Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing

Experienced writers are supported towards developing a book or manuscript through individual mentoring from well-known professionals. Your work may be script, poetry, fiction or non-fiction.  LEVEL 7


Complete a manuscript – fiction, poetry, script or non-fiction – to a standard appropriate for submission to a publisher or equivalent. You’ll receive excellent mentoring and assessment from experienced writers and valuable feedback from workshopping with other students.
You can enrol for the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing 

  • As a stand alone one year, full-time Diploma
  • As year three of the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing)


Work with your core tutor on

  • craft and technique within your chosen genre 
  • strengthening the idea 
  • taking imaginative risk 
  • understanding the writing process 
  • planning and research 
  • reading and critique within your selected 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.


reading out work 


discussing writing 


Write a Novel
Starting a novel is one thing, finishing it and sending it to a publisher is another. The Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing gives you the opportunity to complete a novel manuscript to a publishable standard. You participate in regular workshops, work with a mentor/reader for up to 10 hours, and are part of a supportive community of writers.
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 the Wellington campus, 15 Dixon Street, Wellington. In the intervening weeks you have contact with the tutor by email. There are workshops that focus on the craft of writing, as well as facilitated critiquing sessions of students’ work. There are also a range of assignments to help you refine your manuscript and your rewriting and editing skills, 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 9.30-4.00) once a month; students email the tutor each week.
Start date 2017: Saturday 18 February
Credits: body of work = 60 credits, manuscript revision = 30, writing workshop = 15

Write Fiction or Non-Fiction
You have your draft to a high standard – now for the final surge – getting it to publication standard. This creative non-fiction class builds on what you’ve already achieved and is designed to help you reach that goal. It offers mentor/reader assistance, class workshop sessions, one-to-one discussion with your tutor, online email communication and tutoring, and a programme of steady advancement towards your goal. 

Designed to nurture and enhance your talent, assist and develop your writing skills, the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing helps you make your dream of becoming a published writer in the field of creative non-fiction, a reality.
Tutor: Anna Taylor
Format: Thursdays 10-1pm
Start date 2017: Thursday 16 February
Credits: body of work = 60 credits, manuscript revision = 30, writing workshop = 15

Write a Script
Having a great idea for a movie is one thing, writing a script is another. On the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing you create a polished, market-ready screenplay. 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 research at the end of the year.
In this course you learn the art, craft, and business of screenwriting. Short documents such as storylines, treatments and scene breakdowns are a major part of the process. As well as attending classes on Thursdays, you 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 2017: Thursday 16 February​
Credits: body of work = 60 credits, script revision = 30, writing workshop = 15

Write a Poetry Collection
Put time into shaping a collection of poems. Work closely with an experienced reader to polish your individual poems in the all important editing process. Stimulating weekly workshops and input from experienced, practising poets and inspired guest poets will enable you to produce a poetry collection suitable for publication.

Tutor: Anna Taylor
Format: Thursdays 10-1pm
Start date 2017: Thursday 16 February
Credits: body of work = 60 credits, manuscript revision = 30, writing workshop = 15​

If you are doing this programme to gain the Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) you will also need to complete the following modules. If you are doing it to complete the Graduate Diploma you only need to complete Research and Presentation.

Creative enterprise 3
Plan a creative writing project that links to your manuscript. Create a personal professional profile, produce promotional material and develop budgets. 
Tutor: Johanna Knox
Format: Tuesday afternoons
Credits: 15

Research and Presentation
Identify resources to help in producing your manuscript. Gain skills in reflecting on the writing process, critically evaluating material and in presenting your work to an audience.
Tutor: Mary-Jane Duffy
Format: Tuesday mornings
Credits: 15

Entry Requirements

Based on samples of your writing and an interview. You need to send a sample of writing directly related to your major project. You also need to send in a CV and covering letter.

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.

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 just interested in writing a book/script, but not interested in a qualification?
You will complete the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing, but all the work is focussed on your chosen genre.
Do I have to have a degree to do this course?
Can I get a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) by doing the Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing?
Yes, if you complete the extra core credits you missed out on in year one, two and three. In some circumstances you may 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. This can be discussed at your interview.

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 mentors. 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 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?
They are administered through Studylink at the Ministry of Social Development.
Do I need to have my own computer?
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. View this diagram to see all the qualifications offered by the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme:

How many manuscripts get published/produced? 
Graduates have published and produced over 223 books and scripts.
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 programme held?
At the Wellington campus, 15 Dixon St, Wellington.

Student experience
The first book I wrote was awful and shall never see the light of day. I tried a second one which was a bit better. Trilemma is my third attempt, and was the book I took through the Whitireia writing course. What a revelation the course was! It’s imperative to learn the craft of writing. Add to that good mentoring from experts—I was so very lucky to have the wise Mandy Hager as my tutor, and mentoring from Barbara Else and later Vanda Symon. And then you have to keep writing, keep practicing that craft, year on year. Jennifer Mortimer, Finalist in the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel

I’m drawn to writing that experiments and I like trying to do something I’ve never done before. My tutor at Whitireia was Anna Taylor and she’s an amazing reader of people’s work. She could see what I was trying to achieve, and tap into that. She’s made me see that experimentation for its own sake often lacks depth. She’s helped me dig deeper so that any experimentation resonates with the work itself. Tom du Chatenier, Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing) graduate, now studying for his Master's in Creative Writing at Victoria University.

The most useful thing I found about the course was the discipline - having monthly writing goals was a great spur on the journey to completing a novel. Once I put ‘my hand to the plough’ I couldn’t stop. I not only completed a novel I’d started writing prior to commencement of study, I also edited two other novels I’d previously written, wrote five children’s stories and completed from conception to final draft another novel, Escape From Eden, which I used as my work for the year. It was a bit of overkill really and far more than was required! I started my own publishing business a few months before the course ended and published Escape From Eden, as well as the first in the children’s series. My greatest moment of pleasure was getting up in front of the class with a published copy of the novel in my hand. The following year, both books received finalist awards in the Indie Book Awards, New York and were accepted by the Paper Plus chain of booksellers. Michelle MacKinnon, writer, nurse, teacher and mother
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

Tertiary qualification or evidence of skill in writing based on submitted written work, outline/sample of the major 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).

For information on the programme, the staff and FAQs, visit The Creative Writing Programme Introduction page.

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