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CHASE Essentials: Final year writing retreat - Academic Writing the Creative Way

  • Shepherds Dene Retreat House Riding Mill, England, NE44 6AF United Kingdom (map)

Final year writing retreat: Academic Writing the Creative Way

1-6 December - Shepherds Dene, Northumberland

For year PhD researchers in their final year (or final two years of part time) **

This five-day immersive retreat will take you off-campus to focus intensively on your PhD in the company of two professional writers and a group of peers. Each morning there will be taught sessions, largely tailored to the needs of the group to which end you will be invited to submit work in advance of the retreat. The afternoons are reserved for private writing time, except when you have a tutorial. Each participant will be offered two separate tutorials over the course of the retreat. In addition to receiving detailed feedback from both tutors on your work and the specific writing challenges you face, you will be given an entire ‘tool kit’ of creative writing skills that will help you pull your thesis into final shape, so that it possesses a strong argumentative through-line and a distinctive narrative voice.

Sample Content (mornings):

In order to be there for the start of the first day, we recommend that you travel up on Sunday 1 December.  

Day One: We meet the students as ‘writers’ and discuss the challenges that all writers face. And we look to focus, pitching and personal investment as essential orienteering: in other words, to discovering your own ‘true north’.

Day Two:This day is all about Voice. We pick apart what this allusive quality actually consists of, and how it can be used to lend your PhD layering, depth and originality.

Day Three: Coherence and Flow – or how you manage and modulate a lengthy piece of writing. A key topic within this module is resonance, which covers how you tease out and manipulate a theme so that its broadest relevance is felt.

Day Four:This morning is all about Questions and Walls - how you keep driving forward your argument when you think you cannot go further. Interrogation leads to revelation. How do you capture your breakthrough thinking?

Day Five: How to see your work anew? We remind students what they’ve learnt during the week and hand out of True North glossary of all the tropes we’ve taught them. The morning is capped with an ‘observational walk’ which is all about making the best use of language.

Note: Our mid-week guest Heather Dyer will deliver an evening session on how to harness your creativity on day four, and kick off the final morning with a mindfulness session.

By the end of the course:

  • You will have strengthened the solid spine of your thesis, and identified all its major points of articulation.

  • You will know exactly what to cut and what to boost to pull your thesis into a coherent work that sings.

  • You will have learnt how and where to place your most far-reaching ideas, so that your work resonates with meaning for your readers.

  • You will better understand the nature and scope of your contribution to your research field.

  • You will have experienced the transformative benefit of immersion in your work - away from all the distractions of your everyday life, and in the company of a peer group of students who are on the same journey.

  • You will have a clearer sense of who you are as a writer, and of how to access your own best creative state.

Terms and conditions

The following groups are eligible to attend the training

By registering below you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you.

If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.