module specification

SJ5017 - Publishing and the Book: then and now (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Publishing and the Book: then and now
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
213 hours Guided independent study
15 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   1000 word written assignment
Coursework 30%   1500 word written assignment
Oral Examination 20%   10 to 15 minutes presentation on portfolio, placement or project work
Coursework 30%   1500 word publishing project report, placement report or individual portfolio
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

Publishing and the Book: then and now is a level 5 year-long module which examines literary and publishing culture through, firstly, the development of writing and reading technologies from antiquity through the medieval period to the era of print, and then samples how creative writers have experimented with digital tools and platforms to innovate their literary practice. Students will examine how literary creativity is rooted in material media and consider how this might apply in their own creative practice.

The second part of the module emphasises employability and immerses students in London’s current publishing industry, and through a series of guest lectures and masterclasses students will learn about the process of author rights and representation, commissioning, editing, book production, design, marketing and sales, digital and audio publishing, and the post-production landscape of bookselling, literary festivals, prizes, podcasts and blogs.

The module aims to give students a historical understanding of publishing practices and the opportunity to respond critically and creatively in writing to this, and further to give students a current understanding of the process of taking a manuscript from author to publisher, bookseller and reader, and an opportunity to devise a research project, a group studio publishing project and/or a placement in the industry.

The module is taught through a combination of lecture/seminar, guest speaker sessions and masterclasses, studio project group activities, and is assessed by critical essay, critical and/or creative portfolio, publishing studio project and/or professional placement/shadowing in situ.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of previous level. Available for Study Abroad? YES
This module cannot be taken in addition to SJ6019 Publishing and the Book: Then and Now level 6


The module provides a series of contextualised investigations of the history of the book up to and including various genres of digital-born literature. Classes will focus on critical discussion and analysis of exemplary primary texts, together with formative experiments in students’ own writing, such as using hypertext-authoring tools. Students will be introduced to key concepts and related debates, for example concerning: orality and literacy, comparative media studies, the post-digital, media affordances, branching and ludic narratives, storytelling for mobile devices (LO1/LO2/LO3).

The second half of the module takes students through the commercial processes of literary publishing today from author to reader (LO1/LO2), and on the basis of guest speaker presentations and studio discussion students initiate, refine and produce publishing projects (LO3/LO4) focussing on a given aspect of the industry (LO5). Where possible students may also undertake placements in industry contexts (LO5).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

Cognitive intellectual abilities
LO1 Articulate understanding of the role of writing and publishing media in literary expression and culture

Knowledge and understanding
LO2 evaluate literary production in terms of wider commercial, material, critical and cultural contexts, and in terms of the qualities of the fictional world itself;

Subject specific skills
LO3 produce critical and creative responses to the historical contemporary contexts of literary publishing in London;

Transferable skills
LO4 develop and contribute to critical and creative teamwork projects in response to publishing industry norms;
LO5 reflect and report on commercial and industry norms.