Postgraduate Study

MA in Poetry: Creativity and Criticism

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney was both a student and lecturer here in the department of English, and other famous poet-alumni of the university include Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon and Medbh McGuckian. Heaney was a founding member of the famous ‘Belfast Group’ in the 1960s: a forum in which young poets came together with critics to discuss their work and the craft of good poetry more generally. The fruitful interaction of creative and critical activity is at the heart of what this unique MA offers.

Poets and poetry critics in the Centre include Leontia Flynn, Stephen Sexton, Ciaran Carson, Fran Brearton, Edna Longley and Gail McConnell, along with annual visiting international poetry fellows. As a student on the MA in Poetry: Creativity and Criticism you can choose to follow either a critical or a creative pathway, or a combination of the two. 


MA in Poetry - £10,000 scholarship for 2019-20

A Seamus Heaney Centre MA fee scholarship of £10,000 is available to an international fulltime student in 2019-20. The closing date for the award is 7 May 2019. All international applicants who have applied for the programme by the closing date will be automatically considered for the award.

For further information and to apply to the MA in Poetry please see:


For further information please contact Dr Gail McConnell

MA in Creative Writing: Drama

The MA in Creative Writing (Drama) is designed to develop your writing for stage, screen and radio.  It is taught by renowned writers for stage and screen, James McAleavey, Tim Loane, Aislinn Clarke, and Michael West.

The course is built around a weekly workshop where students examine each other’s work closely in a spirit of friendly rigour.

The MA in Creative Writing (Drama) begins with a fortnight focusing on elements of craft common to scriptwriting and prose, followed by a 10-week module on Craft & Technique, where specific works are used to illustrate general principles of dramatic writing. 

The Craft & Technique module augments the tools developing in the parallel weekly workshop, where students encourage and support and provoke each other in writing and, crucially, rewriting.  Hard questions are asked, but in comfortable chairs.

The second semester includes some further work on elements of craft, the weekly workshop (which intensifies) and a parallel module run by the playwright and screenwriter Dr Tim Loane where you co-write and produce a piece.  This module is a unique offering which has been highly praised by external examiners.

During the second semester, we also focus on the business of writing and give you the opportunity to make professional connections in the worlds of stage, radio and screen.

The summer term is spent writing a dissertation – a full-length work for stage, radio or screen.

MA in Creative Writing: Prose

The spine of the MA in Creative Writing (Prose) is the workshop, which runs through both semesters. In addition to the workshops, students undertake a module in Research Methods for Creative Writers – this module requires students to undertake a piece of original research and to use this research as the basis of a new creative work in the genre of their choice.

In the Craft and Technique module students examine existing ‘master’ texts and students to apply the techniques deployed by these authors to their own writing.

The MA in Creative Writing (Prose) is largely taught by the novelists Garrett Carr and Michael Hughes, with additional input from other writers on the Seamus Heaney Centre staff including Glenn Patterson, and Ian Sansom. Creative writing students can also avail of a workshop offered by a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing from the U.S.A. in the second semester of the academic year.


"As the MA progressed I found myself growing more confident with my skills as a writer and began to produce work to a higher standard than I’d ever managed to produce before. I was lucky enough to have a story that was written for one of my modules published in the Irish Independent and I have been nominated for a Hennessy ‘New Irish Writing’ Award (ceremony to be held March 2014). I had contact with published writers as well as literary agents and industry experts – which gave me a real insight into how the publishing process works. While all this was incredible, the greatest skill I gained while on the MA was how to critically evaluate and edit my own work – a task I had always struggled with."

"I now feel like I can call myself a writer and I would recommend undertaking the MA at the Heaney Centre to anyone who is interested in learning about the craft of writing. My year at Queen’s was one of the most important of my life and I would do it all again in a second if I had the chance." (Former student, Brendan McLoughlin)



What Queen's and the Seamus Heaney Centre has to offer. Click here.

Study in Belfast

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Former Students

What postgrad students at the Seamus Heaney Centre have gone on to do.

Study for a PhD at the Seamus Heaney Centre

The PhD in Creative Writing involves both an extended piece of creative work and a related critical component. To apply for a PhD in Creative Writing you must have already completed an MA in Creative Writing in the same genre. Students with a Distinction at MA level will be given preference.

The School of English at Queen’s remains one of a handful of institutions which offer a PhD in Creative Writing. A former graduate of the MA in Creative Writing, Emily Dedakis, was the first student in Ireland to attain a PhD in Creative Writing and places are currently available for students wishing to study poetry, prose, or scriptwriting at doctoral level.

Contact Linda,