Based in the childhood home of Oscar Wilde at 1 Merrion Square and delivered in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing offers aspiring or published writers a one-year course of study which examines the process and practice of producing prose fiction.
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing
Based in the childhood home of Oscar Wilde at 1 Merrion Square and delivered in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing offers aspiring or published writers a one-year course of study which examines the process and practice of producing prose fiction. The work of the last two years’ classes has included pieces that were shortlisted for the Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition, twice longlisted for the Fish Short Story Competition, and two students who were selected as finalists in the IWC Novel Fair. Within a critical workshop and mentoring format students are provided with tuition and advice in completing either a novel or a short story collection. Consideration is given to the intellectual, psychological, economic and cultural influences that underpin and drive the creative writing process. The course also emphasizes the business and professional environment of writing, with seminars presented by agents and publishers and master classes by established writers. The programme provides the student both with expert guidance in producing a substantial written work of publishable standard, and with a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical and practical requirements of successful participation in the activity of writing, whether as a professional career or as part of a lifelong personal commitment to creative endeavour.
A graduate of the programme will be in a position to consider submission of a complete and polished work to a literary agent or publisher. He or she will also be prepared for participation in a range of complementary fields such as journalism, publishing, editing, online writing, advertising, marketing and teaching. The degree develops a broad spectrum of transferable skills, including advanced and adaptable writing techniques, informed responsiveness to critical and editorial commentary, self-management and organizational competencies, and a high level of expertise in understanding and locating creative work within a historical and critical context. These skills are applicable not only in careers that draw directly on the ability to write creatively, but also in a wide array of related business, cultural and social activities such as keeping a web page, blogging, advocacy and grant writing, criticism and commentary. Finally, the degree highlights the beauty and, amid such suffering as is necessary, the joy of creative expression. Regardless of the particular path a graduate follows, he or she will leave the programme with an enhanced, lifelong appreciation of the manifold intellectual and emotional benefits and consolations to be found in the practice of creative writing.
Sean O’Reilly teaches the novel workshop and the module on the craft of creative writing on the MFA in Creative Writing.
Sean O’ Reilly grew up in Derry, Northern Ireland. His work includes the short story collection, Curfew, and the novels Love and Sleep and The Swing of Things and the experimental erotic novella, Watermark. He is a contributing editor to the literary magazine, The Stinging Fly.
Mike McCormack teaches the short story workshop on the MFA in Creative Writing.
Born in 1965, Mike McCormack comes from the west of Ireland. He is the author of one collection of short stories, Getting it in the Head (1996), and two novels, Crowe’s Requiem (1998) and Notes from a Coma (2005). In 1996 McCormack was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Getting it in the Head was chosen as New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998. In 2006, Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award. In 2007 he was awarded a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship.
The Irish Writers’ Centre
The MFA in Creative Writing is delivered in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, based at 19 Parnell Square. The Irish Writers’ Centre has long been a hub of literary activity in Dublin, supporting established and aspiring writers throughout Ireland from its location in what Joyce called 'the heart of the Hibernian metropolis.' It is a non-profit organisation, aimed at promoting literature and writers in Ireland. Since it was founded in 1987, the Irish Writers’ Centre has welcomed many award winning writers through its doors, including Nobel, Costa, Man Booker, IMPAC, and Pulitzer Prize winners. It has also served as an important platform for breakthrough talent, with many young writers giving their first public readings at the Centre.
The Irish Writers’ Centre has considerable experience and expertise in teaching and promoting creative writing. These qualities, allied with American College Dublin’s long background in liberal arts higher education, have informed the development of the programme and provide ongoing support for it. The Centre serves as a space for programme events and presentations, facilitates MFA students in establishing contacts with agents, publishers and other key figures in the publishing industry, and provides a context for students to engage and interact with the Dublin and Irish writing community.
All MFA students are required to be members of the Irish Writers’ Centre during the year of their registration on the programme and are encouraged to enter into its culture and activities, both during the course and in the years beyond. Additionally, as a general principle, students are encouraged to draw on the observations and other writerly enjoyments and inspirations that attend the experience of travelling the paths, by-ways and spaces that link Merrion and Parnell squares.
The MFA in Creative Writing consists of a variety of taught classes, workshops, and a culminating final project, which is a substantial portion of a novel or a collection of short stories. All modules are mandatory, with the exception of one of the writing workshop classes in the first semester; novelists are required only to take the novel writing workshop and short story writers are only required to take the short story workshop, not both (however, though attendance in both is not mandatory, any student is wishes to participate in both is welcome to do so). The creative writing project is developed throughout the course of the programme (indeed, some students may come to the degree with work already in some stage of completion which is developed in the programme) and is completed during the summer, with a submission date in the first week of September)
Imagination and storytelling
Writing workshop 1: the novel
Writing workshop 1: the short story
The writer as critic
The craft of creative writing
The business of writing and publishing
Writing workshop 2
Masterclass in fiction writing
Creative writing project
An honours bachelor degree in a cognate discipline may be an advantage but is not a necessity for entry to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The principal requirements for admission to the programme are demonstration of a sufficient interest in the activity of creative writing and furnishing of evidence of an ability to undertake and benefit from a course of master’s level study and tuition in creative writing.
An applicant for the MFA should submit to the Admissions Office a statement of approximately 750 words of his or her interest in undertaking the course and a portfolio of his or her prose writing. The portfolio may consist of a single piece of writing or of a collection of up to four samples; the entire length of the portfolio should be approximately 3000 words. The applicant will also be required to attend an interview (in person or by means of the internet).
Along with academic knowledge that students receive throughout the duration of their chosen subject, students will also acquire and develop transferable career skills from their degree discipline. These skills along with potential career paths are provided below to give you a well-rounded view of what the course has to offer.
These skills include:
Advanced skills and competencies in written communication
Advanced skills and competences in academic research
Critical and editorial commentary
Graduates of MFA in Creative Writing will be prepared to participate in a range of complementary fields including: