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Our work with higher education

Higher education partnerships are vital to our work and are at the heart of many of New Writing North’s programmes.

Northumbria University

New Writing North has worked in formal partnership with Northumbria University since 2012. The partnership reinforces already extensive links between two organisations that each make a unique contribution to culture, creativity, new writing, practice-led research and development. It sets a framework for continued collaboration that reflects New Writing North’s status as a centre of excellence in new writing and Northumbria University’s mission to make a powerful contribution to cultural and economic development and wellbeing in the region.

Our partnership with the university has creative writing at its heart, but encompasses broad work with many departments across the academic faculty from forensics and policing to law, arts management and leadership and the humanities.

The partnership has three areas of activity: student engagement and employability, civic partnerships and research.

New Writing North designs and co-delivers an industry module as part of Northumbria University’s Creative Writing MA programme and offers an annual paid 12-month digital marketing internship for a Northumbria graduate.  We also participate in student employability activities.

We have a strong history of collaborating on PhD research projects and have worked together on research projects around creative writing pedagogy in schools, arts and literature development in socio-economically disadvantaged communities and on the barriers facing working-class writers.

We have also collaborated on important research and evaluation projects with Professor Katy Shaw including The Value of Writing report on 18 years of the Northern Writers’ Awards, the outcomes of which were presented in the Houses of Parliament as part of a inquiry into effective methods of developing regional talent and enabling social mobility in the creative industries.

We are currently evaluating the Common People working class writer’s development project for Midlands Creative/Arts Council England.

Durham University

We work on an annual programme of activity with academics and students at Durham University as part of Durham Book Festival, which New Writing North produces for Durham County Council.

With staff at Durham University we have worked on publications, civic engagement, research and events (in communities, prisons and schools).

Leading academics help to programme and host book festival events and profile their research and each year over 30 students form a volunteer base to help deliver the festival. Durham University, along with Durham County Council, also contributes to an annual paid festival and events internship at New Writing North.

Public engagement

Special activities take place at Durham Book Festival each year to celebrate the exhibitions and wonderful archives housed at Palace Green Library. Other university venues including St Chad’s Chapel are also used for public events, opening the doors of the university to the general public and young people.

Festival Laureate

Each year in conjunction with the Centre for Poetics we appoint a leading poet as our Festival Laureate. This wonderful opportunity has brought leading poets such as Paul Muldoon, Simon Armitage, Lorna Goodison, Andrew McMillan, Don Paterson, Helen Mort amongst others to the city. The Laureates are commissioned to write a new poem for the festival and deliver a public event at the festival, schools events and special events for students.

Digital outcomes

In 2019 we produced the Rich Seams podcast, a series of shows about a new generation of poets in the North created by Andrew McMillan that grew out of his time as Laureate. In 2018/19 we worked with Durham University to appoint a Creative Industry Fellowship to help us undertake work exploring the literary history of Durham City and the wider county. This partnership involved the production of films and podcasts alongside public events.

Project Partnerships

With York University we were commissioned to co-design and deliver a creative industries module for the English and Creative Writing Masters programme as part of the university’s industrial strategy. We have also collaborated on events with the York Festival of Ideas.



With UCLAN Publishing, the thriving student-led publishing house run by the University of Central Lancashire we created a new book prize, the NorthBound Book Award, which sees a new writer published by the Man Booker-shortlisted publisher, Saraband.

With York St John University we have collaborated on events around independent regional publishing and our Read Regional programme.

With Teesside University we are working on the development of a new digital project funded by the Great Exhibition of the North GX legacy funding programme

With Newcastle University we are collaborating on evaluation initiatives around the Newcastle Gateshead City of Dreams project. The Robinson Library, which houses the Sid Chaplin archive also co-sponsors an annual award for working class writers.


We are always interested in new partnerships with universities and in exploring collaborative events, research and teaching initiatives. Please get in touch if you would like to start a conversation.

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