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Book History and Publishing Culture (MA)

Course Description

The MA in Book History and Publishing Culture is aimed at anyone interested in the history of the book and the publishing industry, from the introduction of the paperback to the advent of the ebook. It draws on theories of print culture and book history to identify the ideological challenges to the culture of publishing and the ways in which contemporary practice has been shaped by social, economic and technological developments. The course is taught by specialists in the field and is closely linked to our renowned MA in Publishing. The core programme focuses on the theory and practice of authorship, textual production, dissemination and reception in the period 1870 to the present day.

In addition,you have the opportunity to take elective MA modules in Publishing, English and History, enabling the study of the interrelations between these disciplines.

See the website http://www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/book-history-and-publishing-culture/

Why choose this course?

- The MA in Book History and Publishing Studies provides you with the academic skills and knowledge to extend your studies in this burgeoning and interdisciplinary field.

- This programme provides you with access to a specific selection of the vocationally oriented modules on the master's publishing programmes.

- The Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies (within the School of Arts) at Oxford Brookes offers the largest range of postgraduate courses in publishing studies and print culture in Europe. We offer full-time and part-time courses with a variety of exit awards to suit your needs and career aspirations.

- Studying any of the publishing programmes at Oxford Brookes gives you excellent employment prospects, opportunities for extensive industry links and networking in the global publishing centre of Oxford, unrivalled access to work experience and international internships, and specialist careers advice including our Working in Publishing Day.

- You will be part of large faculty with a variety of research interests and extensive industry expertise which will provide you with comprehensive coverage of publishing, from mass market books to magazines; print and digital dissemination.

- You will have access to a wide range of visiting speakers from the publishing industry who regularly contribute to the programmes, and access to unique research resources and specialist publishing collections; The Book Prize Archive; André Deutsch Collection, African Publishing Collection; the Bodleian Library.

- You will have the opportunity to visit international book fairs including Frankfurt, London and Bologna, and to attend an international Summer School in Florence with students from Slovenia, Germany, Italy and France.

- There is an industry advisory board attached to the publishing courses with representatives from major publishers such as Bloomsbury, Faber, HarperCollins, Hodder and Random House. Additionally, we have links with publishing organisations such as the Independent Publishers Guild, OPuS (Oxford Publishing Society) and the Society of Young Publishers – regular events are held at Oxford Brookes.

Teaching and learning

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods across the course. Most modules use more than one learning and teaching method. This ensures that you are exposed to a range of different learning opportunities, which helps maintain your motivation and interest.

Some of the key teaching methods we use are:
- lectures designed to provide students with the foundation knowledge and a framework for study that will enable them to achieve the learning outcomes for the module

- seminars and workshops designed to encourage students to engage in discussion with tutors and peers to test their understanding and ability to apply ideas, to develop their transferable skills and to encourage deeper learning

- field trips to book fairs, libraries and publishing archives to enable students to undertake research in print culture and publishing history

- individual supervision in support of self-directed outcomes for dissertations or major projects

- resource-based learning materials in several of our modules and virtual learning environment to support student learning through Computer Assisted Assessment and Computer Assisted Learning.

Approach to assessment

Assessment for the programme is by written course work. The assignments include researched essays, project work and the opportunity to contribute to an online journal.

Specialist facilities

Students on the course have access to the Bodleian Library and archives of local publishers, including the Oxford University Press, for research. The library at Oxford Brookes has an extensive collection of texts and journals about publishing, as well as a special collection on publishing in Africa. It also houses the Booker Archive and the André Deutsch Archive.

Field trips

A place on the tutor-led field trip to Frankfurt Book Fair which is held in October is available for applicants who have accepted their place by mid-July. The Bologna Book Fair, which occurs in the spring is also tutor-led with arranged interviews with publishers, but students organise their own flights and accommodation. The London Book Fair, also held in the spring, offers students volunteer opportunities in addition to meetings with publishers and access to many of the seminars that are held during the fair.
Attendance pattern
Attendance at lectures and seminars varies with your chosen modules. In most cases, you will have at least two days in the week without formal tutor contact hours. These times are emphasised here because you can use this time for work experience with local publishers and with fellow students in group work as preparation for presentations and reports.

How this course helps you develop

Academic writing and research skills are honed to a high level during this programme. In the second semester, assessment for the compulsory module involves contribution of a research article for an online journal. Students are also involved in the academic editing and design of the journal which is available to the public. This practice enables student to demonstrate excellence in archival and secondary research activities.


The course provides excellent prospects for students interested in further academic study in the interdisciplinary fields of media, publishing studies, cultural production and book history. In addition, students go on to work in academic publishing and are equipped to succeed in editorial positions in publishing.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Research highlights

The Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies (OICPS) is one of the leading centres for publishing education in the world. Our staff and students contribute to a vibrant research environment that is interdisciplinary in emphasis and international in scope. We focus on areas such as book consumption and the life cycle of books, book trade and publishing history (especially 18th-21st centuries), museum publishing, serials publications, pedagogy and publishing education, and the future of the industry. Members of staff have published award-winning monographs, key pedagogical textbooks, and a range of scholarly articles and edited collections.

Students pursuing doctoral studies with us are investigating such topics as girls' magazines in the cultural and consumer marketplace, the future of university libraries, German publishing in the First World War, and marketing strategies for children’s literature in the Middle East. We also supervise students for the PhD by Publication. Most of our research students are based in Oxford, but a number work on their studies from a distance with regular contact in person and by email.

Research is supported by the resources of Oxford Brookes Library –especially its Special Collections featuring the Booker Archive, the Publishing in Africa Collection, the Rainbird Archive, and the Peter Stockham Collection of Children’s Books—as well as by other local and regional archives and university libraries.

OICPS carries out independent research and training with the international publishing industry. Recent research and consultancy clients include the British Council, Hewlett Packard, the Society of Experimental Biology and Sports Books.

If you have a topic relating to publishing that you would like to study at doctoral level, please contact us with a preliminary synopsis.

Visit the Book History and Publishing Culture (MA) page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

If you wish to apply you should have a good honours degree or equivalent, in any subject, and be able to supply two references (for example, one academic reference, and one from an employer). Exceptionally, if you have qualifications or experience (or both) which demonstrate that you have knowledge and capabilities at the required level, you may be admitted without the standard qualifications.

Course Fees

Home / EU: Full-time £5,310, Part-time £2,710; International: Full-time £12,340

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