Detail from Tophill's painting The Letter Writer

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Mondays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: April to June
  • Tutor: Ronnie McGrath
  • Fees from £120 to £205
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
  • Lunchtime course also available
  • Book from 1 March 2021
Booking link

One of the defining features of humanity is that we like to tell each other stories, from a brief chat describing a visit to the shops, to the epic stories told by writers such as George Eliot and Leo Tolstoy. Whether great or small, we like to tell each other stories of our own lives, the lives of others, and of course, imagined lives.

On this course we will explore how stories can be told in original and creative ways through writing. In doing so we will reflect on the fact that the fast-changing nature of our world has had an impact on the way people write, read and access different stories. This has led to a broadening of what we mean by creative writing, but also an increased demand for new and exciting ways to tell stories. Older forms of writing are still with us of course, and they are thriving, such as poetry and printed literature, but now we also tell stories through text messaging, emails and social media.

On this course, we will focus on contemporary poetry and prose, and our tutor will take an innovative approach to creative writing by seeking to educate our imaginations through guided experimentation and playing games with words. This tried and tested approach enables writers (beginners or more experienced) to identify and connect with the undiscovered possibilities of their talent.

With visual imagery being so important in our contemporary society, the course will also draw on the relationship between image and text to help us generate ideas for writing, so we might end up looking at things as disparate as the city, ideas of the ‘self’, going for a walk, food and maybe even chocolate for inspiration.

The course is open to complete beginners but is also suitable for those with some experience of writing and returning students who will be encouraged to explore different genres and various narrative techniques for the novel and the short story form.

At the end of this course you will:

  • have a much broader understanding of the changing nature of writing in contemporary society;
  • be able to make the necessary link between writing, culture, and identity in order to produce works that are particular to your experience, and progressive by nature;
  • be acquainted with some of the leading vanguards of contemporary poetry, including avant-garde, and experimental techniques, in order to produce ‘original’ pieces of poetry and prose that educate the imagination;
  • have a wide understanding of the ‘short story’, what it is, and how to move beyond  standard/prescriptive definitions of character, dialogue, narrative and form;
  • be enriched by a variety of ideas about writing/poetry which will help you to develop your practice in relation to the ‘cutting edge’ and popular culture as a whole;
  • be able to write a poem and a short story of your choice;
  • benefit from peer and tutor feedback.

Potential applications should note that this is a creative writing class and so it is not designed to aid non-native speakers of English to improve their language skills.

Course Structure

  • Teaching will be delivered in a friendly manner which encourages group participation and individual contributions.
  • Weekly sessions will be supported by reading material which draws from a diverse community of writers. There will also be information on how to get published, poetry magazines, competitions, venues, websites, small presses and literary development agencies.
  • Although it is not compulsory, you should be prepared to read your work aloud and have it elicit the necessary feedback from both your tutor and peers.  The format of your weekly sessions will consist of a PowerPoint presentation, a short discussion of the topic in question, and a writing exercise which you should have ready to read aloud in the next session. As the course progresses, you will analyse the work of published writers and comment on an aspect of the text in question. We will also draw on YouTube to discuss examples of cutting edge performance in poetry and other aspects of the creative process.

Please note: We also offer a 1 hour per week Creative Writing course at lunchtime (subject to sufficient enrolment).

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance Certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

The course programme will start with an introduction to creative writing and an exploration of the indiidual interests of each of the participants.

Following on from this the programme will be tailored to the individual needs of each student, and the group dynamics.

The weekly sessions will be supported by reading material which draws from a diverse community of writers. Information regarding how to get published, poetry magazines, competitions, venues, websites, small presses and literary development agencies will be distributed if and when they arise.

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but your tutor might recommend you look at specific texts during the course.

Your Tutor

Ronnie McGrath photoA graduate of Manchester University’s MA in Novel Writing, Ronnie McGrath is a highly-regarded writer, performance poet and creative writing lecturer.

Ronnie’s short story The Day Before That One, Too, is published in IC3, The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain. Other published works includes Poems From The Tired Lips Of Newspapers, published by the Tall-Lighthouse Press, and the novel On The Verge of Losing iT, published by the Ankhademia Press, 2005. In 1993, he was commended for his writing by ACER who later published and awarded 1st place for his writing in 1994.

Ronnie was also writer in residence at Wandsworth Prison for the Loss and Liberty Project that culminated in an exhibition at The Museum of London Docklands. Following publication of 'The Oligarch’s Poem' for the groundbreaking documentary Listen To Venezuela, Ronnie’s most recent publication, a collection of contemporary poetry entitled DATA TRACE, published by SALT.

Course Delivery

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.

Microsoft Teams

This course will use Teams as its online delivery method. Teams is easy to use. You will need to log into your existing Teams account or, alternatively, please create a free account hereNear the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a Teams web link that will allow you to access the course. All you need do is click on the course link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class. Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle.  For one hour courses there is no break.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
20  10  £205 £120 £160
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course     Please note there is no early-bird discount available for the April intake courses

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the Kennel Club

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 20  10 n/a n/a w/c 26 Apr - w/e 4 Jul 2021 (10 weeks)

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 March 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications are sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms payment, payment date, order number and course title
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment confirmation which is only sent later
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of March. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-onfirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

  • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Mr Ronnie McGrath, abreton13@yahoo.co.uk
  • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator, eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.