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MRes Children's Literature – University of Reading

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  • Children's literature

    Study Children's Literature from Literary and Cultural Perspectives

MRes Children's Literature

ell-alice2This MRes is the oldest accredited degree in this field in Britain (founded in 1984), and its staff are all world-known special experts in children's literature and childhood who have published extensively internationally (for details of our unique publications, please see our staff pages on the CIRCL website). This course is directed by field leading Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein.


MRes Brochure CoverThe MRes is part of the Graduate Centre for International Research in Children's Literature: Literature, Culture, Media (CIRCL), which runs our world-famous and cutting-edge research on children's literature, culture, and media in the English Department. The extremely popular and well-known taught MRes course (1 year full-time, 2 years part-time) involves the study of a wide range of Children's Literature, and a wide range of issues around Children's Literature, childhood, history, culture, and media.

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Students on the MRes consider the following kinds of questions about children's literature and childhood on the degree:

  • ideas about childhood, reading, and writing
  • research approaches to children's literature and childhood
  • the history of children's literature, including training in archival research using the University library's Special Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Children's Literature.


The syllabus

The main approaches in the course are drawn from literary theory and cultural studies. The taught syllabus consists of six units. The three core modules consist of the theoretical basis (research methods and approaches) for the study of Children's Literature, together with detailed study of nineteenth and twentieth century Children's Literature; three additional components are drawn from the following list of modules:

  • North American Children's Literature
  • Post/Colonial Children's Literature
  • Children's Radio, Film and Television
  • Myth and Folktale in Children's Literature
  • Popular Forms of Children's Fiction

The three additional units to be offered each year will depend upon student choices and staff availability. Please see the CIRCL website for more information on each of the modules.


Teaching is by seminars, lectures and tutorials, (with regular research talks by visiting academics organised under the aegis of CIRCL), followed by a period of independent research for a dissertation of 20,000 words. For the dissertation, students have the unique opportunity to be supervised on a one-to-one basis by one of the CIRCL staff who is expert in the student's chosen dissertation topic. Students are also required to submit six essays (of approximately 3000 words) during the taught phase of the course. The course begins in October each year and is completed in 12 (full-time) or 24 (part-time) months.

CIRCL: The Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media.

The MRes in Children's Literature is run under the aegis of CIRCL (Centre for International Research in Childhood). The Staff teaching on the MRes are all members of CIRCL, and you can read about their research and teaching interests and responsibilities on the CIRCL website).

There are also details on the CIRCL site of reading lists for the MRes course, as well as further links to other web-sites of relevance to research in this field, and of activities that CIRCL organises.

General and Library information

There are two major collections on Children's Literature in the University of Reading Libraries: one covering the period of the early seventeenth century to 1939, the other an outstanding collection of books published from 1950 to the present day.

In addition, the Library's 'Treasure Islands' Archive contains a unique collection of BBC audio tapes, including interviews with contemporary children's writers.

The BBC's Written Archive Centre in Caversham, Reading, is an outstanding resource for research into aspects of the media in the twentieth century.

Training in finding resources for the study of Children's Literature is given at the beginning of the MRes course and is supplemented by a five-hour unit specifically directed at research for the dissertation. Students also receive training in how to use archives in their research on the Nineteenth Century core module using the University special collections.

Further research and job opportunities

After completing your MRes in Children's Literature, there are excellent opportunities to continue with research within both Children's Literature, but also Literary and Social Sciences more widely: for further information on PhD research, see also CIRCL website.

MRes students who choose to continue in jobs after the MRes have found the MRes has helped them to obtain work in (children's) publishing, teaching, and marketing and advertising, as well as students reporting back to us that the MRes has helped them to communicate and analyse better in a wide variety of other kinds of work not specifically connected to Children's Literature.

Application process

Further details of the application process can be found on the

Students wishing to apply for funding to attend the MRes, please note that the MRes is officially registered in Britain as an MRes (Research) meaning that it is a taught MRes that offers training appropriate to continuing with PhD research after the MRes.

Please note: Please include with your application form copies of two essays you wrote during your University degree (not on children's literature) and two academic references, as well as a 500 word statement of motivation about why you are interested in applying to the MRes. Your essays and the 500 word statement help us to see if this is the right degree for you.

Find out more

Visit our course catalogue for information on entry requirements and modules.

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