The MA Writing for Children focuses solely on creative writing for a young audience from picture books and early readers up to writing for teens and young adults.
Our course was the first of its kind when it began over 15 years ago. Tutors have a wide range of experience as children's novelists, editors and academics and we continue to flourish as part of a dynamic creative writing centre at the University of Winchester and beyond.
Our excellent links with The Winchester Writers' Conference enable our Masters students to 'mentor' visiting children's editors and agents, while the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' annual conference at the University offers further opportunities to build contacts and get involved in events and workshops.
MA students edit and publish their own work in LITMUS and may also submit work to the University's other student writing magazine, VORTEX, both of which are sent out to selected agents. The international peer-reviewed journal Write4Children is edited by our own Professor Andrew Melrose and Dr Vanessa Harbour and students are welcome to submit articles or reviews.
Find out more
If you are passionate about excellence in writing for children, keen to develop your own creative work, ready to take on new challenges and in search of the support of like-minded staff and fellow students then do get in touch with the programme leader Judith Heneghan. Alternatively, view our video and read our FAQs section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
I want to write for children. Why enrol on an academic course?
An MA in Writing for Children is an academic qualification that can pave the way to further study at PhD level. However, the emphasis within our programme is on providing a structured, supportive yet critically rigorous environment in which to develop as a writer. Our students learn about what works and what doesn't work in their writing. They experiment with voice, technique and form, become more self-aware as writers and develop a greater writing range.
I want to get published. Will the MA help me achieve this?
We recognise that being published is the aim of most of our students. No writing course can guarantee a publishing deal, but editors and agents frequently tell us they view our graduates with particular interest. Our programme enables students to pursue highly individual projects, engage with the needs of young readers and navigate the expectations of the publishing industry. Guest speakers include children's editors, agents and booksellers. Our graduates include authors Mark Lowery, Judy Waite, Anna Perera, Anna Dale, Rachel Rivett, Kelly McCain, Sarah Rubin and Kathy Ashford.
Am I too old to do an MA?
One of the strengths of our programme is the diversity of our students. They range in age from their early twenties to their seventies and beyond.
Some students have recently completed an undergraduate degree, while others have been working or caring for families for many years. What matters most is a passion for writing.
How much writing are students expected to do each week?
Students are generally asked to produce 3-4 pages for the weekly workshop. In addition, all our students are strongly encouraged to write as often as they can in order to cement a writing habit as well as working on specific tasks and stories.
What happens during a workshop?
Workshops take place within the seminar throughout each module. They act as a sounding board for new work. Students read out a piece of writing which may be a response to a set task or part of a longer work-in-progress. They then receive constructive feedback from the group - a vital part of the learning process for all concerned.
How big are the teaching groups and how much one-to-one contact can I expect to have with tutors and lecturers?
Seminar and workshop groups tend to be between 6 and 12 students. The module tutor is available for face-to-face tutorials and emailed feedback throughout each module, though we ask students to understand that tutors teach a range of classes across the university and are also engaged in writing and research. The programme leader is also available for advice and feedback throughout the academic year.
How is the final degree assessed?
The award MA Writing for Children is assessed in three ways:
- By submission of a piece of creative writing at the end of each module;
- By submission of a short self-reflexive essay or research paper at the end of each module;
- By submission of a dissertation at the end of the course, which is generally a creative piece of 15-20,000 words and an accompanying academic rationale of around 3000 words.
I want to study part-time. What does this involve?
A part-time student will take five modules over two academic years.
Each module involves attending one three-hour evening seminar per week, for 12 weeks. At the end of the final module, students embark on their dissertation. So a typical pattern of study would be as follows:
Year 1, semester 1
Fiction for Children, Tuesday 6-9pm
Year 1, semester 2
Writing for Early Years, Monday, 6-9pm
Year 2, semester 1
The Writer As Researcher, Monday 6-9pm
Year 2, semester 2 The Publishing Project, Tuesday 6-9pm
Year 2, semester 2
Fantastic Fiction, Wednesday 6-9pm
How long would I have to write my dissertation, and what kind of support would I get?
Some students submit their dissertations in the September after their taught modules end " this gives them about five months for writing and editing. Others take an extra year and submit the following September. Each student works with a single supervisor and typically meets/receives feedback up to six times during this period.