Sign In using your Campus Account

MA in Writing Poetry

Currently Open to Applications

The Next Step: Our Master’s degree in Poetry

The MA in Writing Poetry is an accredited degree with Newcastle University and the Poetry School, delivered as a part-time course over two years. Students are based either in London or Newcastle upon Tyne during term time, and come together to participate in a one week Summer School which alternates between the two cities each year.

The MA is firmly rooted in the publishing, performing and promoting poetry world with established poets, including Glyn Maxwell and Meryl Pugh in London, and Jacob Polley in Newcastle. There will also be guest tutors from the Poetry School’s teaching community and from Newcastle University.

A full fee scholarship is available each year to an outstanding applicant.

To find out more about the MA in Writing Poetry, and to hear from our tutors and students (past and present), please watch this short video:


Year One: Poetry Masterclass (1), Poetry Workshop (1), Summer School (1) Year Two: Poetry Masterclass (2), Poetry Workshop (2), Summer School (2), Portfolio

The Poetry Masterclasses and Poetry Workshops are taught from September to May (on alternate weeks), with weekly group meetings, and 1:1 tutorials.

Summer Schools run for one week, and the Portfolio is a work in progress throughout the course, with individual tutorials held towards the end of the second year.

Our Tutors


Glyn Maxwell

Glyn Maxwell’s collections include Pluto (Picador), Hide Now (Picador), The Nerve (Picador), and The Breakage (Faber), all of which won or were shortlisted for major prizes. His epic poem Time’s Fool (Picador) is in development as a feature film with Fox Searchlight. On Poetry (Oberon), a guidebook for the general reader, was described as ‘the best book about poetry I’ve ever read’ in The Guardian. In 2016, he published its sequel, Drinks With Dead Poets. His plays and opera libretti have been performed in many countries. He has taught at Amherst, Princeton, Columbia, and NYU in the USA; Warwick, Essex, and Goldsmiths in the UK.

‘A great teacher, Derek Walcott, led me to the three most important voices in my development – Auden, Frost, and Edward Thomas. This may make me sound like a dyed-in-the-wool formalist – perhaps I was long ago, though I’ve never been conservative with any kind of c – but the love of these poets, and countless different others, led me to a much broader and wilder sense of what poetry can be. The subjects and styles of poetry are infinitely various, and the best thing a teacher can do is raise awareness of how form works.

I don’t do this in an academic way, as I didn’t learn it like that. There are two dangerous pathways facing a new poet. The first is to feel that poetry used to be great and is now a mess of fragments. The second is to feel that all beauty is nostalgia and only the contemporary matters. Both attitudes are dumb. Form in poetry is the sound of captured time, so to ignore it is to reduce poems to the constant reiteration of a personal passing moment. Which is literally unmemorable.

I illustrate uses of form both in the canonical works we look at, and the work-in-progress of the students. My only canon is what has survived, my only praxis figuring out the reasons why. I tend to avoid the contemporary. Partly because I feel students will be immersed in it anyway, but more so because the worst course for a new poet is to set off in search of “the sound that gets published”. I love all the forms of poetry that are not the isolated subjective statement: drama, libretto, translation, song, anything where the “I” is somehow all of us, and not one lone heart. I constantly invent games and exercises by way of illustration.’

Meryl Pugh

Meryl Pugh’s latest publication is a work of creative non-fiction, Feral Borough (Penned in the Margins, 2022).  She is the author three pamphlets, Wife of Osiris (Verve Poetry Press, 2021), The Bridle (Salt, 2011) and Relinquish (Arrowhead Press, 2007) and one full collection.  Natural Phenomena (Penned in the Margins, 2018) was a Poetry Book Society Guest Choice and longlisted for the inaugural Laurel Prize. Having previously worked in secondary and museum education, she has also taught for Morley College and Poetry School.  She holds a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from University of East Anglia, where she taught for nearly ten years, and is currently at work on her second collection. 

My early influences were John Donne, Shakespeare and T S Eliot, the result of a rigidly ‘canonical’ education.  Their meticulous use of form and precision in word choice is something to which I still aspire.  My other influences are the poets who’ve taught me, both inside and outside the University; Mimi Khalvati, Pascale Petit, Lavinia Greenlaw, Denise Riley.  From their work I’ve taken the productive use of tension, the centrality of image and form and an interest in the strangeness of language; the way in which a poem might refuse to be ‘transparent’, to ‘make sense’, to meet you on anything other than its own grounds. 

My research interests stem from the work I did during my PhD, where I considered the modes of the feral and pastoral as sites of witness to the frictions between culture and nature.  So it’s safe to say that ecopoetics – and more broadly, the negotiations between environment and interiority – continue to be particular obsessions of mine.  I’m also fascinated by the fragmentation and condensing of poetic utterance, the tension within a poem between the visual and the aural – and the counterpoint of page space and text. 

On the MA, I offer a module on ‘Writing Environment’ in which we think about the relationship between humans and our planet’s cohabitees, as well as ‘Ekphrasis’ –  broadly, how we might respond to the ‘made’; objects and artworks in museums and galleries.   

I also lead sessions on free verse lineation, prose poetry, the contemporary sonnet, experiment and ritual, and indeterminacy and ‘difficulty’ in poetry. 


Poetry Masterclass

Poetry Masterclasses consist of ten self-contained seminars constituted of a mixture of exercise and discussion-based learning and delivered by both core and guest tutors, plus tutorial and drop-in sessions to discuss progress and to prepare for submission. Students are required to engage with the topic of each seminar through practical work and direct discussion. Students will strengthen their knowledge of a range of forms, techniques and thematic concerns present in contemporary poetry and of a variety of perspectives from which these can be approached. They will develop the confidence to experiment with their own work and to produce considered and disciplined revision of their poems. They will also learn to provide practical criticism of others’ work and to receive and utilise constructive criticism of their own work.

Poetry Workshop

In Poetry Workshops, students will develop: their knowledge of a range of literary forms and techniques, an awareness of the contemporary poetic landscape in which they are intervening, and the inheritances on which they might draw as poets. They will also gain knowledge of how, critically and constructively, to address issues within their own and other peoples’ writing. Within the group workshops, students will become familiar with poetic forms, schools and styles both within the context of US and UK poetry, and with issues of contemporary poetry and the tradition, through prescribed reading and critical discussion. The two individual tutorials will offer the chance for intensive critical discussion of students’ work, coupled with tailored guidance on further reading and the development of their writing practice. The file of work enables writers to consolidate their work in the light of all comments received; the commentary on process encourages responsible critical insight into the processes of revision, theme and influence.

Summer School

Summer School offers an intensive course in professional development. On the Poetry School campus Summer School, this course will improve students’ awareness of the market for their work and give them an insight into the opportunities for publication, funding, and publicity available to poets. Students will become familiar with the context in which the professional poet can pursue their craft and develop strategies by which to further pursue, and to develop an audience for, the writing they have undertaken on the various other modules of this degree. On the Newcastle University campus Summer School, students will acquire a sound knowledge of the options available for writers to teach their craft and of the pathways and requisites for doing so, as well as developing their awareness of the possible ways in which they can progress their academic development. Students will become familiar with the context in which the professional poet can pursue their craft within an academic context and how their writing practice might be pursued in tandem with teaching the skills they have to future writers. They will also become aware of the routes by which they might teach creative writing and the necessary qualifications required to do so, via a discussion of the possible options for their further academic development.

Summer Schools are an important — and exciting — part of the MA in Writing Poetry. The costs associated with attending Summer Schools (including travel and accommodation) are to be covered by the student, although Newcastle University does provide a partial bursary towards these costs.

Annual Submission

Summer Schools are an important part of the MA in Writing Poetry, and students tell us that they are two of the most exciting and inspiring modules of the programme.

However — in exceptional cases, and with the permission of the Degree Programme Director — a student may be able to complete the Annual Submission, a module which is offered in lieu of a student’s participation in Summer School. This module will consist of a semester of independent study, plus three one-hour tutorials.


Students will prepare a file of work consisting of around 30 poems or equivalent, and will show through the file a finally shaped work or body of work along with a reflection on the processes of the work. This module will consist of a semester of individual supervision followed by a semester of independent study. Each student must consult the module leaders with an initial proposal, submitting an opening plan/draft for comment and discussion.

How to apply

We are currently accepting applications for the Academic Year 24-25.

For more information on fees and entry requirements, please visit the Newcastle University webpage. For further enquiries, please email Tessa Foley at [email protected] for study in London, or Melanie Birch at [email protected] for study in Newcastle.

A full fee scholarship is available for outstanding applicants (or two 50% scholarships where there are two equally outstanding applicants). For more information and to apply, click here.

See our Latest Programme