module specification

SJ6019 - Publishing and the Book: then and now (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Publishing and the Book: then and now
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   1000 word written assignment
Coursework 30%   2000 word written assignment
Oral Examination 20%   15-20 minute presentation on portfolio, placement or project work
Coursework 30%   2000 word publishing project report, placement report or individual portfolio
Running in 2022/23

(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 year-long module which examines London’s literary and publishing culture through, firstly, a series of historical case studies of famous and significant writers, which charts the development of the publishing industry in London from the 17th century and the post-WWII period. Through the discussion of authors and their works, students will study and research transformations in literary and print culture, in conditions of authorship and copyright, developments in literacy, readership, criticism, marketing and the production of literary material and the book.

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 London’s publishing industry 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.
This module cannot be taken in addition to SJ5017 Publishing and the Book: Then and Now level 5


The first half of the module involves a series of historical case studies which examine significant moments in the history of literary publishing in London (LO1/LO2). Authors and topics discussed may include John Gay and the early 18th c. satire boom (LO1/LO2), Samuel Johnson and mid-18th c. periodical and print culture (LO1/LO2), William Blake and radical publishing in the late 18th c. (LO1/LO2), Charles Dickens and mid-19th c. serial publication (LO1/LO2), Virginia and Leonard Woolf and the small press and magazine culture of early 20th c. modernism and experimental writing (LO1/LO2), and post-WWII publishing ventures for feminist, lesbian and gay, and BAME literature (LO1/LO2). Students may respond in critical and/or creative form to the first part of the module syllabus (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 to an advanced degree a detailed and sustained understanding of London’s literary and publishing culture from the 17th century to the present day, showing awareness of recent scholarship and research

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, showing awareness of recent scholarship and research

Subject specific skills
LO3 produce sustained critical and/or creative responses to the historical and contemporary contexts of literary publishing in London, showing innovative and independent thought

Transferable skills
LO4 initiate, develop, contribute to and manage critically and creatively sophisticated teamwork in response to publishing industry norms;
LO5 reflect and report on commercial and industry norms, showing advanced awareness of recent industry trends

Assessment strategy

• 001 (20%) – 1000 word critical or creative response to London’s publishing or literary history based on first part of the historical syllabus
• 002 (30%) – 2000 word critical or creative response to London’s publishing or literary history based on second part of the historical syllabus
• 003 (20%) – 15-20 minutes presentation on portfolio, placement or project work
• 004 (30%) – 2000 word publishing portfolio/project/report

Assignments 001 and 002 allow students to respond to the material, historical, commercial and cultural contexts of London publishing by writing about historically significant persons, works, places, developments and events in critical or creative form (LO1/LO2/LO3)

Assignment 003 allows students to reflect on, evaluate and present aspects of contemporary London publishing (LO1/LO2/LO3)

Assignment 004 allows students to reflect on their own imaginative, critical and creative practice in response to publishing industry processes and norms (LO3/LO4/LO5)


Core textbooks
Clark, G., and Phillips, A., (2014) Inside Book Publishing, Taylor and Francis
Cunningham, I., (2005) A Reader’s Guide to Writers’ London, Andre Deutsch Ltd
McKitterick, D., (ed.), (2010) The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 6, 1830-1914, Cambridge University Press
Suarez, M. F., et al., (eds), (2010) The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 5, 1695-1830, Cambridge University Press
Thompson, J. B., (2012) Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century, Polity Press
Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018, (2017) Bloomsbury Yearbooks

Other textbooks
Groes, S., (2011) The Making of London: London in Contemporary Literature, Palgrave Macmillan
Manley, L., (2011) The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of London, Cambridge University Press
Porter, R., (1996) London: A Social History, Penguin

The London Journal (Leeds: Maney) – e-journal
Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London (Northampton) – e-journal
The Bookseller

Electronic Databases
Project Muse
Academic Search Complete
Cambridge Core

Social Media Sources