- A course focused on literary study, with an emphasis on oral literary traditions and narrative field trips
- You’ll have opportunities to engage in creative practice (creative writing or another creative practice) alongside and in dialogue with your literary studies
- Students have access to bookable studios and workshops at Dartington
MA: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available – see ‘Learning Pathways’
start date: september
Term dates - 2022-23
2022-23 Academic Year
Autumn Term: Monday 12 September – Friday 16 December 2022
Winter Term: Monday 9 January – Friday 31 March 2023
Spring Term: Monday 24 April – Friday 30 June 2023
Dissertation Deadline: Tuesday 15 August 2023
On-site Teaching Dates
12–16 September 2022: Welcome Week
19-30 September 2022: Module 1
7–18 November 2022: Module 2
9–20 January 2023: Module 3
27 February–10 March 2023: Module 4
Term dates - 2023-24
Autumn Term: Monday 11 September – Friday 15 December 2023
Winter Term: Monday 8 January – Friday 5 April 2024
Spring Term: Monday 29 April – Friday 5 July 2024
Dissertation Deadline: 15 August 2024
Welcome week: Monday 11th – Friday 15th September
Residential weeks: Monday 18th September – Friday 29th September
Online weeks: Monday 2nd October – Friday 27th October
Assignment deadline: Friday 3rd November
Residential weeks: Monday 6th November – Friday 17th November
Online weeks: Monday 20th November – Friday 15th December
Assignment deadline: Tuesday 4th January 2024
Residential weeks: Monday 8th January – Friday 19th January
Online weeks: Monday 22nd January – Friday 16th February
Assignment deadline: Friday 23rd February
Residential weeks: Monday 26th February – Friday 8th March
Online weeks: Monday 11th March – Friday 5th April
Assignment deadline: Thursday 30th April
Dissertation Deadline: Thursday 15th August
next application deadline
All upcoming application and decision deadlines can be found here.
Apply now (September 2023)
We have a few spaces available to join us this autumn and are now accepting applications on a rolling basis until the course fills.
Apply now (September 2024)
Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below. Please note that we do not offer online-only pathways for this course.
To get the most out of their course and of being part of our learning community, many students choose a fully immersive experience for the residential taught periods of their course, staying on our stunning 1,200 campus on the banks of the River Dart with full board accommodation.
MAster's (ft/pt; 180 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules and 1 x 60 credit dissertation or major project module. The taught (30 credit) modules are six weeks’ long. Teaching at Dartington is concentrated into two-week periods for each of the first four modules, with supported e-learning and independent learning inbetween.
PLEASE NOTE: We are not accepting new part-time applications for a September 2021 start as we have a large number of part-time students already pursuing the course. We expect to reopen part-time applications for September 2022.
Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms. For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.
Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.
First module only (30 credits)
Participants will submit a 3,000-word essay, a creative work portfolio and a one-page critical reflection on their creative work. A pass mark gains 30 Level 7 credits, which can be used if applying at a later date to complete a Poetics of Imagination postgraduate award (PGCert – a further 30 credits; PGDip – a further 90 credits; MA – a further 120 credits).
To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘Module One’ option during the application process.
The course is centred around oral telling but opens to a broader spectrum of the arts, examining the work of ancient to contemporary storytellers, writers and artists.
From physically tracking folktales across the wilds of Dartmoor to three day tellings of myths that form much of the crucible of modernity, we will explore the reality that when humans imagine, they tend to imagine in story. What is trying to be told right now?
programme structure & modules
This MA programme consist of 5 modules (4 taught and 1 dissertation module). The first 2 weeks of each taught module are timetabled teaching periods, where you can live on site (or nearby) and participate in the learning community. So there are 4 two-week periods, spread across 7 months.
The remaining 4 months are the dissertation or major project period. You may choose to return home for the duration of this final module, and will no longer be sponsored by us for your Tier 4 visa.
Outside of the two-week periods, international students (only) may request accommodation and full board onsite at Dartington for terms 1 and 2: this would require you to participate in the learning community activities. Alternatively you can opt to live nearby or anywhere in the UK and travel to and from Dartington when required.
We have a limited number of residential places available for international students. Apply as early as possible and select the accommodation option on the application form.
Module One: Oral Thought (30 credits)
This module explores Western and non-Western creation myths. Storytellers have suggested that words were once like magic. We began in an animistic universe where thought took place in speech rather than on paper. Focusing on stories of creation, place, and nomadism, attention is paid to the roles of mischief and desire in the making of culture and understanding of region. Students explore how place is formed.
We are looking at ‘enrichment’ opportunities for students for later in the academic year so that you don’t miss out due to online delivery (for examples, extended studio/library time/additional fieldtrips).
Module Two: Negotiating Fables (30 credits)
This module considers the arrival of literacy and tracks a divide between the ambitions of state and shaman. It explores how cultures reveal their attitudes to the unknown, the exiled, and the Otherly through the stories they tell. It contemplates the monsters invented by particular cultures, and what happens when the gods start to carry appearances rather like our own.
Module Three: Glorious Distortions (30 credits)
This module considers the historical move to an internalised position. In a hunter-gatherer culture we dwelt within psyche, but by the 12th century, psyche frequently dwelt within us. We trace this move and consider the influence of Islamic thought on the Arthurian Grail romances, and cultural cross-pollination in the courtly schools of Eleanor of Aquitaine. We consider how these influences have shaped us today.
Module Four: Contemporary Romanticism (30 credits)
Romanticism is underpinned by a love of myth, nature, and individuation. Harold Bloom has insisted that the historical Romantic movement was an internalising of the quest motifs of ancient mythologies. This module poses the questions: is there a place for romanticism in contemporary culture, and if so, what does it look like. It asks if it is still credible to fetishise the lone hero or if it is time for something else.
Module Five: Dissertation/Major Project (60 credits)
This module enables students to pursue a creative practice-led research project, or an academic essay interrogating the further evolution of poetics of imagination theory and practice, or a combination of both (50/50). The outcome might be presented in the public domain in an end of year event (reading, performance etc.) or a publication.
Qualification(s) required for entry to the MA
BA (Honours) Degree: A first degree in a humanities subject. Where the first degree is not humanities-related, a portfolio of work in support of the application or experience that is equivalent.
Other non-standard awards or experience: A willingness to engage with the field of Poetics of Imagination. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview. *
Interview requirements: All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the School or online.
*For further information please contact our admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scholar, songwriter and musician, Dr Valentin Gerlier is Senior Lecturer and Programme Lead for MA Poetics of Imagination.
He is also Tutor and academic board member at the Temenos Academy, Research Associate at the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Cambridge, and Visiting Lecturer at numerous other institutions. His latest book is Shakespeare and the Grace of Words (Routledge, 2022).
As well as his abiding enthusiasm for Shakespeare, Valentin teaches and writes on a wide variety of subjects, including William Blake, Dante, Rainer Maria Rilke, Kathleen Raine, Northrop Frye, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, W.B. Yeats, Ivan Illich, Heraclitus, John Scotus Eriugena, Nicholas of Cusa, and the Western contemplative and mystical traditions. His current research projects touch on the poetic wisdom of nature in pre-modern texts (for example, in Eriugena, Hildegarde of Bingen and Bernardus Sylvestris), contemplative philosophies of nature and the poetics and metaphysics of ritual and liturgy.
Valentin holds an MA from the University of Kent and a PhD from the University of Cambridge and has published in journals such as Journal of the Philosophy of Education, Heythrop Journal, Religions, Medieval Mystical Theology, Temenos Academy Review and Modern Theology.
Alice Oswald studied Classics at Oxford and then trained as a gardener. She has written six collections of poetry.
Emma Bush is senior lecturer, Poetics of Imagination and Associate Lecture for Theatre: Reimagining Performance Practice. She works in the field of art and ecology, making performance, site-specific walks, writing and workshops.
She studied BA Theatre and MA Art and Ecology at Dartington College of Arts. Emma is also a Doctoral Teaching Assistant at the University of Plymouth where she is working on a PhD.
Tracey is a fiction and non-fiction writer and also works with text in the vicinity of art. She is an Associate Lecturer on our Poetics of Imagination programme.
Her recent fiction includes the future fiction, The Water Age (Meanda Books, 2018) and five historical novels set in medieval Europe. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for Fiction and is currently working on a biography of three medieval sisters, entitled Three Female Lords, which received an Authors Foundation grant. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary and a Santander Research Award.
Tracey was Director of the Arts and Cultural Management programmes at Dartington College of Arts from 2002–2006. She was co-curator of the Edge Biennales in London, Newcastle and in Madrid European Capital of Culture. She was Combined Arts Officer at Arts Council Great Britain and Gallery Publications Officer at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. As an independent curator, she worked with a wide range of international artists including James Turrell, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Marina Abramovic, Cornelia Parker, Helen Chadwick and Isaac Julien. Her books on contemporary art include The Midden (Garret, 2018), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000). She has published numerous catalogue essays and journal articles on a wide range of contemporary artists including Christian Thompson, Hayley Newman and Marcus Coates.
Bram Thomas Arnold
Dr Bram Thomas Arnold is an artist who started with walking and kept going into performance, drawing, installation, writing and academia. He is Associate Lecturer for our Poetics of Imagination programme.
His research interests include autoethnography, ecological arts practice, conservation and conversations around re/wilding, regenerative agriculture and the politics of being and selfhood in the Anthropocene. He is currently developing a number of projects on the Lizard in Cornwall at the intersection of contemporary arts research and re/wilding, conservation and the politics of land in collaboration with Professor Caitlin DeSilvey at the University of Exeter. He has undertaken post-doctoral research as a National Productivity Investment Fellow at Falmouth University in collaboration with the National Trust. Published papers include writing for the New Statesman, Digital Creativity Journal and the Living Maps Review.
As an artist he has developed a practice of Romantic Conceptualism that does not restrict itself to traditional boundaries, mediums or modes of practice, but rather develops a responsive way of being and making that is composed of and by its present context. He has exhibited internationally in exhibitions from New York to St. Petersburg.
Exhibitions include: This is The Future, Chiltern Sculpture Trail; British Art Show 6, Newcastle; Deptford X Festival, London; Conflux Festival of Psychogeography, New York; Artisterium, Tbilisi, Georgia; Performance Writing 12, Arnolfini, Bristol; Sideways: a festival of walking, Belgium; Remote Performances, Outlandia/Resonance FM, Scotland; Venice Biennale; HIDE, Secret Garden Party, Cambridge; Hermitage, Newlyn Gallery and Unbounded, Eden Project.
plus: meet our guest lecturers
Poetics of Imagination guest lecturers and tutors have included:
Dr Andy Letcher
Programme Lead, Engaged Ecology, Schumacher College
More about Andy >
artist and printmaker
More about Barton >
Dr Carla Stang
anthropologist, author of A Walk to the River in Amazonia (2009)
Watch: Chasing Consciousness podcast >
Professor Catherine Leglu
University of Luxembourg, medievalist specialising in medieval and Occitan literature. Her books include The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade, The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Erotics of Consolation
More about Catherine >
MA Myth and Ecology graduate
Professor Gregory Leadbetter
Birmingham City University, poet and critic specialising in the Romantic poetry and thought, author of Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
More about Gregory >
poet, author of As a Said Place
More about John >
artist, writer, researcher, performer and maker of maps, zines, books, poems, fiction, non-fiction, non-linear hypermedia narratives, and computer-generated texts
More about J.R. >
Writer on mythology, author of The Moon: Symbol of Transformation (2016), Gaia: Story of Origin to Universe Story (The Gaia Foundation, 2012), The Mysteries of Osiris (2010),
More about Jules >
Researching the influence of early Celtic literature and mythology on the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
More about Katherine >
Stonecarver and artist
Welsh poet, playwright, columnist
More about Menna >
Poet and Editor of Bloodaxe Books
Artist, Musician, Tutor and Occupational Therapist
More about Oona >
Botanist, gardener, basketmaker
Dr Stephan Harding
Deep Ecology Research Fellow at Schumacher College, author of Animate Earth; Grow Small, Think Beautiful; and Poems of Lorca, translated with Martin Shaw.
More about Stephan >
Naturalist, birder and artist.
More about Tony >
Dr Troy Vine
Programme Lead, MSc Holistic Science, Schumacher College
Particle physicist, history and philosophy of science researcher. Books include Experience Colour, What is Colour?, Goethe, Ritter und die Polariat.
More about Troy >
Learning at Dartington is staunchly holistic and focussed primarily on the potential for a course of study to deepen and expand your individual experience of the world while gaining a richer sense of your place in it in harmony with community and nature. In line with these aims, our approach to education seeks to move beyond the trend in many higher education establishments to offer degrees merely as a means to an end.
However, effective creative storytelling and the ability to accurately interpret and analyse complex narratives and paradoxical ideas are some of the most important skills you can nurture in an age of misinformation and social media echo-chambers. These skills are increasingly valued in many sectors from publishing to journalism, communications and digital marketing roles at large, but equally in policy and advocacy in local and national governments and agencies, as well as in charities, heritage and arts organisations, start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures.
This course is also a great step towards developing your own creative practice or narrowing your research interests towards a more focussed PhD, which you could go on to take through our PhD node in partnership with University of Westminster.
live chats & open days
latest news & blogs
Poetics of Imagination student Isabella Jones says her year at year at Dartington has been an enriching experience helping her grow in ways she could never have imagined.
Alice Oswald, Martin Shaw and Valentin Gerlier discuss the origin story and ever growing relevance of our MA Poetics of Imagination on which they all teach.
Writing for our blog, MA Poetics of Imagination student Martha Benedict explores the experience of studying at Dartington, and how the spaces in between the intensive sessions can be as valuable as the lectures themselves.