Publishing Studies

Learn industry best practices with the intention of establishing a career in publishing.


The focus of the courses is on professional development. During the course you will:

  • develop an informed perspective on contemporary publishing issues in South Africa and the world, and apply this knowledge within specifc publishing contexts
  • develop skills in practical areas such as copy-editing, design, production, sales and marketing
  • achieve an understanding of publishing processes and all the players involved
  • identify and analyse issues affecting the business and management operations of a publishing company build critical, analytic and evaluative skills in communication, teamwork, project management and technology
  • relate legislative and copyright issues to the practice of publishing
  • deal with all these aspects of publishing in terms of both paper book publishing and electronic or digital publishing. 


Students are required to complete 4 full semester course modules/units and a research essay. Please discuss your module choices with the HoD as minimum student numbers apply, other courses in the SLLM at Hons level are available by request.

Each unit requires 10-12 hours of attending lectures, reading, researching and completing assignments each week of the semester. All assessment is by assignments – there are no examinations.

  • AFRT4024A The publishing environment – 1st semester
  • AFRT4007A Commissioning and finance (Publishing) – 1st semester
  • AFRT4021A Sales and marketing – 2nd semester
  • AFRT4014A Proofreading and copy-editing (in English, or an African language on request) – 2nd semester
  • AFRT4029A Research essay – compulsory for all students
  • AFRT4011 Publishing management and finance - when offered – 2nd semester
  • AFRT4010 Design and production – when offered, this is a one block module
  • AFRT4026 Selected topic in publishing – when offered

Course module descriptions


AFRT4024A The publishing environment

Publishing students and employees need to understand the historical, social, economic and cultural contexts in which publishing is taking place, as well as the physical, financial, editing and marketing processes involved in publishing. This module will facilitate your learning in the field of publishing in South Africa by providing you with a context for the local publishing market. You will be introduced to the different market sectors and what (and how) they publish content including trade, academic, scholarly and educational content. An important part of the skills you’ll acquire in this module is an understanding of the factors that influence publishing (like copyright legislation, market conditions and costs) and how to strategically create content that is accessible and used by readers in South Africa despite those factors. The course will begin with the local publishing landscape and continue through the conceptualization, design and production, and market needs of books and content in South Africa today.

AFRT4007A Commissioning and finance

A basic working knowledge of Excel is a prerequisite for this course. This module will facilitate your learning in the field of publishing in South Africa by introducing you to the commercial and financial decisions that create and sustain a viable publishing entity in South Africa. You will be taken through the various considerations of commercial, content and market viability of titles to answer the questions ‘Is my book profitable?’ ‘Does it actually have to be?’ and ‘Will the market want to buy enough of it?’ The most important skill you will develop in this module is an understanding of the financial implications of operating as a publisher in South Africa – taking into consideration the ethical, corporate and larger strategic decisions of your company vision and mission on the content you produce. This course will begin identifying the financial viability of publishing houses based on various factors (such as what they publish, and how), and will proceed to guide you through building profitable lists and making format decisions that will increase the reach of your titles.

AFRT4029A Research essay – full year

Over a full academic year, you will complete a research essay on a topic of particular interest to you. The first part of the year will be spent writing the research proposal, in academic style, with research questions, a literature review, methodology, and reference list. When the proposal is complete, you will submit it for approval from the research ethics committee. The final essay is intended to be 10 000 words, including the proposal, results, and discussion of the results.


AFRT4021A Sales and marketing

What benefit is a book if it’s never read? This course will develop your understanding and skills related to the marketing, sales and distribution of content. Marketing refers to a range of techniques including not just selling and advertising but also market research, product development, pricing, promotion, merchandising, direct mail, public relations, etc. In publishing, ‘marketing’ is often the term used to refer to all sales-related activities not handled specifically by sales representatives, while sales relate to the activities of sales reps and support staff. Marketing is broadly used to describe the belief that the customer is of prime importance in business, and that success in publishing comes from anticipating the needs of the market. This is very much the principle assumed to underlie this course.

AFRT4014A Proofreading and copy-editing (in English, or an African language on request)

Preparing full manuscripts for production requires skilled copyeditors. Proofreaders check a document for any kind of grammatical, typographical, or formatting errors, as the last step taken before a document is published or shared with its intended audience. This module hopes to facilitate your learning in the field of publishing in South Africa by introducing you to editing and proofreading, which is an integral part of publishing, no matter what the platform. You will learn about the multiple roles that an editor has to play; be taken through the various tasks of copy-editing and proofreading different types of texts, on paper and electronically to ensure that all text is legible, coherent, consistent.

AFRT4011 Publishing management and finance - when offered

Publishing houses require the same management techniques and skills as any other company. This course concentrates on aspects of management that will give any publishing employee an overview of how the company runs. In many ways management encompasses all the activities in the company - where a commissioning editor/publisher needs to look at the cost implications of one title at a time, or a marketer needs to look at the projections and costs involved in one book promotion, they both need to understand the implications of the costs of the whole publishing programme. Included in this course are the basics of management, accounting, interpretation of balance sheets and income statements, different types of profit and the importance of cash flow. From profitability calculations on individual titles, a publisher must also be able to do budgets on entire publishing programmes, medium and long-term forecasts and learn to measure actual performance against forecast. Preparation of a business plan for a company integrates the learning for this whole module.

Entry Requirements


  • A bachelors degree or equivalent with 65% course mark aggregate in a third year major.
  • At least an upper second class pass in the final undergraduate course in the subject.

You are required to write an entrance test as part of the admission requirements for BA Honours Publishing Studies. Contact Mrs Merle Govind, 011-717-4140, to arrange for the test.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.