The study of children’s literature at the School of English, Dublin City University, has its origins in the long tradition of scholarship in the discipline associated with two of the university’s incorporating colleges: the former Church of Ireland College of Education offered the first postgraduate qualification (a diploma) in children’s literature, in Ireland, in 1992; the former Department of English, at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, offered the first taught master’s programme in the discipline, in Ireland, in 1997.
Since September 2017, students at the School of English, DCU, are able to study for the degree of Masters of Arts in Children’s and Young Adult Literature (the only named postgraduate degree in Ireland concentrating on YA literature), which marks an exciting departure for both the discipline and the new school.
The MA programme benefits enormously from the participation of national and international experts in the discipline, as well as from the enthusiastic commitment of its students.
Why Choose the MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature at DCU?
- The School of English is proud of its ground-breaking history in initiating the academic study of children’s literature as a postgraduate discipline in Ireland.
- Members of the lecturing staff are experts in their fields, publishing and researching widely in the discipline, and co-founding national organisations (such as the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature).
- The programme offers students the opportunity to study children’s and young adult literature in a supportive environment; small class sizes ensure that everyone has a voice, and typically promote a close and mutually supportive relationship between students; lectures and seminars are lively and varied, and promote an interactive and participative environment.
- The wide range of modules on the programme ensures that students get the best opportunity to study their particular interests.
- The programme is supported by the activities of the Centre for Research in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, including talks by world-renowned specialists in the discipline, such as Prof Emeritus Peter Hunt (Cardiff), Prof Emerita Maria Tatar (Harvard), Prof Karen Coats (Cambridge), Dr Marah Gubar (MIT) and Dr Lucy Pearson (Newcastle).
- Students of the programme have access to the special collections of children’s literature held at O’Reilly Library (DCU Glasnevin Campus).
Why Do This Programme?
Students on this programme often express a long-standing fascination with children’s and/or young adult literature, and enrol for a variety of reasons. Some students, for example, undertake the programme purely to find an outlet for their love of children’s and young adult literature, while others do so because they see it as a pathway to career development. Our graduates have used the programme as a means of furthering their ambitions as writers, while others have gone on to doctoral study. The programme facilitates these several motivations/aims, offering students a wide-ranging course of study in the history and development of children’s and young adult literature from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century, and introducing them to critical areas of research.
Students read widely during the course of their first year, when the programme considers a range of topics, including the art and politics of children’s literature; form and genre; and the ever-evolving perceptions of what is deemed ‘suitable’ reading for children and young adults. In their second year, students concentrate on a specific area of research and, with guided supervision, write their dissertations.
Programme Aims and Objectives
The MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature degree programme aims to
- illuminate children’s and young adult literature, and demonstrate its literary and cultural significance;
- deepen students’ appreciation of children’s and young adult literature, and enable them to engage with such literature on both a critical and an imaginative level;
- develop students’ practical skills, so as to enable them to approach reading, writing and research with greater confidence;
- encourage students to recognise the transferrable nature of the skills that they develop during the course of this programme.
Programme Structure and Content
Currently, the MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature degree programme is offered part-time over two years. Typically, the programme is taught on two evenings per week in Year One (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays from 16.00 to 18.00). In Year Two, formal lectures only take place one day a week in both semesters; in Year Two students also meet occasionally with their dissertation supervisors, at mutually convenient times, to complete a minor dissertation of circa. 12,000 words.
To meet the requirements of the Masters in Children’s and Young Adult Literature degree programme, students must take six taught modules, which are assessed by means of essays, and produce a minor thesis of circa 15,000 words.
Modules are subject to review and amendment. The modules below are provided for the purposes of illustration only:
- Histories and Contexts
- Theories, Critics, Research Methods
- Picturebooks and Film
- International Children’s Literature
- Colonial, Adventure and School Stories
- Fantasy and Poetry
- Dissertation (which includes supervisory sessions with a research supervisor; research and writing seminars; and, student presentations)
View the current course structure
What former students say
The MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature degree programme is chaired by Dr. Keith O’Sullivan, associate professor in the School of English. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +353 (0)1 700 6097.
“It is testament to the thought-provoking and engaging lectures which consistently challenged and inspired us that I was always excited by the prospect of our evening lectures, no matter how tiring the day. From the symmetry of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are to the sanctuary of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s The Secret Garden, I was encouraged for the first time to think critically about the issues that affect both children and literature.
“Since completing the course, my newfound fascination with the interplay of words and images in picturebooks has changed me as a reader and challenged me as a school librarian. Beyond the walls of the school library, my research has led to beginning a PhD programme and to multiple invitations to lecture on the topic of visual literacy at educational conferences and in universities. Like Alice in Wonderland or Lucy in Narnia, this is a programme that will take you on a magical journey and all sorts of unexpected adventures (both personally and professionally) are sure to follow.”
Mairead Duggan, Graduate
Some of our graduates have used the programme as a springboard into doctoral study and academia, while others have used the knowledge and skills acquired on the programme to inform their work as journalists, judges, lecturers, editors, publishers, researchers and writers.
This programme has been of particular use to teachers of English at both primary and secondary levels, as a means of career development. It has also served the same purpose for school librarians and for librarians working in public libraries.
Graduates of the programme have also served as president of IBBY Ireland (the Irish section of the international non-profit organisation, which aims to bring children and books together); acted as adjudicators for, and chairs of, Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Awards; and, published children’s literature.
This programme is open to applicants with an honours primary degree, minimum H2.1 (Level 8 NFQ) in a related subject. Applicants with an honours degree who do not meet the minimum entry of a H2.1 but can show substantial and demonstrable experience related to children's and/or young adult literature may be considered for a place on the programme.
As part of your application, please submit a personal statement (maximum 750 words), outlining why you wish to study for a master's degree in Children's and Young Adult Literature.
As part of the selection process you may also be required to attend for interview.
International applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language, they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. For further information in relation to international applicants, please click here.