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Postgraduate Course

Publishing and Contemporary Literature MA

Build essential skills and knowledge needed in the publishing industry. Study the latest literary texts, issues and cultures.

Overhead view of many book pages.

Engage with the varied areas of publishing. Extend your knowledge and understanding of contemporary literature. Deepen your skills by meeting with industry professionals. Get involved with literary festivals to further develop your skills and to engage with an external literary partner.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full time, 2 years part time
  • Start date – September 2024, September 2025
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum entry requirements

    2:2 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview If your degree is in an unrelated subject

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £8,000 full time

    International 2024-25 £11,300 full time

Course overview

Our focus is on theoretical, political, social and cultural currents in contemporary literature, broadly defined as the literature of the twenty first century. Our diverse and inclusive syllabus champions the voices of writers who have been culturally marginalised. You will be supported and encouraged to develop as a literary critic.

The focus of the publishing side of the MA is on contemporary publishing, with a particular focus on independent publishing, small presses and emergent themes in writing. You will engage with a diverse and inclusive range of creative and critical texts in a variety of forms, enhancing your knowledge of the current publishing landscape. You will develop creative skills surrounding the reading, generation, selection, development and publication of new texts.

York is a fantastic place to be if you love books and reading. There is a rich literary history in the city, and each year, the city celebrates its literary heritage with the York Literature Festival, for which our department organises several events. We are also instrumental in the annual York Big City Read with our partner institution, York Explore.

You are encouraged to take a professional approach to your study and attend the variety of events provided by the York Centre for Writing, which include visits from agents, publishers, editors and writers and fosters an important sense of belonging and community. You will also have opportunities to take part in field trips.

Course structure

How you will study

You can study this postgraduate course full time or part time. This allows you to fit your studies around other commitments.

If you choose to study full time the course will take 1 year to complete. You will study:

  • 5 compulsory modules

If you choose to study part time the course will take 2 years to complete and the modules will be split across both years.

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will discover the different models of practice in publishing, from conception to distribution. Examining key roles involved in the publication of a book as practised by both large corporations and small presses. Using case studies, you will examine the variety of professional roles involved in publishing.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to the study of the contemporary and to postgraduate level work. You will explore a small number of recent literary texts, which will be chosen on the basis that they invite discussion about existing socially, politically and culturally pressing matters, and allow you to develop your thinking, writing and discussion abilities. Topics may include:

  • Climate change and ecocriticism
  • Contemporary social justice movements
  • Literature and (post) truth
  • Literature and economic inequality

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module you will discuss current genre theory and the critical issues surrounding it, while discovering major contemporary genres. This is a 5 week module on which you will examine recently published texts and analyse genre in the early 21st century. You will have the opportunity to discuss a range of issues that may include:

  • Contemporary genre theory
  • Genre as a publishing and bookselling tool
  • New sub genres emerging in poetry, prose and drama
  • The relationship between innovative form and genre

Credits: 30

Optional module

Throughout this module you will learn about the challenges faced by publishers, including:

  • The economic issues surrounding commissioning
  • The relationship between publishers and agents
  • Intellectual property, sale of rights and copyright
  • Challenges faced by smaller publishers such as funding.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

On this module you will examine and question speculative fiction within a contemporary context. Speculative fictions include fantasy, utopias, dystopias, and (post)apocalypses, as well as works that blend and disrupt traditional genre boundaries. You will explore how reconfigurations of bodies, subjectivity and spatiality are represented in, and constructed by, the selected texts, through a range of perspectives and contexts including:

  • Postcolonial and decolonial theory
  • Gender and queer theory
  • Afrofuturism and afropessimism
  • Futurology and posthumanism

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

Towards the end of your studies, you will reflect both on contemporary literature and on your learning journey. You will have the opportunity to debate contemporary issues with your peers and colleagues, actively combining the knowledge and skills you have developed throughout the course. Topics examined on the module may include:

  • Affect and post critical reading
  • The relationship between contemporary literature and the Academy
  • Trauma, contemporaneity and futurity
  • Nostalgia and popular culture

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module, you will undertake a self-determined project, with supervisor support. You have options for the form your project will take. It could be:

  • A negotiated work placement or internship with a publisher
  • A collaborative project with a writer, group of writers or an organisation to produce a publication
  • A research project on an aspect of the publishing industry.

This project is introduced early in the course, giving you maximum time to prepare and negotiate content with your supervisor.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

On this module you will undertake an piece of independent research in a postgraduate-level topic that has been negotiated with your supervisor. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the research and writing skills that you have gained while on the course. Your will be able to tailor your project to your particular area of interest, based on the specifics of your course.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

Your study will be divided equally between the Publishing and Contemporary Literature elements of the course.

You will be encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of literature. This means that you could study a range of texts, such as a film or media adaptation of a text, or considering a specific performance of a play in comparison to the original source material.

Your learning will be collaborative and taught through peer workshops. Class sizes are kept to small, intimate groups to enable collaborative practice so that you can share and workshop ideas. You will work alongside students studying on the Publishing and Creative Writing MA and Publishing MA courses.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


n your third term you will undertake a project module which can take the form of collaboration with a writer, a critical publishing project or a work placement. This project is introduced early in the course to give you maximum time to prepare and negotiate with a supervising tutor. The project will be a practical exploration of contemporary publishing practises. For the duration of the project, you will look at contemporary literature, which will lead you to consider the impact that your work and the work of others could have.

Your dissertation is the analytical and critical culmination of your MA. You will take charge of your learning and will be supported throughout the dissertation by a series of specialist writing workshops.

Entry requirements


Minimum entry requirements

    2:2 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview If your degree is in an unrelated subject

We are open to considering previous degrees in the Humanities, Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences or other related subjects.

International students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you might be able to provide evidence of professional experience in the subject as an alternative way to meet the entry requirements. This is called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). Appropriate references and records of employment would need to be presented to support your case for admission. 

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and funding

UK 2024 - 2025 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £8,000 for full time study
  • £4,000 per year for part time study

These costs apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

Funding opportunities

International 2024 - 2025 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £11,300 for 1 year of full time study

These costs apply to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

International Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £8,000 full time

    International 2024-25 £11,300 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for alumni

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

Where could Publishing and Contemporary Literature take you?

This MA will prepare you for a career in the varied and exciting world of publishing. You will also leave with transferable skills in:

  • Project management
  • Copywriting
  • Editing
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Stand out from the crowd with postgraduate study.

Far fewer people have postgraduate degrees than undergraduate qualifications. This gives you something extra to set yourself apart in a competitive graduate job market. Those with a postgraduate qualification will earn an average of £7,000 a year more than those with only an undergraduate degree. (Department For Education Graduate Labour Market Report 2020)

Our careers service, LaunchPad, provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support does not end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed.

Apply for this course

For postgraduate degrees you must apply directly to York St John University using the links below. This will take you to the application form you need to fill out for this specific course. 

To complete the online application form you will need to create login details. 

Please contact 2 referees before submitting your application. An automated request for a reference will be emailed to them as soon as you submit. Your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Fees and key information

Apply now

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