Creative writing Media, creative arts, and communication

Creative writing Media, creative arts, and communication

The ability to write well enables your voice to be heard on all of the issues shaping modern society.

At Macquarie you’ll turn your passion for writing and literature into a career, learning about social and cultural issues as well as production and publishing contexts. Develop your craft with like-minded creatives across fiction, poetry, non-fiction, scriptwriting, novels and more.

Postgraduate coursework frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

How do I apply?

All Australian and local students must apply through the Universities Admissions Centre and send their creative portfolio directly to the Department of English. International Students must follow the International guidelines.

Please include your UAC application number and email address in your covering letter when you submit your creative portfolio. Send your creative portfolio directly to Dr Jane Messer at the Department of English.

What do I need to include in the creative portfolio?

The portfolio you submit should include what you consider to be your best work. Your creative portfolio need not be published work, though if you have published creative writing please do let us know in your covering letter, or send a copy of the published
work, or a photocopy of a portion of it.

The portfolio can consist of about 15 pages or more of your recent writing; such as 2 or 3 stories, or a chapter or two of a longer work of fiction; a performance work such as a radio or stage play; a dozen poems; or creative non-fiction.

When assessing the creative portfolio we look for work that is interesting, that has a unique voice and a sense of promise: the essentials needed to develop and further your writing skills. Our program offers students the opportunity to explore and develop their writing in a community of student writers.

Please do not submit factual articles or journalism, or work that was completed as part of previous university course-work, such as essays or other creative assignments.

All portfolio submissions must be sent in the following format:

  • In hard copy (not as an email attachment);
  • With a covering letter that includes your name, postal and email address, and UAC application number;
  • Typed, double or 1.5 line spacing, 12 pt, on numbered pages, and with your name on each page.
  • Do not use folders or plastic sleeves.
  • If sending a published book please include an SSAE of sufficient size and postage for return.

After we receive both parts of your application we are then able to assess your application. You will receive notification from UAC with the result, as well as an email directly from the Department if you are offered a place. The application process should take 2-4 weeks. If you have any concerns, please email or telephone us. See the Master of Creative Writing course page

When can I apply?

Students can apply for commencement in Session 1 or Session 2: apply by the end of the previous year for each Session 1, or mid year for Session 2. Check the application deadlines for each of these application round dates through UAC.

Do I need to apply through UAC, the Universities Admissions Centre?

Yes, unless you are an International Student.

I'm an international student. Who should I contact for academic advice?

You are encouraged to ask questions about the program. All materials, including portfolio and covering letter, are to be sent to the International Student Services Office, Macquarie University. At the same time, please email Dr Jane Messer a note to indicate you have placed an application through the International Office, or request your agent to do this.

If your work is originally written in a language other than English, you will need to translate it yourself as part of the application process. Only your own original creative writing, translated by yourself, is acceptable for the creative portfolio application and future study at Macquarie. International students may email their creative portfolio – hard copy is not required.

Do I have the right degree background?

A background in literature studies is preferred, however a range of other related studies or commensurate arts industry experience may be regarded as relevant, such as media, cultural studies and languages.

Can I study part-time?

Yes. Many students undertake their studies over a 2.5 to 3 year period. We understand that postgraduate students typically have demanding work and family lives.

Can I get credit for what I have studied in the Graduate Diploma if I apply to do the Masters at a later date?

Yes. Units you have successfully completed when enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Creative Writing can be credited to the Master of Creative Writing. No new UAC application is needed.

What if I want to discontinue the Masters?

Conversely, students who are enrolled in the Master of Creative Writing can exit their degree early by graduating with a Diploma, if they have completed the units required for the Diploma.

Can I apply for Recognition of Prior Learning?

Yes. RPL in recognition of study at another university or work experience may also be granted credit for the Masters program.

What are the fees? Are there scholarships?

For information on fees, go to the relevant Macquarie University website pages. Both the Masters and Diploma degrees are course-work based programs and there are no scholarships available for either local or international students.

What is the expected workload?

During Session, students should estimate their workload by multiplying each credit point they are enrolled in by 3 hours. For example, the 4 credit point unit CWPG810, will require approximately 12 hours of study a week, over 15 weeks. This work will include class attendance or online time, reading and creative writing.

When are the classes offered?

Use the online Timetable at the Macquarie website to see when a unit is currently offered, and what modes it is offered in. Many units are offered on evening nights between Monday and Thursdays, 6-8pm for Internal mode. If however an insufficient number of students want to study on campus, then the internal class won’t be offered. All our Postgraduate units are offered in External mode.

What size are the classes?

Small, usually around 10 people, with a range of ages and cultural backgrounds. In the external mode, students work in groups of 8-10 in discussion and writing workshop forums.

What units should I enrol in?

Students begin their studies with CWPG810 and 811, the creative writing workshops. Other unit choices can be done in consultation with the program convenor. Prior to enrolment, each student should request individual advice on their study pattern and enrolment options from the program convenor.

Postgraduate coursework - external study 

Our online learning offers a high quality, interactive learning environment for all students, whether they are residing in Sydney, in other regions or cities of Australia, or overseas.

Communicating online

Macquarie University’s online learning system is an easy to use portal for online lectures, discussions, journaling and sharing of documents such as works of creative writing.

Because students live in different time zones, there are no weekly “live classrooms” or live chat in the online units. Students hop online at times of their choosing during each of the semester weeks, participating in on-going written discussions and forums, podcast style lectures and other tools.

  • External students must have regular and frequent access (2-3 times per week) to broadband internet.
  • Students can combine internal and external study between units (not within the same unit).
  • Fees for Internal and External study modes are the same.

On Campus Days

Two Creative Writing course-work units involve an on-campus day for those students who live in Australia. These days are held on a Saturday usually at the end of Week 4 in Sessions 1 and 2. They are not compulsory, but attendance is highly recommended.

Careers in creative writing

  • advertising copywriter
  • biographer
  • book, magazine or e-publisher
  • broadcaster
  • corporate communications specialist
  • creative content producer
  • editor
  • feature writer
  • freelance writer
  • media producer
  • novelist
  • playwright
  • professional writer
  • reviewer
  • screen or game writer
  • social media coordinator
  • teacher (with further study)
  • web manager or web writer
  • writer

Professional experience

Connect with your future career through PACE

At Macquarie, learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. With PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) you can gain real-world experience and get ahead in the career queue.

PACE provides opportunities for undergraduate students at Macquarie University to gain practical experience by working with industry partners on mutually beneficial projects. No matter what you decide to study, PACE has an opportunity available for you. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Student experience

Tara Crowl, Master of Creative Writing

Tara Crowl

Master of Creative Writing

“I’m so grateful for the time I spent studying Creative Writing at Macquarie. When I began the program, I started writing a novel. My peers workshopped sections of it in classes, and my adviser provided invaluable instruction during our one-on-one meetings. As of September 2015, that novel is published. I can’t imagine a better foundation for someone pursuing a career in writing.” 

Tara’s novel Eden's Wish has now been published by Disney Hyperion.

Elizabeth Claire Alberts, Master of Creative Writing

Elizabeth Claire Alberts

Master of Creative Writing

“During the Masters I developed skills as a poet and writer of fiction and non-fiction. I was always challenged to think more deeply, to revise and refine my writing and came away with a set of invaluable writing techniques and skills and a portfolio of finished work. The program and my teachers helped me build my confidence to get my writing out there and to undertake ambitious writing projects. From the Masters I went on to develop my academic research skills, recently completing a creative PhD.” 

 Today, Elizabeth is an environmental investigative journalist, teacher of creative writing, podcaster and poet.

Hanna Baker

Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Creative Writing

“At high school my favourite things were discussing texts such as artworks, plays and poems, and creating my own art. For the HSC I completed three major works: a series of paintings, a play script, and a suite of poems. Therefore, it made sense to choose a writing degree. With its compulsory English units, as well as plenty of room for some really diverse and interesting electives, and extracurricular activities such as the Shakespeare Club, I chose the writing course at Macquarie.

"I have really enjoyed the workshopping aspect of the writing subjects. It allows for the opportunity to experiment with your writing in a safe space and get feedback from tutors and peers. Also, it's been fascinating to read other students' writing; stories I never would have written, but can still appreciate and discuss what works and what needs to be refined. Reading professional writers' work from a writer’s perspective has been really interesting. We get to deconstruct good art to find out how to make our own art better. Plus the tutors are just so knowledgeable, generous, and approachable.”

Anne Green 

Anne Green 

Master of Arts in Creative Writing*

"I chose to do my postgraduate studies at Macquarie as I was impressed by the range of postgraduate programs offered by the University and the creative writing curriculum in particular. The University's reputation and ranking as a learning institution attracted me and the opportunity to study as a distance student made it possible to undertake the Masters degree while living and working in South Australia."

"During my postgraduate studies I learned a great deal about writing as a creative and intellectual process than I would ever have if left to pick things up on my own. Learning theories and practising skills with which I was initially very unfamiliar, helped reinforce my sense of self-confidence and belief that with enough determination, I can achieve far more than I might once have expected to. The discipline of academic study that was required of me has stood me in good stead to pursue professional and personal goals."

Anne is now a full-time writer and recently was awarded a grant from Arts SA to research and write a creative work based on the life and letters of Alice B Toklas.

*Degree now called Master of Creative Writing

Our expertise in creative writing

Dr Jane Messer

Dr Jane Messer 

Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

Jane Messer's writing and research is principally in the broad area of narrative fiction, and her work has included publications in the genres of novel, short story, personal essay, poetry and documentary film writing.

Her non-fiction and scholarly writing significantly integrates narrative and fictional devices in its construction, and in a current project on writing Australian corporate cultures, she is intersecting ethnography with fiction writing.

She has been a judge of the Australian Vogel Literary Award, UTS Writing Award, CSIRO Writing Competition and reader for the HQ Short Story Competition.

English, literature and creative writing at Macquarie 

English at Macquarie University involves the study of novels, drama, creative writing, life writing, visual texts (including film), children's literature (including folk tales), and the study of non-literary texts. With programs available at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, English can give you the opportunity to acquire skills in communication and evaluation, flexibility and independence of judgement - skills which will equip you for a broad range of careers.

Motivated by her younger sister’s literary success, Liane also embarked on a writing career. However, with her first attempt not being taken up by a publisher, she enrolled in the Master of Creative Writing to perfect her skills.

Her first novel, Three Wishes, was written as part of her creative writing degree. Since then she has written five more novels for adults: The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotists Love Story, and the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Husband’s Secret and most recently Big Little Lies. In addition to her novels for adults, she has written a series of books for children under LM Moriaty.

In August 2013 Liane’s fifth novel The Husband’s Secret was released in the US, and within two weeks had become a #1 New York Times Bestseller. The Husband’s Secret has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and is set to be translated into over 35 languages. It remained on the New York Times best-seller list for over a year and was a top 10 bestseller in the UK. CBS Films has acquired the film rights.

Liane’s latest novel Big Little Lies was published in July 2014 in the US and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This achievement made Liane the first Australian author to have a novel debut in the top spot in the US. Film and television rights have since been negotiated with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Even further success was achieved when the hardcover editions of Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, along with the paperback edition of What Alice Forgot, appeared simultaneously on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014, making Liane one of the few authors in the world to ever have three books on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time.

We congratulate Liane on her outstanding success and are very proud of her achievements.

Although she enjoyed her job shaping scripts into meaningful stories for the screen, she realised her childhood dream of becoming an author was still something she really wanted to achieve.

Though her initial manuscripts generated some interest from publishers, it was her decision in 2010 to leave her home in the USA to enrol in Macquarie’s Master of Creative Writing that eventually led to her first published novel.

“Life changes are best when they come in the form of adventures, so I decided to go on a big one. I moved to Sydney for a Master’s program in writing at Macquarie University. While I was in Australia, my world grew in beautiful, bright, and unexpected ways. It’s good advice, what they say about listening to your heart,” says Tara.

“I’m so grateful for the time I spent studying creative writing at Macquarie. When I began the program I started writing a novel (Eden’s Wish). My peers workshopped sections of it in classes and my adviser provided invaluable instruction during our one-on-one meetings. I can’t imagine a better foundation for someone pursuing a career in writing.”

After completing her degree Tara moved to New York and finished her novel Eden’s Wish. On September 1, 2015 it was released by Disney Hyperion.

We wish Tara great success with her first novel and are very proud of her achievement.

When she was six, Rebecca Greensill saw a double header of The Never Ending Story and The Sesame Street Movie and was captivated by how these two films entertained as well as evoked such strong emotions in the audience. Growing up, she would watch movies like A Few Good Men over and over, finding herself studying the plot lines and dialogues. Her love for films inspired Rebecca to become an actor, writer and director.

Today, with several short films, plays and shows in her portfolio, and as a script editor for Seven's Home and Away, Creative Writing graduate Rebecca is living her dream.

She says, "Being able to watch something you've written being filmed is an incredible experience."

Getting her foot in the door

Rebecca has been with the Seven Network for almost three years now. Starting in various departments, she worked her way up to the script department.

"Once I got my foot in the door, I just did whatever it took to keep it there. I worked as assistant set dresser on All Saints, Underbelly: The Golden Mile, Cops: L.A.C, and in the locations department on Rescue Special Ops and Dance Academy."

For those aspiring to work in television, Rebecca says, "Take any job available at first. Make an impression then take any job going. From there, as long as you keep doing a good job, you can manoeuvre into the position you really want.

"I kept working in art departments until I got to know more people. When working on Home and Away I approached the script producer and asked to be considered for their submission program. After three submissions I was offered a script and a job as script coordinator, then as a storyliner and now script editor."

Master of Creative Writing

Rebecca graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) degree from Macquarie University where she also studied Master of Arts in Creative Writing (now called Master of Creative Writing). She believes her postgraduate studies helped her on learning how to give and receive feedback.

"The support and guidance I received at Macquarie was invaluable. Being given feedback from working writers and learning how to make the feedback process work for my writing was instrumental in what I've achieved so far. Whether you're a novelist, screenwriter, playwright or journalist, you always get feedback at some point, and your ability to integrate that feedback whilst retaining your own voice is crucial."

Here you’ll find poetry, fiction, essays and scripts written by graduating students from the undergraduate Writing major capstone unit.

Visit The Quarry blog site to to see our students' work.

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