Course information


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Course overview

For 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of this programme are delivered. Find out more

This ground-breaking course is timely and necessary, taking black British writing seriously as a discipline.

Why study MA Black British Literature at Goldsmiths?

  • This degree is a world first. There’s nowhere else you can study black British writing in such an in-depth way – in the actual country where the writing is produced.
  • It’s timely and necessary. Black and minority ethnic people continue to be massively underrepresented in academia, and texts written by black authors are often missing from university course lists. The MA Black British Literature is a vital step in increasing intellectual awareness of and amplifying these black British voices. In studying this Masters, you will become part of this process.
  • You’ll be looking at an extremely diverse range of texts, analysing work from novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, and playwrights. You’ll also locate these writers in their historical context, gaining an understanding of the history of black people in Britain and how they were represented and perceived.
  • We welcome applications from those seeking academic careers, professionals who are returning to learning, and performers and artists who wish to develop their analytic and critical thinking skills.
  • You’ll be based in London and have access to all the resources the city offers including use of the Black Plays Archive at the Royal National Theatre for fieldwork and research tasks.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Deirdre Osborne or Joan Anim-Addo..

What you'll study


On this programme, you will study

  • two compulsory modules
  • a dissertation
  • two option modules

Full-time students study both compulsory modules and two options and write their dissertation across one year of study.

Part-time students select one compulsory module and one option per year across two years and write their dissertation in their second year of study.

Compulsory Modules Module title Credits
  Historicising the Field of Black British Writing: From the Romans to the Present 30 credits
  Interculturality, Text, Poetics 30 credits
  MA Black British Writing Dissertation 60 credits

Option modules

You choose two options from those available in the Department of Theatre and Performance and the Department of English and Comparative Literature

This could include:

Module title Credits
  The Genres and Aesthetics of Contemporary Black British Writing 30 credits
  Literature of the Caribbean & its Diasporas 30 credits

Intermediate exit points

It's possible to exit the programme early with a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate if specific learning outcomes have been achieved. These options can be discussed with the course convenor.

Download the programme specification. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

What our students say

Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

My course is incredible, full of rich resources from an incredible canon of phenomenal literature.

I found out about Goldsmiths through the work of Sara Ahmed. I chose to come because of the innovative program MA Black British Writing, the first and only program of its kind in the UK. Before Goldsmiths, I was working as an arts practitioner in Berlin. My course is incredible, full of rich resources from an incredible canon of phenomenal literature. Goldsmiths, however, is not providing enough resources for its black student body. I plan to work within arts institutions to establish racial equity.

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

Students without BA-equivalent qualifications who have substantial work experience (eg. in literary journalism, creative writing, publishing, arts administration), which can be considered as equivalent to formal qualifications, may be admitted provided they demonstrate analytical and academic writing skills to the necessary level.

International qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

To find out more about your fees, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline. 

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.


Staff who contribute to the programme include: 

Dr Deirdre Osborne (Co-convenor) 

"My base in the humanities is cross-disciplinary and my academic career has been dedicated to decolonial thinking. My love of English literature stems from when I was first read to, and began reading and what was available to read beyond conventional curriculum and literary histories. In the field of Black British writing I approach the analysis of literature with a focus upon language in performance: as printed and read (its poetics), and articulated live on the stage (its dramatization).

My courses interweave canonical and non-canonical emphases to centralise the long but primarily submerged history of blackness in Britain. We consider the political and aesthetic consequences of the aftermath of the British Empire as experienced today in contemporary culture. I encourage students to explore voices that exist beyond mainstream narratives - to work with the problems of canonicity, cultural legitimation, and longevity that shape this field."

Read more on Deirdre's staff profile.

Professor Joan Anim-Addo (Co-convenor)

"I am currently the convenor for the undergraduate option: Caribbean Women's Writing. I also convene the Pathway 'Literature of the Caribbean and its Diasporas' within the MA Comparative Literary Studies programme.

My recent research activities include: Caribbean Literature and diaspora, women’s writing, Feminist perspectives, Black presence in Europe, Caribbean-Scottish Interconnections, Creolisation, Interculturality and Humanism.

Previous research includes African-Caribbean women’s fiction, the Black Presence in Britain (sixteenth century to present day), Networking women, Memory and History and Creolistics."

Read more on Joan's staff profile.

Suggested reading

The modules you study will draw on a wide range of works. Below is a range of texts from which 1-2 would be selected per class. This is for information to show the broad reach of the field and the some key writers, not to suggest these all have to be read!

The aim behind these lists is to indicate the range, richness, and critical mass that exists, and which the MA recognises and celebrates.

Core Modules

Term One - Historicising the Field of Black British Literature: From the Romans to the 2000s

Evaristo, Bernardine. The Emperor’s Babe (London: Penguin, 2002)

Shakespeare, William Othello (1604) ANY EDITION.

Bandele, Biyi. Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (London: Amber Lane, 1999) 

Anim-Addo, Joan. Imoinda, or, She who will lose her name : a play for twelve voices in three acts . (London : Mango Publishing, 2008)

Martin, S.I. Incomparable World (London: Quartet, 1997)

Joseph, Paterson. Sancho: An Act of Remembrance (London: Oberon Books, 2011)

Levy, Andrea. The Long Song (London: Headline, 2011)

Smartt, Dorothea. Ship shape (Leeds, Peepal Tree Press, 2008)

Adebayo, Mojisola. Moj of the Antarctic in Hidden Gems Vol. I (London: Oberon, 2012)  

Phillips, Caryl. Dancing in the Dark (London: Vintage, 2006)

Williams, Charlotte. Sugar and Slate (Aberystwyth: Planet 2002)

Kay, Jackie. Trumpet (London: Picador, 1998) 

Agboluaje, Oladipo. The Hounding of David Oluwale (London: Oberon Books, 2009)

Pinnock, Winsome. Leave Taking [1987] (London: Nick Hern Books, 2018) 

Traynor, Joanna. Sister Josephine (London: Bloomsbury, 1997) 

Williams, Roy. Sing Yer Heart Out For the Lads (London: Methuen, 2002) 

green, debbie tucker. dirty butterfly. (London: Nick Hern, 2003)


TERM TWO - Interculturality, Text, Poetics 

Ali, Monica. Brick Lane (London: Black Swan, 2004).

D’Aguiar, Fred. Feeding the Ghosts (Chatto & Windus,1997). 

Emecheta, Buchi. Head Above Water: An Autobiography (Oxford: Heinemann, 1986) 

Equiano, Olaudah. The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African. Written by Himself. Edited, with an introduction by Paul Edwards  (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1994).

Evaristo, Bernardine. Mr Loverman (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2013).

Fish, Laura. Strange Music (London: Jonathan Cape, 2008).

Oyeyemi, Helen. The Icarus Girl (London: Bloomsbury, 2005) 

Prince, Mary. The history of Mary Prince : a West Indian slave / related by herself. Edited, with an introduction by Moira Ferguson (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997). 

Shire, Warsan. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (London: Flipped Eye Publishing, 2011) 

Sunmonu, Yinka. Cherish (London: Mango Publishing, 2003).

Smith, Zadie, NW (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2012).


Optional Modules - Indicative Essential Reading

Term One - Literature of the Carribbean and its Disaporas

Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, (ed Moira Ferguson), London: Pandora, 1987.

Selvon, Sam. Lonely Londoners.  (ed. Susheila Nasta),  London: Penguin Books, 2006. 

Walcott, Derek. Omeros, London: Faber, 1990. 

Cesaire, Aimé. Notebook of a Return to My Native Land  (trans Mireille Rosello), 1995. 

Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place, New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2000. 

Johnson, Linton Kwesi. Mi revalueshanary fren: selected poems, London: Penguin, 2002. 

Rhys, Jean. Voyage in the Dark [1934] London: Penguin, 200o. 

Riley, Joan.  Waiting in the Twilight / Joan Riley.  London: Women's Press, 1987. 

Brathwaite, Kamau. The Arrivants: a New World Trilogy.  Oxford: O U P, 1973.


Term Two - The Genres and Aesthetics of Contemporary Black British Literature (Grouped by theme)


green, debbie tucker. random (London: Nick Hern Books, 2008) 

Jumbo, Cush. Josephine and I (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) 

Booker, Malika. ‘Absolution’ in Osborne, Deirdre (ed.) Hidden Gems Vol. II (London: Oberon Books, 2012)



The Story of M (London: Oberon Books, 2017) 

Evans, Diana. 26a (London: Vintage, 2006) 


Adoption Aesthetics

Mason-John, Valerie. Borrowed Body (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2005) 

Sissay, Lemn. Something Dark in Osborne, Deirdre (ed.) Hidden Gems (London: Oberon, 2008) 

Sesay, Kadija. Irki (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2013)


Textuality and Sexuality

Mike, Chuck., Coker, Antonia Kemi. and Munyevu, Tonderai. Zhe [noun]undefined. (London: Oberon Books, 2013) 

Rudet, Jacqueline. Basin in Black Plays ed. Yvonne Brewster (London: Methuen, 1987), 113-39.


Landmark Poetics

Agbabi, Patience. Telling Tales (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2014) 


Poly-phonic writing

green, debbie tucker. nut (London: Nick Hern Books, 2014) 

Daley-Ward, Yrsa. The Terrible (London: Penguin, 2018) 



Briscoe, Constance. Ugly (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2009) 

McKenzie-Mavinga and Perkins, Thelma. In Search of Mr McKenzie: Two Sisters’ Quest for an Unknown Father (London: The Women’s Press, 1991) 

Scally-Clarke, Michelle. I Am (Glasshoughton, Yorkshire: Route, 2001) (London: Methuen), 1-66.


A selection of useful websites – operative at the time of writing



You will develop transferable writing and oral skills at a high academic level, demonstrating the ability to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner using a range of methodologies. Your ability to work collaboratively and to facilitate and participate in group discussions will be enhanced. You will also develop skills in identifying the socio-cultural, historical, political and literary issues that shape and impact upon contemporary literary and performance texts.

We are oriented towards serving your individual goals and aspirations for self-development; it will generate an articulable body of transferable knowledge and skills.

Besides developing your knowledge of best current research methods and of facts and concepts specific to the featured field of study, the proposed programme will offer training in:

  • discerning vital literary and dramatic roots
  • recognising how the dynamics of creative and cultural movements interrelate
  • exchanging information effectively within a variety of intellectual, creative arts, and local communities


The MA’s design allows for a diverse range of applications of its contents to careers including education, counselling, community arts, arts practice, social services, cultural organisations, or towards research degrees (MPhil; PhD).

Our courses consolidate the influential presence of contemporary Black British writing. It is recognised as both intrinsic to conceptions of British cultural heritage but also distinctive within the body of British writing.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.


Nadine Plummer, a 2018 graduate, is a poet and ambassador for Lounge Akademics

Ellis Walker, a 2017 graduate, is starting her PhD at the University of Sheffield, titled The representation and reception of black Britain and black British writers in UK mainstream media (1950-2018)

Maria Durán Eusebio, who graduated in 2017, is undertaking her PhD at the University of Alcala, titled Contemporary Black British Feminist Writing (2011-2017): Challenging the Praxis of Interculturality.

Andrea Brann, one of the MA's first graduates in 2016, is now sharing her knowledge as a teacher in Antigua.

Heather Marks, another of the MA's first graduates, won the 2018 Quarto Translations Award to complete her debut novel.

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