Creative writing courses in the Nordics

Courses ranging from evening classes and short, focussed courses to full-time university programmes reflect a broad interest in studying creative writing in the Nordic countries.

Traditional typewriter
Vintage typewriter. Photo: Florian Klauer. Unsplash.

Interest in creative writing has grown rapidly in the Nordic countries since 2000, and today a large selection of courses are available. Several universities offer two-year, full-time courses in advanced creative writing, and some folk high schools offer reputable one-year courses. At a less intensive level, there is a large number of public and private institutions which offer part-time courses in creative writing in the evenings, at weekends or during the summer. These courses usually specialise in specific genres, e.g. poetry or short stories, and are sometimes aimed at particular sectors of the general public, e.g. teenagers or the partially sighted.

Generally speaking, students on short courses participate with the sole intention of learning to express themselves more effectively. Students taking university courses, on the other hand, often become professional writers. Full-time programmes give these students the opportunity to practise their art, and are in this respect similar to the established tradition among students of music, theatre and the visual arts.

Litterär gestaltning, at Gothenburg University, Sweden, and Forfatterskolen in Copenhagen are two of Scandinavia’s most prestigious creative writing courses, where some of the students have been published before starting and well-known authors are among their lecturers. Lund University, Sweden, offers a Master’s degree in creative writing. Forfatterstudiet in Bø, Norway, offers a one-year course. Aschehoug, one of the largest publishing houses in Norway, have their own writing school, although some critics have expressed concern that these students may be trained in a style designed to suit Aschehoug’s particular publishing ethos. In Finland, Työväen Akatemia (Worker’s Academy) offers a one-year course in collaboration with Oxford’s Ruskin College, and Åbo Akademi University offers a two-year course.

Publishing houses report that the booming interest in creative writing has increased the number of scripts they are receiving and the quality of writing generally.