facebook MA Writing for Young People – Bath Spa University

Key facts

MA Writing for Young People
College of Liberal Arts
Campus or location
Corsham Court
Course length
One year full time or 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 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.

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.

  • "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 Waterstones Prize.
  • Elen Caldecott, Clare Furniss, Gill Lewis and Jim Carrington have been long-listed for the Carnegie award.
  • Sally Nicholls was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize and won the Independent Booksellers’ award for her novel "An Island of Our Own".
  • David Hofmeyr was short-listed for the Branford Boase award 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

What you'll learn


This Creative Writing 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 you'll 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. With tutors and your fellow writers in a workshop setting, you'll learn to see your work through objective eyes and to think clearly about the different strategies you might adopt. You'll learn from each other’s mistakes and successes, as well as your own. You'll 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 one
In the first trimester’s writing workshop, you’ll explore a variety of forms of writing to gain a sense of different age ranges and styles of writing and experiment 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 the audience, and will help you understand some of the issues raised by writing for young people. You'll 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 two
In the second trimester’s workshop, you'll be asked to choose your area of writing and use the workshop’s feedback and encouragement to explore it in more depth. You'll 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 three
In Trimester three, you'll 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 text. 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.

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?

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 usually taught via tutor-led writing workshops, with one three-hour session each week for the eleven weeks of each taught trimester, at 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.


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.

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 or television.

Books published by graduates from this course include:

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

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

You'll be taught at Corsham Court campus.


This course is taught by publishing writers and, depending on timetables, you may be taught by:

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, the Carnegie Medal and two Whitbread prizes. His novel "A Song for Ella Grey" won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2015.


UK and EU students full time

Course fees
2018/19 entry £7,600
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 £3,800
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 £14,500
2019/20 entry Published Jan 2019
2020/21 entry Published Jan 2020

Interested in applying?

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.

Usually, but not invariably, you 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.

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 applywebpages.

Interview and portfolio guidance

We invite applicants for interview on the basis of their application form, personal statement and sample of writing for young people. The interview will take the form of a discussion about your writing and reading, including your ideas for the manuscript project. You'll have the chance to ask questions about the course.

The portfolio should consist of up to 20 pages of your writing for young people (children or young adults) and may be an extract from a longer work of fiction, to two or three shorter pieces.

“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

Admissions service: +44 (0)1225 876 180
Email: admissions@bathspa.ac.uk
Course leader: Julia Green
Email: j.a.green@bathspa.ac.uk

Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk