This ground-breaking course is timely and necessary, taking black British writing seriously as a discipline.
Why study MA Black British Writing 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. A degree that takes black British writing seriously 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
What you'll study
The degree is made up of:
- two compulsory core 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.
|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|
This could include:
|The Genres and Aesthetics of Contemporary Black British Writing||30 credits|
|Caribbean Women Writers||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.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
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 2019/20 academic year.
- Home/EU - full-time: £6330
- Home/EU - part-time: £3165
- International - full-time: £14330
Please note that EU fees are being fixed at the above rate for 2019 entry. The fee level will be fixed for the duration of your programme.
If you're an international student interested in studying part-time, please contact our Admissions Team to find out if you're eligible.
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.
Staff who contribute to the programme include:
Dr Deirdre Osborne (Co-convenor)
"Although I currently work in Theatre and Performance, my base in the humanities is cross-disciplinary. My love of English literature stems from when I was first read to, and began reading. The harmony between thinking and responding to literature by using its actual medium (writing) means to study literature is to engage directly with a form of the very tools that create it. I approach the analysis of dramatic 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 from Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, feminist theory, indigenous studies, African American drama and the emerging field of contemporary Black British writing and performance. I encourage students to explore voices that exist beyond mainstream narratives as underpinned by my teaching of classical critical principles."
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.
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.
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  (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  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)
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.
Agbabi, Patience. Telling Tales (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2014)
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
- www.applesandsnakes.org – England’s leading organisation for performance poetry
- A State of Perpetual Wandering: Diaspora and Black British Writers Bronwyn T. Williams
- www.blackartists.org.uk – the site for the longest running black arts organisation in the UK, New Black Arts Alliance (formerly Black Arts Alliance)
- www.blacknet.co.uk – a cultural events website
- www.futurehistories.org.uk – national repository of African, Asian and Caribbean Performing Arts in the UK (Nitro, Black Theatre Forum and Moti Roti archives)
- www.nitro.co.uk – leading black music theatre
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.