How online learning works

Flexible, supportive and effective

Our virtual classroom is designed by writers, for writers.
It's a study seminar, reading group, writing network, university course and creative workshop rolled into one.
Learn in your pyjamas, wherever you are in the the world and at a time to suit you.

"It was wonderful to be able to learn in such a supportive and friendly environment."

Anna, Writing a Novel (online)

Home PageAbout UsHow online learning works

Benefits of online learning with PWA

Devised by writers, for writers

Our online classroom has been designed to fit the specific needs of writers. The team has had ten years experience of teaching writers online and we constantly refine the learning experience to help you achieve your writing goals.

We recognise that you have taken a course because you want a disciplined and structured way of developing your writing skills.

At the same time, though, you need space to develop ideas, discuss your work objectively with like-minded people, and respond to feedback.

And of course support at those times when you feel despondent, blocked or overwhelmed with the task ahead.

More than 1,000 students have now studied writing with us. Many have gone on to be published or self-publish their work or work in the writing industry. Nearly all tell us they had a great experience that has pushed their writing to the next level.  More about the team.

The group have all been fantastic and supportive. I’ve learnt not only from their reviews of my writing; reading other people’s comments on each others’ work has been instructive, too.
Patrick, Writing a Novel (online)


Take our online classroom with you wherever you go. It’s open 24/7 so you can dip in and out at the times that suit you. Our students learn in their pyjamas after they’ve put their kids to bed, they learn on the train on the way to work, and they learn in coffee shops and parks during their lunch breaks.


We know that learning how to write is more enjoyable when you share the experience with a group of like-minded people. That’s why we’ve designed our online classroom to be a social learning environment, where you learn as much by collaborating with each other as you do from the learning materials and your tutor.

Although you’ll work through the course materials and exercises independently, you’re never alone. Your tutor will keep in touch by posting messages, discussion points and general feedback to the forums, and your fellow writers are there to share ideas and give encouragement as you learn together.

I enjoyed interacting with the other students on the course, and reading the course materials alongside the book, which was very helpful. The most useful was doing the exercises, which I would not otherwise have done myself and which were incredibly useful.
Course survey respondent


Studies show that online learning is at least as effective as face-to-face learning. Our experience of comparing online and face-to-face courses in a university setting demonstrated that the online students’ focus was purely on the task in hand. Removed from the distraction of a classroom setting, interactions were far more productive.

Another reason for this is that we learn more when we take control of our own learning. So, we provide you with the tools and building blocks you need to learn, but it’s by using those tools yourself, and putting them into action through writing, that you learn most. We’re there every step of the way, but you’re in the driving seat.

I think the focus on practical work was very helpful. I think it’s easy to study the theory of things, and forget about actually putting it into practice. There was a good range of areas where we could experiment with different forms of writing, too.
Course survey respondent

Learn in a way that works best for you

People learn in different ways. Some learn best by watching videos or listening to podcasts while others learn most from reading. Some learn best by collaborating with others and discussing ideas and exercises. Many learn better by working things out on their own before meeting to discuss with the group.

We use different types of course materials to combine these different learning styles and to give variety to your learning experience. So, if you don’t fancy listening to the podcast you can read the transcript instead. And if you don’t want the pressure of writing something that you then have to present on the spot then you can take your time and present it when you’re ready.

You can also submit your assignments in the format that works for you, such as a sound file, video or doodle. Read more about our course model.

A well-crafted structure, and the gradual development over the five weeks, so that each session consolidated and extended our learning to date. Interaction with so many passionate and inspiring people (staff and students). Inspiring course content delivered in a stimulating, engaging and accessible format. The satisfaction of working through each exercise or task, and then having the option to discuss and debate. I enjoyed everything!
Course survey respondent

Nervous about learning online?

It’s okay to feel a little nervous when you’re learning a new skill. In fact, online learning is great for anyone who feels shy about sharing work for the first time – and most writers are.

We find that people who may be quiet in a real-life classroom thrive in our online classroom because they get to share ideas and ask questions while the rest of the group listens and offers encouragement.

We help you to get to know your fellow students by placing you in small groups and by encouraging you to share your profile and course goals.

Unlike a face-to-face course, we’ll never ask you to write something on the spot and share it immediately with the group. Instead, you can work through the materials independently in your own time then ‘meet up’ with fellow learners to discuss what you’ve learned.

This means you can work at your own pace but with the support and feedback of a friendly, eager group of fellow learners.

Run and managed with fantastic efficiency and kindness.
Course survey respondent

About the classroom

Image of Professional Writing Academy online classroom home page

Professional Writing Academy online classroom home page

What our classroom looks like

Our online classroom looks like a website but it feels different from what you might be used to because you’re able to interact with it. You can use tools such as quizzes, discussion forums, notepads, chatrooms and webinars, as well as watch videos, listen to podcasts, download extracts and read lectures written by your tutor.

How it works

Everything you need for your course is in our online classroom, so you’ll need to log in regularly during each session. In a real life classroom your tutor will remind you when you need to complete exercises and we do the same. We post messages to the discussion forums and send you emails to remind you what you need to do and when you need to do it.

I went to the Help page and it is brilliant – your online classroom is really well designed. Until now, I have never used a ‘Help’ section that actually helped!
Nancy, Writing a Novel (online)

Tips for getting the most from learning online

  1. Make sure you have access to a computer or tablet and reliable wifi before you start your course. Our technical requirements explain which equipment you’ll need, including computer/tablet and apps (web browser, video and audio players, PDF readers and word processing app such as Microsoft Word).
  2. Make sure you can spare the time needed for study each week. You may find it helpful to plan a schedule for when you’ll study each week. Remember, the classroom is open 24/7 and you don’t need to be there at specific days or times of the week, so you can fit your course around your work and home life, not the other way around.
  3. Get to know our online classroom before you start working through your course. We’ve designed the classroom to be easy to use but you’ll hit the ground running if you spend 20 minutes looking around, clicking on links, exploring our Resources section, and adding a description of yourself to your profile. Don’t worry – you won’t get lost and you won’t break anything and we’re here to help if you have any questions.
  4. Keep notes as you work through the course. Get a new notebook just for your course or set up a file on your computer where you can jot down your thoughts, ideas and writing exercises.
  5. Find a place to study that works best for you. It doesn’t matter if this is your kitchen table, a coffee shop, your local library or a favourite park — it just needs to be a place where you can study without distractions.

The course has been great and I really appreciate the format. I’ve done tons of different writing courses but this is the first time I’ve experienced a course that used podcasts rather than just standard lecture notes. It really works for me.
Jo, UK

Image of PWA Intro to Writing Crime Fiction course page

Introduction to Writing Crime Fiction course

Our online classroom

We built our classroom using Moodle, a social learning environment that allows us to present course materials and learning activities in a variety of ways. These include written lectures, videos and podcasts, interactive quizzes, downloadable PDFs, assignments, webinars and chatrooms and discussion forums where our students meet, collaborate, share their work and discuss ideas.

We chose Moodle because it’s the world’s most widely used learning management system. Because it’s open-source, it’s flexible enough for us to customise the classroom to give our students exactly what they need to learn best. It also means we can adapt quickly by adding new functions as they are developed and finding effective ways to teach writing online.

We continually develop the classroom in response to our student feedback, surveys and in line with best practice.

Find out who we are.


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