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MA in Creative Writing


The MA in Creative Writing at Wits University is housed in the School of Literature, Language and Media but enjoys cross-disciplinary collaboration with lecturers and supervisors from several schools in the Faculty of Humanities. Guest writers and publishers are invited to conduct workshops or give lectures in the programme, giving students the benefits of their experience and expertise.

Several alumni of the programme have gone on to publish with established publishing houses. These include:

  • Terry Kurgan, Everyone is Present (Fourthwall Books)
  • Barry Gilder, The List (Jacana)
  • Fred Khumalo, Dancing the Death Drill (Umuzi)
  • Tammy Baikie, Paying Lip Service (Jacana)
  • Tuelo Gabonewe, Sarcophagus (Geko Publishing)
  • Ameera Patel, Outside the Lines (Modjaji Books
  • Rehana Roussouw, What Will People Say (Jacana)
  • Dominique Botha, False River (Struik)
  • Christa Kuljian, Sanctuary (Jacana)
  • Antony Altbeker, Fruit of a Poisoned Tree (Jonathan Ball)
  • Kevin Bloom, Ways of Staying (Picador Africa)
  • Shaun de Waal, Exposure (Booksurge)
  • Craig Higginson, The Landscape Painter (Pan Macmillan)
  • Makhosazana Xaba, Running and Other Stories (Modjaji Books)
  • Pat Hopkins, Johnny Golightly Comes Home (Penguin)
  • Liesl Jobson, 100 Papers (Botsotso)
  • Andie Miller, Slow Motion (Jacana)



  • Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Head of Department and Associate Professor
  • Ivan Vladislavić, Distinguished Professor
  • Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Lecturer
  • Marilyn Jousten, Administrator



The MA in Creative Writing (SLLS8007) is a two-year MA by research. The discipline of Creative Writing is practice-led. Candidates must demonstrate an ability to use language creatively, as well as a willingness to analyse and reflect on their own writing process. Candidates accepted into the programme will register to write a dissertation under supervision.

The dissertation will comprise a literary work (a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of creative non-fiction, a collection of poetry, or a dramatic work) and a research/reflective essay that examines the process of the work’s composition in relation to contemporary theoretical and philosophical debates on the genre of the work and the themes and concerns it addresses. The qualification is awarded on the basis of the quality of the creative work and the research/reflective essay.

Candidates will be assigned to a suitable supervisor by the course coordinator and will be required to attend a fortnightly writing seminar, held on Friday afternoons from 1.30 to 5 pm.

The MA will be evaluated as follows: 80% of the mark will be allocated to the creative component and 20% to the research essay (which should comprise no less than 10 000 words). All the usual protocols of internal and external examination pertain.

All candidates are expected to complete their projects, on a part-time basis, over a two-year period.

A candidate’s progress will be closely monitored and they will be required to attend the seminars/workshops, complete a proposal by the end of April of the first year, and show significant progress on their creative project by the end of the second semester of the first year (November). If the candidate does not successfully meet these requirements the course director, in consultation with the supervisor, may advise them to withdraw from the degree.



An Honours degree in literary studies, journalism or drama is a prerequisite for entry into the MA in Creative Writing. Occasionally a candidate without such a degree may, at the discretion of the course coordinator, be admitted to the MA on the basis of their submitted portfolio or an extensive publishing history.
Candidates may be called for an interview as part of the application process.

There are two steps to the application process, to be undertaken SIMULTANEOUSLY.

STEP ONE: submit, to the course convenor, Professor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen,

• A full curriculum vitae
• A covering letter that includes a brief explanation of your reading and writing interests; details of your publishing history; a brief sketch of the project you would like to explore should you be accepted to the course; your personal challenges or obstacles to writing; any awards or accolades that you have received for your writing.
• A portfolio of writing comprising at least fifty pages (1.5 spacing) of prose (fiction or non-fiction), or, only if the student intends to write a play for the MA, a play manuscript, or, only if the student intends to write a poetry manuscript, a selection of at least twenty-five poems. Academic papers, journalism and press releases will not be accepted as part of the portfolio.

NB: Do not attempt to upload your portfolio to the University online enrolment system. Portfolios must be emailed to the course administrator.

There are places for twelve students in the MA in Creative Writing. Candidates for these places will be accepted on the strength of the writing portfolio, their academic record, the experience detailed in the CV and the persuasiveness of the cover letter (and, if applicable, the interview).



The deadline for submission of portfolios is 15 September.

STEP TWO (to be undertaken at the same time as STEP ONE): Submit an online application for the MA BY RESEARCH in the FIELD OF CREATIVE WRITING to the University at
Please check the deadlines for submission with the University Enrolment Office. If you are accepted into the programme, then your online application will also be accepted.


Please note:

All South African and international postgraduate applicants to the University are required to pay an application fee of R200.

International students are required by the University to submit SAQA and IELTS English Proficiency certificates with their application to the University.



There is very little funding for students in Creative Writing, unfortunately, but we try to assist students to locate sources of funding where possible. You are encouraged to apply for the Postgraduate Merit Award (by November of the year prior to enrolment – details with the Wits Financial Aid and Scholarships Office).

If you anticipate that lack of funding will prevent you from being able to accept a place in the programme should your application be successful, please indicate this in your covering letter so that we can keep you in mind for available bursaries etc.



Once accepted into the programme, candidates will be required to submit a detailed proposal before embarking on the dissertation. The proposal, which will be developed in the writing workshops with all the candidates and with the guidance of the supervisors, should outline the proposed project in detail and include an extensive reading list. The proposal will be circulated to the other MA candidates and to relevant staff members from SLLM who will be invited to attend a public seminar at which the candidate will outline and discuss the writing project. The candidate is expected to address the suggestions made during this seminar in the final proposal submitted to Faculty. The candidate will not be allowed to continue in the MA if this requirement is not met. The final proposal must be submitted by 30 April of the first year of the MA.

The proposal should:

• Give reasons for the candidate’s choice of a particular genre
• Describe the characters, setting and historical context of the project
• Describe the intended readership of the work
• Demonstrate evidence of familiarity with works by other writers in the proposed genre
• Describe the work’s overall structure and its primary concerns
• Outline the questions and concerns that the research essay will address
• Provide a detailed and relevant reading list/bibliography



All students registered for the MA in Creative Writing will be expected to attend a fortnightly workshop. Workshops will run from February to November, with recess periods during University study breaks and vacations.

Students will circulate work (by email) in advance of each workshop and all class members will be expected to engage the work and give cogent and critical feedback in terms of the protocols set out at the first meeting.

Some of the workshops will be set aside for presentations by staff members, supervisors and established authors on aspects of composition, professional writing practice and publishing.



At the end of the first year of the MA, the candidate’s progress will be assessed by the Director of the programme and the supervisor. The student must show adequate progress in the writing of their creative project in order to be allowed to register for the second year of the MA.



For more information about the degree and the application process, contact Professor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen ( in the School of Literature, Language and Media (011 717 4162).

For information regarding fees or other administrative concerns, contact
Ms Madile Moeketsi ( in the Graduate Studies Office, Faculty of Humanities, located in the South-West Engineering Building on the East Campus.