Publishing Studies

The Master of Arts in the field of Publishing Studies by coursework and research report is a 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time degree.


Coursework is done as a hybrid mix of in-person and online lectures and is supported by an extensive guest speaker seminar program and in-person activities twice a year. 

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

Three of these units for students who have not studied Publishing previously:

  • AFRT7042A Context for publishing 1st semester (similar to AFRT4024 The publishing environment)
  • AFRT7037A Acquisition, commissioning and finance for publishing 1st semester (similar to AFRT4007 Commissioning (Publishing))
  • AFRT7036A Marketing and sales for publishing (similar to AFRT4021 Sales and marketing) 2nd semester
  • AFRT7035A Preparing manuscripts for production 2nd semester (similar to AFRT4014 Proofreading and copyediting in English, or an African language on request)
  • AFRT7041 Publishing management and finance - 2nd semester when available (similar to AFRT4011 Publishing management and finance)

Three of these units for students who have studied Publishing previously:

  • AFRT7040A Evolving forms of publishing – 1st semester
  • AFRT7046A Advanced digital and multimedia publishing – 1st semester
  • AFRT7038A Advanced copy-editing and manuscript preparation – 2nd semester
  • AFRT7039A Selected topic in publishing for MA Publishing Studies – when offered

All MA coursework and research report students: Research report on an approved topic is compulsory for all coursework students. AFRT7034A Research Report in Publishing Studies

Recommended reading

Any prescribed titles will be available in the institutional or department library for registered students.

  • Inside Book Publishing 6th edition – Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, Routledge 2020, 978-1-138- 57791-6 2020
  • The Publishing Business – Kelvin Smith & Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Bloomsbury, 9781474249515
  • Publishing for Profit, Woll, Thomas. Chicago Review Press, 5th edition 2014


Full time students do all their coursework, the research proposal and the research report in one year. Full time study is strongly discouraged for working students. Part time students ideally do 2 course modules on the 1st semester in the 1st year and 1 course in the 2nd semester of the 1st year. The research proposal and the research report are done in the second year.

Students who have not studied publishing previously will complete 3 of these 5 modules. Selection will be done in consultation with the Publishing Studies academic coordinator. Detailed descriptions are found under the BA Honours curriculum entry.

The following modules are for students who have studied Publishing previously, for example the BA Honours Publishing Studies. Students must complete three of the modules.

AFRT7040A Evolving forms of publishing – 1 st semester

Prerequisite – AFRT4024A/AFRT7042A This unit introduces the field of book history and print culture, in the context of human communication. Printed books as material objects have been joined by various electronic communications. The readings and activities in this module examine technologies from the first hand printed books, through the advent of printing presses to electronic forms of text creation. The history of the book in South Africa and Africa as well as other parts of the world is included. We examine the basis for the study of publishing and book history with different approaches to the theories of the creation of text in all its forms. The module includes comparisons of the development copyright and digital rights legislation and practice in South African and internationally. The topic of archiving as a means of preserving history is incorporated.

Set texts:

  • An Introduction to Book History – David Finkelstein, Alistair McCleery, Routledge
  • The Book History Reader – ed by David Finkelstein, Alistair McCleery, Routledge 2nd ed 2006
AFRT7046A Advanced digital and multimedia publishing – 1 st semester

Prerequisite – AFRT4024A/AFRT7042A More than the other modules, this will focus specifically on digital and multimedia publishing in South Africa and internationally. It will examine markets, types of materials that are published in digital and other formats, and some of the differing production techniques. This course will delve into the detail of coding and packaging a digital publication for the South African market and how to sell and distribute titles online.

AFRT7038A Advanced copy-editing and manuscript preparation – 2 nd semester

Prerequisite – AFRT4014A/AFRT7035A This module teaches advanced skills and the theoretical background necessary to work with a complex manuscript and prepare it for typesetting for either electronic or paper production. It includes high level language, content and copy editing for specific audiences, proofreading, preparing artwork briefs and preparing briefs for editors, translators and typesetters. Preparing all front and end matter, including imprint and contents page, forewords, glossaries and indices are dealt with. Advanced skills for editing on screen as well as on hard copy will be covered. As well as hands on work with manuscripts, management of the editorial department in a publishing company provides the overview of managing and briefing the people involved at every stage in the process.

AFRT7039A Selected topic in publishing for MA Publishing Studies – when available

The selected topic would be made up of a series of lectures by publishing experts on their fields of expertise. Content will focus on how local publishing is adapting to international trends, accessing of information on a variety of reading platforms and trends in local publishing including publishing in all official languages.

All MA coursework students

AFRT7034A Research report – full year

Research report on an approved topic is compulsory for all coursework students. It comprises half of the credits for the degree. Over a full academic year, you will complete a research report 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 about 25 000 words, including the proposal, results, and discussion of the results. 

Entry Requirements

Masters by Coursework and Research Report:

  • A bachelors degree with honours from Wits or another university with a 65% total mark aggregate.

Please contact the Department.

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.

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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.