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Novel Writing MA (Online Distance Learning)

Learn about the course below
September 2024
1 year full-time
Online distance learning
£8,600 (UK) *
£8,600 (INT) *
Course leader
Adam Lively

Writing a novel is on most bucket lists, but very few people make their dream a reality. Our fully flexible online MA enables you to develop your novel at your own pace, at times to suit your lifestyle, from anywhere in the world. You’ll be supported throughout by acclaimed novelists, who are experienced creative writing lecturers with valuable industry links.

Why study the MA Novel Writing* at Middlesex University?

Our practical and contemporary approach to novel writing ensures you are able to hone your writing skills and develop your book while also identifying gaps in the market and how to approach agents and publishers.

Through our online campus you can access the support of our experts, while interacting with others on the course, at a time to suit you, and you complete the course in one year (full-time). From idea generation, to developing character and plot, to pitching your novel to publishers, this MA equips you to master your novel.

Course highlights

  • Our teaching team are all experienced creative writing lecturers as well as being novelists – they include novelist, critic and TV director/producer Dr Adam Lively and fantasy novelist/critic Dr Adam Dalton.
  • You’ll be learning with state-of-the-art distance learning tools and 24-hour web support through our innovative online platform
  • Creative writing at Middlesex has strong links with the publishing industry, including hosting the annual North London Story Festival, which has included appearances by writers such as former poet laureate Carol-Anne Duffy, novelist David Nicholls and Booker Prize shortlisted author Stephen Kelman.
  • Get free access to the resources, learning materials and software.

This course is subject to review*

Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.

What will you study on the MA Novel Writing?

This course is divided into five modules taken over three terms (if studied full time) which take you through the full process of writing a novel. While exploring in depth such key techniques of fiction as plotting, narrative voice, characterisation and background research, each module is also designed to be flexible and to allow you to bring your own writing interests and projects to the assignments, extending the boundaries of your current practice through self-reflection, research, analysis, and creative exploration.

  • Modules

    • Writing as a Novelist - 30 Credits​ - Compulsory

      This module explores key writing techniques such as narrative, setting and characterisation, with reference to literary examples and the different methods used by writers in the creative process. This is an opportunity for you to explore the scenes and characters of your planned novel or develop a variety of ideas and approaches if you have not decided on the content of your story.

    • Reading as a Novelist - 30 Credits​​ - Compulsory

      Building on the 'Reading as a Writer' concept (most famously explored in Francine Prose's book), this module explores how published writers handle the technical and ethical problems which are likely to present themselves in your writing. Through a combination of weekly 'practical criticism' exercises and an online 'book group' you will develop the analytical skills to improve your own writing and the problem-solving techniques to overcome any obstacles in your approach.

    • Research: Writing, Markets, Audiences - 30 Credits​​ - Compulsory​

      This module explores the methods fiction-writers employ to research elements of their stories, as well as investigating the reasons why research is necessary – to provide authenticity, to avoid error, to create verisimilitude, and even to get inspiration. You will also learn about researching the possible markets, audiences and publishing outlets for your creative work.

    • Developing and Publishing the Novel - 30 Credits​​ - Compulsory​

      This module moves on from the 'portfolio' focus of earlier modules to deal with the challenges of working on a specific novel. Through a series of writing exercises you will begin to evolve characters, explore themes and refine settings for your planned novel. This is an opportunity for you to begin the sustained prose narrative that is expected in the following dissertation.

    • Major Project - 60 Credits​​ - Compulsory​

      Your final dissertation is an opportunity for you to take all the knowledge and skills you have acquired in the preceding modules and apply them to 20,000 words of an original novel with a synopsis for sending to an agent or publisher and an accompanying critical commentary.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MA Novel Writing taught?

This course is an online distance learning programme, so all teaching and learning is done online.

You will meet, work and study with your fellow course participants and tutors in a virtual space which provides you with the flexibility to learn at your own pace, in your own time. Our Virtual Learning Environment encourages you to share your writing, interact, question, and participate with others on your course, ensuring you never feel as if you are studying in isolation.

You will learn through

  • Carefully structured modules that take students through key aspects of novel-writing.
  • Tailored writing exercises, with accompanying feedback from tutors and fellow students
  • Guided reading and interactive discussion and analysis.
  • One-to-one online tutorials on individual projects.
  • Extensive online support materials – e-books, videos.


Assessment is on the basis of creative work, including a 15,000-word final submission, along with reflection on the writing process in the form of discussion posts, on-line learning journals and critical commentaries.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK/International
  2. Additional costs
  3. Scholarships and bursaries

Students on the Novel Writing MA have been involved in creating a set of podcasts which gave them invaluable hands on experience of scripting and producing radio pieces. They had the opportunity to showcase an example of their work as part of Middlesex’s literary festival, the North London Story Festival, both via the NLSF website and on the day through a podcasting hub was set up during the festival.

Dr Adam Lively
Programme Leader

Adam has published four novels and in 1993 was on the Granta list of “Twenty Best Young British Novelists”. He is also the author of Masks: Blackness, Race and the Imagination (1997) and was the co-editor of Democracy in Britain: A Reader (1995). He spent ten years as a researcher/producer/director of documentary films, including Jihad: The Men and Ideas behind Al Qaeda (PBS/Channel 4), which was shortlisted for an International Emmy and awarded the DuPont-Columbia Prize for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. His doctoral thesis examined narrative fiction from the perspective of contemporary psychology and philosophy of mind, and he continues to research and publish in this field, in addition to writing fiction.

Dr Adam Dalton

Before joining Middlesex University, Adam lectured in English Literature and Creative Writing at both Manchester Metropolitan University and Falmouth University. He writes academically on English Literature, and publishes both genre and literary fiction under the author name A J Dalton.

  • MA Novel Writing Lynn Bradshaw

    Lynn Bradshaw, London


    I began from the premise that I wanted to be able to do two things after the course: write a a reasonably "good" novel and move into teaching creative writing. I am happy to say that I have already embarked on both.

    The programme has given me the tools, confidence and contacts to start to make a career out of writing.

    Throughout the course, I stepped outside my comfort zone and found a writing voice I did not know I had. The support of my peers and tutors made that possible.

    The best things have been: contact with other supportive trainee novel writers via the forums and working with professional writers to polish my writing.

    I cannot emphasis enough how much I have gained from the tutors. Their insights, questions, challenges, enthusiasm and empathy have made the course a really great experience.

  • MA Novel Writing Divya Menon

    Divya Menon, Malaysia

    I am so glad and grateful to have had the opportunity to be on the MA Novel Writing programme. What an awesomely compact and precisely structured course, nurturing future novelists with all the right ingredients. This course has literally flung the door open for my dream of writing a novel to take shape. A big thank you to the course leader and to the tutors who have not only shared their knowledge and expertise with insight and foresight, but also have been excellent and encouraging mentors in the craft. The very fact this course is online is simply a gift to aspiring novelists like myself who can't get to the UK physically.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

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