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Diploma in Creative Writing [delivered on-campus]

If you're serious about writing, this programme will help you develop your skills in various kinds of writing, including short fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, poetry and writing for children. LEVEL 5   

DIPLOMA IN CREATIVE WRITING [delivered on-campus]:

Entry requirements

Frequently asked questions
Student experience


Diagram of all courses
Frequently asked questions

Writing from staff, students, mentors
Further information


Learn about the craft of writing through exercises, workshops, discussion, speakers, but most of all through writing itself. Develop your strengths, your critical eye, your knowledge of how the writing business works, and discover where you fit in the vast landscape of writing. Become part of a vibrant writing community.

You can enrol for the on-campus Diploma in Creative Writing

The Writing Programme recognises the two major literary and linguistic traditions in New Zealand, English and Māori. Students may write and submit work in English or te reo Māori.


Short fiction I
Develop an ear and eye for a good story, and learn the craft that can make a good story great. Exercise the imagination every day through writing exercises, learn to critique and edit your work, and hear how a range of writers talk about their work and the writing life. 
​Credits: 15

Short fiction II
Be challenged in technical skill and imagination, in both what you write about, and how you write it. A strong emphasis is given to revising and crafting.
Credits: 15
Tutor for both: Tim Jones​ 

Develop skills for writing original poetry. Learn about ways of seeing, poetic forms, and rewriting and editing. Lear​n about performance techniques and get to hear some of New Zealand’s top poets share what it means to be a poet today.
Credits: 15

Scriptwriting (stage and screen)
Step into the world of dramatic and visual writing, and develop the craft skills for writing original scripts for stage and film. Workshop short drama scripts with acting students and have sessions with writers, directors and producers, giving you a practical understanding of the New Zealand film and theatre industry.
Tutor: Donna Banicevich Gera
Credits: 15

Develop skills for writing factual prose for a specified audience and purpose. Write a short personalised essay, a feature article, a proposal for a non-fiction book, and a short piece for the web. Learn about the non-fiction publishing industry from those in the business. Add a marketable edge to your writing skills.
Tutors: Various specialists
Credits: 15

Introduction to publishing
Research the latest developments in the publishing world with visits to printers, visiting speakers and your own investigations.
Credits: 15  

If you are doing this course to gain a formal qualification you will also need to complete the following modules:

Explore what influences you as a writer and how context has affected other writers. Look at how you write in the light of your history. Develop your reflective and critical thinking. Develop skills for researching and presenting the information acquired. Learn how research fits with creative writing and how academic writing is structured.
Tutor: Mary-Jane Duffy
Time: Wednesday afternoons
Credits: 15
Length: full year


Being able to edit your own work well is an essential skill for writers. The editing module aims to improve writers’ general ability to edit their own work to a high standard. It deals with common problems with grammar and style, and includes regular copy-editing exercises.
Tutor: Adrienne Jansen and Jane Blaikie
Credits: 15

Sample timetable
This is a guide only and is subject to change   










Term 1: Short Fiction

Term 2: Scriptwriting

Term 3: Poetry

Term 4: Non-Fiction


(as per Monday)


Study day



(as above)

(as per Monday)


Study day

(as per Mon)


Entry requirements

Entry to the course is based on an interview and samples of your writing.  These may be a technical report, a collection of poems, a short story, a feature article or the chapter of a novel. Or anything else that shows your writing experience and/or represents you as a writer. You will also need to send in a CV and covering letter.​

If you are applying to do the Diploma as the first year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) you will also need to meet the Whitireia Degree Entry Requirements.

Overseas students must meet the above criteria plus have IELTS 6.0 (no band lower than 5.5).

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

writing class        writing on location

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.

What if I am only interested in learning about writing, but not interested in a qualification?
The Creative Writing Programme allows you to both follow your passion, and gain a qualification. All the teaching is focussed on learning about writing and all students are enrolled in a qualification.
Do I need academic qualifications to do the course?
No. There have been students with post-graduate degrees, and students with a minimum of formal education. Good writers come from all kinds of backgrounds and educational experience.
If I do one genre/module, can it count towards a diploma or degree?
Yes. If you complete the assessment requirements for that module you’re eligible for the credits listed. To obtain a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) you need 360 credits.
If I study part-time, can I get a student loan?
The short answer is sometimes – it depends on the number of weeks the module goes for and its ‘EFTS’ (Equivalent Full Time Student). You need to contact Studylink​ to get a definitive answer. It’s a good idea to apply for a student loan at the same time as you apply for the module/s.
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 meet with a number of other practising writers as guest speakers. In recent years these have included Hera Lindsay, James Brown, Anna Taylor, Renee, Leonie Reynolds, Gavin McGibbon, Peter Tonks, Mandy Hager, Samson Sahele, Phillip Mann and Apirana Taylor.
What are the fees?
Domestic fees for 2017: $5,663 full-time.
International fees for 2017: $19,950 NZD full-time.
Are there extra costs on top of fees?
There may be some extra costs for attendance at performances, purchase of books etc. 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 my own computer?
No, but it would be useful.
Where will a Diploma in Creative Writing 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. Learn more about our graduates here​​.
Where does the Diploma in Creative Writing fit with other Writing Programme courses?
The Diploma is a great starting point. You learn about writing through trying out different genres and workshopping your own, and other students’ writing. It is also the first year of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing).
What are your writing hopes and dreams?
What is your previous writing experience?

Is there a difference in course content between the Diploma in Creative Writing [delivered on-campus] and the Diploma in Creative Writing [delivered online]?
Yes. The on-campus Diploma in Creative Writing includes three core modules (Origins, Introduction to Publishing and Editing) which aren’t in the online course, and the online course includes two extra genre modules – Writing for Children and Short Fiction II. Apart from that, both Diplomas contain similar teaching material and will extend your writing and help develop your versatility as a writer. They contain the same number of credits.
What do Level 5, Level 6, and 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.

Student experience

I can remember the first day of the course when we were given a writing exercise and told to ‘write something in this moment’. Those words were like a flash of lightning – I knew this was going to be a really different style of teaching than I’d experienced years ago when I did a degree in English. We weren’t going to be talking about writing; we were going to be doing it. It was great because it felt like it was okay to be a beginner.  Lynn Jenner, winner of the 2011 NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry

It was a year I could play with words – and I began to discover how rewarding that could be. Aaron Smale, former editor, Young Country

The course gave me the opportunity to try many kinds of writing with experienced tutors. It was a warm environment, safe for trying new genres not in one’s comfort zone. Alison Wong, winner of the NZ Post Fiction Award 2010

The Whitireia course was crucial in introducing me to writing. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in writing in a supportive environment, surrounded by other writers – aspiring writers like myself, and accomplished writers as mentors. I could try my hand at different genres and finally rediscover the ones I felt I was made for. Tusiata Avia, Samoan/New Zealand poet and performer

Read work by current and former students in the 4th Floor Literary Journal.


  writing in class 

Further Information
Diploma in Creative Writing (online)
Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced)
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 or part-time options available

Domestic Fees: Full year: $5,663

International Fees: Full year: $19,950 NZD


Entry Requirements

Domestic students

Whitireia degree entry requirements; evidence of suitability for on-campus based on interview and portfolio.

International students

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

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