Creative Writing and Publishing MA

Why choose this course?

Kingston University is ranked No 1 in London for journalism, publishing and public relations (Guardian University Guide league tables 2020).

With very few budding writers making a living from writing alone, this course offers creative writers the chance to learn not only the craft of writing, but also current trends in publishing from world-renowned professionals. It offers the opportunity to develop a creative writing portfolio at the same time as getting to grips with how the publishing process works.

You'll benefit from teaching staff who have practical experience of working in publishing and/or creative writing industries, attend a series of masterclasses across the disciplines and work on live projects for Kingston University Press.

We have exceptional links with major publishers, such as Hachette Penguin Random House, Bloomsbury and Macmillan; and you will have the opportunity to enter your work into competitions sponsored by The Bookseller magazine and Faber and Faber. There are also opportunities to work on live projects for Kingston University Press.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • You will be exposed to published authors, editors and agents via masterclasses and enriching discussions.
  • Kingston has links with major publishers such as Hachette UK, Yale University, Bloomsbury, Faber and Macmillan. Course content is informed by an advisory board of industry figures.
  • You will gain real experience of writing and publishing through Kingston University's literary magazine, Persist.

What you will study

The creative writing element of this course is workshop-led and, in the second semester, you will be given the opportunity to specialise in the genre of your choice, be it poetry, drama or children's fiction.

The publishing element focuses on marketing-led commercial and trade publishing, and the modules you study will help you to understand the structure of the industry and the core skills required to enter.

You'll take two 30 credit modules from Publishing (one must be ‘Create' but you can choose the other, and two 30 credit modules from Creative Writing. You can then choose whether to pursue a dissertation or practical project within either Publishing or Creative Writing, worth 60 credits.

Modules

Optional placement year

In addition to taking two core modules, you can choose to write an academic dissertation to demonstrate your analytical skills and competence, or undertake a major practical publishing project as your final assessment. If you choose to take your dissertation in creative writing, you will write an extensive piece of creative writing accompanied by critical essay; you will be supervised by a professional writer.

Core modules

Create: The Business of Publishing

30 credits

This module initiates you into the collaborative, creative business of commercial publishing and facilitates the development of your research, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills. From books and magazines to apps and websites, you will explore the structure and operation of successful publishing companies, the stakeholders, tools and processes crucial to the development of profitable multi-platform products and services and the fundamental and disruptive business models used by both traditional companies and new industry-entrants.

After an immersive introduction to the complex and challenging nature of twenty-first century publishing, the module offers the opportunity for the generation and critical evaluation of your own publishing ideas. This involves using industry-standard sources and approaches to research and analyse markets, identify appropriate business models and operational strategies and build and present persuasive business cases.

Throughout, there is an emphasis on building robust and well-evidenced arguments to win support for theoretical assertions and practical publishing concepts. You also have the opportunity to work with your peers, and to critically evaluate each others' publishing proposals.

Make: Content Development and Production

30 credits

This hands-on module equips students with both the key theory and the core practical skills needed to effectively manage content from raw material to finished print and digital presentation. Working in teams students will carry out essential editorial and production tasks to produce a live published product. This group publication project enables students to collaborate to demonstrate the team work skills required for timely delivery, and to develop a thorough understanding of work flow and the associated processes. It also allows students to show how material gets turned into a market appropriate product ready for stakeholder approval and launch. The module as a whole enables students to illustrate how value gets added within the publishing supply chain, and appreciate the content management systems and metadata vital in today's publishing environment.

By working on in-class exercises and assignment projects students will acquire and apply the key skills necessary to operate within a professional publishing context. Students will engage with project management, budgeting and costing, briefing, the different types of editing, design and layout, proofreading, and delivery. This module enhances employability by allowing students to use industry standard tools and packages, such as HTML, InDesign and Photoshop, and to improve understanding of basic typographic and design principles, the application of typesetting/mark-up skills, and production of publication ready files. Practising these hands-on skills will enhance students' understanding of how attention to detail can improve a product, make it the best it can be, and ensure it is presented profitably to its intended market.

Writers' Workshop

30 credits

In this module you will present and discuss your own and each other's work in a weekly workshop. The draft work presented may include several genres and forms, such as crime writing, fantasy fiction, children's literature, historical fiction, science fiction, romance and autobiography. Practical criticism of student writing will be accompanied by discussion of the scope or constraints of the various genres, as well as the implications of particular forms. Attention will be paid to the transferable components of good writing: appropriate use of language, narrative pace, dialogue, expression, characterisation and mood.

Ten Critical Challenges for Creative Writers

30 credits

The module is designed to introduce students to some issues of critical and literary theory. The module is also designed to make students more aware of how their work impacts upon wider literary, cultural, political and philosophical issues. Awareness of these theories and of some of the issues surrounding the production and reception of literary texts will stimulate them, encouraging creative and conceptual thinking.  The module will explore debates about literature and the practice of creative writing through readings of essays and texts that are relevant to criticism and theory.  The academic component of the assessment will support the creative work with the objective that students will also have to demonstrate critical, academic, analytical skills.

Publishing Dissertation

60 credits

The Publishing dissertation module provides students with the opportunity to independently conceive, explore, investigate and then deliver a significant study within the publishing industry and allied fields. The theoretical underpinning may vary according to the approach taken and the research questions chosen, but the outcome should be a sustained and coherent piece of detailed work, capable of publication and wider dissemination.

Depending on the issue chosen, students will engage with a range of professionals within the industry, and within related fields. Although students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning, they are supported and mentored by an individual supervisor during the process.

Optional modules

Creative Writing Dissertation

60 credits

This module focuses on your own creative writing and research into your chosen form or genre, developed in consultation with your supervisor. You learn via one-to-one tutorials with your personal supervisor. You produce two pieces of writing:

  • a creative dissertation – a portion of a novel, a body of poetry, a play screenplay or other creative form of no more than 15,000 words; and
  • a critical essay of approximately 3,000 words – considering the relationships between your own writing and the literary contexts/theoretical concerns that inform published writing in your chosen genre or form.

Your supervisor must agree in advance the final structure, approximate word length and for presentation conventions of these pieces.

Structure and Style

30 credits

This module provides the opportunity to write across three genres - including prose, poetry and playwriting - to teach you how to apply literary techniques from other forms to your own work. It will look at:
• issues of voice, imagery, tone and characterisation;
• elements of narrative, dramatic and lyrical forms; and
• contemporary works – allowing you to master structure and style and understand how a variety of literary forms function.
You will also submit a portfolio of writing exercises in the different genres studied.

Special Study: Workshop in Popular Genre Writing

30 credits

This module offers a regular and intensive review of your writing in one of the following genres: poetry, crime writing, prose fiction, biography, drama, scriptwriting or writing for children. You will be advised on how to strengthen your knowledge of the codes and conventions of your chosen genre to produce a substantial piece or collection of work that will reflect your knowledge of and engagement with your chosen genre. You will apply detailed feedback on your work to your writing as well as using your increased knowledge of your chosen genre to make your writing more effective. These elements will help you improve the key transferable skills of analysis and implementation that will feed forward into your dissertation module and into all analytical/practical tasks you subsequently undertake.

Share: Strategic Marketing and Sales

30 credits

This module equips students to consider the various individuals and communities (colleagues, shareholders, retailers, distributors, customers and other stakeholders) involved in the business of content delivery, and how most effectively to disseminate information and influence their behaviour, in order to promote effective marketing and sales.

This module will enable students to understand marketing and sales principles, and develop associated skills in applying them to meet the demands of modern publishing. Students will undertake exercises and discussions about the various applications of sales and marketing within the publishing industry and its environs, and consider their relevance through all stages of the publishing process.

Through this process students will learn how best to investigate the market for demand, how to predict that demand, and how to prepare, market and distribute information about a product or service, whether in whole or part, to promote profitable fulfilment of that demand.

Publishers operate in an international context and so must market and sell their products to customers around the globe. Students will therefore consider how publishers organise themselves to deliver international operations successfully, and explore associated cultural, pricing and communication issues.

Do: Work Placements, Networking and Career Planning

30 credits

The Kingston Publishing MA aims to equip you to participate actively in the current, fast-changing creative economy, and this module provides the opportunity to develop your employability and plan your future.  It offers you the chance to network with industry professionals, and to learn hands-on through placement in a real publishing environment – experiences which are vital in understanding how the business operates, and in securing employment.

The module begins with a series of masterclasses by a wide range of experts on key contemporary issues. The seminar which follows each event allows you to further engage in these critical debates, increasing the confidence and insight essential for networking and job seeking.

Placements offer you the opportunity to match your interests with the diversity of situations in which publishing expertise is needed. During the module you will undertake a minimum of ten days with a host organisation. An active programme of preparation support is offered during this process. The work experience allows you to apply the knowledge and skills acquired through academic study. Critical reflection on the placement and on personal and professional development throughout the module ensures that you capitalize on your experiences.

Throughout the module you will be guided through practice in all aspects of career planning – from examining industry roles, sector and entrepreneurial opportunities, to the practical honing of skills in job searching, producing successful CVs and job applications, and interview preparation.

Practical Publishing Project

60 credits

The Practical publishing project provides students with the opportunity to conceive, plan, manage and deliver a substantial publishing-related output in order to achieve specified goals. Examples of potential projects include producing and publishing a book, app or magazine, researching and presenting a start-up business plan or developing and implementing a major market research exercise. In all instances, students are expected to define a specific audience and relevant stakeholders, as well as personal development and project objectives. Students will also develop a structured project plan and a post-project critical evaluation, in order to identify personal goals for future professional development.

Depending on the nature of the chosen project, students will engage with different ranges of knowledge and skills, from practical print or digital production methods and processes to software expertise, market research (including questionnaire design, data analysis and interpretation) and business planning. Although students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning, they are supported and mentored by an individual supervisor at key points in the process.

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

We normally expect applicants to have:

  • a second class degree or above in a related subject; and/or
  • a demonstrative interest in creative writing.

You must also submit a 3,000-word sample of creative writing, a personal statement (1,000 words) plus references.

Interviews

We normally invite applicants for an interview with the admissions director or another senior member of the teaching team. We will ask you to submit a creative writing sample of up to 3,000 words with your application.

Prior learning – AP(E)L

Applicants with prior qualifications and learning may be exempt from appropriate parts of a course in accordance with the University's policy for the assessment of prior learning and prior experiential learning. Contact the faculty office for further information.

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 7.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all other elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

You'll be taught and assessed through essays, reports, presentations, briefs, research projects, and portfolios.

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy document and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your workload

Year 1: 8% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

Contact hours will vary depending on which modules you choose on this combined course.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 152 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1648 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 96%
  • Exams: 4%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetable

As a one year full time student, you'll be expected to attend 2 - 3 days a week. We also offer a part-time study option to help you fit your MA around other commitments.

Class sizes

As a one year full time student, you'll be expected to attend 2 - 3 days a week. We also offer a part-time study option to help you fit your MA around other commitments.

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 5 - 10 students and lecture sizes are normally 10 - 20. However, this can vary by module and academic year.

Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £9,200
  • MA part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £14,900
  • MA part time £8,195

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.


Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:


The Ripple bursary

Bursaries are available for MA students on either the Publishing course or on the Publishing with Creative Writing course. You'll take a lead on the University's annual creative writing anthology, Ripple, and benefit from a £500 bursary. Find out more when you apply.

Facilities

The campus at Penrhyn Road is a hive of activity, housing our fantastic new Town House, with four floors of study space and our extensive library, the main student restaurant, and a host of teaching rooms and lecture theatres.

The Town House offers group study spaces for when you need to work together. The light, airy top floor cafe serves light snacks and drinks, as well as fabulous views!

At the heart of the campus is the John Galsworthy building, a six-storey complex that brings together lecture theatres, flexible teaching space and information technology suites around a landscaped courtyard.

Graduates from this course will develop a range of skills desirable to employers, such as communication skills, self-management, meticulousness in editing and presentation, the ability to reflect on one's own work and to respond to constructive criticism, the ability to write for particular purposes and the ability to work constructively with others.

In addition to a possible career as a translator and a writer, particular careers may include work in publishing, journalism, advertising and marketing, film, television, radio, arts management, new media, business, teaching and therapeutic fields.

Links with business and industry

We maintain links with institutions and organisations including:

  • Writers' Centre Kingston, Kingston University's literary cultural centre dedicated to creative writing in all its forms, with an exciting, vibrant annual programme of events from talks to workshops to festivals;
  • the Rose Theatre in Kingston, where we hold regular readings in the Culture Cafe and periodic interviews with major writers such as Hilary Mantell, Sebastian Faulks and Elif Shafak;
  • our Writers in Residence are professional writers, often award-winners in their particular forms or genres;
  • links with publishers, agents, literary festival organisers and authors, who offer useful networking opportunities.

A range of additional events and lectures will enhance your studies and add an extra perspective to your learning. Activities for this course include:

  • a series of masterclasses with publishing specialists and professionals;
  • weekly guest lectures by leading journalists including Samira Ahmed, an award-winning journalist with 20 years' experience in print and broadcast; David Jenkins, editor of Little White Lies, a bi-monthly movie magazine powered by illustration; Richard Moynihan, Head of digital journalism, The Telegraph and Alex Stedman, fashion blogger at The Frugality and former style editor at Red magazine;
  • regular philosophy lunchtime lectures which focus on a major figure in the history of Western philosophy, introducing students to that thinker's work, usually through the discussion of one of her or his emblematic works.

The literary magazine Persist is edited by MA students, providing:

  • a platform for the publication of creative work; and
  • a chance to get hands-on experience of the publishing process.

Insights from industry experts

The masterclasses are an excellent way to learn about different job roles in the publishing industry. The speakers work in all areas of publishing so it's very insightful to hear different perspectives on the business. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get first-hand answers from professionals. It can be a great way to network too - I ended up securing a work placement at Weidenfeld & Nicolson by talking to publishing director, Alan Samson, before he gave a masterclass.

Amy Cartwright, Business Development Executive at Charity Retail Association and Publishing MA graduate

Masterclasses

Our regular masterclasses are delivered by a wide range of successful industry professionals, from editors and publishers to literary agents. John Blake, one of our masterclass speakers, talks about celebrity publishing in the video below:

 

Advisory Board

The Publishing MA benefits from the input of a dynamic Advisory Board. The Board is involved in the course's development and keen to contribute. Each member gives guest lectures and contributes to placement and dissertation study.

  • Viv Bird, Book Trust
  • John Bond, Whitefox Publishing Services
  • Genevieve Clarke, The Reading Agency
  • Louise Dixon, Michael O'Mara
  • Philip Downer, Calliope Gifts Ltd.
  • Richard Duguid, Penguin
  • Andrew Hansen, Prestel Publishing
  • Caroline Hird, Elsevier Health Sciences
  • Heather Holden-Brown, hhb Agency
  • Simon Juden, Pearson
  • Ros Kindersley, JFL Search and Selection
  • Sarah Mahaffy, Maharani Training
  • Robert McKay, Dunedin Academic Press
  • Richard Mollet, Publishers Association
  • Tony Mulliken, Midas PR
  • John Peacock
  • David Roche, David Roche Enterprises
  • Alan Samson, Weidenfeld & Nicolson
  • David Taylor, Lightning Source
  • Andrew Turner, Quercus Publishing
  • Kate Wilson, Nosy Crow

Research

Research in creative writing at Kingston University covers the following areas:

  • 19th and 20th century British and American fiction;
  • fictions of globalisation;
  • modernism;
  • gothic writing;
  • travel writing;
  • narratives of slavery;
  • women's writing from the 18th century to the present;
  • New Woman and fin de siècle fictions;
  • Shakespeare;
  • literature of the English Reformation period;
  • English women's religious poetry during the seventeenth century; and
  • postcolonial studies.

Subject-specific research initiatives include:

  • Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies – established in 2004 to oversee research on the Iris Murdoch archives acquired by Kingston University in 2003/04).
  • Centre for Life Narratives – bringing together best practice from all genres of life narrative work.
  • Cultural Histories at Kingston – centred around the concept of the 'cultural text', the group includes scholars from the fields of literature, film, media, history, music, dance, performance, and journalism.
  • Writers' Centre Kingston – a literary cultural centre dedicated to creative writing in all its forms, with an annual programme of events, talks, workshops and festivals.
  • Race/Gender Matters – captures and concentrates research on theoretical, critical and creative engagements with the materiality of race, gender and language.

Current research in this area

Publishing has a vibrant culture of both research and professional practice. Our lecturers publish all the time – whether it is academic research, industry-leading text books or writing for the national or trade press. Applications for research study with us are very welcome.

At masters level we have a vibrant programme of industry dissertation supervision for our MA dissertations, as fits our industry-focussed discipline. This has led to the identification of issues needing further exploration, which have been developed through collaboration between Kingston students and industry tutors, affirming the position and value of Publishing within the academy. In 2018 a Kingston MA student won the prestigious Association for Publishing Education Award for the best dissertation at masters level for her work on publishing for autistic children.

Associate Professor Alison Baverstock has carried out ground-breaking work into the nature of self-publishing and how it is impacting the wider industry. This has been published in book (The Naked Author, Bloomsbury) and journal form. She is currently overseeing four PhD students, who are variously working on what attracts young adults to the books they choose, cover design in women's commercial fiction, the history of Virago and publication of fairy tales. She also has extensive experience of overseeing PhD by Publication.

Finally the university has been exploring and analysing its pre-arrival shared reading scheme The Kingston University Big Read, which won a prestigious Times Higher Education Award in 2017 for Best University Initiative for Widening Participation. This has now developed into a dynamic research project, across a range of other universities, concentrating on how universities can make their students feel welcome - and hence encourage both engagement and retention. In 2018-19 we worked with The University of Wolverhampton, Edge Hill University and University of the West of Scotland. Most of our findings are published in the journal Logos, Journal of the World Publishing Community and there are regular blogs on progress. To discuss these or potential collaborations, please contact Alison Baverstock.