Autobiography and Life Writing – Brighton (Year 1)

Programme length
Two years: This is the first year of the two year programme

Autumn: 1 October – 11 December 2019
Spring: 7 January – 18 March 2020
Summer: 21 April – 22 May 2020

Tuesdays: 10am -12.30pm (Brighton)

The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton BN1 1UT OR

Entry requirements
No formal qualifications required.

Programme tutors
Dr Mark Slater (programme director), Hannah Vincent, Holly Dawson, Dr John Donoghue, Christine Harmar-Brown

£995 per annum

Course fees for the year can be paid in full, in advance, by 1 September 2019 or by instalments (over 6 or 9 months). You will be charged a non-refundable administration fee to join an instalment plan which is payable at the time of booking.

The Creative Writing Programme in collaboration with New Writing South

Course Overview

The aim of the programme is to help you understand how to write compelling narrative that draws your reader into the world you have created, to have a good working understanding of the different forms of life writing and to be familiar and comfortable with the ethical and personal considerations at the heart of this genre.

In your first year you will reflect on the sources and themes of your own writing; develop a greater understanding of your own creativity and the creative process; learn how to create dynamic characters; discover ways of enhancing the dramatic impact of your writing and explore the different ways in which life stories can be told. In the second year the focus will shift from shorter scenes to longer narratives: you will delve into the meaning of memory and imagination; explore complex matters of form and authenticity; develop your understanding of life writing structure, and gain further insights into language, technique and style.

Throughout the course you will continue to explore aspects of character and setting, learning to negotiate memory and constructs of time in relation to life writing. You will be shown ways to enhance your own creativity, hone your critical and editing skills and develop your eye for good life writing. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group.

By the end of the programme you will have significantly increased your understanding of how to write well, have developed a substantial body of work and have either finished your life writing project or be in a position to bring it to completion.

The programme is delivered through weekly seminars in which you will develop your writing technique through practical exercises, readings, discussion of published work and group discussions led by your tutor on different aspects of the writing process. All our courses are supported by interactive learning sites where you can access seminar notes and exercises as well as a Writer’s Forum in which you can contact other writers in your group, share work and information about events and contact your tutor.

Over the course of the two-year programme you will work closely with two of our tutors. You will be offered one-to-one tutorials, a Weekend School and Bridging Sessions over the summer break between year one and year two. At the end of the programme you will be given the opportunity to discuss your work with visiting publishing professionals.

What this programme will do for you

This programme will develop your confidence and ability as a writer. Through discussion and experimentation, in practical work guided by your tutor, you will learn how to improve the quality of your writing; develop your creative and critical skills; organise and manage your work and develop a strong individual style.

This is an ideal programme for writers who want to write a memoir, autobiography or collection of short stories based on true events or who want to create an experimental piece of imaginative life writing and are looking for structure, encouragement and feedback to help them achieve this.

All you need to bring to the programme is your imagination, a love of reading, a passion to write, a commitment to your writing group and the determination to succeed.

What is required of me?

You will need to make a two-year commitment both to your own individual development and to the group you are working with. You will be working closely with other writers and reading and commenting on other people’s work is an essential part of this process. You will also be required to read short pieces of published work in preparation for in-class discussion around different aspects of the writing technique. The sharing of life stories is integral to the teaching on the programme and you will be encouraged to write from personal and researched experience, but the sharing of work is not seen as an end in itself. The emphasis will always be on improving the quality of your writing and of understanding the complex process of narrative construction – and this will become significantly more important in the second year of the programme.

Over these two years you will need to organise a minimum of twelve hours per week for reading and the development of writing activities and exercises: this includes seminar time, writing time and reading time. You will also need to have access to a computer with email and an internet connection as the programme uses an internet learning site to allow students to keep in touch outside of the taught sessions. Reading, writing and researching exercises will be regularly set outside of seminar time.

How are seminars structured?

Each weekly writing seminar runs for two and a half hours. Seminars will include a mix of practical writing exercises, discussion of work written in the seminar and discussion of published texts, group work, tutor led feedback and taught sessions.

Programme Structure

Course 1. Approaches to Life Writing
Autumn Term 2019: 10 weekly writing seminars (two and a half hours), tutorial and a Weekend School (early November)

Through workshops, practical exercises, group discussion and feedback, you will: explore the fundamental principles of life writing as storytelling and discover ways of enhancing the dramatic, sensual and visual impact of your writing; investigate your own memory and creativity and experiment with a variety of ways in which to recall and realise the dramatic potential of your material – including writing from personal artefacts, journaling, engaging with voices from the past etc. You will learn to understand the importance of the audience/reader and appreciate the application of techniques from fiction, poetry and drama to the craft of life writing. There are reading, researching and writing exercises each week, both at home and in class. At the end of the term, you will submit a portfolio of short pieces of writing for creative and critical comment from your tutor in a tutorial session in February 2020.

Course 2. Memory and Imagination
Spring and Summer Terms 2020: 15 weekly writing seminars (two and a half hours), tutorial and Summer Bridging Sessions (June and September)

You will experiment with different ways of using memory, probing the boundaries of memory and imagination and discovering how research can underpin both; you will experiment with narrative modes, tenses and viewpoints and develop a sense of the importance of theme in life writing whilst considering how to balance historical and emotional truth with the demands of story. You will compare techniques and structures used in prose fiction and creative non-fiction. You will address ethical issues raised by life writing and think about such issues in relation to the 2nd year project. At the end of the course, you will take part in a short series of writing workshops in which you will read and discuss your own work in progress and the work of the other writers in your group. At the end of term, you will submit work for constructive appraisal from your tutor and will have a one to one tutorial with them to discuss your progress and plan your writing project for the second year.

Please see Year 2 Programme for details of Course 3 and Course 4

Term Dates
Autumn: 1 October – 11 December 2019
Spring: 7 January – 18 March 2020
Summer: 21 April – 22 May 2020

Dates for 2020 – 2021 will be given in the summer term of 2020

Location: The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton BN1 1UT

  • Creative Writing Programme logo


1 October 2019 - 22 May 2020

£995 per annum (Deposit: £100)

Creative Writing Programme