Life Writing at King's College London

King’s College London invites applications for its Life Writing MA and PhD programmes.

The 2013-14 Life Writing MA course will be taught by internationally recognised life writing scholars, published biographers and creative writers. It offers the chance to engage intellectually and imaginatively with biographical and autobiographical forms, cutting across generic and temporal boundaries.

Life Writing flyer:

What to expect from King's Life Writing MA:

Students will finish the course able to theorise and historicise a variety of life writing genres: autobiography, biography, letters, diaries and blogs, travel writing, prison writing, confessions, testimonies, war reminiscences, vindications, obituaries, and illness narratives.  Practical exercises in biography and creative non-fiction will provide training in the researching and writing of life stories. The MA encourages the exploration of seminal literary texts, marginal stories, and extra-textual media too: film biographies, oral histories, postcards, (self-) portraiture, and digital stories. Where some may wish to focus on particular periods and genres, there will also be an opportunity to investigate how life writing has responded to historical change and technological innovation.

Modules on offer for 2013-4:

Core and optional courses in 'Life Writing: Genre, History, Theory Methods', 'Biographical Writing', 'Autobiographical Writing', 'Life Writing 1700-1850', and 'Illness Narrative as Life Writing'.

Students will also be able to take other courses offered by the English Department, for instance: 'Conflict: 20th Century War Literature' and 'Prison Writing', and selected modules from other Arts and Humanities Departments.

Assessment will include written essays and practical exercises, depending on the modules taken. The extended dissertation, to be completed by the end of the academic year, could comprise a critical reading and analysis; a theoretically informed piece of creative non-fiction; a biographical study; or a scholarly edition of a work of life writing.

Why study life writing at King’s?

Both MA and PhD programmes capitalise on the central location of King's: London's museums, galleries and archives offer inspiration and a wealth of research materials for investigating and practicing life writing. The AHRC has recently funded life writing doctorates in collaboration with the British Library and the Imperial War Museum. The MA offers an ideal platform for embarking upon PhD study: an opportunity to present an extended critical dissertation, to write a biography, or to develop a work of creative non-fiction.

Both programmes build upon the expertise of staff in English and other Arts and Humanities Departments, and run in partnership with creative writers and the Department of Health and Humanities. They benefit from the work of the Centre for Life-Writing Research: an interdisciplinary community of King’s scholars with research interests in life writing. The Centre is committed to public engagement, especially through its creative research project, Strandlines: an initiative that explores past and present lives on the Strand. Beyond King’s, the Centre has developed working relationships with many local cultural organisations: the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Museum of London, Imperial War Museum, Royal Literary Fund, Royal Society of Literature, PEN, and the Biographer’s club.

If you would like to receive further information please write to Professor Max Saunders:

Details can also be found on King's Life Writing MA webpage:

For more on the Centre for Life-Writing Research see:

Published on: 
7 Dec 2012