English Lit and Creative Writing - Lancaster or UEA

(33 Posts)
FrogPrincess Mon 12-Sep-16 13:24:37

Hi, I haven't been on Mumsnet for years but now dd is in Year 13 and trying to pick her first choice for uni! She wants to do English Lit and Creative Writing, with as much Creative Writing as possible. We visited UEA and loved it, concrete campus and all, and it has been her favourite uni for a while.
We went to Lancaster recently and she loved the tutors there, the friendly students we spoke to, the course, and the fact she could do 50% english lit and 50% creative writing from year 1, which UEA and most courses don't offer (usually 75% english lit and 25% creative writing). She found the tutors more approachable and also more realistic and down to earth as to what she needs to do if she ever wants to be published. I was a bit concerned about the fact we live in Bristol and she is used to city life, but she has been clear from the start she wants to go somewhere smaller to have a different experience.
Anyone with experience of this type of degree, and/or these Unis able to shed more light on their strengths and weaknesses? Everyone always talks about UEA's great reputation for creative writing (and yes the MA has loads of published authors, but she would be doing a BA for now, and we are wondering whether UEA is far more focused on its MA students to the detriment of its BA students??), but how is Lancaster viewed?
Thanks in advance, this has been a fascinating process so far but it's also confusing!

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Dunlurking Mon 12-Sep-16 14:04:43

UEA has the better reputation for Creative Writing by far - I'd pick them any day. There are plenty of published writers with their BA. I know someone on the Lancaster MA course who is disappointed with it and I have met a student on their BA course who I didn't rate, and whose description of the course didn't impress as a degree that would advance his prospects. Lancaster is a popular and pleasant uni though.

FrogPrincess Mon 12-Sep-16 15:43:51

Thanks Dunlurking, may I ask how you met the Lancaster BA person? Was it a job interview setting? What did you find lacking (in them and in the course)?

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bojorojo Mon 12-Sep-16 18:54:48

My friend's son is a journalist for a magazine and he did Psychology at Leeds. If you can write, you can write. All universities have magazines and opportunities for creative writing and editorial input. He had articles published in a national newspaper well before leaving university. Making sure your cv is promoting your abilities, rather than relying on a specific university course, is likely to open more doors. However, if you like the look of a course, that is great, but the competition to get published is fierce. The DD of another friend did English at Cambridge and has really struggled to get creative writing jobs and could not even get on an MA to do it. It is not easy.

mummymeister Mon 12-Sep-16 21:08:55

Have you considered Falmouth? have a family member who has done a degree there and it was impressive.

BeardofZeus Mon 12-Sep-16 21:17:26

Lancaster is a great university, lots of opportunities to do a number of things relating to writing and good links into the community. As an alumna I am biased but I have friends who did Eng Lit and really enjoyed it and go excellent work from their degrees and extra curriculars, one even sidestepping into photojournalism!

RedAmberGreen1 Mon 12-Sep-16 21:21:39

UEA is more prestigious for creative writing; that doesn't mean its the best for any given individual, but all other things being equal it will open more doors.

I'd sound a note of caution against specialising too early. In general a broader undergrad degree and a focused masters (if you can afford it) is a safer way to go, because it keeps your options open. If you focus too much, and too vocationally at undergrad, it's harder to change direction if it turns out the field isn't for you. Your daughter might be 100% right of course, and it may be absolutely the right choice for her, but I've seen a number of people caught out that way, especially in subjects where the degree isn't a pre-requisite to enter the field.


FrogPrincess Mon 12-Sep-16 21:45:07

thank you for your replies, everyone! DD writes almost every day and has done so for a couple of years now, and she reads a lot and is really set on this course, but I appreciate the danger in specialising early. I hope her hard work (and hopefully talent) will help her get the breaks she needs.
We have indeed looked at Falmouth and she did like it, nice course, lovely campus and people, but I doubt it will be her first choice, probably 3rd.
BeardofZeus, that is encouraging! Lancaster seems to be a sort of hidden jewel (at least to my foreign eyes!), and we also liked the 3 part 1st year system allowing students to easily move into a different subject if they realise they made a mistake.
Any more experience of these courses and Unis, I am all ears (and will be reporting to DD)!

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ImperialBlether Mon 12-Sep-16 21:48:44

I would go to UEA any day of the week - it's amazing for creative writing. There's no way that MA courses would be receiving attention over BA - they're completely different and usually run by different people anyway.

Tell her to have a look at the American studies course, too.

I'll be very jealous of her if she goes there!

sluj Tue 13-Sep-16 13:27:43

I went to Lancaster and did English so many years ago my experience won't really count except to say that I would choose Lancaster again any day. The environment and reputation are outstanding. Very definitely a hidden gem which rides very high in every table. I initially went to do a joint degree but took the three equal subjects in year 1. Having sucked it and seen for a year I then dropped one of my joint subjects down to a minor. That flexibility was great for me.

Coincidentally DS is off to UEA to start a science related degree this week and I was very impressed with the campus there too. Though not as beautiful as Lancaster obviously. wink
I would say at first degree level they are all going to pretty equal. Why not look at which one suits in terms of distance and how comfortable it feels?

Both great universities and great choices

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 14:57:27

I would still look at English at the best university possible in case the creative writing job just does not happen. Employers judge applicants by their published work published, not just writing every day. However, she could be a self-employed freelance and see how she gets on. Latest reports shows peope on this route earn on average about £10,000 pa due to magazines saying that being published is promoting what you can do and who you are and they won't pay for it. It is well worth researching what the reality is like before being set on a creative writing degree and career.

wotevs Tue 13-Sep-16 16:35:36

My DS does Eng Lit and Creative Writing at UEA and is really enjoying his time there. Last year he took the study abroad option and that was purely creative writing (from Jan onwards). Like your DD he's written for years for pleasure, and prefers the creative writing side, so that option really suited him and may be good for your DD. He's also enjoyed the English lit side, though, and there are some good modules.

Can't comment on Lancaster as no experience, sorry.

FrogPrincess Tue 13-Sep-16 16:57:05

thanks all for your replies, much appreciated. At this point, she really is very keen on creative writing at BA level so despite all the risks and difficulties, I doubt very much that she will be persuaded otherwise, and we feel that doing this degree at a respected university and achieving high grades is worth it.
It's good to hear again from Lancaster alumni who clearly recommend it, and I feel happier about it as it seems to be DD's preferred choice still.
wotevs, great to hear about your son and his experience! Is he going into his final year now? How did he find the ratio of english lit to creative writing in his first 2 years? DD is adamant that only 25% writing would be too little for her

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wotevs Tue 13-Sep-16 19:07:59

Just asked him - according to him it was two thirds lit and one third creative writing. Yes he would've preferred more creative writing, but as I said he did get purely creative writing during his study abroad time. As others have said, if you can write you can write - and he just does so in his spare time. Yeah he's going into his third year.

Coincidentally one of my other DCs considered Lancaster for a different subject, as it was rated very highly.

I'm sure your DD will enjoy it - good luck with all the preps!

AppleMagic Tue 13-Sep-16 19:16:32

Both sound like good choices in terms of the university. I don't know Lancaster so can't comment but Norwich has a reasonably similar "feel" to Bristol and is livelier (culture/arts scene) than it should be for its size. Lots of creative types stay on in Norwich after graduating so she might be able to explore her writing outside her course too.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Tue 13-Sep-16 19:25:48

I have always heard of UEA as the mecca of creative writing studies. Specifically their MA course but presumably overlaps with lecturers.

Consider which course is likely to have better links with agents publishers - I think it would be UEA.

Do remember - and drill into her - that you really have to study other people's writing in great depth (and master literary criticism) to write seriously.

FrogPrincess Tue 13-Sep-16 21:19:01

thanks wotevs and wotevs' DS (and good luck for the 3rd year), maybe the choice will be made for us by the admissions people, it is pretty nerve wracking at the moment!
We did really like Norwich when we visited and I think she'd be happy there, and I've heard too that often people tend to stay on, but then Lancaster was a surprise hit even though we visited on rainy and windy day. Argh!

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BatterednotBruised Tue 13-Sep-16 23:33:41

Has she looked at Surrey? They do a 4 year course with 3rd year in industry linked to subject of study which is unusual for humanities. Although UEA does appear first when googling creative writing! We went to Surrey open day and there was a lot of focus on employability although my DD wasn't sure she would like to live there, too similar to home town I expect but she did like the course.

DrinkMilkAndKickAss Wed 14-Sep-16 09:42:09

My DN graduated last summer with a degree in English and creative writing from Kent and had no problems getting on to masters courses in English literature at a number of Russell group universities. He's now on the job hunt and no ones queried the creative writing aspect of his degree even though he's not decided to go down that path. So although I don't have any advice on the institutions in question it might be worth having a glance at Kent as well. I know DN was swung by their range of scholarships for high grades - I think he got £500 a term for getting 3 As at A level.

FrogPrincess Wed 14-Sep-16 11:23:22

BatterednotBruised , yes we went to Surrey last weekend (ironically she was born in Guidford but we moved to Bristol when she was 3 months old and hadn't gone back since!), liked the campus and had a good chat with a creative writing tutor but she didn't like the talk and was disappointed with the course, so I think Surrey will probably come last in her list.
DrinkMilkAndKickAss (great name!), we haven't looked at Kent, DH and I both studied there and I think that put her off!! Although it sounds like your DN is doing very well and it's so nice to hear something positive re job hunting and creative writing (best of luck to him btw). I will see if DD wants to reconsider and have a look at Kent.

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RTKangaMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 18:23:36

My DS has just graduated from UEA and the English LDC dept is very fluid with the modules

You choose which modules you like and as long as you have the credits to give you the degree you want then that is ok

If you look on their website it tells you all the modules available for each term/year

He absolutely loved his time at UEA and Norwich is great too, very easy to get into London by train or megabus, easy to cycle round the city using cycle lanes

He turned down the offer from Exeter to choose UEA and he so glad he did

The halls are lovely too and the rent for year 2 & 3 are about £250 upwards per month in nearby houses that UEA help with organising with accredited landlords


Do not forget the rabbits and the lake smile

FrogPrincess Fri 16-Sep-16 19:16:45

RTKangaMummy, well done to your DS! UEA does sound great and we loved the campus and the friendly bunnies we met there smile
DD is just worried about not having enough Creative Writing modules in the first couple of years at the moment, and having too many English Lit essays and not enough time to just write (she worries a lot about lots of things!). Are students actually able to do more than 25% creative writing in the first and second year? (the course on the website seems quite firmly set as 75%/25%)

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RTKangaMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 19:37:42

DS is on holiday atm so can't really ask him until next Wed

But I know that there are loads of modules that they can choose from if you look on the site it lists them and if they have a C then that is creative writing, L is Eng Lit and D is drama

The first year marks don't count for the final grade of the degree IIRC and I know that they are really fluid in the LDC dept

His girlfriend did quite a few creative writing modules and script writing modules and hers was always going to be a drama degree, she got a 1st, so think you choose the modules you like from all those available

I think the best thing is to visit again and get her to talk to the staff and students


RTKangaMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 21:35:37

Just messaged him and he described UEA in 3 words

CHALLENGING, WELCOMING AND FUN smilesmilesmilesmilesmile

He also said that UEA LDC is very fluid and you can choose from so many modules to make your degree

Years 2 & 3 are the ones that your degree credits come from

But obviously you have to get the credits from year 1 but the subject choices of the modules don't count towards the final credit totals or %


RTKangaMummy Fri 16-Sep-16 21:52:09

He also says that the Lake is brilliant to walk round or sit by to relax and unwind between classes

They also have BBQ places set up around the lake for the students to have BBQ whenever they like

And bunnies everywhere smilesmilesmilesmile

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