Located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Carleton’s Creative Writing Concentration offers students an inspiring selection of workshop-based courses in such genres as fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, and more.

Our Mission

To teach students to write creatively and effectively in a variety of contemporary literary modes that target current diverse reading audiences.

To train students to edit their own work and that of their peers, providing them with practical knowledge of how to produce, polish, and publish their creative writing.

To foster confidence in students, encouraging them to express themselves in accessible, meaningful ways and within any number of career paths.

Opportunities

We also offer a first-year “ENGL 1500: Introduction to Creative Writing” lecture/workshop course, available to students in any academic unit who want to express themselves creatively at an introductory level.

At the other end of the spectrum, students who are at the fourth-year level and have maintained the requisite GPA can work individually with a faculty member to complete a longer, self-guided manuscript in a chosen genre. It is amazing to see students progress from writing short prompts at the first or second-year level to completing a novella or collection of stories in just a few years of focused, experiential learning within the concentration.


Students who have completed the concentration or who have just taken one or two workshops have gone on to publish in chapbooks, anthologies, and in book form, and in numerous genres. Ultimately, students who take writing workshops hone their writing and communication skills, transferable to any course of study or career. They also develop a deep life-long appreciation for the art and craft of expression oneself through creative writing forms.

Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom

At Carleton, learning about creative writing happens both inside and outside the classroom. For example, the English Department actively fosters a relationship between our students and the rich literary community here in Ottawa, which includes the Ottawa International Writers Festival and Verse Fest, both of which offer free admission to Carleton students.  The writing professionals who lead our workshops are primarily facilitators, giving student the opportunity to share, discuss, and critique their writing and the writing of their peers in a collegial, supportive environment.  Students are often given the chance to attend and review live readings, theatre, or exhibits at the Carleton University Art Gallery as part of their development as writers.

Student-Focused Events

The Department of English also supports students of creative writing by inviting writers from Ottawa and elsewhere into the department to read from and discuss their works with students and faculty. This past academic year, we were honoured to have such acclaimed writers as Sandra Ridely, Rhonda Douglas, Doyali Islam and Billeh Nickerson read from their work and engage in conversation with our emerging student-writers.

Our department also hosts bi-annual showcases of student writers, providing an opportunity for students to read their work in front of a supportive audience of their peers, and we also organize competitions in both fiction and poetry adjudicated by acclaimed writers.

About the Program

Carleton’s Creative Writing Concentration enables students to explore, cultivate, and professionalize their creative writing interests and goals while also pursuing an Honours B.A. in English literature.

By integrating creative writing into their studies in English, students will:

Create, improve, and polish their own original short stories, novellas, screenplays, creative nonfiction memoirs and essays, poetry, and hybrid pieces such graphic novels and multimedia works.
Gain a deep understanding of the creative processes, cultural contexts, and publishing practices behind such diverse forms as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting and hybrid forms.
Become part of an active and supportive community of fellow writers with whom students share their creative work, giving and receiving constructive critical feedback.
Hone a range of invaluable professional skills, including writing succinct, effective prose, revising and editing (one’s own work and that of others), engaging in constructive forms of critique, reading a variety of creative texts closely, as writers rather than as scholars.
Build a portfolio of writing samples of work in a range of modes and genres with the aim to potentially submit to journals, contests, and web publications.

Program Requirements

During the 2020-21 academic year, the Department will start to phase in curriculum changes. Consequently, the degree requirements for students beginning their studies in the Fall 2020 term will be different from those of students who entered the program in a previous year. The Undergraduate Calendar now lists the new requirements, so it is all the more important that students check their audits to make sure that they are fulfilling their respective degree requirements.

The Creative Writing Concentration adds professional, cultural, creative, and social depth to a “traditional” Honours English B.A.

As a tangible “take-away” the designation “Concentration in Creative Writing” will appear on students’ official transcript after completing the following 3.5 credits:

Two second-year writing workshops (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction) for which the student has submitted a portfolio (writing samples and brief biographical statement) that has been accepted by the instructor.
Two third-year writing workshops (fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and/ or special topics) for which the student has submitted a portfolio (writing samples and brief biographical statement) that has been accepted by the instructor.
A  half-credit “genre study” course (such as children’s literature, science fiction, genre-based studies in the novel, poetry, or drama). Click here to see the full list of courses which satisfy degree requirement #8.
A fourth-year course in publishing, advanced writing workshop, or teaching writing.

Internal Admission

Eligible Carleton students can declare the Creative Writing Concentration through the change of program elements feature in Carleton Central. The Concentration is only awarded when all the program requirements have been successfully completed. Creative Writing workshops count toward a student’s graduation requirements whether or not the Concentration is completed.

Acceptance into the creative writing workshops is not guaranteed. Permission to register in a creative writing workshop is at the discretion of the course instructor, based on student writing samples. Students in the BA Honours English with a Concentration in Creative Writing who are unsuccessful in registering or completing the required creative writing workshops will be eligible to continue in the BA Honours English (so long as they are meeting the minimum entrance requirements).

Writing Samples

Admission into all creative writing workshops is based on the submission of writing samples and brief biographical statement (also called a portfolio) specific to each workshop and instructor. The writing samples requirements and deadlines for submission are posted well before registration.

ENGL 4910: Independent Creative-Writing Project

Fourth-year students with a minimum CGPA of 10.0 (A-) work one-on-one with a faculty supervisor toward the completion of a manuscript of approximately 10,000 words in the form of poetry, dramatic work, novella, collected stories or other proposed work. Students will secure a faculty supervisor and submit a proposal to the Undergraduate Supervisor well in advance of the fall term. To find out more about this course, please see the course listing in the Undergraduate Calendar.