Celia Hunt is Emeritus Reader in Continuing Education (Creative Writing) at the University of Sussex, where she set up the Certificate in Creative Writing in 1994 and the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development in 1996. She convened and taught on the latter until her retirement in 2010. Before taking up her post at the University Celia was Literature Officer at South East Arts Board in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in which capacity she set up and managed writing residences in prisons, hospices and care homes. Prior to that, she was a founder member and organiser of the Montpelier Literary Society in Brighton. She was also a founder member and first Chair of Lapidus: Creative Words for Health and Well-Being. Celia was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2004. She currently holds an Honorary Research Fellowship at the Education Faculty of Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.

MA Creative Writing and Personal Development (1996-2010)


The MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development was a pioneering programme of study, for many years unique in the UK. It offered participants the opportunity of developing creative writing through reflection on the self in the writing process, of acquiring skills to facilitate therapeutic writing groups, and of exploring the connection between self and creativity through creative life writing -- creative life writing is defined here as writing that consciously uses fictional and poetic techniques to capture self-experience, including physical and emotional experience, personal memories, and present and past relations with others (Hunt, 2010). The MA attracted large numbers of students from a wide range of backgrounds, including professionals in health and social care, education and the business world looking to develop additional skills for use in their work, people aspiring to write creatively, established writers seeking to deepen their writing or overcome blocks, and people seeking deeper self-understanding or more meaningful employment opportunities. There were three main teaching and learning elements in the MA: experiential learning via creative life writing exercises and reflective essays and journals, cognitive learning via the study of the craft of writing and theories of self and creativity, and collaborative learning through different kinds of large and small group work. Over the years the tutor team included, among others, Aifric Campbell, Christine Cohen Park, Abi Curtis, Christina Dunhill, Graham Hartill, Sarah Jackson, Hilary Jenkins, Kim Lasky, Dominic McLoughlin, Cheryl Moskowitz, Sophie Nicholls, Sarah Salway, Fiona Sampson and Catherine Smith.

Many students taking the MA (or its predecessor the Postgraduate Diploma) experienced a significant shift in their self-understanding or understanding of themselves as writers and learners, and this is the subject of Celia's current research project.

The MA was discontinued by the University of Sussex in 2010 as a result of government funding changes adversely affecting adult education departments across Britain. A related programme of study – the MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes – has been set up at the Metanoia Institute (www.metanoia.co.uk).


Creativity in Academic Writing

Since 2008 Celia has been running short courses and workshops at the University of Sussex and elsewhere using creative writing to enhance creativity in academic writing. The main idea underlying these workshops is that academic writing and research constitute a genre, or 'authoritative discourse' (Bakhtin), with a particular set of rules and conventions which can often feel quite restrictive and constrain thinking processes. The workshops provide participants with an opportunity of reflecting on their experience of doing academic research and writing through group discussion and the practice of creative writing techniques specially designed for this purpose. The emphasis is on 'playing' with the academic genre, so as to enable participants to think about their research topics and themselves as academic researchers/writers outside of the usual frameworks. These workshops arose out of collaborative research carried out with Dr Phyllis Creme at the University of Sussex in 2000-2001, which was published as 'Creative Participation in the Essay Writing Process' in The Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2002, pp.145-166. See Consultancy and Workshops.

Some feedback from doctoral students who have taken Celia's one- and two-day workshops:

'It has been fantastically useful in helping me think through my research topic and also helping me think through my writing. Additionally, it has been an excellent way of getting to know some of my colleagues better'.

'A lovely two days with some real practical help and a chance to air views with like-minded others'.

'The best thing we have done so far!