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MPhil in Education (Critical Approaches to Children's Literature)

Course Description

This course is aimed at applicants who already have knowledge of and interest in children's literature and who want to develop expertise in the subject at masters' level. In this course students will meet old favourites and make new exciting acquaintances. They will be introduced to the most recent debates on the nature and social function of this controversial and multifaceted kind of literature. They will also be provided with the tools for critical assessment of books written and marketed for a young audience. Students will follow modules covering: researching picturebooks and their readers; texts, contexts and childhoods; and what makes this Masters in Children's Literature.

As well as considering picturebooks, poetry, media texts and writing for children, this thematic route concentrates on a wide range of fiction for children, including the 'classics', texts for very young readers, international literature and novels for young adults. Close textual study and the history of children's literature are embedded within the route, which also concerns itself with exciting new texts, (sometimes using sound and image) produced by ever changing new technologies. Qualitative action research involving empirical work with children on visual literacy will be undertaken during the route. Participants are encouraged to keep a working journal and to include references to their own reading autobiographies.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/ededmpecl

Course detail

The course focuses throughout on different representations of childhood in the texts that are studied and examines what is meant by the contested term 'children' literature'. Participants will be expected to engage with some of the key debates in the field and to consider a range of theoretical perspectives - from Romanticism to reader-response theory; gender issues to postmodernism; historical studies to new historicism; sociocultural viewpoints to semiotics - as well as examining critically views of young readers and their reading choices.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:

- a comprehensive understanding of research techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature applicable to their specific educational domain;
- demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
- shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies;
- demonstrated self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


The course is composed of two key elements: (i) the research methods training course and (ii) the 'Critical Approaches to Children's Literature' thematic route. Teaching time is split between both elements, with 32 hours of teaching being provided in research methods and 64 hours in the thematic route. The elements are taught through a mixture of lectures, smaller group seminars and individual supervisions.

Each term, written work is submitted and formative feedback is provided. Informally, feedback will also be provided through regular supervisions (three times a term). At the end of each term, supervisors are required to provide a report on student progress which can be viewed by the student through CGSRS.


- Thesis: Up to 20,000 words.
- Essay 1: 6,000-6,500 words.
- Essay 2: 6,000-6,500 words.


Students wishing to continue from the MPhil in Education to PhD are required to achieve:

1) an average of 70 across both sections with the thesis counting as double-weighted (eg: (Essay 1 + Essay 2 + thesis + thesis) divided by 4 = 70 or above.

2) a straight mark of 70 or higher for the thesis.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

The Faculty is pleased to say that, in general, education students are successful in most of the funding competitions, and, in a typical year, will host students who have been awarded funding from all of the major funding bodies.

In addition, a number of Colleges have their own scholarships/bursaries, but these will be restricted to College members. Finally, it is important to note that deadlines for scholarships and bursaries are early, so applicants are strongly encouraged to explore funding opportunities as soon as possible - at least a year in advance of the start of the course.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Education (Critical Approaches to Children's Literature) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Anonymous (April 2015)

Forum for stimulating debate – a new way of thinking and a great group of peers to share feedback with

(Student Profile)

Anonymous (April 2015)

Really wonderful learning environment


Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK II.i Honours Degree. Find University Minimum Academic Requirements here View Website

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