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Publishing Studies (distance learning)

MA / PGDip / PGCert

School of Arts

This programme closely follows the established campus based MA publishing degrees. All modules are newly designed to be delivered online using interactive features of the virtual learning environment, Moodle.

The 10-week 10-unit modules are delivered by a variety of media including video, audio, written materials and supplied text books, designed to accommodate a range of learning styles and personal circumstances.

Your study is supported by a tutor responsible for a small number of other students who together make up a study group. Further academic guidance comes from the Subject Coordinator. Assessment is through reports, discussion submissions, essays and independent research topics. 

Available start dates

January 2019 / January 2020

Teaching location

Distance learning

Course length

  • Part time: PGCert One year, PGDip 18 months, MA 32 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • a flexible learning programme offering the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful entry into publishing that can be studied from home
  • designed to be studied in conjunction with employment in any field, the programme addresses evidenced publishing employers' needs
  • unparalleled support from tutors and state-of-the-art learning technologies
  • your enrolment at Oxford Brookes within the Oxford International Centre for Publishing provides you with relevant and tailored learning opportunities. There is no similar distance learning provision offered by higher education institutions in the UK or Europe.
  • develop the skills and knowledge necessary to address the marketing, production and editorial functions in publishing, as well as skills in data analysis and writing practices - expertise that is currently in demand by the publishing industry which requires individuals who are able to asses, evaluate and synthesize data.


This part-time programme is usually studied over 32 months. However, you are able to take up to 5 years to complete the necessary credits.

Four core compulsory modules make up the first year and address marketing and sales, digital production and workflow, and editorial as publishing-related topics and research skills as preparation for the later dissertation.

In the second year, you choose one module from each of two groups: either International Publishing and Rights or Independent Study; and then either Culture of Publishing, Journals or Independent Study.

The Independent Study module is specifically designed to provide you with a structured pedagogic framework in which to reflect on and develop your experience of work in publishing.

You may, however, select the Independent Study module once only.

Your programme is completed with a longer period of research and writing (about 6 months), supported by a supervisor, which culminates in a 15,000-word dissertation.

Marketing and Sales Management for publishing provides a systematic examination of the key concepts and disciplines of marketing and sales and their relationships and relevance to the marketing and business practices in the publishing industry. Core marketing and sales issues required for print and electronic products and services are covered along with the concepts and tools necessary to operate in a marketing and sales environment. You engage with specifics of marketing in a publishing context including the marketing mix, consumer behaviour, segmentation, targeting and positioning, and elements of market research. Marketing theory and its application to publishing is presented and the module provides opportunities for you to apply this knowledge in producing a marketing plan for a new product.

Digital Production and Workflow Management focuses on the production and delivery of publishing products in a digital environment. It examines project management and workflow issues associated with the design and production of both printed and digital products. Particular attention is given to analysing and evaluating the changes that digital technology is bringing about to the ways in which products are developed and produced in the publishing industry. Key issues affecting the design and production strategies and business practices for print, ebooks, and web are discussed. Management skills such as planning, organising, briefing, costing and controlling a project from inception to completion are developed. Strategies and practices for international aspects of the publishing industry are investigated and the opportunities and constraints for the publisher are assessed.

Editorial Management, Functions and Strategies introduces the role of the commissioning editor in contemporary publishing, within a range of market sectors. You explore the strategic role of the editor in the publishing process and acquire the knowledge and skills required for the development of economically viable new projects in both print and digital form. This module includes coverage of the editorial process in a digital environment, both in terms of content delivery and workflow. Topics covered include the importance and application of market research, working with authors and agents, and the management and exploitation of intellectual property. Financial responsibilities of the editor are presented and the necessity of business acumen demonstrated. Development of new products, with particular emphasis on list building and adding value to a company, are key subjects for study. Through a variety of learning methods and activities this module emphasises the knowledge base and the intellectual, interpersonal and practical skills needed by editors to face the opportunities for and threats to publishers in the 21st century.

Research Skills provides an in-depth introduction to the culture of research, to research methods and skills such as critical reading and level 7 academic writing skills. It guides you in theorising, structuring and designing research for publishing and ultimately in the approaches required for writing the dissertation. Data sources for publishing are examined and the final proposal prepares you for the later dissertation, although the skills learned and practised in this module are also applicable to practical evaluation of live projects necessary during work in publishing.

International Management of Publishing and Rights addresses different strategic options for the international development and management of contemporary publishing organisations and explores models for the commercial exploitation of intellectual property rights worldwide, including: exporting, licensing and building locally. This module will cover the important aspects of copyright and moral rights, the sale of translation rights and co-editions and other subsidiary rights. Digital licensing and the protection of IP against infringement are also covered.

Culture of Publishing explores theoretical approaches to print culture and transitions in the publishing industry from the early 20th century to the present day. Through reading a range of key texts in the discipline, and through participation in online seminar discussions, you consider a wide range of interpretations and critiques of the role of the publisher in society. Included are a discussion of methodologies for studying book history and publishing culture, both sociological and paratextual. There is a consideration of the gate-keeping function of the publisher, and the publisher’s role in the negotiation of cultural and commercial value in texts. The module then considers how ideological challenges are linked to specific developments in the history of publishing in the past century.

Management of Journals introduces you to the economically and academically important area of journals publishing. It covers both electronic and paper-based serial publications across science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences, and the arts. Journals publishing is characterised by rapid technological change from workflow and production to online submissions systems. You investigate leading edge technologies and address the responses of publishers to this fast-changing environment, evolving business models, and the wider context set by the academy, government and the international knowledge economy.

Independent Study offers you the opportunity to formulate a programme of study with assessment criteria that is based on work experience in the publishing or closely related industries. This enables you to devise, negotiate, organise and carry out reflective analysis of a period of work or a specific project according to a set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria in collaboration with the module leader and a supervisor. The programme of study is aimed at practical industry-based experiences and may include, for example, reporting on practical exploration of an issue of relevance to the publishing industry; or developing a practical project (eg website, newsletter, promotion materials). Critical reflection on your own work and on that of others is an integral aspect of the module.

Dissertation is a defining and essential component for the award of the MA Publishing Studies. As a major in-depth investigation of a subject, theme or issue of significance to the study of publishing, it allows you to put into practice the investigative and communication skills developed in the previous modules. In addition, you are able to demonstrate an ability to formulate and evaluate an independent study through research and an extended piece of academic written work of 15,000 words.

Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of modules you choose from may vary from that shown, although this is a rare occurrence.

Teaching and learning

Teaching is presented in a structured modular framework of compulsory and optional modules which provide both core competencies and knowledge while offering the opportunity for you to tailor your programme. You will be encouraged through discussion forums, individual reading and investigative practices in the modules to engage actively with your study. This approach is informed by and based on the understanding that your learning should be relevant to your interests.

In presenting the learning materials online, each module clearly outlines the structure of the 10 units at the start, identifies points of increased input, discussion areas, activities and assessments enabling you to adjust your engagement with the learning, within the requirements of the module, to suit your individual timetables. Within the modules and during the course of the programme, culminating in the dissertation, your autonomy in your learning increases through structured activities that start with close guidance and build towards greater independence. Flexibility, where possible, while aiming for a cohesive and supportive group of fellow students, is built into the timetable of discussion forums, communication with associate tutors and other students.

Study groups: You are entered into a small study group with an Associate Tutor who pays particular attention to your involvement, responses and learning within individual modules and throughout the programme. This support structure is enhanced by the Subject Coordinator and the Programme Lead who will oversee the tutors’ involvement with you, provide the tutors with guidance and act as a second level of support to you.

Work experience: The global nature of the students studying on this programme body makes the universal guarantee of the provision of work experience or work-based learning unattainable. However, OICPS will draw on its international network of contacts and alumni to provide, where possible, links for you while studying on the programme if you desire and are available for work experience.

Approach to assessment

The assessment strategy for the programme as a whole provides course work assignments appropriate to the core and optional modules. As a culmination to the programme, an independent research project leads to a 15,000 word dissertation. The assessments are designed to promote a dialogue between students and staff around assignments and feedback, and recognise that it is a joint responsibility. Use is made of peer formative feedback in some modules.

Within the modules, two or three assignments with increasing weighting provide you with an initial low percentage summative assessment, leading to assignments of greater weight towards the end of the study period. Formative feedback is provided for the larger weighted assignments. Marks and feedback are provided for all assignments. Written coursework includes such assignments as reports, reading diaries, academic essays and proposals. Feedback is provided using an assessment matrix derived from the learning outcomes and includes discursive comments and the opportunity to discuss feedback with your tutor. Marking by Associate Tutors is monitored by the Programme Lead/Subject Coordinator team and a percentage of double marking monitors the summative assignments.

Specialist facilities

The extensive electronic library resources support the programme and are assisted by the provision of up to two selected text books for each module studied. This particular unique feature of the programme provides text for directed reading and acts as a resource for further investigation of module topics.

Attendance pattern

As a distance learning programme, attendance in person as such is not relevant. However, the 10 units within each module are likely to require up to 15 hours study per week and include as listed elsewhere timely contributions to discussion forums, research, writing and reading. For this reason you should be aware that the programme will make considerable demands on your time and will need to be given priority over other commitments if you are to succeed with this study.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - distance learning fee: January 2020: £3,970 (year 1 of study) £3,820 (year 2 of study) January 2021: £4,330 (year 1 of study) £4,170 (year 2 of study)

International - distance learning fee: January 2020: £6,660 (year 1 of study) £6,400 (year 2 of study) January 2021: £7,500 (year 1 of study) £7,200 (year 2 of study)

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

Entrants to the programme should possess the following qualifications:

  • A 2:1 honours degree or above or international equivalent in any subject.
  • A demonstrable interest in the creative publishing industries, such as work experience or voluntary work in a publishing company or fulfilling a publishing-related function in a non-publishing organisation.
  • Two references; these may be, for example, two academic references, or one academic reference and one from an employer.
  • This programme is delivered through web technology and makes extensive use of digital resources. In order to study effectively on this programme, students require access to the Internet through broadband or fast modem on a daily basis and should have experience and familiarity with computer technology. The following hardware and software specifications are required for access to Moodle:

PC Requirement: 1GHz CPU, Windows XP or later, 1Gb of RAM,40Gb hard disk, Broadband internet access, Graphics Card with at least 128MB of memory, Sound card, Microphone and speakers or headphones. Macintosh Requirements: 1Ghz Processor, Mac OS X or later, 1Gb of RAM, 40Gb hard disk, Broadband internet access, Graphics Card with at least 128MB of memory, Sound card, Microphone and speakers or headphones.

The above should meet minimum requirements to use Brookes VLE software and enhance the learning experience. However, content linked and stored within the VLE may require higher specifications.

Software: Microsoft Office XP or later, Java 2 Runtime Environment version 1.6.0_05 (or the latest version)

Browser: Mozilla Firefox Version 3.0

Browser Plug-ins

Students will also need the following plug-ins for use with Moodle:

Apple Quick Time, Shockwave, Flash & Authorware, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Real Networks RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player. These plug-ins are free to download and the latest versions are required.

English language requirements

Applicants whose home language is not English must demonstrate that their level of reading, written and spoken English is appropriate for study at postgraduate level. This may be demonstrated through attaining one of the following qualifications: 

  • British Council IELTS: Level 7 overall with 6.0 in each component.
  • Recognised and approved equivalent qualification

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

You apply with references, a personal statement and supporting documents. Your personal statement should explain why you want to study on the programme, your particular area of interest in publishing, discuss any work experience you have enjoyed that is relevant to the programme and any other points about you that you feel may be useful to programme team members in considering your application. 

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

This course is targeted at individuals who either want to start a career in publishing or who are already working and want to enhance their career with an advanced degree. If you are a recent graduate who wants to enter publishing but are unable to continue with full time study then this programme enables you to develop appropriate knowledge of the industry. If you are already working and want to progress your career or change career, then the topics we cover in this programme provide the basis for this change.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

The support for the online delivery of this programme is provided by the specialist staff who have extensive experience in assisting students studying at a distance from our Oxford base. You will receive not only assistance from academic tutors (up to an hour of individual support for each of the modules you study) but also access to library and technical support during the programme and career advice after completing the programme. 

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

The Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies has wide-ranging research interests. Staff are active in studying museum and art gallery publishing, magazine publishing, book history and cultural aspects of publishing. Staff are also active in writing books, including some of the core texts that will be used in this programme. 

Course downloads

  • Oxford Brookes Publishing brochure 2016