Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced)

Undertake specialised study and practice in the craft of writing a novel, screenplay, short fiction, poetry or non-fiction work. You will have tutor and mentoring support to produce a first draft manuscript. LEVEL 6


Work on a book-length project in your chosen genre – poetry, fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting. Receive excellent mentoring from experienced writers and valuable feedback from workshopping with other students. Add to this your own motivation and discipline, and by the end of the year produce the first draft of a book-length manuscript (and often much more).

You can enrol for the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced)
* As a one year, full-time Diploma
* As the second year of a two year Diploma
* As the second year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing)


Work with your core tutor on
• craft and technique within your chosen genre
• refining the idea
• planning and research
• reading and critique within your chosen genre
• rewriting and editing
• knowledge and appreciation of the publishing/production process

Each genre is delivered in a slightly different way, however all involve structured classes, tutor support, and a large amount of self-directed time for writing. Students on the second year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) work in a cross-genre class that provides structure and support for a first time manuscript writer.   


 writing in class discussing writing 

Write a Novel
Writing a novel is a great challenge. You start with a good idea that unfolds into an excellent manuscript as you come to grips with the characters, the story itself, the manner of its telling. As you discover how you can reshape and strengthen the novel through rewriting, you begin to see what you can really do with this idea that began as a small flame inside your head.
Maybe now is the time to write that novel. The Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) gives you the opportunity to write a novel manuscript with a community of writers. You participate in regular workshops, and also work with a mentor/reader for up to 10 hours to complete a first draft – although you may achieve considerably more than a first draft.
This course combines a thoughtful and thorough approach to the craft of writing, with excellent mentoring from experienced writers.  Each month there will be a full weekend workshop, held at Whitireia NZ Media Training Centre, 15 Dixon St, Central Wellington. In the intervening weeks you have contact with the tutor by email. Workshops focus on the craft of writing, with practical writing exercises designed to help you develop your novel manuscript, as well as facilitated critiquing sessions of students’ work. There are also a range of assignments to help develop you further as a writer and a reader, and to enable critical examination of the writing journey you have embarked upon.
This combination of intensive workshops and regular email contact has proved very productive.

Tutor: Mandy Hager
Format: Weekend workshops (Saturday and Sunday 9.30-4) once a month; students email the tutor each week. 
Start date: 18/19 February 2017
Credits: writing process = 30 credits, workshops = 30 credits,  manuscript = 45 credits, revising and re-writing = 15 credits

Write Fiction or Non-Fiction
So you’ve thought of a brilliant idea for a memoir of a particular event or time, a full autobiography, a travel experience, how you made a garden, a collection of personal essays, or something completely different  – non-fiction covers a wide field.   You know you need help to bring it to reality if it’s going to be a book.  Whitireia offers that help. 

Contemporary creative non-fiction pays particular attention to story, structure, context, good characterisation, figurative language, the importance of research, and the development of a personal style.  This is exactly what we offer to our creative non-fiction students on the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced). You meet with other students and your tutor on a weekly basis. You are stretched by writing exercises and devise a broad reading programme of contemporary creative non-fiction. You develop your writing time-management skills outside class time, with tutorial help available by email.  You pursue your objective – to complete a manuscript draft to a high standard through the Whitireia Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced). 

Tutor: Anna Taylor 
Format: Thursdays 10-1pm
Start date: 16 Feb 2017
Credits: writing process = 30 credits, workshops = 30 credits,  manuscript = 45 credits, revising and re-writing = 15 credits

Write a Script
If you’ve ever walked out of a bad movie and said to yourself “I could have written a better script than that!” here’s your chance to prove it.
A good screenplay must be a strong blueprint for a movie or TV show, as well as an entertaining reading experience in its own right. It must portray interesting characters in difficult situations and illuminate a compelling theme, all in a highly structured format.  A good screenwriter imagines a movie in all its cinematic glory, and then conveys that movie clearly and evocatively into the reader’s imagination using the fewest words possible.
In this course you learn the art, craft, and business of screenwriting. It covers the tricks of the trade involving creativity, story paradigms, structure, genre, character, momentum, dialogue, and cinematic vision. You learn what it’s like to work in the rewarding, collaborative, and often ego-filled world of the film and television industries, as well as how to give and receive criticism in a safe and constructive environment. Guest speakers include working film and TV screenwriters, producers, and Film Commission executives.
Short documents such as storylines, treatments and scene breakdowns are a major part of the process. You complete at least a first draft of a full-length script. In addition you are required to keep a viewing journal, to carry out research into your chosen genre, attend workshop and critique sessions and present a seminar on your writing and researching at the end of the year.
As well as attending weekly classes, students have additional meetings with the tutor at specified times throughout the year. The tutor uses a practical, craft-based approach that produces proven results.

Tutor: Donna Banicevich Gera​
Format: Thursdays 9.30am-3.30pm
Start date: 16 Feb 2017
Credits: writing process = 30 credits, workshops = 30 credits,  script = 45 credits, revising and re-writing = 15 credits

Write a Poetry Collection
Experiment with language and begin thinking about a collection of poetry. Through a combination of set exercises and weekly workshops, develop your individual voice and draw on outside stimulation in a way that’s not possible when writing at home by yourself. Play with form, sound and meaning alongside other writers as you explore the craft of writing. By the end of the year you will have the first draft of a collection of poetry.

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Rita Dove

Tutor: Anna Taylor
Format: Thursdays 10-1pm
Start date: 16 Feb 2017
writing process = 30 credits, workshops = 30 credits,  manuscript = 45 credits, revising and re-writing = 15 credits

Combined class
This class is for second year degree students writing short fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. Students concentrate on writing in their chosen genre but are also stimulated by learning about genres other than their own. This builds on the experience of the first year of the degree where students gain skills through exploring the wide field of writing. Anna brings her own experience as a writer, as well as a tutor in novel, short fiction and non-fiction writing to this role.

Tutor: Anna Taylor
Format: Thursdays 10-1pm
Start date: 16 Feb 2017
writing process = 30 credits, workshops = 30 credits,  manuscript = 45 credits, revising and re-writing = 15 credits

If you are doing the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) as the second year of the degree you will also need to complete the following modules – 

Creative Enterprise 2
Learn about the business end of the creative writing project – from having ‘a good idea’, to the practical steps involved in implementing it. Learn basic business skills, including interpersonal skills and project management.

Tutor: Johanna Knox
Format: Tuesday mornings
Start date: 14 Feb 2017
Credits: 15

Contextual Studies 2
(only for students doing the second year of the degree)
Explore the technological developments in creative writing , and the Big Ideas of the twentieth and twenty-first century and their impact on writing. Zero in on some of the ideas and issues that influence writers internationally today.

Tutor: Mary-Jane Duffy
Format: Tuesday afternoons
Start date: 21 Feb
Credits: 15

Entry requirements

Based on samples of your writing and an interview. You need to include a sample of writing related to the genre you intend to develop. You also need to send in a CV and covering letter.

Overseas students must meet the above criteria plus have IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

All applicants are interviewed; applicants from outside Wellington may be interviewed by phone/Skype. Interviews are held from late November through to January. 

Frequently asked questions

When do applications close?
Applications close at the end of October. Applications received after this time may be considered if places are still available. To apply go to the Information and Enrolment page, and download an application form. For more information click on the ‘ask a question’ button (top right hand column) or phone 0800 944 847.

Can I apply for the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) if I haven’t done the Diploma in Creative Writing?
Yes. A decision about which Diploma is best for you can be made in discussion with the course coordinator, taking into consideration your writing and life experience.

What if I am just interested in writing a book/script, but not interested in a qualification?
You will complete the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced), but all the work is focussed on your chosen genre.

What if I change my mind and want to transfer to the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing)?
The Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) equates to the second year of the degree, however you will need to complete the extra core modules degree students do in year one and year two. In some circumstances you’ll be able to cross credit or be eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). An RPL application has to be made within six weeks of beginning a course. You need to provide written evidence and pay a fee per module.

What can be considered as RPL?
Relevant work experience or study.

Who are the tutors?
All tutors are experienced practising writers. See the ‘Staff’ tab on our home page.
In addition to the core tutors, you will meet with a number of other practising writers, as guest speakers and readers. Guest speakers and readers have included Craig Cliff, Sarah Jane Barnett, Chloe Lane, Helen Heath, Ashleigh Young, Sue Orr, Tim Jones, Jo Randerson, Elizabeth Smither, Catherine Robertson, Sarah Delahunty, Chris Else, Adrienne Jansen, Julia Marshall, Fleur Beale, Barbara Else, Tina Makereti, Lawrence Patchett, Phillip Mann, Eirlys Hunter, Renee and Norman Bilbrough.

Scriptwriting guest speakers have included Jude McLaren and Bevin Linkhorn (Gibson Group),
Katherine Fry, Briar Grace-Smith and Chris Payne (NZ Film Commission), Lisa Chatfield and Sam Burt (NZ Film Commission Short Film department), Mike Wallis (writer/director/producer), Jules Lovelock (1st assistant director), Donna Banicevich Gera (writer and tutor), Steven Gannaway (NZ Writers Guild) and David Marmor (American writer/director). 

What are the fees?
Domestic fees for 2017: $5,663 
International fees for 2017: $19,950 NZD

Are there extra course costs on top of fees?
There may be some extra costs for attendance at performances and purchase of books. Allow approx $200.

Where do I get information on Student Allowance and Student Loans?
These are administered through Studylink at the Ministry of Social Development.

Do I need to have my own computer?

Where will a Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) take me?
Graduates from the Whitireia Writing Programme appear in almost every aspect of New Zealand writing life. Graduates have published and produced over 223 books and scripts. Visit the ‘Career’ tab and ‘News’ tab on our home page for more information.

What is the difference between the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) and the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing?
The end of year assessment differs. For the Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced) you must complete a manuscript to first draft standard, and for the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing you must complete it to publishable standard.

What do Level 5/Level 6/Level 7 mean?
They indicate the level of study. Students in their last year at secondary school (year 13) are usually studying at Level 3. The first year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) is Level 5, the second year is Level 6, and the last year is Level 7. Post-graduate study is Level 8.

Where is the course held?
At the Whitireia Campus, 15 Dixon St, Central Wellington.

I studied Writing for Children online at Whitireia and went on to write the first draft of my book while a student on the Writing a Novel course. I couldn’t have done it without the Whitireia course. The technical knowledge I gained around structuring a longer work was invaluable, as was the support from tutors, mentors and other students. My novel, Iris's Ukulele, was published by Scholastic after it won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award. Kathy Taylor, winner Tom Fitzgibbon Award

Our tutor made us get into reading scripts and showed us the value in doing that. I’ve learned a lot about structure and format and a whole lot about the voice of the character and what makes it work for the audience. You’ve got to really know your script – know all the ins and outs. I’m still learning, but I’m further along than I would have been if I wasn’t doing the course. Fred Sao, Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) and  recipient of a Creative Communities NZ (Wellington local funding scheme) grant to help produce his play, ‘The Rhyming Taniwha’, for local schools.

In the first year you get the opportunity to try your hand at scriptwriting, short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. A fellow student likened it to playing in a sandpit with a variety of toys. It’s great, because people often have a chosen genre and don’t experiment at all. In the second year I did the Writing the Novel course. I think it’s a terrific course. It’s very inclusive, welcoming people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and life experiences – I really liked that. Now I’m doing my Masters in Creative Writing at Victoria University in Wellington working on a collection of contemporary poetry. I started off writing directly from my own experience; now I’ve moved on to embrace other areas of human endeavour.  The Masters will help me continue to develop my writing. Natasha Dennerstein

You can also read work by current and former students in the 4th Floor Literary Journal.

Further Information

Diploma in Creative Writing [delivered on-campus]

Diploma in Creative Writing [delivered online]

Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing

Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing)

Overview of Creative Writing Programme



Campus Starts on Duration
Wellington City 2017: 13 February One Year, full-time

Domestic Fees: $5,663

International Fees: $19,950 NZD


Entry Requirements

Domestic students

Evidence of writing skills based on submitted writing samples, outline for writing project and interview.

International students

Proven equivalence to domestic entry requirements and IELTS 6.0 (no band lower than 5.5)

Career Opportunities:

Students study for satisfaction, publication, diploma or degree. Many graduates will publish their work in a range of publishing outlets. They may follow the path of the committed writer (novelist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, writer for children).

Related Careers

Related Areas of Interest

Related Faculty

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