Detail from Paul Signac's portrait of Felix Feneon,

“The words seemed to bite physically into Gatsby.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Tuesdays 18:30 - 20:30
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours taught time per week
  • Tutors: Ronnie McGrath and Michael Paraskos
  • Teaching Assistant: Richard Barnes
  • Fees from £210 to £395
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus
  • Official Course Title: 'Creative Writing'
Booking Link

With novelists, Ronnie McGrath and Michael Paraskos

When you read a novel – let’s say Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – what do you see? Do you see the beautiful but terrifying Yorkshire moors on which the novel is set, and the brooding figure of Heathcliff alongside the spritely form of Cathy, each carried on towards their ultimate tragedy? Or do you see the words on the page in front of you, each letter formed into a particular shape, corresponding to series of sounds, and set in the particular context of a sentence? And what do you feel? Do you feel the harsh winds blowing from the Pennine mountains evoked by Brontë’s prose, or do you feel the weight of the book in your hand, and the dry surface of the pages from which it is formed?

For many people written words are no more than a vehicle for conveying ideas, stories or emotions. In technical terms, this view of words sees them as no more than signifiers of meaning. It rejects the idea they might have a life of their own. Of course words do signify meaning, but when it comes to using words creatively they can be so much more than this. Words are images, in books and manuscripts they become physical objects, and words can be detached from their standard meanings to embody new concepts and ideas.  
On this course we are going to explore creativity through an engagement with words that moves well beyond seeing them being simple signifiers. We will play games with words to detach them from standard meanings, think about words with no meaning, experiment with unexpected juxtapositions of words, and look at the relationship between words, identity, location and description. We will also make books - drawing on fine art traditions of book art - to explore whether the form of the medium in which we write affects what we write.
In all of this we will draw on a broad range of ideas encompassing music, sculpture, choreography and the visual arts, to elicit rebellious pieces of writing that jump, skip, blur and stain; in short we will engage in a moveable feast of poetry, prose or whatever our writing becomes. Among many other things, this course will sharpen our perception of reality and show us how to think in a way that ignites the imagination and foster a spirit of innovation that is unique to each of us.
Even our goal will challenge the standard convention as to what words are, as we will aim to each produce a work of visual word art, embodying words in a unique object or artefact for exhibition at the end of the course. At the end of the course words and writing should have evolved in our thinking into something new, enhancing our writing in new and exciting ways, whether we intend to write poetry or creative prose, scientific or humanities papers, or perhaps even just our weekly shopping list.
This course is team taught, and so you will gain insights from a number of tutors with different perspectives, and as the outcome of our work is not predetermined, your tutors will be as much part of the experiment as you are. No previous experience of creative writing is necessary, all we ask is that you are willing to be open to the creative possibilities of language.

Course Information

Course Programme

On this programme we will explore the idea of words and language as a creative tool. The aim is not to be too prescriptive, and so the programme will evolve during the course, depending on the dynamics of the class group and individual interests. 10 of the sessions will be led by Ronnie Magrath and 10 will be led by Michael Paraskos, and in them we will engage in game play with words, explore aesthetic responses to the world around us and examine the concept of being in physical spaces in the world.

A key element will be working towards an exhibition of work exploring the creative possibilities of language at the end of the course, which might involve projects such as creating a work of book art, a poetic or prose response to an event or location, or any number of other creative responses to the themse of the course.

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 Tutors

McGrath RA 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.

Photograph of Michael ParaskosMichael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to undergraduate students at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. His first novel In Search of Sixpence was published in 2016 and his second, called Rabbitman, was published in 2017.

Photograph of Richard BarnesRichard Barnes is a sculptor, stone carver and letter cutter who trained at the City and Guilds of London Art School. He has worked on the architectural sculpture at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and is the recipient of the Brian Till Prize for Art History Writing and the annual award of the Honorable Knights of the Round Table for his carving. His most recent writing includes 'Footfalls on the boundary of another world' published in the anthology, Othello's Island 1 in 2019.


Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £395    (Early Bird Rate: £360*) £230    (Early Bird Rate: £210*)
£305    (Early Bird Rate: £280*) 
* Early Bird fee rate is valid for enrolments made via the website between 1 August and 30 September only   |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

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 evening 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 Friends of Imperial College 
  • Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • 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

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. 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 Evening Classes & Lunchtime Learning terms and conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 40  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable 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 will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the 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

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% (16) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the course tutor, Mr Ronnie McGrath,

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.