Application deadline approaches for fully funded creative writing scholarship

Applications to scholarship for budding writer from disadvantaged background close on 15th February

Budding writers have less than one month left to apply for a new fully funded scholarship opportunity at Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities.

Applications for the Kit de Waal Scholarship – which will provide a fully funded place for one student to study on the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA (part-time) over two years 2016-2018 – close on Monday 15 February.

The Scholarship, which has been created and funded by award-winning British writer, Kit de Waal, also includes a generous travel bursary to allow the student to travel into London for classes, Waterstones vouchers to allow the student to buy books on the reading list, and £1000 to put towards a new laptop.

The Kit de Waal Scholarship is intended to support a talented student who would not otherwise be able to afford to do the course, targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds — including but not confined to care leavers, ex-prisoners, members of BAME communities, people with a disability and those from socio-economically deprived and marginalized groups. 

The student and shortlist will be chosen by a panel of leading authors, literary agents, and key members of the Birkbeck Creative Writing staff and members of London’s Writer Development Agency, Spread The Word.

In addition to the Scholarship there will be further opportunities for five of the shortlisted candidates to take up mentoring and support from Spread the Word, award-winning writer Louise Doughty, The Literary Consultancy, Jo Unwin Literary Agency, The Word Factory and Penguin Publishers. The support offered to the shortlisted candidates, will include introducing them to leading literary agencies, opportunities for workshops and further mentoring, and facilitating work experience, to help to launch their careers.

Julia Bell, novelist and Course Director of the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA said:

“This is a vital award to ensure some further diversity in the Arts. In a culture of cuts and austerity, this award gives writers who have talent but not the resources to support their own creative development an opportunity to take themselves and their work to the next level.”

In a Guardian profile article earlier this month, de Waal, explained her reasoning for establishing the scholarship at Birkbeck as a way of getting more diverse stories “which are legion, and don’t often get told” published.

She said: “I wanted to call it the Fat Chance scholarship, because so many people who I’ve suggested should do an MA, say: ‘Fat chance – haven’t got the money!’ My father’s black, my mum’s Irish, and growing up poor, in an all-white neighbourhood, in the 60s, there was rabid racism. Doing an MA for me was a dream, and I wanted to give someone like me that opportunity.”

Speaking at the time of the scholarship’s launch in November 2015, she said: “I'm convinced there's an exciting writer with a new distinctive voice who's ready to take the next step. If you're thinking about applying I would say 'Go on, be brave. It's a privilege to be involved in your journey’.”

How to Apply for the Kit de Waal Scholarship:

  • Applicants should apply for the MA Creative Writing here ( and indicate clearly on their application form that they are applying for the Kit de Waal Scholarship. Along with filling in the form, applicants must submit 5,000 words of their writing together with a personal statement of not more than 1,000. They must also fill in an application form for the award which is available here where they must make a statement of financial status:
  • Applications for the Kit de Waal Scholarship are now open and will close on Monday 15th February 2016.
  • Applicants must be able to travel to London for classes at least one evening a week during term time. And the recipient of the Scholarship will be asked to provide proof of financial status. The Scholarship will provide full fee remission for Home/EU students for one candidate worth £7,950 and include a travel bursary.
  • The Birkbeck MA programme does not require a first degree. To be eligible for this award you need to demonstrate that you are a committed and talented writer and have no other means of affording the fees for the MA degree.
  • Further details about the MA Programme can be found here:


About the Kit de Waal Scholarship

  • The Kit de Waal Scholarship is supported by The Literary Consultancy, The Word Factory, Spread the Word, Jo Unwin Agency, Waterstones Birmingham and Penguin.
  • The winner will receive a fully funded place on the MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck along with support and mentoring from Julia Bell and Kit de Waal. The selected scholar will also receive £1000 (donated anonymously) to put towards a new laptop.

  • Five runners up will receive the following support:
  • An invitation to the Penguin offices and a one-to-one session with an editor on how to get published or how to get into publishing and a set of Penguin Essentials – key modern classics for todays reader.
  • Jo Unwin will read their work and meet the candidates to discuss.
  • They will be eligible for a free manuscript assessment from the Literary Consultancy of work up to 15,000 words.
  • An opportunity to take part in The Word Factory Masterclasses.
  • Professional Development Planning sessions from Spread the Word.
  • A mentoring & support workshop for the winner/runners up at Birkbeck offered by award-winning writer Louise Doughty.
  • The Scholarship will be judged by MA Course Director Julia Bell, Senior Lecturer Benjamin Wood, Professor Russell Ceyln Jones, Senior Lecturer Toby Litt and Paul Sherread from Spread the Word and the longlist assessed by Kit de Waal. The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.


About Kit de Waal

  • Kit de Waal is published in various anthologies (Fish Prize 2011 & 2012; ‘The Sea in Birmingham’ 2013; ‘Final Chapters’ 2013’ and ‘A Midlands Odyssey 2015) and on Radio 4 Readings.  She came second in the Costa Short Story Prize 2014 with ‘The Old Man & The Suit’, second in the Bath Short Story Prize 2014 with ‘The Beautiful Thing’ and second in the Bare Fiction Flash Fiction Prize.   She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction 2014 and 2015.  Her first novel ‘My Name is Leon’ will be published by Penguin in June 2016.