Postgraduate Study in WritingOptions:
Postgraduate Study by Coursework
Postgrad coursework allows students to adapt their existing study skills to an unfamiliar area. Implicit in this sort of postgrad study is a certain flexibility. Most postgrad students are busy people who know what they want from a higher degree. Therefore, our postgrad courses offer a range of options, which can be found at:
Graduate Certificate of Professional Writing (1 year part time, offered at Melbourne Burwood Campus)
Graduate Diploma of Professional Writing (1 year full time or part time equivalent, offered at Melbourne Burwood Campus)
Master of Communication (18 months full time or part time equivalent, offered at Melbourne Burwood Campus and Off campus)
Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) (18 months full time or part time equivalent, offered at Melbourne Burwood Campus and off campus)
Why do postgraduate study by coursework? There’s any number of reasons, but some of these might be: personal interest/development, a change of career, or the acquisition of skills. We shouldn’t presume that a writing course is inherently more interesting or fulfilling than most, but we can say that postgrad students tend to bring great enthusiasm to our units. Writing and editing skills, whether as a basis for a career change or as an enhancement for promotion, have never been more valuable.
Deakin coursework is designed to be both flexible and convenient. You can study full time or part time; some of our units are offered online. Our online portal, Deakin Studies Online, is a valuable resource for all units. For on-campus units, you will do a two hour weekly tutorial, often in the late afternoon or early evening. These tutorials are usually well attended. The feedback we get from unit chairs and/or tutors tells us that these classes are diverse and dynamic. Writing units work best when students bring a range of experiences and backgrounds to class, and at this level vigorous debate tends to be stimulating and productive.
A higher degree by research is the ultimate academic challenge. Perhaps the only real question to ask yourself when considering an application is: do you have a vision/idea to which you are prepared to commit two or three years of your life?
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Arts (MA) are supervised research programs. Your research will be conducted under the supervision of a panel, which is chaired by the principal supervisor who is a full-time member of staff experienced in research. Other members of the panel may be internal or external to Deakin University and will be appointed to assist the principal supervisor.
From the students' point of view, there are two or three major 'staging posts' during candidacy:
- a mandatory Faculty Confirmation Colloquium (at nine months equivalent full-time for masters and twelve for doctorates)
- an Online Annual Review by the University undertaken every September
- a Supervisory Completion Review approximately nine months before the date of anticipated submission.
Your options for Higher Degree by Research are:
Master of Arts (MA)
A candidate is required to complete a thesis of 40 000-50 000 words, embodying the results of research carried out in the field of study specified at the time of enrolment. Candidates in the arts may submit a thesis comprising creative works and an exegesis of no fewer than 10 000-12 000 words. After a suitable qualifying period, as designated by the Faculty, Master of Arts candidates showing significant promise as research students may apply to transfer their enrolment to the Doctor of Philosophy program.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
A candidate is required to complete a thesis of 80 000-100 000 words, embodying the results of research carried out in the field of study specified at the time of enrolment. Candidates in the arts may submit a thesis comprising creative works and an exegesis of no fewer than 18 000-20 000 words.
That earlier ‘vision’ question might be oversimplification. However, if your answer to this is in the positive, most other questions can be addressed at leisure. The point is that while exploring an idea at length we can acquire whatever skills we need. These skills might include:
- Independent research: this involves not only finding your own sources and sifting through familiar sources, but actually identifying what you need to research. At some point, you will find yourself trapped in an everything and nothing vacuum.
- Identifying a topic: a not uncommon point in research generally. The way out of the above vacuum is to – through research – discover what is unique and valid about what you are doing.
- Literature Review: and this is how you discover the above. You might be surprised, and initially shocked, by how much is out there. You will become very familiar with the library databases. The upside is that almost all of what you will need to uncover will be available through these databases. The Deakin library is an immense resource which can be apprehended quite easily with a bit of work. As a research student you will have a library liaison person to consult with.
- Project Management: this is about managing how your project fits with other commitments. If you’re the sort of person who devotes your attention to what is most immediate you will need to plan very carefully. It is impossible to research and write a postgraduate thesis at the last minute. You must work consistently throughout your candidature. If you’re part-time you obviously have longer, but the immediate concerns of work are a danger for you.
- Perspective: as a balance to the previous point. It is likely that you will ‘waste’ time developing your focus. A familiar lament from research students is: if only we could have that first year again. But don’t underestimate the value of time. Obviously, if you’ve given no thought to your thesis in that first year you have a problem, but if you’ve been following seemingly unproductive pathways…well, that’s part of the process. The important point about working consistently is that you then allow yourself time to go ‘offroad’.
- Enjoying the Experience: a postgrad candidature is not unlike childhood. That is, it seems like hard work at the time, but later you realise it is a wonderful experience which you should have enjoyed more. As a creative writer, you may never have the luxury of such a long term project again.
The Deakin Library is a party to the Australian Digital Theses programme. Successful candidates can submit their thesis to be available online. This database is a valuable resource where you can search for and view theses that might be relevant to your area of study: http://www.deakin.edu.au/library/
Some of the research projects have been novels (see Catherine Padmore in graduate profiles), some may be scripts or a collection of poetry. Talk to research staff in the area to consider your starting points. You may wish to combine Literary Studies with Professional Writing, or Children’s Writing issues – investigate the research interests of potential supervisors as well as your own key areas of interest.<Back to top>