Launched in 2015 through the joint vision of Prof. Joan Anim-Addo and Dr Deirdre Osborne, this ground-breaking MA is timely and necessary. We take black British literature seriously as a discipline.
"Goldsmiths’ MA in Black British Writing is the only one in the country, ergo the only one where our Black British books dominate the syllabus. We rarely appear on university reading lists, other than as token gestures."
Bernardine Evaristo MBE (Author, Booker Prize co-Winner 2019)
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. We trace diasporic and aesthetic routes and draw upon the expertise of literary and drama specialists.
You’ll analyse an extremely diverse range of texts from novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, life-writers and playwrights. You’ll also locate these writers in their historical context, gaining an understanding of the history of black people in Britain through how they are represented in literature.
"A Master’s degree programme that enables the serious study of the creative and artistic history and achievement of black British novelists, poets, short story writers, essayists, and playwrights.”
Professor Emerita R. Victoria Arana, (Howard University, Washington DC)
Black people continue to be massively underrepresented in academia. Literature written by black authors is 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. It is a decolonised degree in action.
We welcome applications from those seeking academic careers, teachers looking to decolonise their curriculum, professionals who are returning to learning, and performers and artists who wish to develop their analytic and critical thinking skills.
Based in London you have access to all the resources the city offers including the Black Cultural Archives London, the Black Plays Archive at the Royal National Theatre, the National Archives, The British Library, George Padmore Institute as part of fieldwork tasks and further research.
Contact the department
What you'll study
For 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the Programme Changes page
On the MA Black British Literature, you will study four 30-credit modules and complete a 60 credit dissertation.
|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|
You will also take the following option modules.
|Option Modules||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.
Part-time students study all the same modules as above, in the following structure.
- Historicising the Field of Black British Writing: From the Romans to the Present
- Interculturality, Text, Poetics
- Literature of the Caribbean and its diasporas
- Genre and Aesthetics of contemporary black British writing
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
What our students say
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.
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
Annual tuition fees
These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2021/2022 academic year.
- Home - full-time: £7320
- Home - part-time: £3660
- International - full-time: £15360
It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time if you require a Student Visa, however this is currently being reviewed and will be confirmed in the new year. Please read our visa guidance in the interim for more information. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.
If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.
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.
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
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
- 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.
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.
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.
Emeritus Joan Anim-Addo (Co-founder)
"I was the convenor for the undergraduate option: Caribbean Women's Writing. I also convened 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.
Indicative Primary texts
Historicising the Field of Black British Writing from the Romans to the Present
Evaristo, Bernardine. The Emperor’s Babe (London: Penguin, 2002)
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)
Joseph, Paterson. Sancho: An Act of Remembrance (London: Oberon Books, 2011)
Martin, S.I. Incomparable World (London: Quartet, 1997)
Collins, Sara. The Confessions of Frannie Langton (London: Penguin, 2019)
Smartt, Dorothea. Ship shape (Leeds, Peepal Tree Press, 2008) [selected poems]
Adebayo, Mojisola. Moj of the Antarctic in Hidden Gems Vol. I ed. Deirdre Osborne (London: Oberon, 2012), pp.149-90.
Phillips, Caryl. Dancing in the Dark (London: Vintage, 2006)
Williams, Charlotte. Sugar and Slate (Aberystwyth: Planet 2002)
Kay, Jackie. Trumpet (London: Picador, 1998)
Grant, Colin. Bageye at the Wheel  (London: Vintage, 2013)
Burford, Barbara. ‘Dreaming the Sky Down’ in The Threshing Floor: Short Stories (Ithaca, New York: Firebrand Press, 1987) pp. 1-12.
Pinnock, Winsome. Leave Taking  (London: Nick Hern Books, 2018)
Williams, Roy. Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (London: Methuen, 2002)
Literature of the Caribbean and its Diasporas
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.
James, Marlon. A Brief History of Seven Killings (New York: Riverhead Books, 2014)
Johnson, Linton Kwesi. Mi revalueshanary fren: selected poems, London: Penguin, 2002.
Rhys, Jean. Voyage in the Dark, London: Penguin,  2000.
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.
Levy, Andrea. Small Island. London: Headline, 2004.
Interculturality, Text and Poetics
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).
Forna, Aminatta. Happiness: A Novel (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).
Fish, Laura. Strange Music (London: Jonathan Cape, 2008).
Oyeyemi, Helen. The Icarus Girl (London: Bloomsbury, 2005)
Seacole, Mary. The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands ; (London: Penguin Classics, 2005)
Shire, Warsan. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (London: Flipped Eye Publishing, 2011)
SuAndi. ‘The Libretto of Mary Seacole’ in Hidden Gems (Vol.II) ed. Deirdre Osborne, (London: Oberon Books, 2012). pp.330-79.
Sunmonu, Yinka. Cherish (London: Mango Publishing, 2003).
Smith, Zadie, NW (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2012).
Genre and Aesthetics of Contemporary Black British Literature
Bernard, Jay. Surge (London: Penguin Books, 2019)
Ellams, Inua. Black T-Shirt Collection (London: Oberon Books, 2012)
Newland, Courttia. ‘a Question of Courage’ in Beard, Francesca., Bhattacharyya, Sonali., Marchant, Ian., Miller, Kara., Newland, Courttia., O’Neill, Richard Rai & Smith, Rommi. White Open Spaces: Seven Plays about Race and Belonging in the Countryside (London: Oberon, 2006)
Marshall, Natasha. Half-Breed (London: Samuel French, 2017)
Booker, Malika. ‘Absolution’ in Osborne, Deirdre (ed.) Hidden Gems Vol. II (London: Oberon Books, 2012)
SuAndi. The Story of M  (London: Oberon Books, 2017)
Diana Evans. 26a (London: Vintage, 2006)
Woolf, Karen McCarthy. An Aviary of Small Birds (Manchester: Carcenet Press, 2014)
Mason-John, Valerie. Borrowed Body (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2005). Re-published as The Banana Kid by Coram BAAF (2008)
Sissay, Lemn. ‘Something Dark’ in Osborne, Deirdre (ed.) Hidden Gems (London: Oberon, 2008)
Sesay, Kadija. Irki (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2013)
Owusu, Derek. That Reminds Me (London: Merky Books, 2019)
Alabanza, Travis. Burgerz (London: Oberon, 2018)
Leeming, Carole. ‘Love the Life You Live, Live the Life you Love’ in Hidden Stories ed. Corinne Fowler (Leicester: Phoenix, 2016).
Agbabi, Patience. Telling Tales (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2014)
D’Aguiar, Fred. ‘At the Grave of the Unknown African, Henbury Parish Church’, Callaloo, 15:4 (1992), pp.894-8.
Sissay, Lemn. ‘The Gilt of Cain’, Listener (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2008) pp. 58-9.
green, debbie tucker. nut (London: Nick Hern Books, 2014)
Daley-Ward, Yrsa. The Terrible (London: Penguin, 2018)
Carby, Hazel. Imperial Intimacies (London: Verso, 2019)
Lee-Jones, Jasmine. seven methods of killing kylie jenner (London: Oberon Books, 2019)
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.
Quercus (Hatchette) internships
- Angelique Golding (2019) awarded the London Arts and Humanities PhD studentship at QMUL to catalogue the Wasafiri archive at the British Library.
- Desta Haile (2020) Winner of the 'To Speak Europe in Different Languages Award for Literature' 2021.
- 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.