Online course

Start Writing Crime Fiction

12 weeks

Your next chapter starts here…

  • Become the crime writer you want to be!

  • Get 1-2-1 tutor feedback

  • Learn the foundational skills of writing

  • Build your writing routine

  • Take your writing to the next level

  • Access our courses from anywhere in the world.

Crime fiction is the biggest-selling genre in the UK and this course will help you to incorporate its building blocks into your own writing. Join the Queen of Domestic Noir, Julia Crouch, for an online creative writing course which will teach you how to write a crime novel. Explore the genre’s themes and appeal; looking at creating credible worlds and characters, developing and structuring story and building page-turning, tension-filled scenes.

Watch our introduction to tutored online courses

What the course covers

  • Module 1 – The Starting Point
    What is the appeal of crime fiction? In this module, you will look at some thoughts on this and develop your own point of view in group discussion. On the craft side, you will generate material using news stories, developing a writer’s magpie instinct, and start to use a writing notebook. For your assignment, you’ll showcase the skills you’ve learned to submit up to 500 words for personal feedback.
  • Module 2 – The Elements of a Crime Story
    In this module, you’ll read short crime fiction stories that showcase some of the important elements of crime fiction, and in group discussion, you’ll identify these. Through exercises, you will start to learn how to use them to approach story structure, and for your assignment, you’ll submit a story about disruption of up to 500 words.
  • Module 3 – Endearing Monsters
    This module investigates the role of character in crime fiction and the thorny issues around likeable/identifiable characters. The exercises here will be about developing living, breathing characters, and your assignment will ask you to write one scene from three different points of view.
  • Module 4 – Genre and Detail
    In this module, you will look at the various sub-genres of crime fiction, their identifying characteristics and how these translate into story detail. The exercises in this module are about finding the devil in the detail – from research to sensory detail, to the difference between telling and showing. Your assignment will be the beginning of your final piece of work.
  • Module 5 – Crime Story Structure
    This module focuses on the plot dynamics of crime fiction. You’ll look at plotting methods and the whole plot/pantser issue. The practical exercises here are about nailing one of the stories you’ve been developing and making a wide range of structural decisions, and your assignment will be the first draft of your 2000-word final assignment.
  • Module 6 – Ethics and Edits
    This module, will look at some of the ethical issues facing authors of contemporary crime fiction. You will also explore methods to hone your work and make it better. Finally, you will look at critical assessment and the task of self-editing. Your final assignment will be a completed short story of up to 2000 words.

On this course you will:

  • Explore what crime fiction consists of and why it is so popular
  • Build a bank of story ideas
  • Understand what sub-genre of crime fiction interests you, and why
  • Explore the structure of crime fiction and how to build a plot
  • Learn the building blocks of good writing.
  • Learn how to create believable characters
  • Learn how to build stories using details
  • Develop an understanding of point of view
  • Explore the importance of setting
  • Learn about creating suspense.

Start Writing Crime Fiction course = £475


Designed in partnership with the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at UEA


UEA University of East Anglia


Format: How the course works

  • Web-based
    • Our Creative Writing Online courses take place entirely over the internet. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
  • Duration
    • 12 weeks
  • Course format
    • The majority of the course is delivered in text form, making it easy to progress through the course chapter-by-chapter. 
    • Your knowledge will be developed through writing exercises and the analysis of samples of writing.
  • Modules
    • The course is divided into fortnightly modules, each of which introduces an aspect of the craft of writing. 
    • Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice. Outside of those assignment deadlines you can progress through the lessons and exercises at your own pace.
  • 1-2-1 feedback
    • You will have 1-2-1 feedback from your tutor and fellow students.
  • Discussions
    • Forum-based student discussions are included throughout the course, providing an opportunity for students to interact with each other and the course tutor. To get the most out of the course, we recommend taking part in as many discussions as possible.

Got questions?

If you have any questions, you can get in touch by emailing Vicki at

C Christina Morillo from PexelsCourse schedule

This course runs for 12 weeks and is split into several modules, which each last two weeks. Modules consist of multiple chapters and your progress is tracked throughout, making it easy to pick up where you left off.

Although a module is open for two weeks, you are not expected to dedicate that entire time to the course! Our online courses are designed to fit around a busy lifestyle and each chapter is conveniently bite-sized so that you can always be making progress. On average we expect most students to spend between 3-5 hours per week on a course (this time will be a mixture of reading, community discussions, exercises and assignments). This will vary from student-to-student and some modules may be more intensive than others.

Each module includes smaller exercises and a main assignment. How much time you spend on these is flexible and will depend on your own writing style and process.

September 2022 term schedule

  • Module 1: Monday 19th September – Sunday 2nd October
  • Module 2: Monday 3rd October – Sunday 16th October
  • Module 3: Monday 17th October – Sunday 30th October
  • Module 4: Monday 31st October – Sunday 13th November
  • Module 5: Monday 14th November – Sunday 27th November
  • Module 6: Monday 28th November – Sunday 11th December.

Zoom sessions TBC.

Equipment and software: What you need

You will need access to a computer and you will need access to the internet. 

You can view the study materials on a mobile device but we recommend using a desktop or laptop computer for working on assignments and taking part in community discussions.

Important: Your web browser must be up-to-date to access the courses. We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

We use two platforms to deliver our tutored online courses:

  • Teachable
    • This online course platform hosts our study materials and community interactions. You will be provided with a login for a Teachable account at the beginning of your course.
  • Zoom
    • We use zoom to host any live tutored elements of the course. Please see the course-specific pages for full details


What people think of our courses



“I’ve taken away a much greater confidence in my creative work, an ability to be much more flexible but also decisive with my writing ideas and have learned many new writing techniques and ways of working.”



“I have learned a huge amount on this course. I feel I have leaped ahead in my knowledge of writing and what I am capable of writing at the moment.”



“My output has improved a thousand-fold in both content and quality.”



“The course had a therapeutic effect. I gained a sense of freedom from getting lost in the characterisations and dramas of my stories.”



“The course exceeded my expectations in every aspect with how well-structured it was, the exercises and the feedback. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Motivation and focus

Motivation and focus

“Having someone read and feedback on my writing gave me focus and motivation.”

Who is this course for?

This course is ideal for people who have done no formal training or courses who want to:

  • Learn the basic skills of structuring and writing crime fiction
  • Build your confidence
  • Develop a writing routine
  • Receive tutor feedback on their writing
  • Discuss their writing with peers
  • Get writing!

Start Writing Crime Fiction course = £475


Start Writing Crime Fiction not the right course for you? Browse our other introductory courses

About the tutors

Julia Crouch

Core areas of expertise: Novelist, teacher.

Notable works: Julia is the author of six internationally published crime novels: Cuckoo, Every Vow You Break, Tarnished, The Long Fall, Her Husband’s Lover and The New Mother. She also writes (and reads, given the opportunity) slightly chilling, off-beat short stories, which have been published in various collections.

Unable to find a sub-genre of crime writing that neatly described her work, she came up with the term Domestic Noir, which is now widely accepted as the label for one of the most popular crime genres today.

Julia has been a Visiting Fellow on the UEA MA Creative Writing Crime Fiction and teaches online for Faber Academy and the National Centre for Writing. She co-runs the Brighton Crime Wave, a bi-monthly crime fiction night.

What’s great about the course? The course is a thorough introduction to reading and writing crime fiction.

I love seeing students meet and support each other and progress through the course. They come away with their enjoyment of the genre enhanced – both as a reader and as a writer.

I started writing in my forties, after doing online courses (OU creative writing courses), so I understand exactly how a passion can be awoken through this form of learning.

Femi Kayode

Femi Kayode is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. He is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia, where his novel Lightseekers won the Little, Brown / UEA Crime Fiction Award. Lightseekers was called ‘a delight’ by the New York Times, ‘tense and disturbing’ by the Guardian and ‘a stunning murder mystery’ by the Independent.

Femi was a Packard Gates Fellow in Film at the University of Southern California and has built an impressive resume on prime-time television by creating, writing and developing several award-winning TV dramas.

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