Emma Clark Gratton
A new Masters program covers both the practicalities of writing and the theory of literature.
As technology is making the written word more accessible than ever before, the ways that we interact with words and writing have changed. We are saturated with information, and writers are more in demand than in previous decades. A professional writer needs to be adaptable, nimble and flexible, with a deep understanding of both the conventions of professional non-fiction writing, and the theory and craft stemming from traditional literature.
Deakin University’s Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) allows students to study more than just the craft of writing: it invites them to choose to specialise from areas as diverse as Children's Literature, Creative Writing, Literary Studies and Professional Writing.
A highlight of the course is the extended research project, which allows students to work with a mentor - an academic or professional staff member nationally recognised in their field. ‘Some people might choose to do their thesis on Dr Who, while others might go really traditional with something like Wuthering Heights,’ said Cassandra Atherton, Writing and Literature Postgraduate Convenor at Deakin. ‘Others might write a novella or memoir. We work with students to find out their passions, then pair them up with a supervisor depending on what they are working on.’
All the supervisors are published writers and have links in the creative writing or literary studies industries. ‘Some of our students might choose to write something critical, so we pair them with a scholar or critic, while some students choose creative writing such as memoir, auto-fiction or creative non-fiction. Many also write screenplays or scripts, or works of poetry.’
The supervisor mentorship is a unique part of the Masters program. ‘It allows you to develop a relationship with your supervisor, not just on the research project, but to usher you into the field. Instead of starting from the ground up, we can help the students with contacts, information on where to submit, what journals are accepting new work… practical advice that I wish I had when I started out!’
Many students go on to publish their finished work, said Atherton. Having a complete example of work allows the students to enter the workforce with honed writing skills, plus the sample of their published work.
The coursework also supports the research project. Students will learn to look at texts in depth, how to structure a piece of writing and the theory and contexts behind the critical analysis, creation and production of texts.
The Masters program is not only for people who have completed an undergraduate writing degree. ‘We get a small percentage of students who have recently studied writing at an undergraduate level, but most of the Masters of Writing and Literature is made up of people who left university years ago, and want to come back and re-educate in a different field or qualify at a higher level.’ Once they complete the Masters program, about half the students choose to continue their studies and enter a PhD program.
Deakin University also offers a Graduate Diploma of Creative Writing and a Graduate Diploma of Professional Writing. All Writing and Literature courses can be studied via Deakin’s onne learning platform, allowing students to study where and when it suits them.
Students may also be eligible for credit for prior learning, depending on their previous studies and experience. Graduates can find work in industries from publishing and journalism through to communications and teaching.
To learn more, visit the course website.
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