MA Writing for Young People – Bath Spa University

Key facts

MA Writing for Young People
School of Creative Industries
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.

Due to Covid-19, we have made some changes to teaching and learning for the 2020-21 academic year: we have blended high-quality virtual engagement with in-person teaching on campus when possible. Blended learning will continue to some extent in the 2021-22 academic year and we will continue to keep the situation under review in light of ongoing Government guidance. If you’re planning on joining us in September 2021 we will communicate with you about specific details of how your course is taught nearer the time.

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's a practical course, taught by experienced lecturers who are all published children's writers and/or industry professionals.

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

Since the course began in 2004, more than 45 debut authors have been successfully published by mainstream publishers: 
  • Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth (2017) was chosen to be part of the BookTrust Library Pack, was winner of the Warwickshire Junior Book Award, and was shortlisted for an Awesome Book Award 2019. Since then, Jess has published another two novels and is working on a fourth.
  • The Eleventh Trade by Alyssa Hollingsworth was published in the US and UK in 2018, and translation rights have been negotiated for five other countries to date.
  • 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 shortlisted for the Branford Boase award for his novel Stone Rider.

"I recommend Bath Spa because it is a community that fosters, challenges, and grows writers into authors – and in one of the most beautiful places in the world."

Alyssa Hollingsworth, MA Writing for Young People
Alyssa Hollingsworth

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 so that there's 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.

"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


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.

"[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

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

You'll be taught at Corsham Court campus, where you'll have access to our specialist Library resources, quiet study areas and postgraduate common room.

The majority of our Master's courses are taught at this historic country house, which is set in beautiful formal gardens and provides an ideal atmosphere to spark your imagination. 


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

Lucy Christopher
Lucy’s multi-award-winning novels are Stolen, Flyaway, The Killing Woods and Storm-wake, published by Chicken House.

She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, and has spoken at conferences, festivals, schools and bookshops throughout the world.

Lucy has won international awards including the Branford Boase, and the Printz Honor Award, the Golden Inky, and the Prix Farniente. She has been shortlisted for the Costa Award, the Waterstones Prize, and the Australian Prime Minister’s Awards. 

Steve Voake
Steve’s novels for children include The Dreamwalker’s Child, The Web of Fire, The Starlight Conspiracy; Blood Hunters; Fightback; DarkWoods (Faber & Faber), the Daisy Dawson and Hooey Higgins series (Walker Books).

Part of a comedy series for Walker books, Maxwell Mutt and the Downtown Dogs was published in 2016, and Maxwell Mutt and the Squirrel Without a Story in 2017. Maxwell Mutt and the Biscuit and Bone Club will be published in 2019. He has also written a prize-winning non-fiction picture book about insects.

Steve is a regular Arvon tutor and undertakes many author visits to schools and festivals in the UK and abroad. Steve was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Exeter University.

C.J. Skuse
C.J. (Claire) is the author of five UKYA novels: Pretty Bad Things (2010), Rockoholic (2011), Dead Romantic (2013), Monster (2014) and The Deviants (2015).

She has a First Class BA degree in Creative Studies in English and an MA in Writing for Young People with Distinction.

C.J. worked in publishing from 2008-2017 and was head reader for The Chicken House from 2011, overseeing all agented and competition submissions of children's fiction. 

Julia Eccleshare
Children's books editor at The Guardian.

Joanna Nadin
Jo is the author of more than 80 books for children, teenagers and adults, including the award-winning Penny Dreadful series (Usborne), the Flying Fergus series with Sir Chris Hoy (Hot Key), and the critically acclaimed Joe All Alone (Little, Brown), which is now a BAFTA-winning BBC series.

She has twice been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, as well being shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Prize, the Best Book Awards and Queen of Teen. A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the Prime Minister, she holds a Creative Writing PhD from Bath Spa University.

Specialist visiting lecturers

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.

“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


Please note: Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland are no longer eligible for the UK (Home) fee status. Please refer to the international student rate.

UK students full time

Course fees
2021/22 entry £7,995
2022/23 entry Published Jan 2022
2023/24 entry Published Jan 2023

UK students part time

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

2021/22 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 £3,998
Year 2 Published Jan 2022

2022/23 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2022
Year 2 Published Jan 2023

2023/24 Entry

Course fees
Year 1 Published Jan 2023
Year 2 Published Jan 2024

International students full time

Course fees
2021/22 entry £15,580
2022/23 entry Published Jan 2022
2023/24 entry Published Jan 2023

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 apply pages.

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.

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

Admissions service: +44 (0)1225 876 180

Course leader: Lucy Christopher

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