Writing for Young People
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
“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 2006.
Why study Writing for Young People?
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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
Leading Children’s Literary Agent Jodie Hodges (United Agents) offers an annual prize for the ‘most promising writer for young people’ from the MA.
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.
Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:
Telephone: (01225) 875624.
International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.
Please contact course director: Julia Green:
Telephone: (01225) 875693.
We offer places on the basis of our assessment of the student's quality, potential and commitment as a writer and their ability to benefit from the course. Normally, but not invariably, a student will have a degree.
Applicants will need to submit a short piece of creative writing for young people with their application form: for example, six poems or two short stories or not more than 20 pages of a novel.
We select applicants for an interview before making an offer of a place on the course.
For more information click here
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.
- Outstanding first novels by MA Writing for Young People graduates
Three MA Writing for Young People alumni are on the long list for this year's Branford Boase Award for debut authors and their editors: Maria Farrer Broken Strings, Clare Furniss The Year of the Rat and Giancarlo Gemin Cowgirl.
- MA Writing for Young People write about the Beau Street Hoard
As part of the Beau Street Hoard project The Roman Baths have been working with students on MA Writing for Young People. The students have written four stories based on the hoard of 17, 577 silver Roman coins which have been published on the Roman Baths website.
- Graduate of MA Writing for Young People secures 3 book publishing deal
Eugene Lambert who graduated in 2013 from MA Writing for Young People has secured a publishing deal. The manuscript he produced during his course The Sign of One was shortlisted for both the AM Heath Irish Children’s Prize 2013 and the Bath Novel Award 2014.
- Success for another graduate of the the MA Writing for Young People
Laura James, who graduated in 2012, has a three-book deal for her series The Adventures of Pug aimed at for 5- 7 year old readers. The first book Captain Pug will be released in spring 2016.
What students say...
"I chose to do the MA in Writing for Young People as I felt it would give me the confidence to take myself seriously as a writer and to confirm for me the areas of writing to which my style was most suited. Also, to help me find the self-discipline to write regularly. It has done all this. The course was also strongly recommended to me by previous graduates. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at Bath Spa and the rather luxurious environment at Corsham Court - peacocks included.
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. I felt very inspired by the opportunity to explore published children's literature and to attempt writing for all ages - from picture books for the very young to writing for teenagers and young adults. Since finishing the course I have secured a three-book deal with Orion publishers for my Opal Moonbaby novels for 7 - 10 year olds.
The course definitely lives up to its reputation. If you're serious about writing and have big ideas, or maybe a few half-finished projects stuck in a drawer somewhere, go to Bath Spa and refresh your mind and your interest. Keep an open mind and things may well flourish for you. Not only will you be a better writer by the end of the MA, you'll also have the opportunity to meet many published writers, agents and editors and discover all the ins and outs of the publishing world."
Maudie Smith, MA Writing for Young People 2010
I chose to do the MA in Writing for Young People as I had been writing for a long time and felt that I needed to work with other writers in order to improve. I looked at a couple of creative writing courses and got a good feeling about this MA at Bath Spa. I visited the campus on an open day, and as soon as I got into the grounds and saw the stream, the livestock and the castle I knew it would be a great place to study. When I came for my interview and met some of the staff, I knew that I would get a lot from the course. I was working as a teacher in London and I took a year out to do the course.
I particularly liked the workshops, and I think I learned a lot from my fellow students, who were very funny, welcoming and of course very gifted. It was a pleasure to work with them, and also with the tutors. I really enjoyed the publishing module. Being taught in a castle was pretty good, but best of all was the chance to work closely with a member of staff on writing my novel.
The extract of my novel that appeared in the course anthology caught the attention of the editorial director at Bloomsbury Children's books. My first novel, Inside My Head, was published in April 2010 and my next novel, In The Bag in February 2011. I have continued working part-time as a teacher, and without doing this MA I don't think that I would have a novel in the shops right now. The course taught me how to improve my writing, and gave my writing the exposure that helped secure a publishing deal.
Jim Carrington, MA Writing for Young People 2009.
I chose to do this course as I have always loved writing for children and had previously found it difficult to enter the competitive children's publishing world. I particularly liked working with other dedicated children's writers with a passion for children's and young adult fiction. The course enabled me to develop my manuscript, experiment with ideas in a safe environment and gain an insight into the publishing industry. All with the encouragement, guidance and advice from the great tutors who have direct experience of the publishing industry.
I chose Bath Spa University because of the reputation of the MA Writing for Young People course and found that the campus created the perfect atmosphere for children's writers.
Within a few months of finishing the course, I was fortunate enough to secure a children's literary agent and a publisher for my manuscript. The experience and knowledge gained during the MA course, and becoming part of a writing community, is invaluable to me and my career as a writer.
Gill Lewis, MA Writing for Young People 2008.
I was looking to do a recognised qualification in Writing for Children and chose Bath Spa as it was the only University near me that offered this course and it promised that by the end of the course I would have a book of publishable standard. I particularly liked the fact that it put me in touch with published authors and other students just as keen on writing books and seeking to get them published. I also liked the workshop sessions as these were invaluable in obtaining feedback about my work and what I needed to do to make it better. At the risk of sounding gushy I liked everything about Bath Spa. Everyone I came into contact with on the MA was so helpful and encouraging. And of course the University being situated in such awe-inspiring surroundings made it a pleasure to attend class.
Since finishing the course I have obtained a job as Publishing Officer at The Chicken House, a children's book publisher. A few months after getting the job I plucked up the courage to ask them to read my manuscript, devised and honed on the MA, and they agreed to publish it in March 2010. I am releasing my second novel in March 2011.
I can honestly say that the MA has helped my career immeasurably. I'm sure it opened the door for me at Chicken House and I know I would not have realised my dream of being a published author without the skills I learned on it. Whenever I'm asked if I have any advice for budding children's writers, I always tell them to do the MA at Bath Spa, and if you really throw yourself in and try everything expected of you, you can't go far wrong.
Claire J. Skuse, MA Writing for Young People 2008.
I chose to do the MA in Writing for Young People primarily to gain confidence in my writing. The course had been highly recommended by a friend and the specialisation in writing for young people was also important, very few universities offered it at the time. The course is also highly regarded in the field.
The setting at Bath Spa is idyllic, and very conducive to writing, whilst the support from the tutors was great. I have stayed in touch with fellow graduates and we have been able to support each other as our careers develop.
Gaining this Master's qualification has led directly to me being taken on by an agent who then sold my work. My career may well not have begun without the course. Since finishing the course in 2007 my first novel has been published with Bloomsbury in January 2009. I now work part-time at a cinema with writing taking up the rest of my time.
Elen Caldecott, MA Writing for Young People 2007.
I wanted a course that was specifically structured towards writing for children. I looked at several MAs, but was impressed by Bath Spa University's emphasis on children's fiction as a separate discipline.
I really valued the support of my fellow students and the dedicated space to write. I feel much more knowledgeable about children's publishing as a result of doing the course, and more confident about my ability to work within it. I liked the people I met at Bath Spa and living in a writer's community – our workshops were even held in a castle!
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. My first novel, Ways to Live Forever, was published by Marion Lloyd Books at Scholastic and won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. This also helped me to get an agent, which has been wonderful. My second novel, Season of Secrets, was published in 2009.
Sally Nicholls, MA Writing for Young People 2006.
I was sure that doing the course would give me a far greater chance of becoming a published writer than I would otherwise have – both because of the writing practice and guidance I would gain and because of the contacts I would make. As well as being challenging, useful and engaging, it was also lots of fun. We worked hard at getting into a young person's mind set.
The campus is very beautiful and I enjoyed the scenery and unusual buildings every single time I went there. But the course and the people mattered even more, and they were great.
Before enrolling I achieved a double honours degree in German and Scandinavian. I now have an agent at United Agents in London and I am writing teen novels for Oxford University Press. It isn't so much the qualification itself that has helped me so far, as the skills I learned and the contacts I made. If you want to write for young people, or are perhaps already doing so but want to improve and learn more, I can't recommend this course highly enough.
Marie-Louise Jensen, MA Writing for Young People 2005.