About us

The International Institute of Modern Letters is home to the University's Creative Writing programme, offering both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) hosts Victoria University of Wellington's Creative Writing programme, offering both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Underlying our programme is the notion that creativity is the engine of a healthy and successful society. Our courses do not teach a specific set of predetermined skills. Rather, our aim is to develop the imaginative capacity and individual literary skills and voices of emerging writers, in a stimulating workshop environment.

Supporting Māori writing is central to our kaupapa across both undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as in our residencies and in our public outreach programme. Many aspects of our approach to workshopping can be interpreted from a kaupapa Māori perspective. These include manaakitanga, expressed through respectful interactions and reciprocity in reading and responding to work; aroha, expressed in showing care with each other while discussing sometimes difficult topics; whanaungatanga, expressed in developing close relationships and a sense of belonging in the classroom; whakapapa, expressed in valuing interconnectedness. These specifically Māori concepts also have resonance for Pasifika and other Indigenous students, and they inform the IIML’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Our specialised undergraduate workshops include poetry, short fiction, children's writing,  creative nonfiction, Māori and Pasifika creative writing, world-building, television scriptwriting, writing for theatre, and long-form fiction, as well as a changing programme of summer workshops.

At postgraduate level we offer a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, with streams in Writing for the Page (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) and Scriptwriting (stage, screen, radio), and New Zealand's most extensive PhD Creative Writing programme.

Our high-calibre teaching staff is made up of practising creative writers with strong publishing profiles.

Our students vary widely in age and life experience, and the creative projects they are engaged in cover an enormous range of styles and subjects. This is reflected in the diversity of publications that began life in the workshop.

IIML graduates are now among New Zealand’s leading contemporary writers. Increasingly, they are also at the forefront of creative writing development in the New Zealand tertiary sector and have a growing international presence.

Each year we host dedicated masterclasses from guest writers, as well as the University's Writer in Residence. Since 2019 we have also offered an Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residency.and since 2020, an Emerging Māori Writer in Residency.

We administer a number of scholarships and prizes for our students. We also host the electronic publications Turbine | Kapohau and Ōrongohau| Best New Zealand Poems.

We are situated in Bill Manhire House at 16 Waiteata Rd on the University's Kelburn campus.