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M.Phil. in Children’s Literature (M.Phil./P.Grad. Dip.)

Course Directors: Dr Jane Carroll, Dr Pádraic Whyte

Course Code: TRT 689
  • Students intending to apply for this course should click here for general details on how to apply for this course.


The programme lasts one year from September and requires full-time study.

Closing Date:

31st March 2017.
Applications for admission to TCD’s taught postgraduate programmes in 2017/18 will open on Tuesday November 1, 2016.
Candidates are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible. Next intake will be admitted in September 2017.

What is it?

The opportunity to study a broad range of children's literature, with special attention paid to the role of the Irish contribution to the development of children's literature in English. The course is uniquely supported by the Pollard Collection, the bequest of more than 10,000 children's books left to the College by Mary Paul Pollard in 2005, and by the College deposit library. It's the only full-time one year taught masters course in children's literature in Ireland. There are also opportunities to engage with the National Collection of Children’s Books project (

What's on the course?

A core course, 'Perspectives and Case Studies in Children's Literature,' which addresses a range of texts, theoretical positions and genres across three hundred years of writing in English for children; five option courses, from which you get to choose two-  Agency and Empowerment in Literature for Young Adults, Material Culture in Children’s Literature, Modern Fantasy: defining and redefining a genre, The Victorian Child, Time and Place in Children's Fiction; and a dissertation module, where you choose your own research topic in agreement with your supervisor. Some of the options are shared with the MPhil in Popular Literature. The options listed above were offered in 2016/17 and are subject to change in subsequent years.

Please note: This is a postgraduate degree programme; however, candidates who satisfy the examiner in all but the dissertation may be considered for the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Children’s Literature.

How is it taught and examined?

Six contact hours a week from September to April: four for the core course, and two for your option. An essay to be submitted for each course; then a supervised dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words to be submitted at the end of the summer. Students are also encouraged to attend additional lectures and workshops offered by guest speakers and visiting academics. In recent years, a number of international experts in children's literature have spoken at Trinity, including Jerry Griswold, Peter Hunt, Donna Jo Napoli, Perry Nodelman, Kimberley Reynolds, Katie Trumpener, and Timothy Young.

What qualifications do I need to apply?

You should have a good honors degree (at least an upper second, or a GPA of at least 3.3). Along with supporting documentation, students are asked to submit a writing sample which should be a piece of critical analysis between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length. This can be a new piece of writing, or something submitted for another course, or something you've submitted, had graded and revised. It does not necessarily have to focus on children’s literature (or, indeed, English literature), although the ability to demonstrate experience in the field may be an advantage. We look, at this stage, for essays that have a clear argument, a clear structure, and a good range and astute use of formal critical vocabulary. We expect candidates to engage with critical texts rather than simply report them or use them uncritically in support of their own arguments, and we expect nuanced and detailed engagement with texts generally, for which a strong structure and highly developed critical vocabulary is necessary. Please keep strictly within the word limit and submit a clean copy – that is, one that has no visible marks or comments from its having been graded.

For queries related to English language requirements, GPA averages, qualifications from international universities, fees, general administration and so on, please consult Trinity’s Graduate Studies webpage.

How do I apply?

Application is made through the Graduate Studies Office and not the School of English. Students wishing to find out more about the application process should follow this link, to the college's Graduate Studies page and follow the instructions listed there.

Please consult this page and the Graduate Studies link provided above (in particular those pages pertaining to applicants for taught Masters) before emailing a course director as many of the FAQs regarding fees, deadline and applications procedures are answered there.

Please note: For the efficient processing of applications, we ask that applicants submit all supporting material when submitting the initial application form. It is also the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted in a timely manner. Shortly after your application form is submitted, please check the system to ensure that referees have uploaded a reference. If, within two weeks of the submission of your application, there is no confirmation on the system that all references are uploaded, we ask that you send gentle reminders to referees to upload references as soon as possible. Final decisions on applications will only be made when all supporting materials, including a sample essay and both references, are uploaded to the system.
The course directors can be contacted by writing to Jane Carroll or Pádraic Whyte at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin or by emailing or


Michaelmas Term

Perspectives in Children’s Literature – 2 hours per week

  1. A Brief History
  2. A Brief History
  3. Theories and Methodologies
  4. Theories and Methodologies
  5. Research Methods: Archives and Collections
  6. Genre in Children's Literature
  7. Study Week
  8. Didactic Juvenile Literature
  9. Delightful Juvenile Literature
  10. School Story
  11. Young Adult Fiction
  12. Paper writing consultation

Case Studies - 2 hours per week

  1. Re-evaluating the ‘Classics’ – Carroll and Potter
  2. Re-evaluating the ‘Classics’ – Pearce and Lynch
  3. Application of Theories – Twain
  4. Application of Theories – Fairytales
  5. The Pollard Collection of Children’s Books and The National Collection of Children’s Books
  6. Adventure Story – Stevenson and Dillon
  7. Study Week
  8. Edgeworth and Newbery
  9. Tieck and Brothers Grimm
  10. Hughes and Kipling
  11. Salinger and Crossan
  12. Paper writing consultation

Hilary Term

Perspectives in Children’s Literature - 2 hours per week

  1. Visual Texts
  2. Visual Texts
  3. Poetry
  4. Poetry
  5. Performing Children’s Literature
  6. Historical Novels
  7. Study Week
  8. The Many Forms of Myth
  9. The Many Forms of Myth
  10. Fantasy
  11. Fantasy
  12. Paper writing consultation

Case Studies - 2 hours per week

  1. Dayre and Erlbuch
  2. Innocenti and Lee
  3. Opie, Watts, Milnes
  4. Causley, Rosen, Duffy
  5. Baum and Barrie
  6. Sutcliff and Dowd
  7. Study Week
  8. O’Grady and Thompson
  9. Garner and Gaiman
  10. Le Guin and Lewis
  11. Pullman and Tolkien
  12. Paper writing consultation

Working methods:
The topics of the core module are presented in 2 x 2-hour seminars per week throughout Michaelmas and Hilary terms.

Learning outcomes:
On successful completion of this module students should be able to

  • analyse the development of children’s literature and children’s literature studies;
  • evaluate methods of theoretical, historical and generic engagement with children’s literature;
  • discuss specific texts through the lens of particular theories and be able to analyse a range of children’s books in some detail;
  • write well-structured and technically accurate pieces under research conditions, demonstrating the knowledge and understanding acquired and engagement with a range of critical and methodological perspectives.

This module will: (i) introduce students to a wide range of texts produced by writers and illustrators of children’s literature; (ii) examine theoretical approaches to and histories of children’s literature; (iii) engage students in close analysis of a range of texts in a way which offers both breadth and depth of research.

*Prospective students should note that both the option and core course seminars offered may change from one academic year to the next.

Course Administrator:
Brenda Brooks
Executive Officer
MPhil in Children's Literature
School of English
Trinity College
Dublin 2

Telephone: 353-1-8961839
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