University of Cambridge

Degree level: Postgraduate

Education (Critical Approaches to Children's Literature) (Taught)

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Course summary

This thematic route concentrates on a wide range of writing for children, including the "classics", texts for very young readers, international literature and literature for young adults. Close textual study and the history of children's literature are embedded within the route, on which students will also be expected to engage with some of the key debates in the field and to consider a range of theoretical perspectives – from Romanticism to reader-response theory; gender issues to posthumanism; historical studies to new historicism; sociocultural viewpoints to semiotics – as well as examining critically views of young readers and their reading choices. The course is organised to include four modules: Texts, Contexts and Childhood; Perspectives on Children's Literature; Visual Texts; and Texts and Readers. It is assessed through two essays and a dissertation, each designed to be personally rewarding as well as professionally enlightening and intellectually challenging: a case study of children's texts that makes use of library-based research (from archival to digital), focusing on texts for children with particular reference to changing constructions of childhood; an empirical study of children responding to a selected visual text; and a dissertation on a topic of the student's own choosing, which may be either a purely literary study or a small empirical research project. . The main education aims are:

  • examine contemporary theoretical frameworks used in the study of education and its constituent disciplines (including decoloniality; posthumanism and materialism; critical pedagogies past and present)
  • provide training in research methods appropriate to arts and education, including artistic research practices;
  • advance students’ capacity for professional reflection and judgement by thinking through real world dilemmas and complexities;
  • cater for a range of specialists interested in the field of education or one of its constituent disciplines
Learning Outcomes By the end of the programme, students will have:
  • a comprehensive understanding of research techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature applicable to their specific educational domain;
  • demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
  • shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies;
  • demonstrated self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.


Fees and funding

Tuition fees

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Additional fee information

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Education (Critical Approaches to Children's Literature) at University of Cambridge - UCAS