For more information about Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University, please visit the webpage using the button above.

The award
MA

How long you will study
1 year

Domestic course fees
7400

How you will study
full-time

Course starts
October

International course fees
find out

All study options

About Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University

A specialist creative writing MA for writers for children and young adults taught by published authors.

  • Excellent links with authors, agents and publishers, and a programme of visiting speakers.
  • Annual prize for the 'most promising writer for young people' awarded by a leading literary agent.
  • Excellent track record of graduates achieving publication.

This specialist creative writing MA is designed for writers for children, teenagers and young adults who aim to complete a novel, series of picture books or shorter stories for young children. It is a practical course, taught by experienced lecturers who are all published children's writers and/or industry professionals.

More than 30 graduates of this MA have achieved publication deals since the course began in 2004, with more novels due to be published in 2016-2017. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls won the Waterstones Children's Book of the Year Award and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award in 2008. Marie-Louise Jensen and Elen Caldecott were shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstones Prize. Elen Caldecott, Clare Furniss, Gill Lewis and Jim Carrington have been long-listed for the Carnegie award. Sally Nicholls  was short-listed for the Guardian children's book prize and won the Independent Booksellers' award in 2015 for her novel An Island of Our Own. David Hofmeyr was short-listed for the Branford Boase award 2016 for his novel Stone Rider.

'I'm not sure I would have had the space or the motivation to write a novel without the MA in Writing for Young People and it certainly wouldn't have been as good as it was.'

Sally Nicholls, MA Writing for Young People graduate

What you'll learn

Overview

The course is for writers for children of all ages, from the picture-book age through to young adult (YA). Prose fiction is likely to be the main area studied, but  students will have the chance to look at writing in all forms, including poetry, picture book texts and narrative non-fiction for young people.

The course supports you to create a significant body of writing, with practical plans for its place in the real world of publishing. It is based on the principle that most writers learn and benefit from working closely with their fellow writers, in a disciplined supportive setting, and with tutors who are practising and published writers in their field. Most of our students aim to complete a novel by the end of the MA.

The writing workshop is at the heart of the course. What you'll do with tutors and your fellow writers in a workshop situation is learn to see your work through objective eyes and to think clearly about the different strategies you might adopt. You learn from each other's mistakes and successes as well as your own. You will be urged to try things out, take risks and experiment, and reflect on and discuss the writing process. The context modules help you to see your own writing in the wider context of published children's writing. The course encourages you to read widely and analytically.

Course structure

Trimester 1
In the first trimester's writing workshop you'll explore a variety of forms of writing, gaining a sense of different age ranges and styles of writing and experimenting with your own writing. We encourage all our students to experiment and take risks at this stage of the course.

The context module, Writing for Young People: Forms, Ages and Stages, is concerned with the writer's relationship with their audience, and will help you understand some of the issues raised by writing for young people. You read one set text each week to discuss in class, reading 'as a writer', looking closely at language and style, in addition to writing short pieces of your own creative work.

Trimester 2
In the second trimester's workshop you will be asked to choose your area of writing, and use the workshop's feedback and encouragement to explore it in more depth. You will bring short excerpts from your work-in-progress for discussion and feedback in the group. You may continue to experiment with different ideas for other stories.
The second trimester's Context Module looks at Contemporary Children's Publishing, and aims to give a realistic grasp of the choices open to new writers in the field. This is your chance to learn about how the publishing industry works, and to develop the professional skills you need as a working author. 

Trimester 3
In Trimester three  you will continue to write your work-in-progress, editing and re-drafting your work to help you develop a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. You'll be supported by tutorials with a manuscript supervisor. The manuscript  may be a novel, a collection of stories, a collection of poems or picture book texts. Most of our students choose to write a novel for young people.

Part time students follow the same sequence of modules, but do so over two years.

How will I be assessed?

The assessed coursework for each Writing Workshop is a folder of creative writing plus a short reflective commentary. For the first Context Module the assessed coursework is an essay of approximately 2,500 words and a folder of creative responses. The second context module is assessed by a portfolio of writing tasks connected to the children's publishing industry, including two book proposals. The manuscript is 35,000-40,000 words, or the equivalent in poetry or picture book texts.

How will I be taught?

Modules are normally taught via tutor-led writing workshops, with one three-hour session each week for the eleven weeks of each taught trimester, at the Corsham Court campus. We aim to keep the writing workshops small - usually no more than eight students - so that there is sufficient time, support and attention for each person's work. The manuscript is taught via one-to-one tutorials, working with a tutor who is a published author with particular knowledge of your field of work. Throughout the course, there will be special events to bring in writers to discuss their work, plus literary agents and editors with practical advice on the publishing process.

Opportunities

Work placements, industry links and internships

The MA has established an excellent reputation in the children's publishing world, and agents and editors look forward to the annual Anthology of new work from the MA Writing for Young People students. We have links with local schools and the Bath Festival of Children's Literature. Sometimes publishers will approach the course with competitions or other opportunities such as writing a short story for a new anthology for publication, or for a new picture book text. MA Writing for Young People students were invited to write  stories for the Roman Baths museum website.

The student anthology for 2016  can be found at inklingsanthology.com.

Careers and publications

Graduates have achieved publication deals with a range of different mainstream and smaller publishers, including Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Chicken House, Egmont, Faber & Faber, Gullane, Hot Key Books, Nosy Crow, Orion, Oxford University Press, Penguin, Quercus, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Templar and Walker Books. Many more students have secured literary agents and are likely to secure publication deals in the future.

Some students who have performed well on the MA and have published work have subsequently taught creative writing at the University. Some have taught creative writing for other institutions. Some have combined their writing with subsequent careers in journalism, writing for magazines, teaching of different kinds, publishing, television etc.

Books published by graduates from this course include:
  • Ways to Live Forever, Sally Nicholls
  • Frost Hollow Hall, Emma Carroll
  • Sam Gayton, The Snow Merchant
  • The Snow Merchant, Gill Lewis
  • Lucy Christopher, Stolen
  • The Year of the Rat, Clare Furniss
  • Stone Riders, David Hofmeyr
  • Shrunk, Fleur Hitchcock
  • Sweet Pizza, Giancarlo Gemin

 

Competitions and awards

Leading Children's Literary Agent Jodie Hodges (United Agents) offers an annual prize for the 'most promising writer for young people' from the MA.

'I particularly liked the way the workshops were run in an atmosphere of supportiveness and encouragement. We all very quickly became much more astute critics of each other's and our own work.'

Maudie Smith, MA Writing for Young People graduate

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

Staff

This course is taught by publishing writers and depending on timetables will include:

  • Julia Green: her novels for teenagers include Blue Moon, Baby Blue and Hunter's Heart (Puffin), Breathing Underwater, Drawing with Light, Bringing the Summer and This Northern Sky (Bloomsbury). Her latest novels for younger children are Tilly's Moonlight Fox, Sylvie and Star,  Seal Island  and The Wilderness War (Oxford University Press)
  • Lucy Christopher: prize-winning author of Stolen and The Killing Woods for YA readers, and Flyaway for younger teens ( Chicken House)
  • Steve Voake: his novels include The Dreamwalker's Child, The Web of Fire, The Starlight Conspiracy, Blood Hunters, Fight Back and Dark Woods (Faber & Faber), plus his Daisy Dawson and Hooey Higgins series for younger readers (Walker Books)
  • Janine Amos: Children's publishing Industry specialist with many years' editorial experience, plus author of many books - her most recent children's novel is Walking on Gold.
  • C.J. Skuse: YA author of Pretty Bad Things, Rockaholic, Dead Romantic, Monster and The Deviants.

Specialist visiting lecturers

  • Julia Eccleshare: children's books editor at The Guardian.

Our Professor in Writing for Young People is David Almond, internationally acclaimed, prize-winning author of Skellig, Kit's Wilderness, Heaven Eyes, My Name is Mina, Jackdaw Summer, Clay, The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, The Boy who swam with Piranhas, A Song for Ella Grey, The Boy who Climbed into the Moon, The Savage, and many more titles. His major awards include the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2010, the Carnegie Medal and two Whitbread prizes. His novel A Song for Ella Grey won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2015.

Study options for this course

  • The award How you will study How long you will study Course starts Domestic course fees International course fees
  • The awardMAHow you will studyFull-timeHow long you will study1 year
    Course startsOctoberDomestic course fees 7400International course fees find out
  • The awardMAHow you will studyPart-timeHow long you will study2 years
    Course startsOctoberDomestic course fees 7400International course fees find out

Notes about fees for this course

Fees

UK and EU students full time

Course fees

2018/19 entry £7,400 2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019 2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020

UK and EU students part time

Fees shown below are for part time study over two years, although some courses may be available over longer periods.

2018/19 Entry

Course fees

Year 1 £3,700 Year 2 Published Jan 2019

2019/20 Entry

Course fees

Year 1 Published Jan 2019 Year 2 Published Jan 2020

2020/21 Entry

Course fees

Year 1 Published Jan 2020 Year 2 Published Jan 2021

International students full time

Course fees

2018/19 entry £14,400 2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019 2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020

Entry requirements

What we look for in potential students

We offer places on the basis of our assessment of your quality, potential and commitment as a writer and your ability to benefit from the course. Normally, but not invariably, a student will have a degree. This may be in subjects other than creative writing. This is not a beginner's course, so we will be looking for evidence of  originality in your writing for young people and a sense of audience. You will have read widely in the field of contemporary children's literature.

What students think about Bath Spa University

    Yasmina Van De Peer, BA (Hons) English Literature and Film Studies, Spain

    Where to start with this year? There have been so many new friends, a new life-style with freedom and no muYasmina Van De Peerm bossing me around. My year has not been easy but I would do it all again, life challenges you in many ways and this experience definitively has.

    When I arrived in September, I felt like a lost girl trying to find something that I could grasp and change my life forever. My first year in a foreign country was fantastic and thanks to the creative writing department, I will never forget my second year as I have the privilege of studying in Chicago for a full academic year! However, this has no real connection with why I chose Bath Spa University.

    I worked as an ambassador for this University and a lot parents have asked the same question, why did I choose it? After 50 parents it gets tiring- especially when I was unsure. As everyone else I want to succeed in life. I have dreamt about going to Oxford, Harvard or any well known University. But the one thing that I have learnt in life is that you can be successful and come from the smallest place in the world. The key to success requires determination to reach your goal.

    Bath Spa just felt right and it allowed me to combine my subjects [English Literature and Film Studies], be myself and it also has an inspiring and picturesque scenery. For me it was perfect.

    Johannes Gerdes, BA Business and Management, Germany

    I chose BA Business and Management as I have always been inspired by my dad who runs a world leading business. The opportunity to work for him during holidays gave me a chance to look inside a company and to experience what management, leadership and communication is all about. I wanted to widen my knowledge and hence started my Business & Management career here at Bath Spa.
    My parents always wanted to give me the opportunity to study abroad. My old school, near Bristol, where I stayed as a boarding student for the last two years, helped me to discover where most of my interests lie. In addition, friends of mine started studying here at Bath Spa.

    I would describe Bath Spa in three words as: Cultural, Wonderful, Friendly.

    In the future I hope I will be working together with my dad and widen the market to countries which haven't been discovered yet.


    Don't be afraid of university life. University is the best time in your life. You meet so many new people from different nationalities and all come together! You will settle down easily. You make friends so fast and there is always someone around to help you! Even language barriers can be fixed with a perfect Writing and Learning Centre [the English Language Unit (ELU) is also available for all international students to access where English is not their first language] here at Bath Spa. Come to Bath and experience the whole range of activities they offer and be open to new things!

    Nassos Polyzoidis, MMus Songwriting, Greece

    Even though I live in Greece, I'm familiar with many British Universities, as I work for some English Examination Boards for Music and I've attended some Summer Schools in UK over the years. Bath Spa University's reputation in Songwriting and Commercial Music was known to me for a long time. Being a guitarist and working for the RGT at the same time, I have heard stories about Bath being the birthplace of guitar magazines and other music and artistic events. I was accepted to study Commercial Music as an undergraduate student about 4 years ago, but due to some sudden accidents I have to decline my offer. After this unfortunate event, I decided to become better Musician and Songwriter, so that I can return as a postgraduate applicant. When I noticed that there was a distance learning degree, MMus Songwriting, I knew I had to do this. Meanwhile, I did my research, which only lead me to ensure my initial decision to study at Bath Spa University.


    I was attracted to this course as I was already familiar with Bath Spa University's reputation in this field. In addition to that, Songwriting isn't taught in my home county at all. I knew that only few Institutes offer Songwriting as a postgraduate degree, so I did my research over the last 3 years. During this time, I was only ensuring myself that I have to apply for this course. I really want to become a successful songwriter, and also, probably one of the first songwriting teachers in Greece, so I know that this course is best for me. I knew that the course will help me become more confident and enhance my professional skills in the field. Finally, being mainly inspired by British Songwriters, it was really important that my songwriting skills would develop a lot lyrically, which can help me open the door to an international market.


    I would describe Bath Spa University in three words as: Innovative, modern, artistic.


    Once I have my degree, I am really hoping to become a successful songwriter. Being inspired mainly by British Songwriters, I would really like to write songs for the UK and international market. In addition, I will probably become one of the first songwriting teachers in Greece. Last, but not least, as I'm already collaborating with several English musicians, I'm considering in my future plans to apply for a PhD and probably seek for more collaborations in UK, which might extend my visits there.


    My advice I would you give to other international students who want to study in the UK would depend on the ethics and societal context of each county. So, a general advice I would give is "Do not be afraid of failure, do your best and apply to the courses that you really like!"

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