, 31 Oct 2017 08:38:35 SAST

Rhodes > ISEA > MACW


1. What does “innovative” mean?
innovative adj.1. being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before. 2. ahead of the times. 3. (of ideas and methods) new and different; fresh, clever, having/using or showing new methods or ideas; original, modern, new, novel, innovational

2. What is the application deadline?
The application deadline is the end of October of the year before the course starts. No applications will be accepted after that.

3. Where can I find an application form?
At the end of this document. Or at http://www.ru.ac.za/postgraduategateway/masters/forms/

4. When will I know whether or not my application was successful?
You will be informed by email or phone by late November, early December.

5. Is there any appeal process if my application is not accepted?
No. We suggest that you apply again the following year and make sure that your application portfolio fulfils the necessary criteria as laid out in this FAQ.

6. Do you accept emailed applications?
Yes. These must be sent to registrar@ru.ac.za before the end of October, together with your writing portfolio.

7. What must I pay?
You must pay a registration fee of R100 to Rhodes University; your course fees, also to Rhodes University; and a course materials fee of R200 directly to the MACW when you arrive in February.

8. Can my application portfolio be a combination of different genres, say prose and poetry? Is there a minimum or maximum length?
Yes, it can be a combination, but you are strongly advised to weight it in favour of your preferred genre. Minimum length 20 pages and maximum 30 pages.

9. Is there a preferred style (font and spacing) for the portfolio?
For readability, we prefer a 12 point font and single spacing. Preferably start each piece of writing on a new page.

10. I have written a 25 page short story. Can I send this as my full portfolio?
Yes, but it would it improve your chances if you demonstrated some variety. Rather send an excerpt from your story together with other pieces of writing.

11. Is the course for writers in English only?
The 16 week coursework section is taught in English, and the assignments must be written in English. However the extended creative writing project can be written in either English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa and will be supervised in that language.

12. Can I send in writing in different languages in my portfolio?
Yes, English or isiXhosa or Afrikaans or a combination.

13. I have not done any “creative writing”, but would my journalistic writing be eligible for the portfolio?
Creative non?fiction or narrative journalism is considered creative, i.e. writing which incorporates the techniques of fiction such as character, dialogue, description, narrative. You may submit poetry, fiction (composed of one or several stories, a portion of a novel, or a combination of these), creative non?fiction or hybrid texts.

14. I have been working on a novel for the past two years. Would I be able to get guidance on it from my supervisors and finish it as my thesis project?
No. All writing submitted for the course must be written while on the course. We would expect you to write a new work as your thesis project. When the course is over, we would advise you to go back to your earlier manuscript and apply the new skills and insights you have learned on the course.

15. I have taken some creative writing courses in the past and I have written and published two books. Could these be considered as credits so that I do not have to do the coursework part of the MA?
No. We consider the coursework to be absolutely essential, even for experienced writers. Every teacher brings a different approach and at least some of these approaches will be new to you. The coursework assignments will bring you feedback from your teachers and fellow students which will give you fresh insights into your writing.

16. What does ‘full time’ actually mean? Would I be able to do the full time course if I lived in Pretoria?
No, full time means studying full time and based in Grahamstown (February to November). You will have to attend seminars and feedback groups and meetings with teachers and supervisors every week.

17. What does ‘part time’ actually mean?
Part time students complete the programme over two years, working mainly from home. They attend two week?long contact sessions in Grahamstown in the first year (February and July), and one in the second year (April). Teaching is done through audio recordings, and course assignments are submitted electronically, followed by online comments and audio interaction in small groups.

18. Are there any conditions attached to part time study?
Yes. In addition to the above, if you are accepted onto the part?time course you agree to the following: that you will connect to the internet via an ADSL or better connection; that you will make use of a headset with microphone; that you will participate in the online sessions from within a quiet environment, and that you will attend the three contact sessions. If you miss three online sessions due to absence or technological failure you might be asked to leave the course. We will sell headsets at the start of the year if there is  sufficient interest from students.

19. What bursaries or financial assistance is offered?
We have a limited number of full scholarships courtesy of the Mellon Foundation. Mellon MA in Creative Writing Scholarships are limited to full time study by South African applicants only. They are awarded on the basis of financial need, creative writing ability, and equity considerations. Contact the Rhodes office of Postgraduate Funding (pgfunding@ru.ac.za) for an application form. Your writing ability will be assessed from the writing portfolio that you send with your application. The value of each scholarship is approx. R90,000. See info about loans and NAC bursaries on p2.

20. If I am a part time student, what happens if I cannot attend the intensive writing weeks in Grahamstown?
Attendance during intensive/contact weeks in Grahamstown is compulsory – no exceptions. Besides the teaching done in those weeks, they are essential for meeting and engaging with your teachers and fellow students, and potential supervisors. Students are required to attend from Monday 9am to Friday night, that is, to be in Grahamstown by Sunday and to leave on Saturday.

21. If I am a part time student, will the course pay for my accommodation and travel for the Grahamstown intensive weeks?
No. We will try to help you to find reasonably priced accommodation and transport, but you will have to organise and pay for accommodation and travel yourself.

22. Is there anywhere I can see the work produced by previous students?
Yes, you can buy past editions of our magazine Tyhini, which features work from all students taking the course in any particular year. Available from the course administrator (macw@ru.ac.za) for approx. R200 (price may vary, and will include postage if required).

MACW enquiries: macw@ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Sat, 30 Sep 2017 11:26:03 SAST