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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:

March 31st 2020
Applications for admission to TCD’s taught postgraduate programmes in 2020/21 will open in November 2019.
Candidates are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible as applications are reviewed as they arrive.
Next intake will be admitted in September 2020.


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. It addresses chronologies, genres, modes of criticism, publishing trends and the full apparatus of literary investigation across four centuries, while addressing the unique power dynamics that arise from adult authors writing for child readers. It is particularly concerned with multidisciplinary study because of the unique integration of words and images through the medium of picture books and graphic novels. Complete in itself, the course may also serve as preparation for those intending to proceed to further research in the field. This is the only full-time one year taught masters course in children's literature in Ireland.

This course offers unique opportunities to engage in archival research in children's literature and to work with the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books, the bequest of more than 10,000 children's books left to the College by Mary 'Paul' Pollard, one-time keeper of Early Printed Books, in 2005, as well as to work with the National Collection of Children’s Books (

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; four option courses, from which you get to choose two-  Agency and Empowerment in Literature for Young Adults, Material Culture in Children’s Literature,  The Victorian Child, and Creative Writing; and a dissertation module, where you choose your own research topic in agreement with your supervisor. The options listed above were offered in 2019/20 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?

There are six contact hours a week from September to April: four for the core course, and two for your option. Each course is assessed by an essay or other written coursework to be submitted at the end of the term; then a supervised dissertation of 15,000-18,000 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, Emer O’Sullivan, and Timothy Young.

What qualifications do I need to apply?

You should have a good honours 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 or contact Graduate Studies directly.

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, scholarships, 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 and Case Studies in Children’s Literature – 4 hours per week

  1. Classics and the Canon: Lewis Carroll and Patricia Lynch
  2. Classics and the Canon: Philippa Pearce and Mildred D. Taylor
  3. Theories and Gender: Mark Twain and John Stephens
  4. Theories and Gender: Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Judith Butler
  5. Archives and Collections: Hands-on workshops with The Pollard Collection of Children’s Books and The National Collection of Children’s Books
  6. Age and Bodies: Babette Cole and Michelle Magorian
  7. Study Week
  8. Young Adult Literature: JD Salinger and Siobhan Dowd
  9. Poetry: Isaac Watts and Carol Ann Duffy
  10. Class and Power: Maria Edgeworth and Brenda (Georgina Castle Smith)
  11. Theatre: JM Barrie
  12. Paper writing consultation

Hilary Term

Perspectives and Case Studies in Children’s Literature - 4 hours per week

  1. Visual Narratives: Richard Doyle and Walter Crane
  2. Visual Narratives: Beatrice Alemanga and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  3. School Stories: Enid Blyton and JK Rowling
  4. Children’s Films: Ken Loach and Andrew Adamson
  5. Landscapes of Adventure: RL Stevenson and Eilís Dillon
  6. The Many forms of Myth: TH White
  7. Study Week
  8. The Many forms of Myth: Rosemary Sutcliff and Kate Thompson
  9. Fantasy: Alan Garner and JRR Tolkien
  10. Graphic Novels: Isabelle Arsenault, Fanny Britt, and Shaun Tan
  11. Diversity in Children’s Books:
  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.
  • think beyond the confines of ‘learning outcomes’, take responsibility for their own learning experiences, and become empowered citizens.

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 lectures/ 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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