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Writing for Magazines and Trade Publications

Course Code: CMNS 3600
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course develops the skills needed to write for magazines, industry-specific trade publications, and blogs. Students will learn to analyze publications, develop story ideas, submit queries, and research and write opinion columns and profiles. Emphasis will be given to the strategies and practicalities of freelance writing as a career.

Course Content

1.  Analyze Genres

Students will

  • distinguish types of magazines and journals
  • distinguish types of writing: profiles, service pieces, issue articles, personal experience features, cultural reviews, short features, long features

2.  Research Potential Markets

Students will

  • research the market for specific topics of potential interest to a specific editor
  • review periodicals for editorial bias and style
  • investigate and examine online magazines
  • develop an editorial profile

3.  Develop Text as Product

Students will

  • research audience-specific and genre-specific material
  • learn and apply interviewing techniques used in writing feature articles
  • produce outlines for various articles
  • write a column and a feature article

4.   Work to Schedule and Deadlines

Students will

  • develop timelines and action plans to meet objectives
  • develop prioritizing skills to meet deadlines
  • use problem-solving strategies to meet objectives
  • use skills necessary to maintain scheduling deadlines

5.  Evaluate Product

Students will

  • develop specific client-centred revision and editing strategies
  • work collaboratively with other students to refine the written product
  • provide editorial response to other students’ products

6.  Market the Product

Students will

  • produce general and specific query letters
  • develop text for specific editorial markets
  • use follow-up strategies
  • pursue professional publication of writing produced in this course (optional)

7.   Learn about Freelance Writing

Students will

  • learn business and survival strategies for successful freelance writing
  • develop an understanding of how writers and editors work together
  • learn to use the terminology of the magazine publishing industry
  • investigate online publishing possibilities

Methods of Instruction

The course will be conducted in a workshop format to allow for peer and instructor feedback on draft writing. Guest speakers will address specific magazine topics. Some field activities (interviewing, meetings) are required. 

Means of Assessment

Students are expected to be self-motivated and to demonstrate professionalism, which includes active participation, good attendance, punctuality, effective collaboration, ability to meet deadlines, presentation skills, and accurate self-evaluation.

Evaluation will be based on this general format:

Story ideas  15%
Queries and cover letters 15%
Column 20%
Feature article 35%
Professionalism/participation (as defined above)   15%

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will

  1. understand the history of magazine writing and how the genre differs from other types of writing
  2. analyze and discuss sample articles from magazines and trade publications
  3. develop a story topic from idea to completion
  4. actively participate in discussion of draft columns and articles
  5. develop the skills required for freelance and in-house writing for magazines and trade publications
  6. become aware of the related responsibilities and expectations in this field

course prerequisites

Acceptance into the Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication

or a minimum of 45 credit hours including a university-transfer course in English, Communications, or Creative Writing with a grade of B or higher

or permission of the Professional Communication program coordinator



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.