In September 2017, I started an MA in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes and with graduation swiftly approaching, I have decided to reflect back on my experience and share it with you all.

Deciding to do an MA was not an easy one, for an array of different reasons — the worry of more debt, meeting new people, moving to a new city and ultimately taking on another major challenge in my life.

But, and this is a massive BUT…it was the BEST decision I have ever made because I met the loveliest people (some of who are now my best friends), I thoroughly enjoyed the course, loved living in Oxford and well – the debt – shh, we will address that at another time.

Honestly Oxford is one of my favourite places, just look at it!

Top tips:

Do work experience!!!

Be attentive and proactive

Ask questions

Ask for help when you need it

Be organised

Manage your time

Get involved

Here is the core structure to the MA Publishing course at Oxford Brookes:

First Semester:

Design and Production explores the digital aspects of design and production in the publishing process. It looks closely at current working practices in areas such as content design and typography, project management, the evaluation and selection of appropriate media platforms, the buying of raw materials and manufacturing processes, and the use of external resources.

Editorial Management and Content Development explores the strategic role of the editor within the publishing process and the knowledge and skills required for the development of new projects, whether in print or digital form.

Sales, Marketing and Consumer Insight provides a systematic examination of the key concepts and disciplines of marketing and their relationship and relevance to the products of publishing. It includes coverage of the marketing mix, consumer behaviour, segmentation, targeting and positioning, and elements of market research including SEO.

Second Semester:

History and Culture of Publishing examines the culture and ideology of publishing in terms of its development throughout the 20th century, and its contemporary practice. Different theories of print culture and critiques of the role of the publisher in society are reviewed, and there is an examination of ideological challenges to the culture of publishing.

Magazine Publishing provides a comprehensive insight into and understanding of the international magazine industry and its place as both a print and electronic product. It covers a range of contemporary issues and business models, exploring the job roles involved in the production of magazines and addressing the issues of editorial content, marketing, branding, technology, law and design.

Children’s Publishing explores the development of the market sector and the current shape and business practices of publishing for children and young adults. Topics include picture books, co-editions and translatability; the sector’s links to other leisure industries, merchandising and content reuse; editing and censorship; age ranging and gatekeeping; literacy and reading campaigns; and promotion.

Dissertation or Major Project is the defining and essential component for the award of the MA degree. It is a major in-depth investigation of a subject, theme or issue significant to the study of publishing through research and extended written work (15,000 words or equivalent for major projects).

Me visiting Sylvia Plath’s house in London.

I wrote my dissertation on the publication of Sylvia Plath’s work – the title was ‘I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.’1 The Exploitation of Sylvia Plath’s long- lasting Literary Legacy.’

If you have done the course, I would love to hear which modules you did and why and what you wrote the dissertation on!

Work Experience:

I cannot stress enough how important work experience is! Although you don’t NEED it to get a job in publishing, it looks great on your CV and it makes the experience gives you a lot to talk about in your interview. It is also a good way to see which field you would like to go into once the course it done. For me, I realised I loved the publicity and marketing (more leaning towards publicity) side of publishing because it reminded me of my love for blogging, engaging people passionately about books and showing off the finished product!

During my MA I was constantly applying for internships and work experience opportunities. But always remember that, even if you don’t secure the internship, you have still gained invaluable interview experience – so don’t be so hard on yourself if it takes time. As long as you’re trying, you’re doing great!

Due to my financial situation I had no choice but to work (basically) full time while studying and maintaining good grades BUT I made it work and squeezed in time to do work experience because I knew it was vital to my learning experience and future development. Thank goodness for coffee and all nighters because they helped me a lot with assignments – okay, okay I know I said a top tip was time management and this was not the best use of my time but it was the only way on a few occasions.

During the year of my MA I did the following work experience:

  • A Marketing and Publicity internship at Icon Books for two weeks
  • A Marketing and Publicity internship at Biteback Publishing
  • A Publishing internship at Pearson
  • Returned to Pearson for a three month work placement as an Inventory Administrator
  • Returned to Icon Books for a three months work placement as a Marketing and Publicity Assistant

I was really lucky that both Icon Books and Pearson invited me back and gave me another wonderful opportunity but just put yourself out there and try! Email publishing houses with your CV and be PROACTIVE! Don’t forget to proofread and work hard on each and every application.

Put yourself out there!

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