MA Writing for Young People (Online) — Bath Spa University

Key facts

Award
MA Writing for Young People
School/s
School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Campus or location
Distance learning
Course length
Two years part time.

Entry requirements

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.

Usually, but not invariably, you'll have a degree. This may be in subjects other than Creative Writing.

This is not a beginner’s course, so we'll be looking for evidence of originality in your writing for young people, and a sense of audience.

You'll have read widely in the field of contemporary children’s literature.

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

  • Taught by published children’s and young adult authors with a wealth of industry experience.
  • Small-group workshops and one-to-one tutorials lie at the heart of this course.
  • Over 70 alumni are now traditionally published authors.

This specialist Master’s in Creative Writing is for writers for children and young adults who aim to complete a novel, series of picture books or shorter stories. It's a practical course, taught by experienced lecturers who are all published children's writers and/or industry professionals.

Designed for those already on the way to writing at publication level, whether in picture books, middle grade or young adult (YA) fiction, this online MA in Writing for Young People supports you to refine your craft while learning about the interaction of creative and business considerations in the modern publishing industry.

This is an online version of an already well-established course, introduced to provide greater flexibility for ambitious writers for whom studying on-campus isn't an option.

Book jackets for Running on the Roof of the World and The Eleventh Trade

Books published by graduates from this course include:

"I recommend Bath Spa because it is a community that fosters, challenges, and grows writers into authors ..."

Alyssa Hollingsworth, MA Writing for Young People
Alyssa Hollingsworth

“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

What you'll learn

Overview

The MA in Writing for Young People is well known throughout children’s and young adult publishing for developing emerging writers' work to publishable quality. Our alumni include Sally Nicholls, Elen Caldecott, CJ Skuse, Emma Carroll, Jasbinder Bilan, Damaris Young, Sophie Kirtley, Kate Mallinder, Yasmin Rahman and David Hofmeyr.

Writing workshops lie at the heart of the course, helping you to gain wide-ranging insights into your writing strengths and weaknesses and to experiment through your writing in a supportive but disciplined environment. A critical aspect of the course is the chance to meet other aspiring writers, to learn from them and to develop the creative networks that will support you in the next stage of your writing career.

Workshop modules lead to the production of a full manuscript – or substantial proportion of one – with a clear understanding of how to complete the book. While most students focus on Middle Grade or Young Adult prose fiction, others choose picture books, chapter books, collections, verse novels or even narrative non-fiction for their manuscript project.

Your writing will be underpinned by increased understanding of children and young people as readers, of the current publishing industry, and of good practice in submitting to agents and publishers. You'll acquire the core skills and knowledge working authors need in order to give their work the best chance of success in the marketplace.

In addition to a teaching team who are all published authors, with wide-ranging experience of various areas of publishing and the Arts, the course hosts a programme of guest speakers and activities throughout the academic year.

Course structure

This distance learning course is taught part-time over two years. 

Year one

The Context module explores the main categories of books published for children and young people, with a focus on reading as a writer and on understanding your audience at the different stages of childhood and adolescence. We consider a wide range of texts from picture books and chapter books to middle grade and young adult novels; verse novels and some narrative non-fiction are also included.

The Writing Workshop module is an opportunity to explore various aspects of the craft of writing for children and young people. This module focuses on experimentation, trying new things and developing your range, working with your tutor and your peers to test and try out your own ideas.

The Manuscript module involves working on a one-on-one basis with a tutor to develop, draft, edit and revise your major project – part of a full-length novel, or a collection of pieces.

Year two

The second Writing Workshop module enables you to continue to experiment and to develop your skills as a writer, and to start to focus more on your final manuscript project.

The second Context module considers the realities of the children’s publishing industry, publishing as a business and the practicalities involved in turning a manuscript into a book. In addition to looking at the work of agents, editors, sales teams, right professionals, marketing teams and publicists, you'll develop the professional skills all working authors need to position and promote their own work.

Work on the manuscript continues throughout the second year of study, and will be your main focus in the final trimester, between June and September.

Course modules

This course includes or offers the following modules. Please check the course handbook or definitive programme document for full details on which modules are core, required or optional.

  • Writing Workshop One: Writing for Young People
  • Context Module One: Writing for Young People: Forms, Ages and Stages
  • Writing Workshop Two: Writing for Young People
  • Writing for Young People: Contemporary Children’s Publishing
  • The Manuscript (double module).

How will I be assessed?

You'll be assessed through a range of tasks, including creative portfolios, samples of work-in-progress, reflective commentaries, a selection of publishing-focused pieces, and your manuscript submissions – this might be a portion of a novel, or a selection of different pieces from picture books, in verse or from chapter books.

How will I be taught?

You'll be taught through a mixture of online lectures, workshops, and one-to-one tutorials. Resources such as handouts, links and videos are provided through our virtual learning environment. Each year is organised to support you through the process of developing and deepening your expertise. Depending on your circumstances, it may also be possible to attend some on campus and industry events, as well as to join some of these online. 

We offer a programme of online evening lectures from a variety of guest authors and industry professionals. You'll be able to attend events run by other departments where these are relevant to your work – or of personal interest. The richness of the university experience lies in where it moves beyond the specific course, and opens up new possibilities and new perspectives. 

"I have always wanted to be a children's author but knew I needed structure, support and mentorship to help me write the best possible novel I could."

Jess Butterworth, MA Writing for Young People
Jess Butterworth

Opportunities

Work placements, industry links and internships

This course has an excellent reputation across children’s and young adult publishing, with name recognition among agents, editors and booksellers. We're regularly approached by publishing professionals who want to work with us.

We have extensive links across the industry, with individuals, companies and cultural organisations such as the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature. The University works closely with partners in the creative and cultural industries, the third sector, and education.

Careers and publications

Over 70 of our alumni have now been traditionally published. Our graduates may go into editing (freelance and at a publishing house), agenting, rights, marketing, publicity, sales, events management and teaching. Others can pursue careers in journalism, writing for magazines, teaching, various aspects of publishing, and television.

Our published graduates have secured contracts with, among others:

  • The Andersen Press
  • Bloomsbury
  • Chicken House
  • Egmont
  • Faber
  • Gullane
  • Hot Key Books
  • Nosy Crow
  • Orion
  • Oxford University Press
  • Penguin
  • Quercus
  • Scholastic
  • Simon and Schuster
  • Templar
  • Walker Books.

Competitions and awards

Opportunities for new writing appear all the time, and we'll encourage you to participate in these at the stage that is right for you.

2022/23 Academic Year

We’ve made some changes to how we deliver our courses in response to the ongoing COVID situation. This is to enable students to get the most out of their studies and university experience and to facilitate an engaging, participative and interactive learning environment, all while keeping our community safe.

We keep our programmes under constant review, and we’ll make sure to let applicants know if there are significant changes to your programme. You can find out more about how the University has adapted its approach on our COVID advice pages, where you’ll also find support and signposting to useful services.

"[The course] introduced me to my agent. It helped me get my manuscript into a good-enough state to be considered by the professionals."

Chris Vick, MA Writing for Young People
Chris Vick

Fees

Please note: Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland are not generally eligible for the UK (Home) fee status. Please refer to the international student rate. Irish citizens and those granted Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are eligible for UK (Home) fee status. There are also other circumstances where this may apply: See UKCISA for more information.

UK students part time

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

2022/23 ENTRY

Course fees

Year 1 £4,138
Year 2 Published Jan 2023

2023/24 ENTRY

Course fees

Year 1 Published Jan 2023
Year 2 Published Jan 2024

2024/25 ENTRY

Course fees

Year 1 Published Jan 2024
Year 2 Published Jan 2025

International students part time distance learning

Course fees

2022/23 entry £8,065
2023/24 entry Published Jan 2023
2024/25 entry Published Jan 2024

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We relish how different all our students are. Our MA Writing for Young People students are passionate about children’s and Young Adult literature, committed to developing their craft, open to considering a wide range of views, willing to engage with all sorts of aspects of writing and publishing books for children and teens.

Our students are also able to be analytical and take a conscientious approach to helping their peers develop and learn through constructive feedback.

We're looking for people who have the potential to be published, who have some understanding of the current children’s publishing landscape, and who have something special to contribute to their fellow students.

Typical offers

Most applicants will have an undergraduate degree; however we're willing to look at applications from those with non-traditional academic or work backgrounds who meet the criteria summarised above.

It's not necessary to have a degree in English, Creative Writing or related disciplines; your engagement with children’s and Young Adult literature as a reader and writer is more important than the field of previous study.

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the 'apply now' button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply webpages.

Interview and portfolio guidance

We review all applications and try to provide a small amount of feedback even if your application is not successful. Our most common feedback to applicants is:

  • A recommendation to join a writing group and gain experience of showing strangers your work and receiving feedback, and
  • To spend more time reading recently published children’s and Young Adult literature. 

Interviews take the form of an informal 20-minute conversation with two members of the MA Writing for Young People team. We ask some general questions about you, your writing and what you're reading, then we provide an opportunity for you to ask us questions.

For the portfolio, less is more. Picture book writers should submit one complete work (text only is fine) and a sample or outline of a second. Chapter book and verse novelists should submit around 2,500 words. Novelists should submit 4,500 consecutive words of a work-in-progress.

It's a good idea for all applicants to provide a second short sample in addition to their main piece; ideally this would be something that shows your range in terms of style, genre, age of audience or narrative voice. The whole portfolio should not be more than 6,000 words and should be submitted as one document; your name must be included in the filename.

Please format according to industry norms: if in doubt, look at the submission guidelines of a few UK agents. 

Guidance for international students

We assess international students on the same basis as domestic students. We welcome the richness of experience that having students from many countries and backgrounds brings to the course.

In terms of English proficiency, it's important in creative writing to have sufficient grasp of nuance and connotations for meaningful discussions of, for instance, exact word choices; however, it's not a problem to need minor assistance - for example, with the odd bit of rephrasing or problems with prepositions.

If English is not your first language, you'll need to provide evidence of proficiency in the English language. We're looking for a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

Get ahead

It's a good idea to sign up to the free newsletters of the major trade publications in the UK, USA and any other country of particular interest to you. Keep tabs on the bestseller lists and include some works from these lists in your reading while ensuring you’re also reading as diversely as possible across genres and age groups.

Explore resources on the craft of writing (for example, Will Storr’s Science of Storytelling, John Yorke’s Into the Woods, Robert McKee’s Story, or Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat). Become familiar with the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, including the annually-updated essays (there's also a good free blog).

Join a writing group; provide feedback to others and show them your work, then edit it with the feedback you receive. This is the best possible preparation for the workshopping that lies at the heart of our course.

Want to apply for this year? 

Many of our postgraduate courses have a limited number of student spaces. To avoid the disappointment of the course being full, we recommend that you apply now.

Late applications (generally those made after 31 July) will only be considered if places remain on the course.

Need more information or still have questions? Contact us to discuss your situation.

“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.”

Jim Carrington, MA Writing for Young People

Course leader: Dr Alexia Casale
Email: a.casale-katzman6@bathspa.ac.uk

Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk