This specialist creative writing MA course enlists the expertise of our team of writer-lecturers, five of whom are currently published in the field of children’s writing. It is supported by visiting speakers from the children’s publishing world, including agents, editors, publishers and authors.
Leading Children's Literary Agent Jodie Marsh (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 by Gill Lewis, Sam Gayton, Elen Caldecott, Jim Carrington, Alex Diaz, Marie-Louise Jensen, Sally Nicholls, Maudie Smith, Che Golden, C.J. Skuse and Sarah Hammond and picture books by Karen Hughes have all been published in the last five 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, and Elen was longlisted for the Carnegie award for How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant.
COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT
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.
TEACHING METHODS AND RESOURCES
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 on the Corsham Court campus. 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 and editors with practical advice on the publishing process. Our current writer in residence is Marcus Sedgwick.
This course is taught by publishing writers and depending on timetables will include:
• Julia Green: her novels for young adults include Blue Moon, Baby Blue and Hunter’s Heart (Puffin), Breathing Underwater, Drawing with Light and Bringing the Summer (Bloomsbury)and her most recent 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, Fightback and Dark Woods (Faber & Faber), plus his Daisy Dawson and Hooey Higgins series for younger readers (Walker Books).
• Children’s publishing industry specialists John Mclay and Janine Amos
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.
Most of our students want a career as a published children’s author, and many have gone on to achieve this. Others have found work in the children’s publishing industry, or in libraries, bookshops and teaching or other work with young people.