Course Details

MA in Creative Writing
Rhodes University

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 downloadable here: Rhodes University MACW info & application form 2017. A 25 page portfolio of   creative writing must accompany the application and the combined forms can be emailed to or posted via Registered or Insured Mail to: The Registrar, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa.

 The application fee is R100 (one hundred South African Rand). Closing date for applications is the end of October.


 Course fees: The course fee changes every year, and can be found at 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 R300 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

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 ( 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, 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 followed by later confirmation of acceptance.

The Rhodes Postgraduate Funding office provides loans, normally covering fees only, and only for full time students. Contact as above.


Course structure (full time): The seminar programme is structured by each teacher’s own creative interests and expertise. Each weekly cycle starts with a Monday seminar and culminates in an assignment set for Friday peer feedback sessions where drafts are discussed. The student has the weekend to re?write the piece in response to the feedback, and hand it in.

The full time course is divided into two semesters. In the first semester the emphasis is on exploration through various coursework assignments, on intensive creative reading, and finding a writing discipline and rhythm that works for each student. There is one on one supervision every week as well as a weekly reading group. Halfway through the first semester students choose the coursework stream in their preferred genre, and begin to work on their theses.

In the second semester students continue their theses without coursework but with regular   meetings with their supervisors. The thesis has to be a minimum of 30 000 words for a prose project, 40 poems for a poetry project. No thesis may exceed 80 000 words.


Course requirements: Students are required to record their ongoing experience as writers in a reflective journal, which is sent regularly to their supervisors as part of the supervision dialogue. In the journal they reflect critically on their learning experiences, comment on the coursework assignments, and discuss their reading.

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 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 student magazine.


Course structure (part time): [Please note that applications for part time study are not open this year]. 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 structure of the full timers is run over 16 teaching 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 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, and take part in a writing excursion.


Assessment: Final assessment to award the degree is done by two external examiners per student. The weighting of the assessment is 70% for the thesis and 30% for the portfolio of excerpts from their reflective journals, coursework assignments, essays and book reviews. The MA final mark is awarded in three categories: pass, fail, or pass with distinction.


Course dates: The MA course dates do not 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.

Third intensive week (part timers’ second year): April    

Full timers draft thesis + portfolio deadline: 15 September.

Full timers final (examination) thesis + porfolio submission: 15 November.

Part timers draft thesis + portfolio deadline: 31 August

Part timers final (examination) thesis + porfolio submission: 15 November.



 Programme Coordinator: Paul Wessels

Staff: Stacy Hardy, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Lesego Rampolokeng, Mangaliso Buzani, Robert Berold, Paul Mason, Marike Beyers.

 MACW enquiries:


ISEA office administrator: Carol Leff (

ISEA secretary: Nomangesi Kelemi (Tel 046 603 8565)

Last Modified: Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:26:27 SAST