Master of Creative Writing – MCW

Use your passion for writing to transform yourself and the world through an intense exploration of language.

Type of qualification

Master's degree

Level of study

Postgraduate study

Once you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree – or have equal experience – you can study at the postgraduate level. Doctoral qualifications require additional entry requirements.

More about study levels

NZQF level 9

Our courses follow the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) levels.

Find out more about NZQF levels

Time to complete

1 year 6 months full-time (180 credits)
Up to 5 years part-time
Part-time available

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students studying online from outside New Zealand
Note: Selected entry programme

Study a Master of Creative Writing – MCW

Advance straight from your bachelor’s degree

The Master of Creative Writing (MCW) is a 180-credit programme that can follow on immediately from your bachelor’s degree in any subject.

Develop your creative process

Produce your own creative writing to challenge your innovative energies. Discover new ways to unlock ideas and connect with readers.

Gain writing experience

Work alongside award-winning authors to write your own novels, poems, short stories, plays, scripts, creative non-fiction and more.

Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

This is a selected entry qualification. This means there are a number of extra requirements you must meet.

To enter the Master of Creative Writing you will:

  • have been awarded or qualified for a bachelor’s degree with at least a B grade average across the 200 and 300-level specialisation courses, or
  • have a bachelor’s with honours degree or a postgraduate diploma in arts in Creative Writing,  Expressive Arts or English, with at least a B grade average for the qualification.

You will be selected into the qualification on the basis of a process which includes providing:

  • a summary of your research interests: a brief (one to two paragraphs) outline of your proposed MCW thesis, summarising your proposed creative project (about 70% of the thesis) and proposed critical project (about 30% of the thesis). Please indicate the genre in which you would like to write your creative thesis in this outline. Critical projects usually take the form of a literary essay, a craft essay, or an exegesis
  • a portfolio of your creative writing (please refer below)
  • confirmation that your creative writing portfolio is your own personal work.

If you have a bachelor’s with honours degree or postgraduate diploma in arts in Creative Writing, Expressive Arts or English from Massey University as outlined above, you may apply for credit towards Part One of the qualification.

You will need to provide copies of all official academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University.

Application closing date

Applications close on 31 October for study commencing the following year.

English language requirements

To study this programme you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

Portfolio of creative writing requirements

Your creative writing sample should be in the genre you wish to pursue in your thesis and limited to 4,000 words maximum for fiction, creative non-fiction, a theatre or film script, or a hybrid writing sample. For poetry, please submit a sample of up to ten poems (about 10-15 pages). If you are unable to upload your portfolio, please upload confirmation that you are sending your portfolio in hard copy to:

Academic Support
Massey University
Private Bag 11-222
Palmerston North

Please enquire for any other questions on required supporting documents.

Time limits for Honours, Distinction and Merit

Where your qualification is completed within the stated time limit and to a high standard, you may be able to graduate with Distinction or Merit. 

Prior learning, credit and exemptions

For information on prior learning, exemptions and transfer of credit or other questions:

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Maximum time limits for completion

There are maximum time limits to complete postgraduate qualifications.  If you do not complete within the maximum time, you may be required to re-apply for the programme if you wish to continue your studies.

The maximum time-frame for completion of this qualification is five years.

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas, and Postgraduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these programmes go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Structure of the Master of Creative Writing

If you study full-time, you’ll take 120 credits per year or 60 credits per semester.

The Master of Creative Writing is a parts-based qualification. That means you must complete the first part, before moving to the second.

Part One

Part One is composed of two online distance courses that may be taken full-time in a single semester or part-time over two consecutive semesters.

It is recommended that you take both of the List A courses to fulfil the requirements of Part One, but you may choose to take only one of the courses.

If you choose to take only 30 credits from List A, you must take 30 credits from List B.

A grade average of at least B+ is required in Part One in order to progress to Part Two.

Part Two

Part Two (120 credits) is a thesis.

In part two you work one-on-one with a supervision. It also includes a programme of online talks and workshops.

Advanced entry

If you have a bachelor’s with honours degree or a postgraduate diploma in arts in Creative Writing, Expressive Arts or English, with at least a B grade average you may apply for credit towards Part One of the qualification.

Courses and specialisations

Key terms

Each qualification has its own specific set of courses. Some universities call these papers. You enrol in courses after you get accepted into Massey.
Course code
Each course is numbered using 6 digits. The fourth number shows the level of the course. For example, in course 219206, the fourth number is a 2, so it is a 200-level course (usually studied in the second year of full-time study).
Each course is worth a number of credits. You combine courses (credits) to meet the total number of credits needed for your qualification.
Some qualifications let you choose what subject you'd like to specialise in. Your major or endorsement is what you will take the majority of your courses in.

Credit summary

180 credits

  • Part One List A course(s) – At least 30 credits
  • Part One List B course(s) – Up to 30 credits
  • Part Two thesis – 120 credits


  • A compulsory workshop

Advanced entry: Those who have already completed specified qualifications in advance of the minimum entry requirements and have been granted credit for it, may be able to complete this degree in 60 - 120 credits.

This is a parts-based qualification. This means there are regulations around your completion of Part One before progressing to Part Two, etc.

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Part One (Choose 60 credits from)

List A (Choose at least 30 credits from)

Choose at least 30 credits from
Course code: 139703 Critical and Creative Research 30 credits

An introduction to practices of research with creative texts. Students will learn practical techniques for planning and producing research in critical and/or creative modes. Fostering a critical voice and debating the cultural and social value of aesthetic communication will be integral to the course.

View full course details
Course code: 139765 Creative Writing Workshop 30 credits

An advanced study and practice of creative writing in its myriad contemporary forms.

View full course details

List B (Choose no more than 30 credits from)

Choose no more than 30 credits from
Course code: 139710 Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of Writing 30 credits

An advanced introduction to rhetoric and composition as a framework for writing research and writing instruction.

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Course code: 139724 Literary Revolutions: Romantic and Victorian Literature 30 credits

A study of literary culture in Britain and the Pacific during the Romantic and Victorian periods. This course explores relationships between poetry, novels, travel writing and political treatises in the period, focusing on the distinctive nature of literary engagements with contemporary social and political upheavals.

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Course code: 139750 Contemporary New Zealand Writers in an International Context 30 credits

An advanced exploration of contemporary New Zealand fiction and poetry and its relationship to international aesthetic practices, in the context of globalisation and postcoloniality.

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Course code: 139758 Postcolonial Theory and Writing 30 credits

An advanced introduction to theories of postcolonial ethics and identity, and their relationship to selected works of literature from a range of postcolonial contexts.

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Course code: 139763 Community Theatre 30 credits

What role does theatre have in the community? Is there a valid place for community theatre in a secular society? If so, what stories need to be told through theatre? How might we tell them? The exploration of these questions will involve, initially, the examination of a range of historical and contemporary models of community theatre. Students will then engage in exploratory workshops, in community research, writing, rehearsals and theatrical performance.

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Course code: 139799 Research Report (30) 30 credits

A supervised and guided independent study.

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Course code: 154708 Modern Fiction, Popular Culture and the Media 30 credits

An examination of major developments in approaches to fiction in the twentieth century, focusing on modern and postmodern trends, and on how these have impacted on the rise and alleged decline of distinctions between elite art and popular culture. Texts for analysis are selected from both literature and film and include examples of canonical as well as popular fiction.

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Course code: 154747 Media Practice and Global Culture 30 credits

This course examines the critical context of contemporary media practice, exploring how media texts, technologies, and institutions respond to and produce processes of globalisation. Students will focus on the use of digital and mobile media technologies, and consciously negotiate decisions regarding the cultural, social, political, economic, ethical and environmental implications of their own media production, distribution and consumption.

Prerequisites: 154204 or 154224 or 154304

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Part Two (Choose 120 credits from)

Choose 120 credits from
Course code: 139860 Thesis 120 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

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Course code: 139861 Thesis 120 Credit Part 1 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

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Course code: 139862 Thesis 120 Credit Part 2 60 credits

A supervised and guided independent study resulting in a published work.

Corequisites: 139861

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Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

A Master of Creative Writing is one of the most creative and enriching degrees you can do. Employers seek out arts students for their lateral and analytical thinking, communication skills and creative ability.

There are various possibilities for creative writing graduates, including:

  • non-profit or corporate freelance writing
  • creative arts project coordination
  • writing for television, magazines, blogs or the book-publishing industry
  • inter-arts collaboration for arts festivals
  • writing for public relations
  • creative writing in advertising
  • teaching
  • performance-related writing and production
  • writing and advising on government policy
  • writing for social media.

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