This postgraduate degree programme offers an exciting opportunity to study a wide range of children's literature – a broad category that encompasses everything from picture books through to Young Adult fiction. Examining texts from across several centuries, the course addresses chronologies, genres, modes of criticism, readerships, publishing trends and the full apparatus of literary investigation, while exploring the unique power dynamics that arise from adult authors creating texts for younger readers. While the focus is on literary analysis, the programme also currently offers a creative writing element. The course may be taken full-time or part-time.
Situated in Dublin, a UNESCO City of Literature, this taught master’s programme also pays special attention to the role of the Irish contribution to the development of children's literature in English. It offers unique opportunities to engage in archival research, to explore the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books – the largest collection of children’s books in Ireland – as well as to work with the National Collection of Children’s Books (nccb.tcd.ie).
The course consists a core module ‘Perspectives and Case Studies in Children’s Literature’ that runs in the first and the second semester, as well as option modules. Students take one option module in each of the semesters, choosing from a variety of special subjects on offer each year. In recent years, the children’s literature options have included: ‘The Victorian Child’, ‘The City and Children’s Literature’, ‘Material Culture and Children’s Literature’, and ‘Creative Writing for Children’. Students also take the one-semester modules ‘Research Skills for Postgraduate English’ and ‘Mapping the Literary Field’, which are shared with other M.Phil. programmes at the School of English. There are also opportunities to take an option module outside of the area of children’s literature. Students finally complete a dissertation of 15,000 –16,000 words.
Students of different nationalities and from diverse backgrounds and disciplines have successfully completed the programme since it was established in 2011. Many graduates have careers in areas such as editing, publishing, arts management, journalism, curation, teaching, librarianship, and academia. Over the years, students have worked with leading academics in the field, attended guest lectures by local and international scholars and authors, applied for funding opportunities to research archives at Yale University and at Trinity, collaborated with Children’s Books Ireland on their ‘Bold Girls’ initiative, curated an exhibition in Trinity Library’s Long Room (see Story Spinners: Irish Women and Children’s Books), created podcasts with International Literature Festival Dublin, and immersed themselves in the vibrant children’s literature community at the School of English.
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Study Children's Literature (M.Phil.) at Trinity
Trinity's School of English runs a world-leading master's programme in Children's Literature. Meet Course Director Dr. Pádraic Whyte to learn more.
Number of Places24 Places
Dr Pádraic Whyte and Dr Jane Carroll
31st March 2023
Applicants should have a good honours degree (at least an upper second or a GPA of at least 3.3). A sample of the candidate’s own critical writing (3,000-5,000 words) is also required.
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"The year dedicated to the MPhil in Children’s Literature has been the most enriching and enjoyable experience I’ve had as a student so far. The program has unique option modules, my favourites being ‘The Victorian Child’ and ‘Material Culture’, and explores a comprehensive range of interesting genres and time periods in Children's Literature. The focus on individual research is fostered by lecturers who are experts in their field, enthusiastic about their work, and helped guide me through the challenges of essay and dissertation writing. Overall, the support and mentoring of the faculty and the friendships I made within my cohort have been invaluable to me as I move forward in the PhD program in English Literature at Trinity College Dublin."
"What most appealed to me about the MPhil in Children’s Literature was the opportunity to study the history and development of children’s books over the past three hundred years in a socio-historical and literary context rather than an educational and pedagogical context, which is so often the case in postgraduate courses in which children’s books feature prominently. The MPhil in Children’s Literature was admirably comprehensive in charting the course of children’s literature as a distinct form of writing from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the present day, whilst identifying the major milestones of the Anglophone tradition along the way and focussing on movements and sub-genres of particular importance. My MPhil class were immediately made aware of how recently children’s literature became an accepted academic discipline in its own right and this made for a palpably exciting and hugely invigorating year of journeying into undiscovered country, particularly in terms of Irish children’s books, and of feeling empowered to both enrich existing scholarly arguments and construct entirely new ones. It was fascinating to look afresh at children’s books with which I had long-standing relationships, whether I loved or loathed them, and re-appraise them by placing them in the context of the development of children’s literature, appreciating for the first time how certain texts that have been condemned to cosy classic status were pioneering, subversive and even radical when first published. One of my favourite aspects of the MPhil programme was the revelation of wonderful children’s texts of which I was entirely ignorant, despite many having achieved huge success within sub-genres with which I never previously felt a great affinity, such as picturebooks and Young Adult, but now respect and value highly. Exploring the extensive Pollard Collection of Children’s Books, which is housed in Trinity College, felt like accessing a portal to the past and that amazing insight into what children of the eighteenth, nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries saw and felt and experienced is something that I will always treasure. The diversity in expertise and insight amongst the teaching staff on the MPhil in Children’s Literature meant that I felt that I would be extremely well-supported in whatever direction I chose to take my independent research projects when the time came to choose a thesis topic and, ultimately, to undertake doctoral research on completion of the MPhil."