Master’s in Scotland

Wrapping up my second MA/MFA application season with four acceptances, one waitlist, and nine rejections. Last year, I applied to seven programs with one acceptance (unfunded), but looking back, I still cringe at my writing sample—I’m sure I’ll also cringe at this year’s sometime down the line.

I think this year I fell into the trap of casting my net too wide and not catering my application materials enough to each program. If I could do the season over again, I think I’d try to have my SOP reflect my understanding of each program more, but also touch on my interests for future research (I narrowed this down a few months after I submitted my applications). That was quite difficult to do with fourteen applications and limited prep time.

None the less, I was fortunate enough to receive acceptances to Lancaster (MA in Creative Writing – Modular & MA in Creative Writing with English Literature), the University of Glasgow (Creative Writing MLitt), and the University of Edinburgh (MSc Creative Writing).

I ended up choosing the program at Edinburgh.

I went back and forth a lot about each program after considering the strengths of each university and the structure of the programs.

Lancaster

  • Option for English literary studies on top of creative writing modules
  • High level of student satisfaction
  • Competitive sports teams (Oops, told my parents I wouldn’t be considering this but still took a look…)

Glasgow

  • Focus on creative writing with many opportunities to explore craft and reflection
  • Has a department/center dedicated to Fantasy Literature and its research
  • Professors with research and writing interests more aligned with my own

Edinburgh

  • Mix of creative and critical work
  • Many course options and ability to choose outside of those options if space permits
  • Known for its strong English Literature department

Edinburgh had more course options that appealed to me in the end, and the opportunity for critical work was also important because I intend on applying for a PhD after, where I’ll need a critical writing sample as a part of my application. But I also considered whether I want to pursue a PhD at the same university as my master’s or a different one. In this case, I’m leaning towards Glasgow for PhD studies because of my desired to focus my creative work and research on fantastic literature. But for master’s, it doesn’t seem they have the option to take courses outside of the Creative Writing MLitt structure.

After making my decision, I feel relieved that the application season is over but also excited and anxious about moving across the globe. I do think the change in landscape and culture will help promote creativity, and I’m looking forward to how I’ll develop further both as a writer and a person through this experience.

On a side note, I’ve been considering doing a second master’s after the one at Edinburgh. There’s a program (Peking University’s Yenching Academy–Master’s in China Studies, of which University of Edinburgh is a partner university) I’m looking into, which focuses on interdisciplinary studies concerning various aspects of China.

Since I was born in China, but arrived in Canada at age four, I feel both culturally connected yet disconnected from my homeland. I think the program would be a great way for me to reconnect with my past, but also further expand on my literary knowledge through focusing on Chinese literature, culture, and history, and bringing it into conversation with my past and current English literary studies. I’d also love to weave what I learn in relation to both literary landscapes into my own creative work.

I’ll stop here since I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a statement of purpose!

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