Course information

Department

Theatre and Performance
English and Comparative Literature

Length

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Course overview

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 where 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 ethinic 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 MA, 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

What you'll study

Overview

The MA draws upon the expertise of literary, drama and theatre specialists from the Departments of Theatre and Performance and the Centre for Caribbean Studies.

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.

Core 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
  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.

Download the programme specification for the 2018-19 intake. 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.

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

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. 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

Staff who contribute to the programme include: 

Dr Deidre Osborne, Convenor of the MA in Black British Writing

"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 cretae 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 dramatisation).

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."

Professor Joan Anim-Addo

"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."

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.

For example: 

Genre and Aesthetics

Core texts

  • Adebayo, Mojisola. Moj of the Antarctic in Osborne, Deirdre. ed. Hidden Gems London: Oberon, 2008
  • Agbaje, Bola. Gone Too Far! London: Methuen, 2007
  • Anim-Addo. Joan. Imoinda London: Mango Press, 2010
  • Beadle-Blair, Rikki. Bashment London: Oberon, 2005
  • Booker, Malika. Absolution in Osborne, Deirdre. ed. Hidden Gems Vol. II London: Oberon, 2012
  • Daley, Dona. Blest Be the Tie London: Royal Court Theatre, 2004
  • D’Aguiar, Fred. Bloodlines New York: Vintage, 2001
  • Ellams, Inua. Black T-Shirt Collection London: Oberon, 2012
  • Evaristo, Bernardine. The Emperor’s Babe London: Viking, 2002
  • Ikoli, Tunde. Scrape Off the Black (1995) London: Oberon, 1998 
  • Jumbo, Cush. Josephine and I London: Bloomsbury, 2014
  • Kay, Jackie. The Adoption Papers Northumberland: Bloodaxe, 1991
  • Kwei-Armah, Kwame. Elmina’s Kitchen London: Methuen, 2003
  • Mason-John, Valerie. Sin Dykes in Brown Girl in the Ring: Plays, Prose and Poems London: Get a Grip, 1999 49-90
  • Pinnock, Winsome. One Under London: Faber and Faber, 2005
  • River, Sol B. To Rahtid in Plays London: Oberon, 1997
  • Sissay, Lemn. Something Dark in Osborne, 2008
  • Solanke, Ade. Pandora’s Box London: Methuen, 2012
  • SuAndi The Story of M in 4 For More Manchester: artBLacklive, 2002
  • SuAndi. Mary Seacole in Osborne, 2012
  • tucker green, debbie. born bad London: Nick Hern Books, 2003
  • tucker green, debbie. random London: Nick Hern Books, 2008
  • Williams, Roy. Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads London: Methuen, 2002

Caribbean Women and Representation 

Core texts

  • Allfrey, Phyllis. The Orchid House, London: Virago, 1990
  • Bennett, Louise.  Jamaica Labrish, Kingston: Sangsters Book Stores, 1982
  • Brand, Dionne. A Map to the Door of No Return, Toronto: Doubleday, 2001
  • Brodber, Erna. Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home, London: New Beacon, 1980
  • Chancy, Myriam. The Hills of Haiti. London: Mango Publlishing, 2002
  • Cliff, Michelle. No Telephone to Heaven, New York: Vintage, 1989
  • Collins, Merle. The Colour of Forgetting, London: Women’s Press, 1995
  • Condé Maryse.  I, Tituba Black Witch of Salem,  translated by Richard Philcox, London. Faber. 2000
  • Condé Maryse. A Season in Rihata, trans. Richard Philcox, London: Heinemann, 1988
  • Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory, London. Abacus. 1995
  • de Avellaneda, Gertrudis Gómez. Sab: an Autobiography, trans. Nina M. Scott, Univ. of Texas Press, 1993 [1841]
  • Edgell, Zee. Beka Lamb, London. Heinemann Educational. 1982. 1986
  • Ferguson, Moira. ed., The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, London: Pandora, 1987
  • Gilroy, Beryl. Inkle and Yarico, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 1996
  • Goodison, Lorna. I am Becoming My Mother, London: New Beacon, 1994
  • Kincaid, Jamaica. At the Bottom of the River, London: Pan Books, 1984
  • Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John, New York: Farrar Strauss, 1985
  • Morejon, Nancy. Black Woman and Other Poems / Mujer negra y otros poemas, translated by Jean Andrews, London: Mango Publishing
  • Paravisini-Gebert. L and Carmen Esteves, Green Cane abd Juicy Flotsam, Rutgers University Press, 1995
  • Persaud, Lakshmi. Butterfly in the Wind, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 1990
  • Philip, M. Nourbese. She Tries Her Tongue Her Silence Softly Breaks, London: Women’s Press, 1993
  • Powell, Patricia. The Pagoda , London: Heinemann, 2001
  • Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea, London: Penguin, 1968
  • Riley, Joan, Waiting in the Twilight): London: Women’s Press, 1987
  • Schwarz-Bart, Simone, Bridge of Beyond, trans. Barbara Bray, London: Heinemann, 1982
  • Seacole, Mary,The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, [1857], 1984
  • Senior, Olive,  Arrival of the Snake Woman, Essex: Longmans, 1989
  • Wynter, Sylvia, Hills of Hebron, Longmans, 1984
  • Yanez, Mirta, ed., Making A Scene: Cuban Women’s Stories, London: Mango Publishing, 2002

Indicative Secondary Reading from which key articles might be taken (1-2 per class):

  • Alexander, Claire E. The Art of Being Black: The Creation of Black British Youth Identities Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996
  • Ali, Suki. Mixed-Race, Post-Race: Gender, New Ethnicities and Cultural Practices Oxford: Berg, 2003
  • Arana, R. Victoria. ed. “Black” British Aesthetics Today Newcastle-upon -Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007
  • Arana, R. Victoria and Ramey, Lauri. eds. Black British Writing New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004
  • Anderson, Lisa M. Black Feminism in Contemporary Drama. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008
  • Back, Les. ‘Voices of hate, sounds of hybridity: Black music and the complexities of racism’, Black Music Research Journal, 20.2: 2000. 127-49
  • Bharucha, Rustom. Theatre and the World : Performance and the Politics of Culture London and New York: Routledge, 1993
  • Black and White in Colour: Black People in British Television Since 1936 Directed by Isaac Julien BFI/BBC2, 1992
  • Black British Style Written and presented by Gigi Morley, directed by Robby Reddy MAP TV/BBC, 2004
  • Brewer, Mary F., Goddard, Lynette, and Osborne, Deirdre. Modern and Contemporary Black British Drama London and New York: Palgrave, 2014
  • Bromley, Roger. Narratives for a New Belonging Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000
  • Chambers, Colin. Black and Asian Theatre in Britain: A History London and New York: Routledge, 2011
  • D’Aguiar, Fred. ‘Against Black British Literature’ in Butcher, Maggie. ed. Tibisiri: Caribbean Writers and Critics Sydney: Dangaroo Press, 1989. 106-14
  • Davis, Geoffrey. and Fuchs, Anna. eds. Staging New Britain: Aspects of Black and Asian British Theatre Practice Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006
  • Donnell, Alison. ed. Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture London and New York: Routledge, 2001
  • Elam, Keir. “Tempo’s Sickle: Rapping, Zapping, Toasting, and Trekking through History in Black British Drama”, The Yearbook of English Studies Vol.25 1995 173-98
  • Eldridge, Michael. “The Rise and Fall of Black Britain” Transition No.74 1997 32-43
  • Gilroy, Paul. After Empire: Melancholia or Carnival Culture? London: Routledge, 2004
  • Goddard, Lynette. Staging Black Feminisms: Identity, Politics, Performance
  • Hampshire, GB and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
  • Godiwala, Dimple. ed. Alternatives Within the Mainstream: British Black and Asian Theatre  Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006
  • Grabner, Cornelia. “Is Performance Poetry Dead?”, Poetry Review Vol.97 No.2 Summer, 2007. 78-82
  • Griffin, Gabriele. Contemporary Black and Asian Women Playwrights in Britain London: Cambridge University Press, 2003
  • Gunning, Dave. “Anti-Racism, the Nation-State and Contemporary Black British Literature”, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature Vol.39 No.2 2004. 29-43
  • hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992
  • Kean, Danuta. ed. Free Verse: Publishing Opportunities for Black and Asian Poets London: Spread the Word, 2006
  • Low, Gail. and Wynne-Davies, Marion. A black British canon? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
  • McMillan, Michael. The Front Room; Migrant Aesthetics in the Home London: Black Dog Publishing Ltd., 2009
  • McLeod, John. “Some Problems with ‘British’ in a ‘Black British Canon’”, Wasafiri Issue 36, Summer 2002. 56-59
  • Mama, Amina. Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity London and New York: Routledge, 1995
  • Mason-John, Valerie. ed. Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out London: Cassell, 1995
  • Mercer, Kobena. Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies London and New York: Routledge, 1994
  • Mirza, Heidi Safia. ed. Black British Feminism: A Reader London and New York: Routledge, 1997
  • Newland, Courttia. and Sesay, Kadija. eds. IC3: An Anthology of Black British Writing London: Penguin Books, 2000
  • Osborne, Deirdre. ‘Not “in-yer-face” but what lies beneath: experiential and aesthetic inroads in the drama of debbie tucker green and Dona Daley’ in Arana ed. 2007. 222-242
  • Owusu, Kwesi. ed. Black British Culture and Society: a Text Reader London and New York: Routledge, 2000
  • Phillips, Mike. “Re-writing Black Britain”, Wasafiri Issue 36, Summer 2002 62-4
  • Procter, James. Dwelling Places: Postwar Black British Writing Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003
  • Rapi, Nina. and Chowdhry, Maya. eds. Acts of Passion: Sexuality, Gender and Performance New York and London: Harrington Park Press, 1998
  • Reichl, Susanne. Cultures in the Contact Zone: Ethnic Semiosis in Black British Literature Trier: WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2002
  • Roberts, Maureen. “Does the Writer Have a Responsibility to Their Community?”, Wasafiri No.41, Spring, 2004. 3-7
  • Sesay, Kadija. ed. Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature Hertford: Hansib, 2005
  • Stein, Mark. Black British Literature: Novels of Transformation Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2004
  • Stephenson, Heidi. and Langridge, Natasha. eds. Rage and Reason: Women Playwrights on Playwriting  London: Methuen, 1997
  • Tizard, Barbara. and Phoenix, Ann. Black, White or Mixed Race: Race and Racism in the Lives of Young People of Mixed Parentage London and New York: Routledge, 1993
  • Ugwu, Catherine. ed. Let’s Get It On: The Politics of Black Performance London: ICA, 1995
  • Wisker, Gina. Post-Colonial and African American Women’s Writing London: Macmillan Press, 2000

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

Careers

Skills

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

Careers

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

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