Writing for Young People
Creative writing MA specialising in writing for children, teenagers and young adults.
Taught by experienced lecturers who are all published writers for young people.
Excellent links with authors, agents and publishers, and a programme of visiting speakers.
Annual prize for the 'most promising writing for young people' awarded by a leading literary agent.
One year full-time; two years part-time
This specialist creative writing MA course is for writers for children, teenagers and young adults who aim to complete a novel, series of picture books or shorter texts for younger children, over the year of the course ( two years if part-time). It is a practical course, taught by experienced lecturers who are all published children's writers and/or industry professionals. It is supported by visiting speakers from the children's publishing world, including agents, editors, publishers and authors.
Why study Writing for Young People?
Writing for Young People is a specialist area within the field of creative writing. Bath Spa University is a leading institution for the teaching of creative writing, and five of our lecturing staff are experts in the field of writing for children. We have excellent contacts with the children's publishing industry. Leading Children's Literary Agents, United Agents, offers an annual prize for the 'most promising writer for young people'. We have an excellent track record of graduates achieving publication. Novels and picture books by Elen Caldecott, Jim Carrington, Alex Diaz, Sam Gayton, Che Golding, Sarah Hammond, Fleur Hitchcock, Marie-Louise Jensen, Titania Krimpas, Maudie Smith, Gill Lewis, Sally Nicholls, Karen Saunders and C.J. Skuse have all been published in the last four years. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls won the Waterstones Children's Book of the Year Award and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award 2008. Marie-Louise Jensen and Elen Caldecott were both shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstones Prize. Elen Caldecott, Jim Carrington and Gill Lewis have been longlisted for the Carnegie award and many regional book awards.
The course is for writers for children of all ages, from the picture-book age through to adolescent and 'crossover' writing which aims at markets among adults as well as young people. Though prose fiction is likely to be the main area studied, students will have the chance to look at writing in all forms, including poetry, picture book texts and non-fiction.
The course supports students 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.
- Writing Workshops: In the first semester's writing workshop you will explore a variety of formats and approaches, gaining a sense of the different age- ranges and forms. This is also an introduction to the writing workshop experience which is the heart of the course. In the second semester'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. Full-time students take one writing workshop in Semester One and one in Semester Two. Part-time students take one workshop each year.
- Context Modules: Each full-time student takes one of these in the first semester and one in the second semester. The first semester's context module, Writing for Young People: Forms, Ages and Stages, is concerned with the writer's relationship with their audience, a sense of the history of and issues raised by children's writing. The second semester's module looks at Contemporary Children's Publishing, and aims to give a realistic grasp of the choices open to new writers in the field. Part-time students take one of these context modules in each year of study.
- Manuscript: This is the development of a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. It is supported by tutorials with a manuscript supervisor. It may be a novel, a book of stories, a collection of poems or picture book texts.
The assessed coursework for each Writing Workshop is a folder of creative writing. For the first Context Module the 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.
This specialist creative writing MA course is taught at the Corsham Court Postgraduate Centre by our team of writer -lecturers, five of whom are currently published in the field of children's writing. We teach in small workshop groups, plus individual tutorials, and have a programme of visiting speakers from the children's publishing industry.
The course is modular and offered for full and part-time study. Part-time students take the same course over a two-year period, taking one module each semester. Students complete four taught modules (two writing workshops and two context modules) plus a manuscript (double module).
Modules are normally taught via tutor-led writing workshops, organised in 11 weekly three-hour sessions at the Corsham Court Postgraduate Centre.
The manuscript is taught via one-to-one tutorials, working with a tutor 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, editors and speakers with practical advice on publishing.
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 and Bringing the Summer (Bloomsbury). Her latest novel for younger children is Tilly's Moonlight Fox (Oxford University Press).
- Steve May: author of Dazzer Plays On and One Chance (Egmont).
- Jonathan Neale: his novels for children are Lost at Sea and Himalaya.
- Mimi Thebo: author of Wipe Out, Hit the Road Jack, Get Real (Harper Collins), Drawing Together (Walker).
- 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)
- Specialist visiting lecturers in 2011-2 included:
- John Mclay ( International Book Scout and Artistic Director for the Bath Festival of Children's Literature
- Janine Amos ( freelance children's publishing expert, author and editor)
- Lucy Christopher ( prize-winning novelist, author of Stolen and Flyaway)
Our Writer in Residence in 2011-2 is Marcus Sedgwick ( author of many prize-winning novels including White Crow).
Teaching quality excellence
Taught by published writers and underpinned by strong links with the publishing industry
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.
Most of our students want a career as a published children's author, and many have gone on to achieve this. Our list of published graduates grows every year: since the course started in 2004, more than eighteen students have achieved publication deals with mainstream publishers such as Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Faber, Meadowside, Nosy Crow, Orion, Oxford University Press, Quercus. Others have found work in the children's publishing industry, or in libraries, bookshops and teaching or other work with young people.
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.