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Only Connect: NAWE PhD Network  

On 5 December 2015, NAWE teamed up with the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London to run Only Connect, a networking event for Creative Writing PhD students. The idea of setting up a Creative-Critical Writing PhD network was very much welcomed by the thirty or so who attended and thanks to the efforts of a number of people at the event who volunteered to help take the network forward to the next stage, a Google email group, Facebook group, online discussion forum and Twitter account for the network have been set up – further details below. 

The Creative-Critical Writing PhD network will be primarily an online network but there may also be occasional face-to-face national and regional gatherings. It is open to anyone who is studying for a Creative Writing PhD in the UK and further afield, although, of course, we hope that anyone who is not already a member of NAWE will consider joining, at least as a student/associate member (costs just £20 per annum). Full details of how to join and the benefits of membership can be found here

We envisage that this will be a largely self-facilitated network and thanks go to Philippa Holloway for her generous offer of taking the facilitation lead. An informal steering group has also been set up. We are very excited about this new initiative and will do all we can to support the network as it goes forward but of course its success will very much depend on you getting actively involved. 

Here is how you can get involved in the network:

Google email group

To join this group, which will allow you to email everyone else who has subscribed to the network with one email address, please email and he will arrange for an invite to be sent to you. NB. You may need to have a Google email account to join the group. 

Facebook group

Seraphima Kennedy (who’s recently been appointed as NAWE’s new Programme Director) has set up a Facebook Group for the network as a useful way of keeping in touch. Please follow the link here to join, or search for ‘Only Connect: PhD in Creative Writing Networking Group’ within Facebook. If you have any problems, please email


A discussion forum has been set up by Wanda O’Connor at

It is a closed Forum – you will need to register to gain access. Any problems, please email


Wanda has also set up a Twitter account for the network and will begin posting once the network is up and running.

Below are links to other NAWE resources supporting those studying for a Creative Writing PhD.

Frequently asked questions

What will I get out of a creative writing course in Higher Education?

  • With hard work, you will get the qualification on offer - degree, MA or PhD.
  • You will also get a chance to develop your own writing style and voice within a critical but supportive environment.
  • Your reading will be guided and extended.
  • Your critical faculties will be developed.
  • Your writing craft and technique will be honed.
  • You will learn to think, to research, to discuss, to make presentations.
  • You will make friends with like-minded people.
  • In short, it will give you everything you could get from a 'traditional' Humanities course - and much more besides.

How should I go about choosing a course?

  • Think about where you would like to be (or need to be) geographically.
  • Make a list of the things your ideal course would include.
  • Check the UCAS website and NAWE website for details of courses.
  • Send for prospectuses of those which interest you the most.
  • Visit the University's website - it has room for much more information than the prospectus.
  • Go to Open Days.
  • Talk to staff and students.
  • Don't rely on league tables.
  • Trust your instincts.

What questions should I ask?

  • Who teaches on the course? If all the staff are practising writers, are they also experienced HE tutors? A good writer is not necessarily a good teacher.
  • What extra-curricular writing activities (e.g. visiting speakers) are offered by the institution?
  • What are the Unique Selling Points of the course?
  • Does it have a theoretical or practice-based approach?
  • How many students do they have and how large are classes?
  • What have previous graduates gone on to do?
  • How are classes taught - by lectures, seminars, group tutorials, workshops, individual tutorials, on-line?
  • What form does assessment take?

What job can I get afterwards?

Forty percent of graduate jobs do not require any particular degree. Writing degree students go on to further degrees or to work in jobs right across the creative industries, in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, book publishers, children's publishers, advertising, PR, literary agencies, press offices, theatre, art therapy, web writing, libraries, schools, and colleges. Oh yes, and many become published writers.

Life After Graduation Case Studies

You can read some accounts by those who have gone on to enrol on a Creative Writing PhD here




NAWE's Research Benchmark provides guidelines for what constitutes research in the discipline of Creative Writing.